There are no hard-and-fast rules for what turns a room with a TV into a full-fledged "home theater." At the very least, it's a bigger, better picture with richer, fuller sound. In our day and age, families who want a more engaging cinema experience — minus the overpriced popcorn — are upgrading as well, thanks to affordable options for nearly every budget. Here are some great tips from CableOrganizer.com that will help you build – and maintain – a terrific home theater system.
Budget Estimate: Excluding home theater components (TV, DVD, stereo speakers, entertainment center, etc…) the total cost of supplies and accessories for this project can range from $500-$1,200.
Power Get into the habit of powering down components before making connections. Sudden loads on live amplifiers connected to speakers can be especially damaging. When connecting audio and video cables, you should power down the components that are involved in the connection first. Surge suppressors can be employed in your home theater system installation and with other electrical appliances, to reduce the risk of electric shock.
Cables When hooking up your system, it's important to use interconnects that have ends you can grip securely, since some of the connections may be tight! Chances are, you'll often need to pull them out and reconnect them from obstructed vantage points or in poor lighting. It's important for your fingertips to be able to grasp the plugs on the end of your interconnects, so that you're not pulling on the cable, as it may – in some cases – be easily damaged. One must also ensure that the cables leading out of the home theater components are properly organized, so they don't cause a horrible mess behind your display unit. Problems like this can be avoided with the use of products like raceways,wire duct and cable ties.
Space You're going to need room behind your equipment to put it all together. If everything is going in front of a wall, give yourself some space to see – and reach – behind the gear. Plan out ahead of time how your components are going to be stacked, and before you begin, make sure that the wires you have are long enough. There is nothing worse than having to disconnect and move everything from your receiver because one component's wiring can't reach.
Stacking If possible, avoid enclosed cabinets. Open shelves look modern and are becoming a popular way to display your equipment, while giving you easy access and allowing the equipment to breathe. If you must stack components, be sure not to obstruct any vents. Damage from overheating constitutes abuse and will usually void a warranty. Check components for heat from time to time after you've set everything up and have begun watching your first movie. If components seem to run hot, consider installing a fan to circulate the air. Common sense can go a long way in component placement; consider the weight of any component before putting it on top of another. A $30 DVD player probably shouldn't be used to support the weight of a 7-channel power amp!
Lighting Since your Home Theater area might not have a lot of lighting, be sure to have a portable flashlight handy so that you can read labeled connections easily. Reaching behind components and making connections only by touch can lead to incorrect configuration and – in the worst-case scenario – damage your components.
Speaker Wire Longer cable runs require higher gauge wire. This is the basic minimum outline:
16 gauge for less than 100 feet.
14 gauge from 100 to 200 feet.
12 gauge for greater than 200 feet.
Cabling Theory Remember, the basic theory behind wiring your system is simple. You're going to connect components together for a logical flow of signals. Left always connects to left, right always to right, positive always to positive, and negative connects to negative. Inputs are always connected to an output.