COMMON MISTAKES WHEN SETTING UP A HOME THEATER SYSTEM
I’ve seen it over and over… do NOT make these common home theatre mistakes!
Even high-performance speakers like the ones we offer in the Jensen range of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers will struggle to WOW you if you drop the ball in one of these ways.
If you get everything hooked up and installed and, you find that your favorite content doesn't sound as good as you’d hoped…
…it’s probably because you made one of a few common mistakes somewhere along the way.
Luckily, they all have very easy fixes.
- Mistakes To Avoid Before You Buy
- What Not To Do While You Set Up
- Slip Ups That Can Happen After You Set Up
Mistakes To Avoid Before You Buy
Before pulling the trigger on ordering your new home theatre gear, get familiar with these DO NOT’S.
Do not neglect the AV receiver!
It makes perfect sense that the speakers are the main attraction of an audio system. After all, they make the sound. But what people tend to get wrong here is they think any old AV receiver will do just fine. The truth is…
…the AV receiver is the “beating heart” of your audio system!
These receivers are made up of electronic components that craft the audio signal your speakers will receive. This means you can seriously limit the performance of your speakers with a low-quality AV receiver. You can also end up with features that don’t work well, like a poorly-designed app or limited menu options.
Make sure you know how to pick the right AV receiver for your system.
Do not buy the wrong HDMI cables!
Every HDMI cable used to be identical to the next. Unfortunately those days are gone, and in the new era we have integrated ethernet and 4K video streams.
If your home theater system is built to use the newest features in audio-visual entertainment, you need to check your HDMI cable before you buy. Make sure the cable does what you need (like support 4K, eARC for Dolby ATMOS), and don’t buy the cheapest one you can find.
Digital cables don’t make much of a difference to the audio signal itself, but they do crap out and act funny if you buy the cheapest ones! I recommend you jump up one price tier from the bottom and go with certified HDMI cables to the latest standard available.
Do not buy the wrong speaker cables!
The speaker cable marketplace seems an awful lot like a carnival. Every audio cable company can’t be telling the truth… because they all say different stuff!
That’s why it’s easy to assume your choice doesn’t matter, and any speaker wire will deliver the same top-quality sound.
This is NOT true…
You must choose speaker cables that have enough thickness and are an appropriate type to get the best out of your speakers. This is especially true if you’re going with in-wall or in-ceiling speakers. That means step one is knowing how much and what kind of speaker cables to get.
Also make sure you get more than enough for the speaker cable runs you need!
Do not pick your TV screen size at random!
You might want the biggest, baddest TV screen on the scene. You might also want to save some cash and grab a small screen that “gets the job done.”
These are not good ways to choose…
Instead you should know that TV and projector screen sizing matters. The experience you end up with will be much better if you get the right screen size for the room and seating arrangement you want.
Here’s a diagram showing the basic “rule of thumb:”
The moral is, make sure you know what you’re doing when choosing a TV screen size. Learn more about this by clicking here and scrolling down to “Smart TV budget breakdown.”
Do not pick your speakers based only on looks or sound!
This may be the most common mistake people make…
You finally decide to invest in an awesome home theatre system. You start to shop around for gear. And… chances are…
…you’re leaning heavily towards LOOKS or SOUND QUALITY!
When you’re focused on the LOOKS, you tend to compromise on sound and you end up missing out on the real reason you got the system in the first place: To enjoy incredible home cinema and music performance.
Likewise… when you focus entirely on SOUND QUALITY, you always end up with equipment that’s a total eyesore in your room. Nothing matches or blends in with the interior design you previously spent so much time on. Nothing is easy to take care of — as you dust boxes, trip over cables, and worry about knocking something over.
To really hit the speaker choice “out of the park” and end up with something you love…
…you must choose for performance, aesthetics and value!
You could choose performance based on speaker specifications, but they don’t really indicate the performance of the speaker. It’s better to judge by a brand’s track record and user reviews.
With aesthetics, it will depend on your room and your personal tastes. Pay attention to the colour of the speakers, and know how to choose the right colour for your decor.
Hands-down, the best option is to balance sound quality and looks by getting performance in-wall or in-ceiling speakers. They’ll sit flush in the walls and ceilings of your room — nearly invisible — while pumping rich, incredible sound for your movie and music enjoyment.
Before deciding on this, you should know the ups and downs of using in-built speakers in your home. You should also know the advantages of getting box speakers.
Do not place your speakers in weird locations!
Good speakers are amazing when they’re set up correctly. They reproduce clear, realistic sounds and… best of all… they create an audio landscape in your room, with each sound placed in a different location!
But the key is knowing that this sound stage phenomenon only works if you place the speakers correctly, and point them in the right directions.
This means know where the front speakers must be placed…
It means knowing what the overall placement scheme looks like…
It means knowing where to put your surround sound speakers, and your Atmos speakers.
Do not waste those extra channels on your AV receiver!
So many people get a high-quality AV receiver, which is a great move that boosts the performance of their home theatre system.
The trouble is…
…there’s one feature they don’t take advantage of!
Almost every high-quality AV receiver has extra amplifier outputs that are referred to as “zone 2.” It’s essentially an extra stereo amplifier built into your receiver that can power an additional pair of speakers in a different room.
You can choose different media, like picking music for the extra zone while watching a movie in the main zone. You can also set a different volume level for each area, making your place into a “smart home” with audio automations built in.
If you get a receiver for a 5.1 system, you run the risk of missing out on this feature.
You should know the reasons to add speakers to an outdoor alfresco area, or to deliver rich music to your bedroom. You can even use the extra zone feature to add Dolby Atmos to a 5.1 or 7.1 system (depending on the receiver you get).
What Not To Do While You Set Up
Do not hook the speakers up wrong!
If you get your home theater system hooked up and experience issues with your center channel, it's probably because you didn't connect your speakers in phase.
In-ceiling and in-wall speakers in particular must be connected in phase, which means that the positive lead on the receiver is connected to the positive lead on the speaker, the negative to the negative, etc.
Know how to hook up speaker cables, and double check for this common mistake before you run out and try to return anything.
Do not let your AV receiver suffocate!
Audio and video equipment gets hot while you use it - there's pretty much no getting around this.
If you install your home theater receiver in a tight cabinet with a ton of other equipment like cable boxes or game consoles, you’re probably going to experience a heat issue sooner or later. This could lead to immediate short term problems and — even worse — long term damage if you're not careful.
It is important to have an open cabinet where heat can escape, or a rack with vents cut into the surfaces. In extreme cases you might even use a fan to remove heat from your electronics.
Do not allow your room acoustics to be bad!
Clients are always wondering if the speakers they buy will be wasted if they have a room with bad acoustics. This is a concern that’s usually not justified… if you want speakers and, you go with speakers that sound awesome, then those speakers will sound awesome in your room…
…it’s just that your room might sound bad!
No matter what speakers you get, a room with reverb, “bass traps,” or reflections will spoil the sound to some degree. While grabbing audio equipment and setting it up, people make the mistake of ignoring room acoustics altogether.
Do you need to buy acoustic panels, or some other piece of audio equipment to “fix” a bad room? No… you do not. The reality of how room acoustics impact the performance of your audio system is fairly simple and fixing it surprisingly “DIY.”
So you must know the four bad situations in room acoustics and the simple, low-cost way to fix them!
Slip Ups That Can Happen After You Set Up
Do not neglect the audio calibration setup!
Auto calibration for a home theater system with a Jensen subwoofer is a great, magical thing - provided that you use it right. The microphone for the auto calibration feature will need to be placed in the exact center of the sound field and the room itself should be as quiet as possible for the best results. Failing to do either one of these things will result in a weird-sounding experience the next time you throw on your favorite Blu-ray.
The moral of the story is, know how audio calibration systems work and use them!
Do not “dodge” the firmware update!
One of the great things about modern AV equipment is that it’s upgradeable. This allows products to serve you for much longer than ever before.
If there's a particular Blu-ray disc that just won't seem to play, or a type of audio track your system just can't seem to get right, be sure to check for a firmware upgrade right away.
Most units (both home theater systems and media players) will have an "update" feature hidden somewhere in the menu for you to use to do this exact thing. Usually the updates are offered by a prompt when you power them on… don’t dodge this prompt!
Do not assume the “sound mode” is perfect!
The way your AV receiver sends different audio channels to your speakers system is not always the same. This is how movies can create a “surround sound” experience and suck you into the action. It’s how music is able to create a “sound stage” that places the drummer, the singer, and the guitarist in different parts of the room.
Decades ago, two-channel stereo was popularised because it created the first stereo image in home speaker systems. Now we have Dolby and DTS competing to create the best sound mode, like Atmos and DTS:X.
For the most part this takes care of itself. But there is one mistake that people make…
…they don’t know about the multichannel stereo sound mode!
This sound mode lets you get so much more out of your speaker investment when listening to music. You get better performance at low volumes. You get amazing, room-filling sound. And you get a coherent stereo image at the same time.
Know that the best sound modes to use are usually “automatic” for movies… they’re easy… but don’t miss out on multichannel stereo for your music! (Especially if you’re keen to have parties.)
Thanks for reading! If you have any other questions, contact us here.
To learn more, check out these related articles…
5 Reasons To Go In-wall Or In-ceiling For Your Next Home Theatre
What AV Receiver Should I Buy For Home Theatre?
7.1 Vs 5.1.2: Is Atmos Thriving Or Diving?