Expert advice for installing an integrated home audio system

December 4, 2014

Ready for an authentic home theatre experience but don't know where to start? Here's some expert advice for installing an integrated home audio system to help you.

Expert advice for installing an integrated home audio system

Out-of-the-box vs. DIY option

There are options for this type of project that allow for an entire integrated home audio system to come out of the box in one shot.

Out-of-the-box option: It will typically include a receiver, transmitters and devices bundled together for an all-in-one installation experience.

  • While the components are made for one another, so they're fully compatible, the price tends to be higher because you're paying for convenience.

DIY option: It's for those who can’t afford to purchase out-of-box solutions up front. In that case, a DIY option simply means buying the components separately over time.

  • The process can be a little trickier since you will have to hunt down the individual components, look at pricing, make sure they're compatible, and do the work in steps as you acquire each piece.

Central to the experience

The central hub of the experience is a flat-screen television. The advantage of newer televisions is that they usually come with an integrated sound bar.

  • Settings on the sound bar can make for a good sound experience on their own, and numerous ports allow it to act as a central hub for other devices.

Quality surround-sound system

A good surround sound system is also critical to the installation process, allowing for a variety of speaker placements, including wireless satellite speakers.

  • Speaker placement helps establish an audio balance in the room, and provides a sense of direction as to where the sounds are coming from to get the audience engrossed in the experience.
  • Through the cables provided with this device and others, such as DVD players, adding extras to the system requires little more effort than plugging them in and turning them on.

Hooking up other devices

The project begins to get more complicated when more devices are added, including:

  • Video game systems
  • Streaming devices
  • Computers

Likely, you'll need to consult with someone knowledgeable to help you, as settings may take some time to figure out.

Adding an external hub

If the number of devices exceeds the number of ports that your central hub has, you'll need an external hub.

  • An external hub allows the user to switch to the device that he or she wants to use at that time. Lower quality hubs require manual switching between inputs.

Additional devices, such as those mentioned above, may also not allow you to separate audio and video feeds.

  • As such, you may need extra cables between the television and the surround sound system, as well as swapping audio channels in the settings menu on the television. While this may seem to complicate matters, it actually simplifies things overall.

Other considerations

When choosing the speakers for your room, keep the size of the room in mind.

  • Smaller and less powerful, but more numerous, speakers may perform better in smaller spaces than large, powerful ones.
  • You can change the different settings in a surround sound system to optimize the listening experience—so it's not only about the speakers.
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