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Installing Home Theater Systems

written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 5/31/2009

There are a lot of things to remember when you set out to install your own home theater system. We start off by giving you what to expect when building your room and a few things to do before starting your search for a projector.

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    What to Expect When You're Building

    You’re here because you want to build your own home theater system, and for that I applaud you. It’s not very often we get so mad at the outrageous prices that outside companies charge that we want to do the job ourselves. But perhaps that’s not why you’re here at all. Perhaps it’s because, like me, you enjoy doing the job yourself because you can not only save money, but also customize the experience to fit what you need.

    Here are a few things I can promise you when you get down to actually building your system:

    1. It’s backbreaking work, be prepared to sink hours of time into perfecting your set-up

    2. Cables are not your friends. Rather, you’ll wish everything was wireless by the time you’ve run the second HDMI cable up a wall.

    3. Surround Sound is just as bad to setup initially as your projector will be – but if you want to get that perfect sound, you’ll just have to follow the instructions

    4. Building this room is likely to be one of the most enriching and great experiences you have in your life, especially if someone else is helping you

    5. Your movie room will be awesome (when done!) – I just know it.

    Building a movie room is an endeavor and a half – you’ll be spending large amounts of cash and even larger amounts of time. However, like building your own PC, it’s an non-transferable, quasi-existential experience.

    A movie room in your house is just about the wisest investment you can make. Movie rooms transcend time as well as gender and age barriers. Friends come together in these rooms to watch the pantheon of human emotions unfold in front of them…in glorious 7.1 surround, on a huge, 131” screen that displays at 1080p.

    The technical jargon means a lot to you once you complete the room and can easily tell the difference between 720p and 1080p as well as whether or not that subwoofer you bought is powerful enough. However, to others, your room will either wow them or leave them apathetic.

    But if you feel confident enough to start this project, I’m going to recommend a few things right away that experience with my own room has taught me to do ahead of time. You have a homework project before reading part two of this series:

    1. Measure your room from top to bottom, left to right, every nook and cranny.

    2. Determine how big you’d like your screen to be – even though we haven’t talked about it yet, you need to select a reasonably common size, we had a hard time finding a screen that was as big as we wanted.

    3. Determine how much money you want to spend, and remember that it’s a room that can take a while to build, ours wasn’t complete until a year after we started.

    4. Make sure everything’s fine with using the room you want to use as the movie room – it’s not going to be able to double for anything else, a media room is a media room and nothing more.

    5. Finally, buy yourself an excellent wall level, a good measuring tape (or even a measuring laser would be better), and a flashlight – it’s time to start looking into projectors, so come back for part 2.

Building the Perfect Home Theater System

We take you through the ups and downs of owning a movie room and having that home theater set-up that everyone envies.
  1. Installing Home Theater Systems
  2. Buyers Guide to LCD Projectors
  3. LCD Projectors - The Best Of
  4. Buyer's Guide to Projector Screens
  5. Projector Screens - The Best Of