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Receivers and Surround Sound Installation

written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 7/31/2009

Surround sound systems require receivers, and here we give you tips on how to setup and install your new surround sound system.

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    Install-away

    To install an HD receiver is not what I’d call the easiest task in the world, but it also isn’t impossible for the average Joe to be able to do it without needing to pay for those installation services that are over-priced and under-delivered. If you’re ready to dive into HD surround sound for your home theater setup, let’s get started:

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    Things to Buy (or Items you’ll need)

    Screwdriver, Drill, Drill Bits – These are for attaching speakers to your walls and drilling into your walls to pass cable through.

    The Surround Sound System – You’ll need at least a 5.1 system for this install to be worthwhile, and a cheap system is pretty easy to find. If you currently have a system, just skip down to the next item.

    The HD Receiver – If you’re not using an HD receiver, you’re missing out on a good amount of sound. These receivers can take in HDMI inputs, output HDMI, perform in high-def DTS surround sound, and even upconvert your video to 1080p. A good receiver is a must for any system.

    Cables – You’ll need everything from HDMI to the thin surround sound cables that should either have come with your receiver or your speakers.

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    Tips for Installing your HD Receiver and Surround Sound

    Plan Ahead

    You don’t want to be caught unprepared when your components start pouring in. You need to have the room at least half-planned out beforehand. Decide where you want the speakers to go, where you want the receiver to go, and where you want the TV or projector to go as well. Once you have everything in its place, you’ll want to measure the distance between the components and the distance from the speakers to the receiver.

    Hooking Up

    Hook up your equipment in a sequential order with regard to where everything is. First, hook up the speakers to the surround sound receiver, then hook it up to the TV. In this order, you make sure all the cables are properly positioned as well as properly bundled and ready to go.

    Configuration

    This is quite possibly the most important part of the whole set-up process. Before you start sitting back to enjoy your brand new setup, you need to make sure all the proper configurations have been set. If you’re using an HDMI connection, you’ll likely want to enable DTS HD or Dolby Pro Logic before you start listening. I like to tell my friends trying to get into building their own home theaters that a great system can sound terrible if improperly configured, and a bad system that’s configured adequately can often sound better than a no-configuration mid-range system. Simply put, you need to use your ears for this part of the process. You need to play something like a Blu-Ray movie or a particular song to be able to listen for the subtle nuances of the sound until you get the bass and treble just right – much like in a car stereo when you first configure it.

    Once the configuration is done – you’re all ready to go. May I suggest the Wall-E Blu-Ray? Particularly for the one scene in which the spaceship with EVE touches down. I’ve heard my subwoofer rumble, but never like that. It felt like the ship was landing in our media room, not in the screen.