Wiring a modern home theatre is a complex and often frustrating task. While there are many factors to consider, though, you don’t need a highly skilled A/V installation professional to get the most out of your video and sound. This guide will take you through the process, from buying the right cables to routeing them efficiently.
Place your television at eye level in an area that doesn’t get outside glare through the windows. Exterior hardware, such as games consoles and Freeview boxes, are designed to be within close proximity of the television and may not have the cable length to accommodate a high location, such as a wall mount. Think about sound. While most televisions are delegated to the corner of a room, this is a difficult position to place a surround sound speaker system.
The average home theatre setup will require two HDMI cables: one for a Freeview box and one for a Blu-ray player. If you need more space for games consoles (HDMI), personal computers (VGA or DVI) or any other external hardware, add these to your stockpile.
When you have your television in the optimal spot, place your speakers, receivers and amplifiers around the room. For a 5.1 system, place one in the centre, two in the front and two in the rear. For a 6.1 system place one in the centre, two in the front, two at the side and one at the rear. For a 7.1 system place one in the centre, two in the front, two at the side and two at the rear.
Working from the front speakers (centre, left and right) attach all of the cables to your sound system. Make sure the correct outputs from the sound system are routed to the corresponding speaker, otherwise the mix will be muddled.
If you have a games console, Blu-ray player, Freeview box or any other external hardware, add them to the mix, piece by piece. Prioritise the HDMI ports on your television in ranking order. For example, if your games console is the most used device, plug it into port one, and so on. Do not plug any cables directly into your sound system as you’ll only have to contend with more mess.
This is a very important, yet overlooked step of the process. Use Velcro strips or zip ties to compile all of the loose coils into one single cable. Place all of the slack into a well ventilated surge box. If possible, route all of the AC power cables towards a surge resistant multi-plug. This not only leads them all in one direction but will provide valuable protection.
An efficient wiring system will save you time and may boost the performance of your home theatre. Most people don’t even realise when they have dialogue routed to their stereo speakers or video playback running at 720p instead of 1080p. While a good setup can still deliver quality sound and picture, a little preparation and planning could leave you with a setup that goes above and beyond what you initially expected.