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Setting Up Your System

Setting up your new system involves more than just plugging in cables. Where you place the speakers, what types of connections and cables you use, and even the orientation of your room can drastically affect sound quality and system performance. In this guide you'll learn easy, practical tips for setting up your new audio system.

Speaker Placement Tips

To recreate the movie theater or concert hall experience at home, you will want to position your speakers just right. Here are some tips for placement and aiming:

● Front Left and Right Speakers
Place speakers symmetrically in room on both sides of your video display (approximately 30º angle from primary listening position) and a minimum of a few inches from the front wall. Toe-in the speakers so the drivers (usually the front plane of speaker cabinet) fire directly towards main viewing/listening position.

● Center Channel Speaker
Place as close to the video display as possible (usually directly above or directly below screen) and facing listening position.

● Surround Speakers
For a 5.1 system, install surround speakers on or near side walls slightly behind main viewing/listening position (90º to 110º) and well above ear level while seated (ear level when standing is a good starting point). Do not point them directly at listening position; their sound should be diffuse rather than direct.

For a 7.1 system, follow the guidelines for the surround speakers in a 5.1 system, plus add two more speakers on the rear wall. All listening rooms are unique, but ideally you’ll want the rear speakers at a 135º to 150º angle from the primary listening position. Follow the same guidelines for height as with a 5.1 setup.

● Subwoofer
-Placing subwoofers in a corner gives the most, but not necessarily the best, bass.
-Placing subwoofers along a wall gives less bass than placing them in a corner but the sound quality may be better.
-Placing subwoofers towards the center of the room gives the least bass but often produces the most natural sound.

How Your Room Affects Sound

While proper speaker placement is essential for creating surround sound in your family room or home theater, certain characteristics of your room will also affect how your system sounds. Consider these factors as you create your listening space:

● Echo/Reverberation
Strike a balance between a hollow sounding room and a coat closet -- add some absorbency to minimize room echos.

● Reflections
Break up space on parallel walls (particularly side walls) with furniture, wall hangings or other irregular (non-flat) objects.

● Dimensions
Rectangular rooms generally offer better natural acoustics than square or cubical rooms.

Automatic Calibration

Many newer home theater receivers have an auto-calibration feature that can take the guesswork out of adjusting levels and delay times of each individual channel. Auto-calibration can correct for irregular shaped rooms and setups. It’s essential to use your system’s auto-calibration feature to get the most out of your investment.

Must-Have Home Theater Accessories

As you’re setting up your new system, consider these accessories that will help get the most out of your system:

● Universal Remote: Today’s universal remotes are super simple to program and can make operating your home theater gear a lot easier to use.

● The Right Cables: “High Speed” HDMI cables are critical for newer systems. HDMI is the only interconnect capable of carrying today’s high-resolution surround soundtracks from your Blu-ray player to your receiver.

● Speaker stands or mounts: Placing your speakers in the right locations is a critical part of setting up a music or home theater audio system. Speaker stands will help elevate smaller bookshelf speakers to ear level and mounts will help you place surround speakers at the appropriate height.

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