dvd1This blog is for those who are setting up something more complex than a simple flat screen TV and connecting it to their cable TV box and maybe a video game system. The components can include surround sound speakers, DVD/Blu-ray players, and stereo receivers. This is a basic guide, so if you are looking for more detailed information there are a number of good web sites what will give you the instructions with illustrations.

First, here are some general considerations. Step back and take a good look at the space where you are setting up your home entertainment system. Pay attention to things that can be overlooked such as whether it is carpeted (sound absorbing) or has a wooden floor (sound reflective). What are the sources of outside noises, if any. This will affect your optimum volume level for your speakers. Tilt your head up and see how high the ceiling is. Lower ceilings will bounce back or absorb the sound, depending on the material. Higher ceilings may give the sense of an echo chamber.

Examine how long the room is and where you will be sitting to watch the TV. Remember some speakers will be in close proximity to the TV, so to get the maximum benefit you should be about 6 – 10 feet from the screen. You shouldn’t have to strain your neck when sitting, so the height of the screen from the floor should put the middle of the screen at a centreline with your eye level.

Now for the specific components. You will likely want to connect a DVD or Blu-ray player to the television. There really isn’t much of a discussion here as to what to use – HDMI cable. The reason is it that it is designed to carry both audio and video signals in a single cable. You may connect external speakers if you are adding a receiver to the mix but this is not an HDMI issue. When determining the length of HDMI cable you will be using, do not worry about the cost as much as making sure that the video player is in a convenient location that also allows for easy access and adequate ventilation.

The issue of ventilation also applies if you are adding a stereo receiver and tuner to the system. Investing in a component rack is a good idea because down the road you will probably need access to the back of one or more components. There is something to be said for rollers. Depending on the features your receiver offers, you may have options for HDMI in and out, six to eight speakers, and a tuner antenna. Having at least one HDMI in port makes your system considerably more flexible.

Setting up the speakers is simply a matter of finding the best location and distance based on the construction of the room, which was mentioned at the beginning. A final note should be made regarding connecting a computer to the television using an HDMI connection to watch movies. You will need a high speed HDMI cable, which will cost a bit more, to avoid any problems playing back digital movies stored on your hard disk. Though this is not a consideration for many people, as they likely will be streaming video through the Internet, for those who have problems and are frustrated this is the simplest and quickest solution.