DIY Surround Sound Tips

After you've immersed yourself in surround sound while watching a movie, sitting in front of two or three speakers just isn't the same. If you've been putting off installing your own surround sound speakers, the project isn't nearly as difficult as it may appear. The most important part is choosing a system that matches the layout of your room. Wireless speakers or premade kits from the manufacturer can get you through the setup in less than an hour.

Selecting Speakers

To achieve surround sound, you need at least five speakers and one subwoofer—this is what's referred to as a 5.1 speaker system. One speaker is centered above or below the TV, with two front speakers at equal distances away from the center speaker—one on each side of your TV. Two side speakers should be directed at ear level in your seating area, one at either end of the sofa, for example. For large rooms, you can go with a 7.1 system, with the two additional speakers placed behind your seating area. The subwoofer can be placed anywhere in the room, preferably at least a foot from any wall.

Room Considerations

The speakers you select depend on the size and shape of the room, as well as its decor. A small, closed-in room is easier to fill with sound and requires less powerful speakers than a large room or a room that opens up to adjoining rooms. Ceiling-mounted speakers don't generally work well in rooms with vaulted ceilings or ceilings more than 10 feet high. If your room is larger than 2,000 cubic feet, consider floor-standing speakers and—depending on the seating—you may want two subwoofers to carry the bass effectively through the room. Hard surfaces like wood and glass reflect sound much more than soft surfaces, so if your room has hardwood floors with large windows, the room will sound much smaller acoustically than one with thick carpet, soft furnishings and few windows.

Wiring

Baseboards and crown molding are ideal places to hide speaker wires that trail toward the back of the room. While you can run wire inside walls and ceilings, make sure the wire you use conforms to your local building codes, such as UL-rated wire that is labeled either CL2 or CL3. When connecting wires to the speakers, connect the connectors to the right wires so the speakers are in phase: Red wire connects to red or positive connectors and black wire connects to black, white or negative connectors. To avoid wiring headaches, consider using wireless speakers for your rear speakers.

Home Theater Kits

A surround sound kit is a good option for anyone who doesn't quite have the expertise to do his own wiring but doesn't want to hire a professional to do the job. These kits come with everything you need, including a subwoofer, five or more speakers and a receiver to tie the speakers in together with quality surround sound. These kits have the additional benefit of connecting to your existing HDTV and even come with a built-in Blu-ray or DVD player.

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