Set up your own home theatre

The right screen and sound make movie night more fun

By Gary Rudy

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Speaker placement

To get the best effect of a surround-sound system, at minimum you need three speakers in front of you, two speakers at your sides and two behind you.

The most prominent sounds usually come out of the front speakers. When something is making noise on the left-hand side of the screen, you hear it more from a speaker to the left of the screen. When something is happening on the right, you hear it more from a speaker to the right of the screen. Another speaker sits in the centre, just under or above the screen. This central speaker anchors the sound coming from the left and right speakers, and plays all the dialogue and front sound effects so that they seem to be coming from the centre of your screen rather than the sides.

The speakers behind the seating fill in numerous sorts of background noise, such as dogs barking or traffic passing. They also work with the front speakers to give the sensation of movement.

Room Acoustics

The shape of your room and how it’s furnished will ultimately affect the quality of sound you hear from your system. For instance, too many bare surfaces can cause reflections that make the sound more harsh. If you’re stuck with a room with tile or wood flooring, adding carpeting and drapes can dampen this effect.


It’s important to be able to control the light in the room. Too much ambient light in your home theatre may cause glare on the screen. But you also don’t want a completely dark room, because the high contrast of the light from the screen will strain your eyes.

Ideally, you should have soft lighting connected to a dimmer. For the full theatre experience, you can install an automatic dimmer. When you start up the movie, just push the switch and the lights will dim to a preset level. Or you can install a remote control so you can dim the lights with a remote from the comfort of the sofa.

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