Setting Up Your Own Home Theatre - PART 3
Updated: Oct 24, 2022
Welcome to the final part of this epic home theatre setup guide!
In part 1 we covered how you go about choosing the right TV and in part 2 we went through selecting your AV receiver, speakers, cables and everything else.
Now with all the components of the home theatre ready, it should be just a simple case of putting it all together, right? Wrong!
When my renovation started, despite everything they initially told us, it quickly became apparent that my contractors had absolutely no idea about how to setup a home theatre.
I tried contacting some so-called home theatre experts in Singapore and realised they were calling themselves experts because they’d basically seen the same YouTube videos I had!
Who knows, maybe I should start a sideline doing the same?!
Ultimately, if you’re going to setup a home theatre in Singapore, then your best bet is to do it yourself!
The Dolby Atmos Setup
Dolby Atmos is the next level of surr0und sound! Now you'll hear the action all around you and thanks
Thankfully Dolby do have guides on their website for all the various home theatre setups.
I was going for the 5.1.2 setup found here: https://www.dolby.com/about/support/guide/speaker-setup-guides/5.1.2-overhead-speaker-setup-guide/
If you're wondering why I didn't forego all this hassle and opt for setups that claim to be able to bounce the sound off walls and ceilings to create all the surround sound channels, it's because they never sound as good as actual, discrete, individual speakers do! If they did, then why aren’t cinemas using them? I’ll tell you why, because they’re nowhere near as good!
The fact that I was doing a complete home renovation complicated matters because there were many unknowns. The dimensions of the living room was likely to change due to the false walls and false ceiling that had been planned, plus they were building a platform in the living room to distinguish between the dining room area and the home theatre area.
I had to factor in the height of this platform, where the sofa would theoretically be going on the platform, how high off the ground you would be when sat on the sofa and the proposed height of our new false ceiling before I could start figuring out where everything should be installed.
As you can see in Dolby's guide, there are specific angles, distances and measurements for everything so I had to get my trusty tape measure and calculator out and put my thinking cap on!
It’s the only time since I left school that I found myself doing math and using formulas, Pythagoras theory and all kinds of stuff to calculate where my speakers would need to go! It was insane!
I drew up a blueprint and stuck it on the wall showing the contractors precisely where everything should go.
I tell you, my math teacher would have been proud! This was A* quality stuff!
Instead of the advised ear level recommended by Dolby for the rear surround speakers, I decided to elevate them slightly, as recommended by many home theatre enthusiasts. This prevents the sound waves from being blocked by the back of the sofa and results in a much more enjoyable surround sound experience!
The subwoofer usually goes in the corner of the room as this helps to amplify the bass response.
If you're worried that not having the subwoofer directly under the TV might make sounds appear to be coming from the wrong place and ruin the surround sound experience, fret not! Bass frequencies are omnidirectional, meaning you generally can’t tell which direction the bass is coming from.
I placed a small felt mat from Ikea under my down-firing subwoofer to soften the sound and make it sound less boomy as the sound waves bounce off our platform floor.
The TV should be positioned as close to the center speaker as possible so that it seems as if dialogue is coming from the screen itself and prevent noticeable synching issues.
Additionally, the height of the TV should be such that you are looking straight at the center of the TV when you are in your main, comfortable viewing position.
If the TV is too high or too low, you're going to end up with terrible neck strain and headaches from looking up or down for too long, especially true if you're watching a 3-hour long Marvel movie!
Time To Rock n Roll!
If it's all so much trouble, then why did I even bother? Why not just have everything free-standing so that I can move the speakers around and adjust everything to my hearts content whenever I want to?
Well, previously I had free-standing speakers on my TV console and surround speakers on stands next to our sofa and every time I cleaned the place, vacuumed and mopped the floors, the speakers would get knocked or moved out of place and I would have to reposition them and recalibrate the entire system! Add to this the fact that exposed cables are super ugly dust magnets and it becomes a no-brainer, wall installed speakers are the way to go!
With speakers installed into the walls, I’d never have to worry about any of that again! Just calibrate everything once and then enjoy perfect cinema surround sound every time I fire up the system!
Now it was all up to the contractors to deliver the goods and that they did, eventually, after a lot, seriously, a lot of back and forth!
Here’s a photo dump of our renovation from bachelor pad to dream home theatre! Swipe to enjoy!
There’s just something nice about having everything neatly installed, makes it feel like a legit home theatre instead of an amateur setup with visible wires and mess all over the place.
The Ultimate Home Theatre
The entire renovation process was a nightmare in all honesty.
If you think the home theatre setup was a handful, let me tell you, it was simply the tip of the iceberg! We were renovating the entire house, so while the living room was being done, we were simultaneously having to co-ordinate our new bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen and everything else.
The whole house had been gutted and it seriously looked like a war-zone at times!
While we had a trustworthy Interior Designer (ID), we still had to do our fair share to ensure things were moving along and it was one of the most stressful experiences Jules and I have ever gone through – BUT it was worth it!
Our ID had finally delivered the goods and the end result was remarkably similar to the CGI 3D design we were shown prior to starting the renovation!
Not only did we get our dream home, I finally had the home theatre I'd always wanted!
I’d always seen man caves and home theatres on TV and in magazines but never thought that one day I’d have one too!
If you’re a movie fan and wondering whether to take the plunge and go for a home theatre setup, I’d say do it!
I know I probably made it sound like a lot of hard work and it really was, but even now after so many years, I’m still enjoying the fruits of our labour!
Do your research, get the best AV receiver and speakers you can and get the biggest TV you can! You never hear anyone say they wish they had a smaller TV!
My only warning is you better be good at math!
Are you thinking about setting up your own home theatre? Got any tips, suggestions or questions? Drop me a message in the comments!
Now it’s time to put my feet up and listen to some wall shaking action mayhem!
See you all in the next post!
Dr. Bobby Stryker