A close up of a speaker

Get Your Surround Sound Going

December 12, 2015

Whether you are a music fan who likes to blare the tunes or a movie buff who prefers bigger-than-life audio, a surround-sound set-up is the best way to get the experience you are looking for. The multiple speakers of various frequencies all combine for a comprehensive wall of sound that can take you to another world. It may seem complicated to set up this format, but it’s not too difficult if you know the steps. Follow these tips to make the process easier.

A close up of a speaker

Pick Your Equipment

You likely already have your TV and a gaming console or Blu-ray player. The next thing on your list is a surround-sound system, which is classified by the number of speakers it contains. For example, a 2.1 system has two speakers and a sub-woofer (bass), and the 7.1 set-up has seven speakers and a sub-woofer. The amount of space you have and your ultimate audio goal will dictate which system you choose. Each set also will include a main stereo receiver, a remote, and a set of cables.

Place the Speakers

Check each surround-sound speaker for its designated spot. You’ll probably find markings such as LF (left front) and RR (right rear). A two-speaker system is more straightforward. The sub-woofer should be in a central spot, and it’s best if it’s not against a wall. Angle the speakers toward the seating area. If you are able to raise the front speakers to about ear level, you may find you get better sound that way. Depending on how many speakers are included in your system, you might also need to place front and back centre speakers and specific surround-sound speakers.

Hook Up the Speakers

Start by placing the receiver near the TV. This is the hub through which all the audio signals are transmitted to the speakers. Make sure the power to all devices is off before you get started, just in case. Check out the ends of each cable to see how they connect. In some cases, you might need to remove some of the rubber coating on the cables to expose the wires. Next, run cords from each speaker to the appropriate place on the back of the receiver. If each cable is not labelled already, consider using a piece of masking tape to mark the end with the correct speaker position. Tuck wires out-of-the-way to prevent accidental tripping and to improve the look of the layout.

Connect Components

Now you can begin hooking your electronics into the receiver so that all of them will emanate audio through the surround sound. If you have newer devices that use HDMI cables, start there. If your home theatre components have five-pronged cables (three video, two audio), find the correct outlets on the back of the receiver and plug them in. The ports often are colour-coded to match the cables. Finally, connect the receiver to the television. A HDMI cable is ideal for this and will result in the best surround sound.

Component Settings

Finally, you are ready to test things out. Turn on the power to each device as you go. You will have to change the audio output setting for each component individually. A Blu-ray player uses an uncompressed audio setting such as pass-through or bitstream. Dolby-digital is a common setting on many other devices. If you can’t decide which setting to choose, consult your user’s manual. The surround-sound system comes with an auto set-up microphone, so follow your instruction sheet to use that. After that process, you can manually set the sound to your own preferences using your favourite movie as your guide.

Adding surround sound to your home is an exciting endeavour. Make sure you follow each of these steps to simplify the process and achieve a better audio result.

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