Lights, camera action: Your home theatre guide

More movies and TV programs are available now than ever before, and if you're a film or television fan, setting up a home theatre system can be the ideal way to experience your media.

But with plenty of options out there, from HDTVs to surround sound, it can be tricky to find the perfect combination to suit your home and your budget. Here’s a closer look at what you’ll need to set up a home cinema system.

A TV

Before you go on a hunt for the biggest HDTV you can afford, first take a look at the size of your room. The ideal amount of space between your TV screen and your couch should be about 1.5 to 2.5 times the size of the screen in order for you to have the best viewing angle. Once you’ve used this calculation to determine the maximum size of screen you should go for, it’s time to consider quality.

The resolution of the TV describes how many pixels are in the display. Higher resolutions will deliver a clearer viewing experience. You’ll also want to check on how bright your home theatre room is, as this will affect which type of screen is best. For darker rooms, a plasma screen will give you better contrast and will typically be less expensive in larger models. If your room is brighter, you’ll want to look into an LCD screen for a bright, highly visible picture.

If you have a large, dark room with a blank wall, a projector screen may be a fun option as well, as this allows you to adjust the size and screen films and TV programs at a giant size without having to invest in an expensive screen.

Sound System

Sound quality can be just as important as visual quality, and when setting up a sound system, it’s important to again consider the space you’re in. For smaller rooms, you may simply want to buy a sound bar. This long speaker fits below or above your TV screen and sends out sound to bounce against the walls, giving a surround sound feel. It works best in smaller spaces, where the sound waves can evenly bounce. Two stereo speakers set up on either side of the screen also give you good sound with enjoyable depth in small rooms.

If you have a larger space or are looking for a more immersive sound experience though, nothing beats investing in a surround sound system. These usually involve two speakers at the front of the room, two at the back of the room, a subwoofer in the corner or below the TV, and a receiver system. You may also want to add a center speaker and side speakers depending on the size of the room.

You can often invest in sound systems slowly, buying one or two pieces at a time, or you can buy bundled surround sound. Sound systems are often described as 5.1 or 7.1, with the first number meaning how many speakers are in the set, and the second number showing the number of subwoofers included.

Set-Up

While you’re investing in components, always consider how you want to set them up. You’ll want to set up your couch and the TV first, and arrange speakers around the seating for the best result. Wireless systems may cost more, but make setup simple and prevent you from seeing unseemly wires. HDMI cables provide the best quality to connect your chosen input media, such as a Blu-Ray player, or ‘smart player’ like Apple TV or Chromecast to your TV.

Finally, settle back, relax and enjoy your show!