A guide to building your own home theatre

8 MinsSeptember 23, 2019

Entertainment has never before been as accessible as it is today. It is everywhere -- from our smartphones to our laptops and even our cars, which come with internet-enabled entertainment systems. The best way to up your entertainment quality from the comfort of your home is to have your own home theatre set-up.

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Approaching the idea of getting your own home theatre system might seem a bit intimidating to some of us, due to the complexity in choosing the right gadget. To address that, we’ve created this guide that aims to help you make the correct choice. We have both options- if your current set-up already includes some components such as the TV or basic speakers, or if you’re starting from scratch.

Let’s begin with the most essential aspect of a home theatre system -- your TV.

Pick the right TV

Even if the rest of the set-up is top-notch, if your TV is not good enough, your home theatre experience will remain sub-optimal. Here’s a quick and easy rundown of the things you should look out for when buying a TV for your home theatre:

  • Size: When going for a home theatre the rule of thumb is to go as big as you can afford. Pick something around 55 inches and higher, and you’re good to go for most standard living rooms.
  • Resolution: 4K is the way to go. Thankfully, the availability of 4K content is growing every day. You have access to streaming devices like Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, Apple TV 4K and other sources like Blu-ray players, 4K gaming consoles and more. While DTH channels and cable TV are still mostly delivered in 1080p, most modern 4K TVs come with good upscaling capabilities, so it’s better to go all out right now and future proof your purchase.
  • Panel: Even within a high-resolution TV, you need to pick between panel technologies. OLED is the absolute cream of the crop where each individual pixel gives you the best possible viewing experience and also leads to thinner TVs. Going for LED panels will give you the most options and good performance without costing as much as OLEDs. An entry-level 55 inch 4K LED TV today is available for as little as Rs 30,000-35,000 thanks to affordable options from brands like Kodak, Shinco, Cloudwalker and more. A mid-ranger with the same specs can be yours for about Rs 45,000-Rs 60,000 with models from TCL, Mi, Micromax, Lloyd, etc. A high-end 55 inch OLED/QLED TV from the likes of Samsung or Sony can cost you upwards of Rs 1 lakh.
  • Connectivity: If you’re only going to have one source of input for your TV, then dedicated receivers aren’t strictly necessary. In either case, it is best to have as many ports, especially if you’re clear on what you’ll be connecting to the TV. HDMI ARC, Optical / Coaxial Digital are absolutely essential.
  • Smart features: Most modern TVs you pick will mostly have some smart features. However, even if the interface or OS is not to your liking, keep in mind that you can always get an external source that will improve the experience.

Pick the right sound
TV takes care of the visual aspect of the home theatre experience, which is crucial. But the real hard work is when you begin configuring the sound.

Speaker configuration
This is perhaps the most widely known aspect of building a home theatre - deciding whether it will be a 5.1, 7.1 or a whopping 9.2 set-up, or something entirely different. There’s no point going for too many speakers if your room isn't big enough. However, to start with, a 5.1 set-up will be good enough. This comprises two front speakers, two rear speakers, one centre channel and one subwoofer.

The centre channel will greatly influence your experience with dialogue. The subwoofer brings to life those deep rumbling sounds in movies like thunder, crashes, and explosions, while the rear speakers complete the surround effect. Depending on which aspect of the audio performance is important to you, you can either go for individual picks or get a pre-matched set of satellites and woofer that are known to go well together. Most often these speakers will be passive and will require an amp or receiver to power them. Just the various speakers can set you back by about Rs 1 lakh.

Just like the processor is the brain of a computer, the receiver is the brain of your home theatre system - holding it all together. It connects all the input channels to output channels and also undertakes signal processing where required. A receiver is capable of taking digital input, converting it to analog, amplifying it and pushing it to passive surround speakers connected to it. It also takes A/V input from multiple sources, for example, streaming stick, DTH set-top box, gaming console, Blu-ray player through multiple HDMI ports, and sends a single video output to the TV. This allows you to pick and choose between the sources without having to individually connect/disconnect them each time. This wide skillset comes at a cost, with decent options from brands like Marantz, Yamaha and Denon can cost you upwards of Rs 30,000. Also, the process of actually setting this up can get quite complex due to the multiple input/output configurations required and the matching of components. However, if you’re looking for something simpler and easier to approach, there are certain ways to go about that too.

Quick-fix sound set-up
There are multiple ways to get around the requirement for a receiver. These days Soundbars and active 5.1 speaker systems with a digital input are becoming very popular. All you would need here is for your TV to have digital audio out port.

An average set of 5.1 speakers with digital input can start as low as Rs. 10,000 and go up to Rs. 20,000-30,000 for brands like Sony and Samsung and climb further for premium brands. Your pick here truly depends on your budget.

Soundbars too have innovative features these days like virtual surround, detachable wireless satellites and more. Soundbars can also vary greatly in cost, with budget models starting around Rs 7,000 and high-end models priced at approximately Rs 1 lakh - with options available from JBL, Blaupunkt, Philips, Yamaha and more.

The last option, in case your existing TV does not have digital audio out, is getting an HDMI audio splitter. These cheap devices function as mini receivers by taking in one HDMI video source and splitting the signal into an HDMI-out for video and digital out for audio. The video stream then passes along to your TV while the digital audio signal can be sent to a suitable speaker system. However, since these are Chinese devices, durability might be an issue and options such as HDCP and Dolby Digital Plus decoding aren’t always available, so this isn’t a long term solution.

The room set-up
Once you’ve sorted out the visual and audio part of the set-up, you need to ensure your room is well-suited to a cinematic experience. Place your speakers appropriately, depending on the configuration you’ve opted for. Post that, you could also soundproof your room by installing soundproofing curtains on your walls, use vibration insulating pads to mount shaky things. You could even build your room from the ground up with soundproofing in mind. You could check out guides available online for tips.

Please note that these are just basic aims to point you in the right direction in terms of upgrades and how to get started with your own set-up. When you go out and start acquiring the components, you might find yourself running over budget.

If that’s the case, you can go for a credit card that can help you stretch your budget and get your dream setup with easy instalments. Axis Bank has a lot of great options that also offer additional benefits like reward points, dining benefits and more. In case your requirements exceed the budget by a lot, you could even opt for a personal loan from Axis Bank, with amounts starting from Rs 50,000 and going up to Rs 15 lakh. You get to pick your tenure and enjoy low-interest rates so that you can achieve your home theatre dreams just the way you want to.

[Also Read: Mistakes To Avoid While Opting For Personal Loan ]

Disclaimer: This article has been authored by Siddharth Parwatay, a Mumbai based independent tech-journalist, editor, and content-creator. Axis Bank doesn't influence any views of the author in any way. Axis Bank and/or the author shall not be responsible for any direct / indirect loss or liability incurred by the reader for taking any financial decisions based on the contents and information. Please consult your financial advisor before making any financial decision.


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