Tips for Setting Up a Hub in a Home Theater
1 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Connecting a Home Theater
A home theater requires a centralized connection point — a hub — for the A/V gear. For most people, the hub is the A/V receiver. An A/V receiver should be capable of accepting the connections from every piece of A/V gear in your home theater (with the exception, perhaps, of an HDTV tuner/set-top box) and providing a central connection and control point.
Keep the following tips in mind when setting up your home theater's hub:
The A/V receiver should be the primary connection point in your home theater. If you decide to go with separate components (A/V controller, power amplifier, and radio tuner) instead of an all-in-one A/V receiver, the primary connection point should be the A/V controller.
Don't connect components directly to the TV or display unit. (There are some exceptions to this, however, that are mainly related to HDTV. Refer to your device manuals for more details.) All your audio and video should be routed through the A/V receiver, which then switches — or distributes — these signals to your speakers and display. With this setup, you can switch among these video sources by merely turning a knob on the receiver or pressing a button on the remote.
Some folks feel that sending any video through the receiver’s video-switching circuitry slightly degrades the quality of this video. However, unless you’re talking about a really high-end HDTV system, you probably won’t see the difference.
If possible, design the space so that you have an enclosed equipment and connection area. You can improve the aesthetics of your home theater by placing the equipment that you don’t need to physically access to watch a program or listen to something — such as special equipment needed for whole-home audio and video systems — in this space. Your equipment and connection area could be a well-ventilated closet, if one is available.
If you can’t find a separate space for your gear, you can at least make your environment neater and more professional looking by hiding some of the wiring in the walls or in fake molding and by making the local connections available through wall outlets. You can use short cables to connect these outlets to the equipment itself.