How Home Theater Systems Work – The Definitive Guide

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How Do Home Theater Systems Work?

Deciphering a home theater system and understanding how it works can be quite complicated. There are a lot of things to think about along with different components and equipment to choose from.

Even if you’ve gone over how home theater systems work many times before, we highly recommend you read this guide because it’s written in a way that will eliminate any confusion.

While there are a lot of options when it comes to building a home theater, it’s actually not that complicated once you understand how it works. You should take the time to understand the process, so you can make the right decisions and find the perfect system for your home.

What Are The Components Of A Home Theater System?

Home theater systems are broadly divided into two categories based on the source of input by the user. These are audio home theater systems and video home theater systems. While audio home theater systems use analog inputs and video home theater systems make use of digital inputs to connect to televisions, audio and video home theater systems utilize the same audio/video components to operate. These components are:

{1}. AC power source – This is used for powering the amplifiers and other components of home theater systems. It is usually AC power.
{2}. Control Home Theater Components – The control system of a home theater system actually helps the user to control the entire system. For instance, it allows the user to adjust the volume, adjust various sound settings e.t.c
{3}. Amplifiers – When the audio or video signal passes to the home theater system through the cables, it is first read by the amplifiers of the system. The amplifiers then adjust the audio/video signal and sends it to the speakers.
{4}. Home theater Speakers – All home theater systems have at least one speaker, and it may have many speakers in some cases. The speakers allow for audio output to take place.
{5}. Receiver – A receiver is basically a controller of home theater systems. It makes sure that all the components in the home theater work in harmony by receiving, processing, and distributing audio/video signals. It may include a digital TV tuner.

AV Receiver

Getting to Know Your Center of Operations

The AV receiver is the central hub that drives all the components of your home theater system. It is composed of important components like the preamp, which typically handles the input of 8 stereo channels; from there, the AV receiver can amplify the channels before sending them to your speakers.

When choosing an AV receiver, you need to make sure that it drives the other components in the system. Each receiver has a certain impedance and works best when paired with compatible speakers or satellite speakers to drive them.

For home theater systems, we prefer a preamp that has a single mode setting to help deliver clear and crisp sounds. Pay attention to the Impedence setting marked on the receiver and only pair it with speakers that have the same rating. Because the receiver has more functions that help power your home theater system, it’s also important to double check the power output.

Input Devices

Home theater equipment comes with several different types of input devices. The most commonly found devices include DVD, Blu-Ray, and VHS, amongst others. Some people still have these devices in their homes, even though widespread adoption of DVD's, Blu-Ray, and online streaming services has, in many cases, made these older devices obsolete.

These devices come with three primary types of inputs – coaxial cable, analog, and HDMI.


These devices have coaxial cable inputs. These terminals are used to capture the output from whatever device the user plans to use. Selecting the correct cable will guarantee that the user can get the best possible resolution and audio quality from the device.

After the appropriate cable is selected, the user needs to select the best possible receiver for his or her viewing needs. The receiver will determine how the signal is interpreted and how the audio and video are played.

The receiver does not require a cable connection. Instead, it is plugged into the device whose signal is being transmitted.

Output Devices

The output devices are the speakers that allow you to hear the audio. In a home theater system, the output devices are usually surround sound speakers. They reproduce and give the home theater system the loudness and depth that can't be reproduced by a television alone.

Television speakers do a very good job at reproducing the two channel stereo sound. This means they are capable of reproducing sound recorded in the left and right channels. A home theater system, on the other hand, uses multiple speakers or channels, forming a full range surround sound system that is capable of producing over six channels of surround sound. Using six channels gives you the ability to hear background sounds from the rear as well as the front.


A speaker is the key component of every home theater system. Speakers convert an electrical signal into a sound wave. They do this by moving a diaphragm (a flat moving surface) back and forth around the opening of a speaker basket, and thus make the sound wave. The diaphragm is connected to the voice coil (a long wire wrapped around a permanent magnet), which is fixed at the edge of the speaker basket. The ends of the voice coil are connected to the terminals of the driver (a cone of paper or metal). The driver itself is connected to the crossover. Finally, the crossover divides the audio signals into different frequency bands.

The physical size of the speaker is one of the most important things to consider when buying a speaker. The frequency response of the speaker (high and low frequency) depends on the physical dimensions of the speaker. A speaker driver should be large enough to produce lower frequencies efficiently and small enough to generate higher frequencies accurately. So speakers generally have different sizes, ranging from less than 1 inch to more than 6 inches. This is why it’s so important to check the size, weight, and power of the speakers you’re about to buy and which ones you actually need. Of course, price is also a key factor to consider when buying speakers, and more expensive models do generally have better sound.

A home theater system uses more than one speaker.

What Do You Need For A Home Theater System?

To watch your favorite TV shows, stream anything from the web, listen to audio using a home theater system, or to just relax and enjoy your home entertainment setup, you need a few things: a high definition display, A/V receiver, and a home theater system. Lots of brands and types of home theater systems are available but they can be pretty complicated to set up and pick out, especially if it's your first time buying an entertainment system.

In home theater, the audio-visual (AV) receiver plays an important role in the home entertainment systems. As the central component in the receiver, it is often the most expensive part of the homeTheater setup and just buying an AV receiver A home theater is basically a combination of two or more audio and video equipment, a television as the display device, and one or more loudspeakers.

A Good Room

When shopping for a home theater system, the number one thing people get wrong is setting it up in the wrong room. The location you choose for a home theater can make or break your experience. You could have the best speakers and a brand new HDTV, but if it’s not installed in a room that can handle it, you’re going to have problems. As a general rule, if you have to turn the volume above 70% to get decent sound in your home theater, there’s a problem.

If you’re building a new home, then you get to choose where to put your home theater. However, if you’re in the process of designing and building a home theater, it’s always best to think about how the room will be used, and then select your system. Take into account where people will be sitting as well as the general acoustics of the room.


A good home theater system works because of acoustics provided by the room. Your room may be too large, too small or improperly designed to fully experience the full effects of your home theater system. Size, shape, the number of hard surfaces such as walls and floors may not work with your movie experience. Acoustic treatments need to be added to fill dead spots and dampen surrounding ambient noises.

Proper Lighting

The seating determines how the viewing angle is set and your seating will also dictate what your lighting requirement is. Generally, direct light is needed from above but not really enough to read a book. A reflective lighting is also needed to provide ambient lighting. With your seating so far from the screen there should be no direct light from front or the side as that will cause glare and shadows on the screen.

Neutral wall paint colors are recommended since there will be no real need for a white balance. In fact, it is likely that the light will change from day to evening. It is feasible for natural light to get into the room during the day that can even be direct. When it has reached a point where the room is no longer lit by the sun, the evening has set in. At that time the neutral back light will enhance the environment to ensure the image is not lost.

The lighting for the TV is a direct reflection against the wall due to the seating distance. The medium to bright color for the paint needs to be utilized for your backlight.

A Good Seating Area

A good seating area is the hub of all home theater systems. This same area is usually where families gather to watch regular television programs, too.

When designing your home theater seating area, consider your personal comfort needs and viewing preferences. An ideal seating area offers sufficient depth for people to sit comfortably for long periods of time. It should also have slightly more width than depth to ensure each person has enough room to sit comfortably.

Depending on the number of family members and guests you regularly entertain, your seating area should offer seating for everyone who wants to enjoy the home theater experience with you.

The number and size of the seating areas in your home theater should also fit your space. If you have a very small space for your home theater, you might want to consider an all-in-one seating area that includes several chairs, a sofa, and/or love seat in one piece.

Some home theaters call for several separate seating areas, while others involve just one extra-large lounge-style seating area with individual seats that can separate from the group.

Depending on how and where you watch your movies and other entertainment, you may want to consider an L-shaped design or a U-shaped design.

Plenty Of Wires And Cables

No Problem For Home Theater

If you haven’t yet invested in a home theater, there’s no better time than the present.

But before you try to pick up a receiver and a BluRay player, you’ll need to understand how home theater systems work. That might sound like an intimidating task if you’ve never had any experience with large speaker systems. But even if you’re a complete newbie, you shouldn’t let a little technical jargon stop you from giving home cinema a try.

It all starts with speakers that transmit the audio signal. A receiver (or amplifier) converts the signal into audio for the speakers. Next, an image is converted to a picture. The receiver converts the image into an electronic signal. The signal is then shown on a monitor or TV. And lastly, the signal is sent to the speaker that converts it back into sound.

Okay, so that might sound like a lot of work, but you can easily understand each component by breaking it down into its basic components. If you’re a visual learner, these videos will help you understand home theaters and the basic components.

A Good TV

Picture quality is just one part of the equation. You still need a way to get your content. The most popular and obvious solution is a Cable TV subscription. The way I see it, cable TV has two big issues that make it less and less viable as a solution for most people.

The first issue is that there are many other options for content now. Your options are streaming video services. I’m NOT talking about Netflix and HBO here (because everyone knows about those already). Those may be a great fit for some, but not for everyone. That’s why I’m listing a few others below that may fit your specific needs.

The second issue is that Cable TV isn’t spelled Commute TV. That’s because when you live in an area that’s far outside the city, you need a backup plan. In that case, you need Satellite TV.

How To Set Up Your Home Theater

As technology changes, so do our entertainment options. At one time we listened to our favorite music on vinyl and tapes… and then CDs came along. Today, we can listen to all of our favorite music on our mobile devices and watch movies and TV shows instantly… if we want to pay for it. We have more choices than ever before, and that choice has reached inside our home as well. If you want to relax in your living room, you don’t necessarily have to be looking at the same walls if you don’t want to. You can have a home theater system that allows you to watch a movie or listen to music while entertaining company in your living room.

Let’s say your current experience in the privacy of your own home is to watch your favorite shows on your laptop while sitting on the couch. However, you’d rather have a full blown home theater system, but you’re not sure how to set it up… or even how it works. Let’s take a look!

This Definitive Guide To Home Theaters Will Cover:

  • How A Home Theater System Makes Your Videos Look… Even Better
  • What A Sound System Can Do To Improve Your Audio Experience


In this guide, we will talk about the basics of home theater systems. We will also explore the different aspects of the home theater system such as the speakers, the amplifiers, the video and HDMI cables and much more.

Home audio systems are different from sound systems because they are built with aesthetically pleasing components that will fit in any home theater decor. Home theater systems usually consist of a TV mounted on the wall, home theater speakers and also a subwoofer.

In this guide, we will cover topics such as the basic home theater system setup, the components and finally the introduction to the theater room. We will also look into the different issues concerning home theater systems, their advantages and disadvantages. A lot of emphasis will be put on the installation procedure and the different ways of installing home theater systems. Our goal is to teach you how to install a home theater system in a way that will create a relaxing and enjoyable environment for you and your family. Finally, this guide will provide you with the basic information you need to start building your own home theater system.

Let's start with the basic home theater system setup.

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Home theater systems come with many wires and components that you’re supposed to connect in a certain way to get the best experience out of them.

And this is exactly what makes a lot of people confused about how home theater systems work.

It doesn’t help that there are plenty of websites that use confusing terminology to explain the products.

So, here’s a detailed guide for everything you should know about home theater systems.