Tips for setting up a home entertainment system
Get the most out of movie night or set the mood for the ultimate dinner party with a seamless home entertainment system.
Sound and vision
A good entertainment system is an essential feature of the modern home. Often, however, they’re stuck in as a bit of an afterthought. But with clever planning, you can have an AV set-up that performs well and looks great – with no stray cables.
Building for fun
The best time to think about home entertainment is when building or renovating. If you really want to get the most from your system, assess your choice of building materials. Therese Tarlinton, marketing communications manager at Gyprock, says that people often forget about the acoustic properties of simple things such as plasterboard. “Poor acoustics can make the most advanced hi-fi equipment sound mediocre, whereas good acoustics can make average gear sound spectacular,” she says. “Using specialised plasterboards, such as Gyprock ‘Soundchek’, will improve the sound within the listening room and help reduce unwanted noise-spill into other areas of the home.”
Insulation also plays an important role; choose acoustic insulation to reduce noise transfer between rooms, so you don’t have to worry about the TV volume after the kids’ bedtime. This can also be a boon in a multi-generation home where your teen’s choice of music may not chime with Gran’s.
Aim to hide ugly cables from view. In-wall or in-ceiling speakers make your sound system all but invisible and, provided you choose weather-resistant outdoor speakers, can even be installed in your undercover alfresco areas. Bluetooth sound kits enable an even cleaner look, with the speakers controlled directly from your smartphone via a discreet wall plate.
If you’re wall-mounting your television, include a power point and aerial, HDMI and ethernet connection plates out of sight behind the screen, making sure they are clear of where your mount will be attached. Another option (which can usually be retrofitted into a stud wall) is an in-wall cable duct. This comprises top and bottom wall-mounted ports with a connecting tube concealed within the wall; all you have to do is drop the cables through. If there’s no renovation on the cards, you can still get that mess of cables under control with cable clips, or cable covers that easily adhere to the wall and can be painted over to match your room’s colour scheme.
Make sure your television is mounted in a way that ensures both optimum viewing and safety. With 85-inch TVs often weighing in at more than 50kg, picking the right support is essential.
Wall mounts give a professional finish, especially when paired with concealed cabling and sockets, but ensure that your wall is able to support the load and that the mount you select is the right capacity for your appliance. There are three main types: fixed, where there is no movement in the mounted TV; tilt, where the TV can be angled downwards; and full-motion, where the TV can be tilted, moved out from the wall and angled sideways. A wall mount is usually preferable to sitting the television on its built-in stand, both for aesthetic reasons and for safety. If you do sit the TV on a console table or similar, secure it with a safety strap to help prevent it tipping over.
Full-motion TV mounts can hold the screen flush against the wall, while still allowing complete access to cables at the rear when needed.
Whether you want to amplify your TV audio or simply tune into your favourite playlist, thoughtful positioning of your speakers will have a huge impact on the quality of the sound. Freestanding speakers allow you to play with positioning to find the spot that sounds best to you. Avoid placing them on hard surfaces as this will result in an echoey, tinny sound (you can reduce this by using floor rugs), and allow clear space in front of the speakers and, where possible, to the side and the rear, to keep the sound clean and balanced. If you’re wiring in, the best sound will come from speakers at ear level. This gives in-wall or on-wall speakers an advantage over in-ceiling models, which direct sound down into the room and directly at the top of your head.
Plug and play
Expanding your sound system is now as easy as changing a light bulb with products like the Sengled‘Pulse’ range, which combines LED globes with in-built bluetooth speakers. “You can add up to seven satellites to a master light to give you eight lights in total, all linked together, so you can install lots in one room or create a multi-room sound system,” explains David Clerk, director of Sengled. “One of the best areas to use them is under your eave or in an outdoor patio-type area.” Just ensure they’re not directly exposed to rain.
If you want to add an extra element to your entertainment set-up, the Philips ‘Hue’ lighting system can synchronise with music or movies, adjusting the bulb colour to suit the sound. Smart TVs have become the norm, with even budget units now connecting to the internet. Many can also be voice controlled; a voice assistant can take things to the next level, allowing you to simply call out, a command to watch a show and start watching.
Hints for hiding the television
Televisions are an essential feature in most homes, but the gogglebox shouldn’t be the star attraction of your living space.
Niche design: Constructing a large niche or cavity to house your TV saves space and makes it less of a feature. But it’s important to note that televisions use convection cooling to shed excess heat, so it’s best not to frame them in too closely as they need good air circulation around the rear.
Behind closed doors: Enclosing the TV in a well-ventilated cabinet is an easy way to render it invisible – just shut the telly away when it’s not in use!
Art of distraction: Another clever trick for disguising a television is to surround it with framed pictures, to entice the eye away from the big black screen.
Paint power: If you don’t want your TV to be the main focus of a room, consider painting the wall or recess behind it in a darker colour such as charcoal, so the screen is camouflaged and appears to blend into the background.
Get set up
Now you know our tips to setting up a ripper home entertainment system its time to set yours up! Check out your local Bunnings to help get you started.
Photo credit: Brigid Arnott and iStock