To get the most out of your favorite movies, TV shows, games, and music, it’s important to have the right home entertainment setup. With advances in visual displays and speaker systems, you can now customize your entertainment experience and focus on the things that are important to you. Do you want a crystal-clear picture? Do you want an immersive sound experience? You can create the ultimate setup according to your preferences.
What is a home entertainment system?
Home entertainment encompasses the visual and audio media your family consumes, including television, movies, games, and music. In this guide, we’ll discuss the visual and audio elements you’ll want to pay attention to, as well as some accessories that can take your experience to the next level.
Depending on your home setup, you’ll probably want to make sure your TV displays the best it can. Some people may even have enough space to use a projector, but for now, let’s go over what makes a TV great.
When you are looking for the perfect TV for your home entertainment setup, you should consider screen resolution, refresh rate, screen size, and the display. You should also factor in whether you would like your television to be smart or not.
From high definition (HD) ramping all the way up to 8KUHD (Ultra High Definition), you have a lot of options when it comes to picking your screen resolution. The screen of a television is made up of rows and rows of pixels. The more rows and the more pixels on the screen, the clearer and more defined the picture will appear, according to Best Buy. These days, you will probably want to look into one of the UHD versions. Both 4K and 8K offer great resolution, with 4K working well on a variety of screen sizes and 8K providing incredible resolution on extra large screens.
When it comes to screen size, it’s all about the distance you sit from the screen that matters. Crutchfield recommends choosing a size that will fill up your vision. Depending on the resolution you want, that will also affect the size of TV you should choose. You will need to consider the size of the room where you want to put your new TV, and how you will arrange your furniture for optimal viewing. For a 4KUHD TV, the experts at Crutchfield recommend a viewing distance of about 1 to 1.5 times the screen size. For example, if you plan to sit five feet away from your television, they recommend a 60” TV. It all comes down to your personal viewing preference.
If you notice blurriness on your television, you may want to look at getting a TV with a high refresh rate. A 4K TV will not have a refresh rate higher than 120 Hz, which refers to the number of times per second (Hz) your TV will refresh an image. The higher the rate, the smoother motion will look, so this matters to both film buffs and gamers who want to see clear, defined motion without any blur. If that matters to you, be sure to factor it in.
LED or OLED
When it comes to your display, the next thing you need to think about is LED vs OLED. The type of lighting that your TV uses will impact your viewing experience. In an LED (light-emitting diode) television, the technology uses backlighting to light up the pixels on the screen. In contrast, OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology produces light and color without a backlight. Without the need for a backlight, OLED televisions are much thinner. Both types have benefits and drawbacks in terms of brightness, color contrast, viewing angles, size, and much more, so be sure to factor what’s important to you into your decision.
Most televisions sold today are smart TVs, which makes it easy to combine the functionality of a mobile device with a large-format screen. You can use your smart TV to go online, view photos, stream music, and indulge in your favorite movies or shows, whether you watch traditional broadcasting or use a streaming app.
Speaking of streaming…
Over 60% of Americans subscribe to a streaming service to watch their favorite shows and movies, with 69% of households subscribing to more than one. To consolidate your streaming options and make it easier to view it on your television, you’ll need a streaming device. Streaming devices include Smart TVs, gaming systems, Blu-ray players, or a dedicated device like an Apple TV or Roku. These devices then connect your TV or home theater to the internet, allowing you to stream content, including videos, music, TV shows, movies, and sports.
Your gaming system
To get the most out of video games with the least lag, you’ll want to use a wired connection, which can help improve speeds and cut down on latency. A wired connection is also essential when it comes to downloading games from the internet or streaming your gameplay live. Also, since gaming requires a higher upload speed than many other online activities, you may want to consider fiber internet because it has symmetrical, fast, download and upload speeds.
As for gaming systems, there are great gaming platforms available now. Both Xbox and Playstation have recently released new consoles that take gaming to new heights, while the Nintendo Switch is one of the most popular choices over the last year. All systems have exclusive games, so be sure to do your research about which games you want to play before you buy.
How your videos, movies, and games sound is just as an important as how they look, and you have a few options to consider. Again, it largely comes down to the space where your home entertainment system will be set up.
A soundbar is a great entry-level speaker system, taking up less space than a receiver and speakers or a surround sound system. Usually will sit in front of your TV or mount to the wall just below it. Because a soundbar is so wide, it distributes sound to both the right and left, which can make for a more immersive experience. Many soundbars allow you to connect wirelessly, though for the best sound, you should strive for a wired connection. Some also come with a subwoofer to enhance the bass in explosions and car scenes.
Choosing the right speakers for your home entertainment setup can be entirely pre-packaged, or you can create your own customized soundscape. For a custom setup, you may consider floor speakers to deliver the bulk of the sound effects and for stereo sound. Bookshelf speakers can also add to the experience, distributing sound at ear-level or wherever they are placed. To boost the bass, you may also want to add in a subwoofer. Finally, surround sound speakers make for the most immersive experience.
To distribute sound to your speaker setup, you’ll need a receiver to act as the central hub. Receivers can also integrate with your smart assistant and may include WiFi so you can stream your favorite music.
If you want to save yourself the time of researching the perfect setup, you can buy a complete set of speakers. But ultimately, you will want to avoid wireless speakers, as the audio quality will suffer over a wireless connection.
Speaker sensitivity refers to how loud the speaker can with a given amount of wattage. It is measured in decibels (dB). Anything considered below 84 dB is considered poor sensitivity and won’t deliver the sound experience you’re after. Strive for 92 dB or higher when you go to purchase your speakers.
Your speakers need to be able to handle the output of your receiver or turning up the volume may damage them. Be sure to choose speakers that can handle the maximum output of the receiver you choose. According to the Sound Guys, a 50W amplified will generally work for most households, but for bigger home theater setups, you may want to target the 75W range.
Protect your home entertainment setup from sudden power surges that can happen during a thunderstorm or other electrical event. A surge protector can come in an outlet strip, allowing you to power up your entire system and keep sensitive electronics safe at the same time.
Accent lighting can help you set the mood for movies and gaming sessions. The key is to avoid using light that will shine directly on your screen, disrupting your visual experience. A smart bulb can allow you to get just the right color and brightness for any entertainment situation.
Conversely, you may want to create dark space to immerse and prevent any screen glare. Blackout curtains can be a good investment here.
Cable management systems
Since a wired system will offer you the best experience both visually and audibly, you’ll probably have some cables you need to manage. There are a variety of ways to keep cables from view, including zip ties, Velcro ties, or cable organizer boxes and bins. When you organize, be sure to keep your audio/visual cables separate from the electrical cords, as it could cause interference and disrupt your experience.
How much internet speed will you need?
To power a home entertainment system, you’ll need a high-speed internet connection that can handle the demands of streaming videos and gaming. To get a good viewing experience without annoying lags, especially if you have multiple people in your home streaming at the same time, we recommend a broadband internet connection with a bandwidth of at least 25 Mbps. Even better? A fiber connection, at up to 940 Mbps. With fiber internet, you can enjoy all your home entertainment activities with less worry about any buffering or lag.
What if a speed upgrade isn’t available at your home? Try adding a second line specifically for your entertainment needs.
Setting up the ultimate home entertainment system can be fun, especially if you customize it to your exact preferences. For more information on life with technology, be sure to check out the CenturyLink Discover blog for a variety of topics.