There was a time not too long ago where a "home entertainment center" consisted of a 21-inch TV on top of a small wooden stand with a separate stereo system somewhere close by. But with the technology available to us now, those days have become a distant memory.
As technical evolution would have it, the home entertainment center has taken on a whole new persona. With the integration capabilities between sight, sound and information transfer, a good home entertainment system can create an environment of audio-visual euphoria.
All manipulated by the touch of a few buttons on a remote control device, the rumble of subsonic bass speakers rolls beneath our feet. At the same time, a crystal clear image of a movie or sporting event comes to life on a screen that could be at least five or six times the size of that old table-top model and in 3-D to boot.
Building a Home Entertainment System
The process of building a home entertainment center can range from relatively simple to mammoth depending on the layout of the room and the type of system you desire.
There are many variables, but let's say you're building a basic home entertainment system with slightly above-average audio and video equipment and some computer connectivity thrown into the mix. You will need a large multi-level shelving unit, especially if you plan on using a 50-plus-inch TV. You will also need room for some or all of the surrounding components, such as a stereo receiver, DVD player, any cable boxes. Your shelving unit will have to be large enough to handle all of the HDMI cable required to hook the system together. It must have plenty of holes available to allow for cables to connect to any power sources and adequate ventilation. A/V equipment is notorious for the amount of heat it puts off.
Always keep safety in mind when dealing with electronics. Make sure all power cords are Underwriters Laboratory (UL) classified. When doing anything with power cords or wiring, it's always a good idea to cut the power off to the room you are working in. Never plug too many cords into one power source. It's best to have a surge strip with multiple outlets and a built-in surge protector. This will allow you to assign one outlet per power cord.
Other Components and Cabling
The personal computer (PC) is quickly becoming a routine component within home entertainment systems. There may be some connectivity issues at first glance, but these have been quickly resolved in many cases with the advent of HDMI cables. By making your PC part of the home entertainment system, you can watch online videos on your big screen or play songs from your vast music library using the surround sound system. Your PC can also become a fine-tuning and adjusting source for your home entertainment system.
For many home entertainment system owners these days, one big-screen TV is not enough. There will sometimes be two, three or maybe even more televisions around the house. With the use of a video splitter, the signal from your computer source can be replicated and distributed to multiple screens.
Try your best to keep cabling neat and organized. This is not always easy. Many of the home entertainment systems we come across display a dense jungle of cables and wires. When possible, use cable ties to wrap cords together, trying to make them straight as possible in the process.
In simpler times, there were only a few power cords and "wires" to deal with when configuring home audiovisual equipment into a single system. But the sensory experience today's systems provide is worth all the work that goes into the setup process.
B. Stacy, founder and owner of Cable & Connector Technologies, is the author of this article about the essential role the HDMI cable, surge strip, cable ties and video splitter plays in creating a home entertainment system. Cable & Connector Technologies is a wholesaler of computer, networking and audio visual cables.
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