14 Classic Rookie Home Theater Mistakes to Avoid
If you're just getting started or planning your home theater and AV projects, here are some pointers from our custom electronics pro friends.
April 17, 2014 by EH Staff

We asked custom electronics (CE) pros about the blunders they encounter when DIYers or inexperienced pros can’t get their systems to work.

Here are some of the rookie mistakes you should avoid:

Buying the least expensive gear and finding out it doesn’t have the features you need, like discrete control codes (on and off, for example) or enough inputs and outputs.

Hooking up equipment using substandard cables, connectors and adapters, leading to poor performance and, eventually, no performance.

Compromising setups that you learn to live with, like having to leave a cabinet door open, or moving cables from one device to another.


Forgetting to install Ethernet jacks at the A/V locations.

Skimping on power protection. 

Mounting video devices in poor locations: displays too high and projectors not centered correctly when there’s no lens shift available.

Failing to wire distributed audio speaker locations for stereo.

Forgetting to put power where it’s needed: racks, TVs, projectors, powered seats.

Trying to use “rules of thumb” for speaker locations in unusual rooms, such as those with missing walls or angled seating.

Not calibrating your display or audio system. At the very least take advantage of your display’s movie or cinema settings which will greatly improve the picture. Receivers usually have auto-calibration features that take mere minutes to use.

Wiring low-voltage cabling parallel with the electrical, often done in retrofit situations when the installer or DIYer simply uses the same holes used by the electrical wires.

Inadequate ventilation for equipment, resulting in burned-out gear (and calls to the manufacturer for their “faulty” products).

Not including control in your budget or your plan.

Not updating your network for high-definition video. Most of our media now comes from the internet. A reliable and robust network is critical for any new AV system.

Contributors: Morgan Harman, The Tech Source; Isaac Imig, Gorge Audio/Video; Rob Schultz, Inspired Electronics; Sam Johnson, Pro Home Systems; Raff Sanchez, B-Sun Media Systems LA

More AV and home theater project tips:
9 Overlooked Home Theater Features
Common Home Theater Compromises
Light Matters: Tips for Maximizing Your Home Theater

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