The receiver is the brain of any home theater system, even though it’s a little too intimidating, particularly for a first-time user. Since we know that buyers can find the installation process somewhat baffling, we’ve put together a list of the most important things you should consider when setting up your system. A little research never hurt anyone, so be sure to read the manual provided by the manufacturer.


home theater system


The right space:

One of the first details to take into account is that receivers can often times get very hot. This is the reason you should place them in a well-ventilated spot. If, for example, you plan on integrating the home theater system into your furniture, you must consider ventilation. Most of the receivers we’ve consulted feature vents on the top surface, which is why it’s highly recommended that you never place anything over the unit.


The GUI:

Believe it or not, it is significantly easier to set up a receiver while using the graphic user interface instead of the front panel of the receiver. With the help of the GUI, you have a clearer picture of what you’ll be installing. Also, you’ll know exactly how pieces of the home audio system should look like in the room. The height and speaker configuration can be set according to the instructions provided by the GUI.


Sources and inputs:

Probably the first thing that you should do once you’re the owner of a receiver is to check whether or not it comes with the inputs required for all your devices. HDMi is to be preferred compared to its video input counterparts, as is digital coax/optical input compared to RCA-type plugs. For instance, the TV will have two cables: one HDMI to send the video signal from the receiver to the TV and optical audio cable to send the audio to the receiver.

Some receivers feature many HDMI connections. For example, modern alternatives can have up to 7 assignable inputs. Moreover, iPod/iPhone USB ports are becoming a norm nowadays, and they can usually be found on the front panel.

Most models still feature component video inputs (the blue, green, and red cables). These ones require a lot more work, as they only pass the video. Therefore, the buyer has to connect the audio cables correctly, or he or she will see the video but fail to hear the sound.



Many manufacturers name the connections depending on where they’re supposed to be located: Center, Left, Right, etc. This way, the consumer automatically knows which speaker should be plugged into which receiver slot. Audio connections are very important for surround-sound systems, as they can ruin an entire experience if they’re not properly set up.

Some of the receivers that now exist on the market feature microphones that are able to detect the speaker levels. This allows the unit to measure the chamber’s acoustics and realize what’s wrong with it. It goes without saying that this is an immense help for first-time users, as they’ll know exactly what changes they need to do.


home theater systems set up



In case you ever need to perform a modification or move the home theater system from one room to the other, we recommend labeling your wires in the first place. This will allow you to know just what cable goes where, particularly if you place a sticker on both ends of a cable.

Another thing worth mentioning is that cables have to be given some slack. While moving a system, an HDMI cable can be broken just by pulling it out of the connection. If your time allows it, focus a part of your energy on organizing the cables and on consolidating wire bundles.



Using a multi-zone receiver is a tad more complicated, as you’ll need to drill holes into walls in order to extend the cables up to the other room where you want your audio or video signal. If this doesn’t seem appealing, consider a wireless solution. Adding extra zones to an A/V system can often times be performed by a professional, which is why the procedure adds up to the end-cost of the entire system.



Reputable brands such as Sony and others have focused on designing highly usable receivers, which is why these manufacturers like to add connectivity features such as audio streaming, Netflix, wireless interfaces, and USB.

If you’d like to activate an online streaming system, it’s probably a good idea to keep a laptop handy, as you’ll need to go online to set up the device.

Home theater receivers are a must if you’re looking for versatility. These devices allow users to use numerous sources and to listen or display from different devices. All in all, an A/V receiver significantly increases the way you experience the performance of your home theater system.