Upgrading Your Home Sound System (for Dummies)

Living room with furniture and electronics
  • 1-10 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-5,000

Upgrading your home audio system may seem like an overwhelming job, but it’s really a simple task once you have all of the components organized. Determine what equipment you want to include and the quality of each device you want to buy. You will find that after your system has been properly upgraded, listening to your favorite music and watching movies will be more enjoyable than ever.

Step 1 - Get Someone to Help

To upgrade your system, you'll need to move around devices and check for sound quality. These jobs are easier to do when you have someone with you. It's much easier to determine if a connection is working properly if you have someone to listen to the system while you check connections.

Step 2 - Start With an Audio Receiver

To create the best sound, you'll need an audio receiver to control all of your a

To create the best sound, you'll need an audio receiver to control all of your audio devices. A receiver enables you to easily switch between your CD and DVD players. If you don’t already have one, it’s a good idea to visit your local electronics store and speak with a sales representative about your plans to upgrade. The representative will want to know how many devices you plan to incorporate in your design so that you can get a receiver with enough ports for all of your equipment.

Step 3 - Select Speakers That Fit Your System

Once you have a receiver, you'll need speakers for your system. If you don’t already have speakers, know that you will need at least two. When you’re looking for speakers, be sure to have your receiver specifications with you, which will help you select speakers that will work well with your system. If you’re looking to create a full movie theater effect in your home, then surround sound speakers are the way to go. In that case you will need five speakers: one for either side of your receiver, one for the center of your television, and two for the back wall of your room.

Step 4 - Choose a CD and DVD Player

Most people have CD and DVD players at home that they use to listen to music and watch movies. If you aren’t one of those people, you’ll need these too. Decide whether you want a typical DVD player or a Blu-ray device. Most Blu-ray players offer higher resolution pictures than DVD players and they're not as expensive as they used to be.

Step 5 - Pick up Enough Speaker Cable

You'll need enough speaker cable to run from each of your devices to the audio r

You'll need enough speaker cable to run from each of your devices to the audio receiver. Use a measuring tape to determine the length of cable you'll need for each piece of equipment and add the lengths to determine the total amount necessary. If you're building a surround sound system, you'll need to ensure you measure from the receiver to the spot on the back wall where you want to position the two speakers. Keep in mind you'll probably want to hide the wires, so don’t measure directly across the floor. Follow around the baseboard of the room to the back wall so you'll have enough cable to hide behind the floor trim.

Step 6 - Connect Your Equipment

Before you start connecting any of your equipment, make sure the power to all of the devices is turned off. Connect your speaker cable from your receiver to your speakers. Be sure to attach the wire to the proper port on the receiver. Next, connect the CD and DVD players. Once again, it's important to attach the wires from both devices to their corresponding input ports on the receiver. After all of these devices have been connected, turn on the power and test to make sure they are all operating properly.

Finally, connect your cable box and your television to the system. For surround sound systems, make sure each speaker is working properly. This will mean putting an ear to each speaker as you test the system. Keep in mind that with a surround system, the sounds coming from each speaker are based on the music or movie being played. To create a realistic effect, surround systems project sounds from front and back speakers differently.

Step 7 - Adjust Your Remote

The last item on your upgrade list is adjusting your remote to include all of your newly organized equipment. With a universal remote, you'll be able to manage everything from one place rather than negotiating your way through several devices. Each piece of equipment will have a particular code you can program into the remote. Check the manufacturer guides from each device to get the codes you need. When your remote is all set, place the other controls in a safe place in the event you might need them at a later date.