So what is going to take place once you hire a company to design and install a home theater? How are you going to understand all those things they’ll say you’ll need just to watch movies on a big-screen and have good sound? It really isn’t rocket science. In fact, it can be quite simple. To help you, we’ve constructed a general timeline of a typical home theater project, and the accompanying sidebars detail your audio and video equipment options. Keep in mind that project timelines vary from a few days to months. Most home theater projects take several weeks from start to completion.
Day 1 You’ve just hired the custom electronics company and signed the contract. When you were at their offices, you could almost see and hear your home theater system, mainly because a demo was playing in a nearby room. You get home to your piddly home entertainment setup, and watch and listen in complete dissatisfaction. It’s so bad you want to rip the wires right out of the TV, but you can’t because you need something to watch for the few weeks it will take to get your own home theater system completed. You can hardly wait. In fact, you don’t think you can.
Day 2 You lie in bed in the morning thinking of your new home theater system. My God, man, what have you done?
Day 3 What is taking so darned long to get your home theater system?
The Next Few Weeks You’re not sure where everything is going to fit into your home theater room, so the electronics company will come up with a design for where the TV or screen, the speakers and the other systems will go. (Some companies may only design the electronics systems, while others might give you ideas on the entire room. If you’re working with an architect or interior designer, the electronics company should be in touch with them to coordinate everyone’s efforts.) You may have several sit-downs with the electronics company before a suitable design is determined.
After That The electronics company has a system proposal to show you. Gulp. This is the part you don’t think you’ll understand—unless you review some of the things you’ll need in the sidebars that accompany this article. So it’s vital to keep this magazine with you at all times! The first time you look at the equipment list, nothing makes sense until you scan to the bottom line. Then you realize that your life is over—or at least that portion of your life where you had any disposable income. Don’t worry: You don’t have to accept this proposal, especially if it doesn’t meet your budget. You also don’t have to accept the next one or the one after that.
The Next Day You find a few things in that equipment list that actually makes sense, and you begin jotting down intelligent questions. You won’t ask these questions until you write them all down. (Note that if you’re writing the check, you can never ask a dumb question.)
Decisions, Decisions You’d love to have that huge flat-panel plasma screen, but it would completely bust your budget. Maybe you’ll have to step down a size or two. And you’d really like those extra speakers, but that means you won’t have enough money left for necessities like video cables and speaker wire. Keep your priorities in mind, and remember that you can always add some extras later. It’s about time to write that big check to order the equipment, but how big do you want it to be?
The Next Day You can’t watch this teensy 27-inch TV any longer. What is taking so long? Then you remember that the electronics company just ordered your equipment.
A Few Weeks Later The equipment has come in, and if your electronics company is good, it will assemble your system at its facility and test it to see that everything works properly. If a control system is part of your package, the company will need some extra time to program it. This also goes for any universal remotes. It will make them easy for you to use.
Meanwhile … You’re building a space for this home theater, and the interior wiring for it has been done and the walls have gone up and some idiot subcontractor is causing a delay that will screw up everyone and cost you time. You take this opportunity to cross him off the home theater guest list.
Finally … After a few months, the system is finally being installed. Depending on the size and scope of your system, the electronics guys may be in your house for several days. Once the system is in place, they should be testing it to make sure it provides you with an accurate picture, clear audio and simple control.
And then … It’s yours—it’s actually yours! You take a seat, press a button and your home entertainment system brings you a new world of possibilities. You’re on the edge of your seat, and the show has just begun.
By Steven Castle, senior editor for Electronic House magazine. To see more articles from the editors of Electronic House magazine about the connected home visit www.electronichouse.com.
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