Does the thought of setting up your home theater equipment freak you out? If so, you are not alone. Here are the Top 5 Scariest Mistakes and some remedies to make sure you hear every bump in the night this Halloween.

#1: Speaker Placement

Speaker placement is essential to experiencing every detail of your favorite slasher film. However, some of you might be scared off by space restrictions or room esthetics.

Since close to 90 percent of a movie soundtrack comes from the Center Channel, where you place it has a huge impact on your overall sound experience. Make sure the Left, Center and Right speakers are always placed to the listener’s left, center and right. Also, try to keep the subwoofer close to the TV, while making the bass as consistent as possible from seat to seat.

For more information on speaker set up and sub placement visit http://www.thx.com/consumer/home-entertainment/home-theater/surround-sound-speaker-set-up/

#2: Proper AVR Set Up

Choosing the wrong settings in your AVR could mean that you are not hearing the full capabilities of your speakers. And in some extreme cases, risk a blowout.

Most of today’s AVRs are equipped with a bass management tool. This allows you to properly set the distribution of bass between the loudspeakers and the subwoofer(s). With any THX Certified AVR, you can go into your set up menu and identify your loudspeaker(s) as either Small or Large. Since THX recommends having your sub handle bass below 80Hz, we suggest you set your speakers to Small. With this set up you will ensure that the sub is handling the majority of the low end bass, while the loudspeakers are free to handle more of the mids and highs.

#3: Aiming Speakers

Some of your guests could be missing out if you have poorly aimed speakers. Regardless of speaker brand or design, most speakers disperse sound forward in a rectangular pattern. If your seating position is outside of this pattern, you may experience a Halloween nightmare.

Step-by-Step Speaker Aiming Guidelines:

    To help properly aim your speakers use your AVRs built-in test tone and follow these steps:

  • One speaker at a time, play pink noise and listen at each seat
  • Move each speaker left/right/up/down until you get consistent sound at each seat
  • Repeat step 2 for each speaker
  • All speakers may not sound exactly the same, but try to get them as close as possible

#4: Proper Cables

It is quite common to own several home theater products that have varying capabilities. Because of this, it is important to ensure you are using the best wires for the job. Using the wrong cable can often mean the difference between a full High Def Wow or a fuzzy 2 channel yawn.

Always choose the best quality signal path in the following order of preference:

  • Full HD Audio: For 7.1 audio plus HD video use HDMI cables
  • 5.1 Audio: Digital SPDIF co-axial (RCA) or optical (Toslink)
  • 2 Channel Audio: Analog RCA cable, usually red and white for right and left

#5: Out of Phase

The speakers in your system should all be wired the same way. If not, one or more of your speakers may be “out of phase,” which could murder your soundtrack.

Follow these simple steps to make sure your speakers are wired correctly:

  • Ensure each speaker is wired with the positive (red) terminal connected to the positive (red) terminal on the amplifier. Speaker wire is usually marked with a “+” symbol on the positive wire.
  • If you can’t access the wires, you can listen to a test signal, such as the phase test found on THX Optimizer.
  • Listen to the test signal in each pair of speakers.
  • If they are in phase, the test signal will appear to come from the space between the speakers. This phenomenon is called a phantom source location (it sounds scary, but it’s not). If they are out of phase, the tone will appear like it is coming from two separate locations.
  • If you need to correct the phase, reverse the wire connection for that speaker.
  • Repeat for all of the speakers in your home theater system.