I want to create an immersive home theater experience without spending a fortune. With careful planning and strategic wiring, I can build an awesome home theater setup on a budget. In this guide, I'll walk through the key steps I need to take to wire my home for great surround sound and video without breaking the bank.

Choosing the Right Equipment

The first step is selecting the right audio and video equipment. This equipment will be the backbone of my home theater setup.

AV Receiver

The AV receiver is the central hub that all of my audio and video equipment connects to. I need to choose one with enough HDMI inputs and outputs to connect all my source devices and TV. The receiver transforms all the audio from sources into surround sound. I don't need the absolute top-of-the-line model. A good mid-range AV receiver from Denon, Onkyo, or Yamaha will suit my needs.


Quality speakers are key for an immersive surround sound experience. I recommend getting a 5.1 speaker system with two front speakers, a center channel speaker, two surround speakers, and a subwoofer. For a great balance of affordability and performance, I can choose speakers from brands like Polk, Klipsch, or Fluance.


I'll need a display like a flatscreen TV or projector. For the display, I can save money by buying a moderately-sized 1080p TV instead of the latest and greatest 4K model.

Media Source Devices

To play movies, TV, and music, I'll need source devices like a Blu-ray player, streaming device, or gaming console connected to my AV receiver. I can use affordable options like a Roku streaming stick or refurbished Blu-ray player instead of brand new, expensive players.

Planning the Speaker Layout

Once I choose my gear, I need to map out where I want to place the speakers in the room. Proper speaker placement is crucial for surround sound.

Front Speakers

The front left and right speakers should be angled in toward the central seating area. They should be equidistant from the central viewing position. The center channel speaker should be placed directly above or below the television, centered between the front left and right speakers.

Surround Speakers

The surround left and right speakers should be placed to the sides of the seating area. They should be a few feet above ear level. Proper surround placement makes sound effects pan seamlessly around the room.


The subwoofer can be placed nearly anywhere since bass frequencies are non-directional. I'll place it near the front of the room, either centered between the front speakers or off to one side.

Running Cables and Wires

Now for the wiring. I'll need to run cables from my AV receiver to each speaker location and display.

HDMI Cables

I'll run HDMI cables from my AV receiver to my TV and media sources since they carry both high-quality video and audio signals. For most setups, one or two 3-6 foot HDMI cables will suffice.

Speaker Wire

For the speakers, I'll run 16 or 14 gauge oxygen-free copper speaker wire from the receiver to each speaker location. To save money, I can purchase spools of speaker wire and cut them to the needed lengths.

In-Wall Wiring

I have two choices for connecting wires - run them along the baseboards or fish them through the walls. For a clean look, I'll fish the wires through the walls. This may require some drywall work and cutting holes to route wires between wall cavities.

Cable Management

I'll neatly bundle and secure the wiring using cable ties, wire tracks, or conduits. This keeps everything organized and out of sight.

Connecting Equipment and Testing

With the wiring in place, it's time to plug everything in. I'll connect source devices to receiver inputs, run speaker wire from receiver outputs to each speaker, and connect TV display outputs.

To ensure proper connections, I'll test audio and video from each source. I'll also adjust speaker levels through my AV receiver settings for optimum audio balance.

Adding Acoustic Panels

Acoustic treatment can take my theater to the next level by improving the sound quality. Panels and bass traps help minimize echo and resonances that muddy the sound.

I can inexpensively make my own panels using rigid fiberglass insulation boards and fabric. These can be strategically placed around the room to absorb first reflections and improve audio clarity.

With thoughtful planning and strategic wiring, I can create an awesome surround sound home theater without spending a fortune. While high-end gear would be nice, budget options can still provide an immersive experience. Careful speaker placement, clean cable management, acoustic treatment, and optimized audio settings help me get the most from my affordable equipment.