Buying a new home theater system is a significant expenditure and one that you do not want to waste by using your components improperly and getting sub-prime sound. Installing your home theater system to maximize sound is largely a process defined by two tasks: placing your speakers properly and calibrating your receiver.

There are a few general rules to follow when it comes to speaker placement. First, your front speakers, which includes the center, left and right speakers, ought to reside at about ear-level for most seated listeners. That might mean buying speakers on stands or towers or mounting them on the wall or shelves. Place your subwoofer toward the front of the theater system. Experiment with a few different locations to get the smoothest response. To create realistic surround sound and environmental noises, place rear and side speakers about 3 feet higher than ear level. Do not angle speakers toward listeners.

Once your speakers are arrayed, it is time to calibrate the receiver. Here, a high-end receiver with manual adjustment capabilities is a must-have. First, adjust the crossover frequency by setting the speaker size to "Small" for all speakers. This gives the best response from your woofer. Next, purchase a sound pressure level meter, and use it to set the output levels of each speaker. Finally, use a tape measure to find the speaker-to-listener distances for each speaker to the nearest foot, then enter the data into the appropriate menu in the receiver.

When your speakers reside in the appropriate places, and their settings are calibrated for the highest level of performance, you and your guests experience your system's best possible sound. These tasks take little longer than an afternoon to perform, and the auditory benefit is something you enjoy for years to come.