These days home theater is bigger than ever. Years ago is started with laser disc, DVD made it mainstream, and now with Blu-ray and cheap high definition TVs, the home theater experience is truly available to anyone.
These days, a good home theater system can easily equal the quality of any local cineplex, and except for the screen size, it’s easy to exceed it!
But if you are thinking of dipping your toes into home theater for the first time, you may be a bit daunted. It doesn’t help that most sales people don’t know, or don’t care about what they are talking about, as long as they get the sale. Unless you know someone who is already into home theatre, you may find yourself lost for good advice. Luckily, it’s really not hard at all.
First, here’s what you should not buy under any circumstances: A home theater in a box.
My reason is a little different from most. In general they have a reputation for poor sound quality, due to the cheap speakers. In reality, some of them are actually not all that bad, if used in a small room. The real problem is build quality, I have seen so many of these broken very early if their lifecycle its not even funny. My advice is just don’t bother.
What you should do it purchase a decent receiver and speakers separately. It need not be the most expensive receiver in the store. In fact, for most casual users, the difference between a cheap receiver and an expensive one probably won’t be obvious. Just be sure that it has HDMI, and support for the latest sound formats, such as Dolby Digital HD, as these are used on current Blu-ray discs. Some good receiver brands are Denon, Pioneer, and Harmon Kardon.
The speakers are the most important feature of you home theatre, and what will contribute most to duplicating the theater experience at home, not the TV! That being the case, do not cheap out, buy the best speakers you can afford. There are many fantastic, inexpensive speaker brands on the market. I am partial to Infinity, but take a look as Paradigm, Energy, and Klipsch, to name a few.
I suggest buying bookshelf speakers for home theater and avoiding the fancier designs. This will allow your system to double as a stereo more seamlessly. A home theater has a minimum of 6 speakers to mains, a center channel (for dialogue), two surrounds, and a subwoofer. Many modern formats use up to 8 speakers (adding a left and right rear speaker, and addition to the standard two surround speakers.) In my personal opinion, the difference of adding the two extra speakers is extremely subtle, and really only noticeable in a very large rooms. I recommend you save some money here, or put it towards your other speakers.
Make sure you don’t cheap out on the subwoofer, a good place to get an amazing sub for your money is SVS Subwoofers.
Now hook it all up to your TV and blast the floorboards away.
The Limelight is about living life creatively and finding inspiration to do so. It is not restricted to any one narrow focus, and so you will find articles here on topics ranging from money to food to photography, and anything else that contributes to living an inspired, creative life.
Jonathan Timar is a naturally creative person. Creativity is his life’s blood. He’s an actor and filmmaker, a writer and a photographer. He is also a graduate of broadcasting school. He is and avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction. His favorite novel of all time is Tai-Pan by James Clavell followed closely by Shogun, also by James Clavell..