HOME THEATER EQUIPMENT CHOICES
Basic Equipment To Outfit Your Home Theater
We already have an article on our web site pertaining to the various types and sizes of TV's, including price ranges and manufacturers.
What's a Home Theater Without the TVProbably the first thing you'll be considering as you set up your home theater, is the type of TV you will be watching movies on. Howstuffworks.com recommends at least a 27-inch television for your home theater system. There are many types of big-screen TV's available, what you choose is strictly up to you and your budget. You can select a large screen direct-view television for as little as $300, or a more exotic rear or front projection set for a couple thousand dollars.
We have more information on TV choices in other articles in this category, so what we include here is general information.
The standard direct-view TV is what most of us have grown up with. They are now available in large enough sizes to be a consideration in your home theater. Ranging in size from 27 to 40 inches, they still deliver an excellent quality picture. Forty inches is the largest they get, so if you want something bigger, you will need to look at a different model.
Rear-projection screens do not have the size constraints that direct-view sets have. Sizes range up to about 60-inches. The basic types of projection sets include LCD's, CRT's, and DLP's. See our other article for more information.
Flat-screen TV's work well in smaller rooms, since they are thin and take up less space. The two main types are LCD and plasma. Again, see the other article for more information.
Sound SystemsOne of the wonderful things about movie theaters is their sound system. You can hear the sound moving from one side of the room to the other. You can recreate that same sound (on a smaller scale) in your own home theater. You should have two to three speakers in front of you, and two to three speakers either behind or on the sides. The sound is split into multiple channels so it comes out of each speaker. The most prominent sounds will come out of the front speakers, while the speakers in the rear or sides will project the background noise, such as dogs barking, airplanes, or birds chirping. In order to get these sounds split up to the various speakers, you'll need an audio/video receiver. This part of your system gets a little tricky to explain, but suffice it to say, you need a receiving system to send the sound out to the speakers so you can enjoy theater-quality broadcasts in your home theater. Some receivers contain other components, such as a dvd player or audio tuner. There are a wide range of receivers available ranging in price from $250 all the way to $2,500. Some will even come with speakers. If you want more information on how they work, go to Howstuffworks.com.
Speakers are your next consideration. No matter how good the quality of your picture is, the sound system is what sets movie theaters apart from just watching TV. If you don't already have some speakers in your proposed home theater, you will need these. You'll need several identical sized speakers, as mentioned above. The number depends on how many channels you'll want for your setup. You may also want a subwoofer for the bass sounds. We recommend same-sized speakers, since size difference will alter sound quality.
Home THXTHX is Lucasfilms' standard for movie theater equipment and arrangement. There's also a version for home theater systems. THX has certified audio/video receivers, dvd players, video screens, speakers, and cables. THX certified equipment will cost you a bit more, but if you aren't limited with funds and are serious about a high-quality home theater, consider this option. More information is available from the THX Web site.
Theater In A BoxSeveral companies make what is known as Theater in a Box. These systems usually give you speakers, a receiver, sometimes a dvd player, and other items. Price ranges from about $350 on up to about $1,000. Sony, Bose, RCA, Panasonic and Onkyo are well known media manufacturers who also make a theater in a box. C/Net Reviews can give you more information on specific makes and models.
This should get you started on putting together your own home theater system. As usual, there is more information available than we are able to present here, so we encourage you to check out some of the sources we've listed if you need more information.