HOME THEATER SYSTEM BASICS
Thinking of Turning Your Den Into A Home Theater?
Follow along as we get you started.
What Is Home Theater, and What Do I Need to Get Started?A home theater system is generally a combination of electronic components (TV, sound system, seating, lighting) that recreates the movie theater experience. You are aware of the differences between movie theaters and watching the same movie on your vcr or dvd player. If you decide to go for a home theater system in your own home, you'll feel more like you are at the movies and not just watching TV. The basics for your home theater system include the sound, the movie screen, and projection. Lighting and seating are secondary concerns, and probably the least expensive items in your home theater.
To begin with, you'll need a large-screen television set, minimum 27-inches measured diagonally and with a clear picture; at least 5 speakers; equipment which can split up the signals from the surround sound to each speaker; and something to play your movies with (dvd player), which has good picture quality. And don't forget the room to house all this equipment in, where you can relax and watch quality movies in your own home when you want.
Tell Me More--Prices, Equipment, Etc.Depending on the equipment you already own and your own budget, your home movie theater can run from about $500 all the way up to $30,000. If you already have a fairly good quality large-screen TV and sound system, you can probably spend around $500 for a basic home theater system by upgrading your speakers and perhaps a new dvd player. If these things are lacking, you could spend about $8,000 to buy a new large-screen plasma or lcd TV, surround sound system and speakers, good quality dvd player and other accessories. And if money is no object, $30,000 can get you a projection system with built-in speakers, dvd player, bolt-in theater seats, and more.
We cover the components to your home theater in related articles.
I Have the Equipment, Now I Just Need a Place to Put ItOnce you have all the equipment, it's time to set up your home theater. You'll want to have an enclosed room, rather than one that's more open. Open rooms are not very acoustical. It should have a good deal of space and not much light. You'll also do better with carpets in your home theater, rather than wood or linoleum flooring. And you may want to put curtains on the walls, to help absorb the sound. After these details are taken care of, the next thing to consider is placement of your television. You'll want to place it where it will the most visible from all seating, and away from glare. Put the television in the best possible place, then build the rest of the system around it.
Placing the sound system will be a little trickier. You should have the front three speakers the same size, placed near the television and on the same level as the screen so that the sound is coming from the same place the action is. You have a little more flexibility with the other speakers, but they should still be evenly placed. Depending on the sound system, they should be placed to the sides or the rear of the listeners. The only suggestion for placing the subwoofer is on the floor or against the wall, other than that it's all up to you.
Lighting is another factor in your home theater. You don't want bright lights, and at the same time you don't want complete darkness, either. Consider ambient lighting and a dimmer switch. You can even set this up to work when your dvd player goes on or off.
In ConclusionHow you set your home theater up is completely up to you and your budget. If you just want to improve your setup in your family room, consider some of the "Theater in a Box" setups (which usually contain speakers, receiver, and sometimes even a dvd player); get a good-sized TV and dvd player and you should be all set. If you have the money and the space to be more elaborate and want a major home theater, you can consult with a home theater expert for more advice, or some do-it-yourself sources such as Howstuffworks or Hometheater.about.com
Be sure to check out our other articles about TV sets and Home Theater components.