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selecting a home theater

Selecting a Home Theater 

Choosing the video screen
To recreate all of the impact and excitement of today’s blockbuster movies, you’ll want to have the biggest TV possible to fit your room and budget. The home theater experience is all about big: a big picture and big sound. Without these, you might as well be watching a 19″ tube TV.

Flat-panel TVs
For home theater, the best television technology often depends on the size of the room. OLED, LCD, or LED flat-panel TVs are often a great choice, especially in smaller media rooms where space is at a premium. The picture quality can be amazing and there and since they mount flat against the wall, they take up very little room. There are even new versions available if you want a little taste of the future of TV. But the major limitation is the screen size. 85″ screens are pretty much the limit, at least without going into the limited production, and very expensive, 105″ and 150″ models.


  • Thinner and lighter panels
    OLED pixels can be controlled individually, so the panels can be much thinner.
  • Less power consumption
    OLED TVs don’t require backlighting, so they use less power.
  • Sharp contrast
    OLED TVs can turn off unused pixels completely, which creates infinite contrast.
  • Better picture quality
    OLED TVs can produce absolute blacks, extremely bright whites, and a wider color gamut.

Video projection systems
In larger media rooms, the best solution is often a video projector with separate video screen. With these so-called two-piece video projector systems, the size of the screen is entirely open. If the room lighting can be controlled with dimmers and shades and if the viewing distance is far enough, screen sizes of 200″ or more are entirely practical, and often recommended. Imagine how exciting that would be.

Choosing the Speakers 
The picture on the screen is only half the story. Great sound is also an important part of the home theater experience. The actors’ dialog, the musical sound track, and special effects, all combine to give the movie its emotional impact. And more than any other part, it’s the speakers that determine the quality of the sound.

So selecting the best speakers for your home theater is important, but with a little knowledge and some expert help, it’s not all that difficult. So let’s take a look at the basics of a surround sound speaker system, and then some specific examples of speaker technology that may help you make your choice.

Part one: The front speakers
In a home theater surround sound speaker system, three speakers are placed in the front of the room. One goes to the left of the TV screen; another to the right; and the third one goes directly above or below the TV.

Part two: The rear surround effect speakers
In a five-speaker surround sound system, two speakers are positioned behind the seating area. They create the special effects that are so important to the home theater experience. A seven-speaker surround sound system adds two more speakers for the side walls, slightly in front of the rear speakers.

Part three: The subwoofer
For a home theater surround sound system to have real impact, a subwoofer is a must. It’s a specialized speaker that reproduces just the deep, low sounds. These are the sounds that you feel as much as you hear.

Different types of speakers for surround sound
Now let’s look at some specific speaker categories and learn about how they can be used in a home theater.

Floor standing speakers—Most of our very best speakers are floor-standing models. In general, they exhibit the best bass response as well as superior imaging (the ability to pinpoint exactly where the sound is coming from). Of course, they are also bigger and take up some floor space, which sometimes can be problematic.

Bookshelf speakers—Take a floor-standing speaker and shrink it down in size to fit on a shelf. That’s a bookshelf speaker. The downside is that the bass they reproduce is not as deep and rich as its bigger brothers, but they can be easily placed on a shelf—a huge advantage in many home theaters.

In-wall and in-ceiling speakers—In smaller home theater rooms, or in applications where larger speakers simply won’t work, in-wall and in-ceiling speakers are a great solution. The latest models are greatly improved and really sound good, and when installed correctly give the room a clean appearance.

Invisible speakers—In-wall or in-ceiling speakers still not stealth enough for you? Try our invisible speakers. They completely disappear into the wall. Believe it!

Sound bars—In a bedroom home theater or in a very small media room, a sound bar is an excellent speaker for surround sound. A single sound bar takes the place of either the three front speakers (left, center, and right) or the entire surround sound system (including the rear surround effects speakers).

Find out more 
Of course, this is just scratching the surface. We have more in-depth tutorials about the different types of televisions and speakers in our Learning Library. Or call us or click help to enlist the help of a Sound Advice expert. Either way, you’re on your way to a great-performing home theater.

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