Until recently, the best way to watch a movie was to go to a movie theater. The introduction of VCRs made it easy to rent or buy movies and watch them at home, but TVs just didn't compare to movie theaters' huge screens and surround-sound systems. Not only did TVs have comparatively tiny screens and lower quality speakers, formatting a movie to fit the screen got rid of a substantial part of the picture.
Now, more and more people are turning their ordinary TV rooms into home theaters. This used to involve a projector and a screen, and it was too expensive for most people to afford. But advances in technology have given people more choices for home theater setups, and some people find that a home theater is quieter and more convenient than a movie theater -- and the picture and sound are great.
If you're looking for a home theater system, you have a lot of decisions ahead of you. In this article, we'll go over all the components that make up a home theater system. You'll learn what each component does and what to keep in mind when you make your selection. If you're thinking of turning your den into a fully functioning home theater, this article will help you get started.
In the last section, we saw that the major components of a movie-theater experience are a large, clear picture and a surround-sound system. To build a home theater, then, you need to recreate these elements. At the bare minimum, you need:
And, of course, you'll need a room where you can arrange all this stuff.
There are any number of ways you can meet these criteria. In the end, your home theater system depends on how much money you're willing to spend and how important certain areas of performance are to you.
If you're not looking to spend much money and already have a good-sized television and a stereo system, you can upgrade your entertainment system into a fairly crude home theater with a couple of extra speakers and a few other inexpensive components (see Accessing the Surround Channel to find out how). If you invest in a basic surround-sound system and a new DVD player, you might spend $500. For a more advanced system, with a larger television and an advanced sound system, you might spend about $8,000. For $30,000, you could set up a real theater, with a projection television, built-in speakers and bolted theater seats (and maybe a concession stand).
In the following sections, we'll look at the different options for televisions, surround-sound receivers, speakers and video sources. We'll find out the advantages and disadvantages of different types of equipment, as well as the price range and long-term benefits. We'll also look at some of the extra components you can add to put the finishing touches on your home theater system.