How to choose a Home Theater System: comprehensive analysis of characteristics, components, costs and tips for choosing

The home theater can recreate a real miniature theater in your own home. The quality of picture and sound are insured and of the various devices that make up the home theater system can make them exceptional.

What is Home Theater

The home theater or home theater is playing home theater or film content in electronic form in order to produce auditory and visual sensations as faithful as possible to those received in a theater or in a movie theater. Despite this end, there are no specifications to be met, the only requirement is the presence of surround sound, in practice the term home theater takes on a value therefore highly generic. The home theater is a home video sector and was founded in 1982 with the introduction of Dolby Surround, the first standard for home video and audio with surround sound.

By extension, the home theater is also the set of audio and video equipment needed for such domestic reproduction. There being no specifications to be met, you can make home theater cost from a few hundred euro and poorly performing systems by up to tens of thousands of Euros with very high performance.

Elements of the home theater

The home theater is composed of:

-       a television screen or a projector;

-       an amplifier;

-       player (DVD or Blu-ray);

-       a center speaker;

-       Two front speakers.


In option:

-       a subwoofer (active or passive);

-       two surround speakers.


An LCD television consumes less power than plasma and is often less cumbersome. However, the image tends to be less than perfect, the contrast and the brightness is of inferior quality. Depending on the angle, we also observe a loss of contrast.


Plasma Screen

The advantages of plasma through a home theater system are numerous: natural colors, high brightness, image clearer less than an LCD screen, a viewing angle of 160 °. Be careful, though, a plasma is more expensive than an LCD, and its power consumption is higher by about 20%. But this type of TV is best suited for the home theater.

On the screen resolution, it is recommended that a minimum resolution of 1366 x 768. For the screen size, it all depends on your budget and the size of your room. And, obviously, the more the larger the screen, the image has more pixels. In the case of a home theater, the screen of 32 inches is a minimum required to enjoy a great image.

For luminance, choose a screen with a minimum value of 1 000 cd / m².


The TV is a large screen overhead mono block, thinner than a CRT TV and deeper than a plasma or LCD. The overhead projector is a very good choice as part of a home theater system because it offers a great image for a very reasonable price. To be considered, moreover, that this type of device is often found as used on the market, there is almost as good as new. One of the major drawbacks is the lifespan of the lamp. (About 8000 hours).



Ideal to have the feeling of being in a real movie theater. The projector projected in fact, the image on a screen or a wall allowing the viewer to view a video clip in large format.

There are several types of projectors:

-       The LCD projector, which remains the cheapest on the market and is intended primarily for computer use (PowerPoint. ..) (.. PowerPoint.);

-       The tri-LCD projector, with an excellent quality / price ratio and good image quality;

-       The projector DLP-DMD, still very expensive, but it offers a very good image quality;

-       The CRT projector, one of the most expensive, with an excellent picture and a very good contrast.


Always make sure that the projector's resolution is at least 1024 x 768 pixels.

The image: DVD or Blu-ray

The DVD has become a standard in home theater installations. Out with the old VCR for a time, that the era of the DVD. Some selection criteria are to be met at the time of the reader. You can start with a reader converters with 24-bit audio with a sampling frequency of 192 kHz, and 10-bit video converters with a sampling frequency of 54 MHz


Your reader should also have the ability to read multiple formats: DVD, DVD-R / RW, DVD + R / RW, VCD, DVD-audio, DIVX, MP3, WMA, SACD ...

In addition, the "Progressive Scan" and Faroudja DCDi processing enables customers to visualize a more accurate, more beautiful and offer amazing clarity.

In terms of connections, there are three scenarios:

- You have a CRT TV classic: just a simple SCART;

- Do you have a plasma screen, projector or an LCD screen, with YUV: Choose a player with YUV (represented by three RCA connectors red, green and blue);

- You have a plasma screen, projector, or LCD screen, with audio / video output HDMI or DVI: choose a player with HDMI output.


The Blu-ray DVD player, meanwhile, offers a quality of images and sound like no other. Its price is still slightly higher than that of conventional DVD players. Blu-ray DVD player can not play all formats on the other hand. For example, some are not able to play movies recorded in DivX video format, commonly used. Can not read the JPEG (for photos) and MP3 or WMA (for music).

The emphasis is generally the purchase of a Blu-ray DVD player, when the customer already has a high-tech TV (no need to buy a Blu-ray DVD on a CRT TV classic, which does not support HD)

The sound: The speakers and subwoofer

The speakers will help you get a great sound. Several speakers are the audio system:

- The center speaker, responsible for the voices of the dialogue;

- The two front speakers that transcribing the environment and music;

- The surround speakers can deliver dynamic sound and send it in the space around it;

- The subwoofer that supports the treble and bass sounds of the speakers.


You can opt for a stereo system called 2.1 with stereo speakers and a subwoofer, or a 5.1, 6.1 or even 7.1, with 7 speakers, two front, one center, two side and two behind, and a subwoofer for bass sound worthy of a cinema.

It all depends on, from the sound effect you want to achieve, by the space in your room ...

You can choose from compact speakers, built-ins, libraries, columns ...

The subwoofer, meanwhile, is expected to return the bass sounds that the speakers can not reproduce at high volume. Opt for a powered subwoofer that will take over from your main amplifier.

Sound and Video: The amplifier

This is the heart of the home theater system that allows you to amplify the sound and video. Receives the audio signal and distributes it on different speakers. The amplifier allows, above all, to decode the digital audio from the DVD player in Dolby Digital and DTS.

The amplifier will then feed the speakers and subwoofer. Beware, not all the speakers are compatible with all amplifiers, ask first.


Cost comparison

The speakers are the components that have the greatest impact on the final cost of a sound system, if it is stereo speakers will be 2, if it is multi-channel speakers will be 5 or more, then the same quality the cost rises considerably. Ultimately, at equivalent costs and as regards the music, a stereo should sound better than a multichannel system. It should also be considered that the high fidelity equipment consists of Hi-End, continues to evolve, remaining within the framework of classical stereo and home theater.

Resolution Audio and Video

A final consideration, apparently marginal, must be made on the feeling of reality as perceived by the senses of sight and hearing. The image is heavily penalized as compared to the sound: the physical characteristics of the latter allow the handling without altering the resolution, virtually infinite, in contrast of the image, for which the current technology does not allow to have more than a certain number of pixels per square cm, a resolution of several orders of magnitude lower than that possessed the human eye, which immediately perceive the reproduced image, not real. For this reason HT systems, with very few exceptions, the audio chain is not implemented at the highest possible levels of quality.



After the technological revolution took place in the field of sound recording in the eighties with the invention of the CD by Philips and Sony, the home theater is a second small revolution in the way we listen to the recorded sound, as it is less striking in was the CD, but still of great interest by the average user of television programs, recorded music, DVD's and BD's interest favored by the steady decline in prices of big plasma screens, video projectors, LCD TVs and more recently OLED .

Like the audio CD, which in the early days seemed to have characteristics so superior that they can finally supplant the vinyl record, also joins the traditional home theater stereo reproduction without replacing it altogether. On the market the stereo and multichannel playback systems coexist together, being oriented in two different types of users.

The important innovations bring significant improvements to the quality of the reproduced sound, and allow the enjoyment to 360 degrees, through the use of surround sound systems. Of course, the content must contain a multi-channel audio track, otherwise it will be in a normal stereo.


The home theater "perfect"?

If you want to combine the best of the best of each element that makes up a home theater, here is our selection:

-       a plasma screen;

-       a DVD player, Blu-ray;

-       a set of 7.1 speakers (7 speakers and a subwoofer) that ritrascrivono perfect sound;

-       an amplifier;

-       Make sure you choose high quality connectors (preferably "golden" because it is one of the best conductors). Do not skimp on this point, therefore, as the wrong connectors could result in loss of picture and sound quality, despite the purchase of a home theater "perfect".





Translated via software




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