How do you review a Home Theater System? How do you call one, Best? Many magazines, bloggers, editors and just plain folks who have an opinion on what makes a great Home Theater or are some self appointed authority or guru who thinks they have the answer, will tell you. I don’t claim to be an authority on Home Theater design or equipment, but I have spent the last 40 years, selling, designing, building and recommending ways to build a quality theater in your home.
It really isn’t rocket science. You need a budget, a plan, an idea and/or passion for both audio and video, If you love music and movies and want to bring them home, putting together an affordable entertainment system is quite easy. Most people will be talked into spending far more money than really necessary, unless you are an audiophile and want to achieve live performance quality.
The basic components that make a quality system are speakers from one of many respectable American manufacturers, a proven multi-channel receiver from of a a select group of proven manufacturers, a viewing source of choice, flat screen, overhead projector or maybe an existing plasma TV you already own. I would say a sub-woofer is a key factor in creating the action reproduction you might see in a theater, along with multiple speaker locations around the room to support the surround processor in your receiver or separate components. The other items you might desire for your entertainment room will now greatly depend on room, budget and acoustics.
So what can I tell you that will help? My theory is, “Less is More.” meaning, you can find great products that are complete, compact and the difference in stepping up of notable performance and quality may cost many times more for little gain. Take a high quality home theater, multi-room receiver. In the early days, you would have needed a pre-amp/processor, maybe one or more amplifiers or a multi-channel amplifier, many quality cable to connect everything, etc. Today, companies like Denon, Marantz, Onkyo, Pioneer, and a few others, offer complete receivers with all channels of amplification, sub-woofer, front.center, rear and other channels of speakers for both high and low level potential. The processors are light years ahead of what was offered in the early days, even some with a microphone to stand in your room to calibrate the defects and equalize your room.
Speaker companies now offer complete sets of 5-9 speaker packages that are match and designed for theater use and placement. Now, wireless speaker options exist and are incredible quality, eliminating the real hassle of trying to snake wire around the room. Wall placement of front, side and center channesl can frame your flat screen and draw you into the scene. Sub-woofers are onmi-directional, meaning their placement can be anywhere in the room and still sound like they are coming right out of the screen.
Speaking of screens, the biggest change has come in both quality and price. I once was selling a 42″ plasma when they first ht the market for $18,000! Today, an incredible 4K 50-60 inch LED or LCD will be as cheap as $599-$799. Even some of the overhead projectors have dropped 75% from their early days and offer bright, sharp, huge presentations. The screens make a great difference and together you can have a 100″ theater performance for under $3000.
And last but not least, your seating could be the most critical invest. Bad seating will destroy your enjoyment and have you back buying quality furniture once those fail! Us made, real leather, real mechanisms and upholstery, preferable 100% leather, will last a lifetime
Be smart, get some advice, shop around, there is more information out there than ever before.
Michael Laurino CEO/President PremiereHTS Home Theater Seating