home theater basics

Choosing The Proper Home Theater Gear

I love getting new Home Theatre equipment. I have had it all, from bargain bin to high end gear.  Personally I really enjoy demoing, fine tuning, and setting up all of my ever changing home theater equipment. However everyone doesn’t feel this way. Some people just want something that gets the job done well, with minimum headaches. For example, I get questions like this one all the time…

“I just moved into a new house and I watch a lot of movies and TV. I want to set up my basement but I don’t know anything about Home Theater. What kind of gear should I be going for?”

Well that is a loaded question. When building a home theater a lot of different factors come into play.  So here are the basic components of a Home Theater.

A Home Theatre can be broken down into 3 main groups.

  • Display – your TV, or projector (with stand or mount)
  • Speakers – Your surround sound system (including a sub-woofer!)
  • Components – all media components from Blu-ray players to HTPC’s

5 things you should know before you start your search.

  • Size of the room – How big is your Home Theatre space? You want to have enough to allow for proper speaker and TV placement
  • Surroundings – Are you living in an apartment complex or twin house with thin walls? Is there a bedroom right above your Home Theater room? This is very important when choosing the type of speakers you buy and how powerful your Subwoofer should be.
  • Windows/Lighting – Are there a lot of windows, or bright lights that are always on? This will help narrow down your display types.
  • Budget – This is probably the most important factor! What can you afford to spend? Do you want to buy everything at once or in pieces?
  • Goal – What will you most use the room for? Sports, movies, music, TV, gaming?

A combination of these factors will help you narrow down your components.  We will go into more detail about this in part 2.

Do your Homework

You should spend a significant amount of time researching the components you are interested in.  That includes reading professional and consumer reviews.  Sometimes review unit sent out to professionals will not have the same defects that the models shipped to consumers do.

Demo Your Components Before You Buy Them

These day’s people seem to either buy the first thing that catches their eye, or order the cheapest thing they see online.  Would you buy a car without test driving it? Well the same care should be taken when choosing home theatre gear. You will most likely be using them for at least 3 years, if not many more.

Nowadays big box retail stores are set up to allow you to demo their TV’s, speakers, receivers, and projectors. You NEED to take advantage of this! Bring a list with you so you can better direct the store associates toward what you are looking for.

  • Don’t be shy, you can bring your Xbox, iPhone, or laptop and really test the gear out.
  • Pay special attention to the sound of the speakers, it is important to find speakers that are pleasing to your ears. Speakers can sound completely different from one person to the next.

These are some basic tips that will help you get started.  In part 2 we will learn how to pick the proper display for your viewing environment.


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