Buying Guide for Home Theaters

Home theaters have come a long way since the early days of became available. Even in its original concept, the home theaters, or home cinema (as it’s also called,) somewhat simplistically attempted to deliver the movie theatre experience and all its aspects to the home front. This meant that families and friends could enjoy the general feeling and mood of being in a movie theater without ever leaving home.

The Advent of Home Movies Moves Forward

Travelling back through time to the 1950s, we find a favourite pastime of families being the playing of home movies that had been captured via 8mm recorders and displayed via rather large projector equipment. As these movies increased in popularity, they became more affordable.

The eventual development of multi-channels for audio systems added unprecedented benefits to sound quality. LaserDiscs of the 1980s catapulted home video into more of a futuristic dimension for home movies and more. And so, Who would comprise the typical early home theaters of the mid-1990 U.S.home of a LaserDisc or a VHS player fed to a rather large TV set that featured a rear projector? Front projectors were considerably more expensive and required complete darkening of the room where Who operated them.

Home Cinema Evolution Over the Years

During the period beginning with the late 1990s on through all of the 2000s, the evolution of home cinema technology continued to produce better pictures and sound and overall integration for the typical home theater. Eventually, the DVD-Video format was made available, only matched by the sound boost from Dolby surround sound, from a 5.1 channel audio system. HDTV, or high-definition television, brought a new standard for picture clarity, colour and more. And now we find ourselves enjoying a keen resurgence of households opting for home theaters, made better than ever with the innovation of 3D TV technology and Blu-ray Discs.

From the Basic, On Up

There were many different systems and configurations during the 2000s that could be found under the guise of home cinema options, with the most basic and least expensive equipment configuration being putting together a DVD player, a standard definition large screen TV that had minimally a 27 in. screen size (diagonal, of course,) and what was marketed as a “home theater in a box,” that contained a surround-sound speaker system that included a subwoofer.

Those with a bit more spending money could opt for a setup for their home theaters that might reveal a Blu-ray disc player, home theater PC, HTPC, or digital media receiver streaming devices. Add a ten ft. user interface to this configuration and a high-definition video projector with a projection screen of at least 100 inches.

And then remember the addition of a home theatre receiver operating with several thousand watts that would be wired to anywhere from five to seven surround-sound speakers (plus a potent subwoofer.) We are seeing much advancement in making the 3D process more comfortable to view, more believable and more spectacular than previously imagined. Of course, 3D viewing requires the wearing of 3D vision glasses by everyone—otherwise, the picture they can see looks compromised.

For More Cash, You Can Get…

Don’t be fooled–home theater systems can run well over $100,000. Such elaborate setups feature top-of-the-line digital projectors and projection screens. There are increasing numbers of homes that include a dedicated screening room, with accoutrements such as thick velvet drapes hanging along the walls from ceiling to floor and plush cinema-style chairs that can be multi-positional and multifunctional. Popcorn makers and drink dispensers.

Here, movies and such are delivered by unsurpassed technology in terms of audiophile-grade sound systems that can effectively mimic the movie theater experience. Sometimes what these high-end systems deliver can exceed the quality of what is presented at commercial theaters.

Special Considerations

So what initially began as an earnest, albeit compromised effort to reproduce the commercial theater experience at homes across America eventually evolved to truly duplicate or even improve upon the cinematic experience from every angle possible. This entails enhanced quality being a mandate for all the components involved—a far reach from the average TV with built-in speakers and their low level of capability. If you are considering building a home theater or upgrading what you presently have in your home, the following are pretty standardized components of the well-styled home theaters system.

  • Video-Input and Audio Input Devices: At least one video/audio source, but more is better. A high-quality movie media format, like Blu-ray discs, is best. These can include a DVD, VHS, Or LaserDisc player and one or more video game console systems. Home Theaters PCs are found in many of today’s home theaters that work with a media centre software application that can serve as the main library for most or all video and music content, with a 10-foot user interface and remote control.
  • Devices for Processing of Audio: You will need a way to process your input devices by using a Preamp and Sound Processor (for more complex surround-sound formats) or a standalone AV receiver. The user selects which input to use, and then it is forwarded to the output.
  • Speakers, or Audio Output: Must consist of a minimum of two speakers, with most systems today featuring 5.1 or 7.1 configurations. Generally, you can add up to 11 speakers with more than one subwoofer.
  • Screen or Video Output: Going too large can produce a loss of quality. If you find it unacceptable, go with the screen resolution quality you can afford. You can always size up on down the road. Your options are between LCD, plasma TV, OLED, SXRD, DLP, Laser TV, rear-projection TV, a video projector and screen or a traditional CRT TV.
  • Ambience and Comfort: The atmosphere of your home theatre experience does matter. The extent to which you can do to create the whole cinematic experience will depend on whether yours is a dedicated theater room or a multi-use room. Sound insulation is essential so that noise won’t escape from the room. You can consider different options for achieving this.

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