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Your Dream Home Theater System - How to Choose the Right Components

Nov 9th 2012 at 11:01 PM

Going out to the movies is becoming a very expensive activity. Not only have ticket prices gone up in the last few years, it seems that drinks, popcorn and candy have all had price increases. Couple this with the drop in prices on high end electronics and recent advances such as Blu-ray, and it is no wonder that ticket sales and continuously been dropping off as more and more people are opting to set up "Home Theaters".

Today's dream home theater consists of three things. First a television or projector, a 5.1 or 7.1 sound system and media playing device, normally a DVD player but more recently Blu-Ray players. This is a simplification of the home theater setup, there are a multitude of options and decisions to make in creating your dream home theater. This article will help you grasp a simple of understanding of the major components

Television or Projector - There are plenty of options here. When considering a television, you must decide on whether you want a plasma screen, and LCD, DLP, or rear projection television. CRT or Cathode Ray Tube televisions are almost obsolete in today's home theater systems. Each of the aforementioned types has its own advantages and disadvantages. If you want a screen with great flexibility in placement, high quality picture and the price is not a major factor - then a plasma screen is your best option. If space is not a major factor and price is, you can find great prices on high quality rear projection television sets. In either case you need to purchase a high definition television, they are almost standard in larger screen televisions today. High definition is defined by a pixel count of 720 dot per inch (DPI) or higher. In order to take advantage of Blu-Ray quality, your TV should have a pixel count of 1080 dpi. Among 1080dpi sets you have a choice between 1080i and 1080p. The "i" stands for interlaced, and the "p" stands for progressive scan. These terms refer to how and how often the pixels on the screen are refreshed. 1080p televisions provide a higher quality picture, and will of course cost extra. The extra cost is well worth the cost in my opinion. The most recent advance in high definition televisions is 120 Hz sets, these new sets are supposed to better handle motion, especially in regards to watching sports. Whether it's worth the extra cost is up to you to see for yourself. I imagine that given a couple of years 120 Hz will become the standard. At a minimum, I would recommend a 1080p television for your dream home theater.

Sound System - This is potentially the most complex portion of your dream home theater setup. I say potentially because you can purchase a high quality "home theater in a box" and end up with a respectable sound system for your home theater with minimal fuss, or if you want to extract the maximum quality sound out of your system and are willing to pay what it takes; then building your own system from quality components is definitely the way to go. HTIBs or "Home Theaters in Box" are sometimes maligned by audiophiles as not being serious home theater sound systems, but a little research will show you that in recent years these pre-packaged systems now have components worthy of being part of a dream home theater system. If you want to build your own system the options and decisions you'll be faced with are numerous. But the homework and research is well worth the final reward. Having a high quality picture certainly makes watching a film more enjoyable, but a great sound system takes you out of the confines of your living room and puts you in the middle of action. An audiophile quality sound system can whisk you away to the deep jungles of the Amazon, or put you in passenger seat of a heart pounding car chase through the streets of Los Angeles. A high-powered subwoofer will provide that heart thumping, seat shaking experience with each crash or explosion. Many will skimp on the sound system at the expense of a high quality picture, but they are truly missing half the experience of a dream home theater.

Media Player - Normally this is a DVD player or more recently Blu-Ray players. When buying a DVD player, you should choose one with a video signal upconversion to 1080p. Ask your salesperson if the player uses Faroudja Video Processing, this is considered the best upconverting technology. Most Blu-Ray players will upconvert DVDs. If you are willing to pay between $200-$500, then a Blu-Ray player is definitely worth considering. The format war between HDTV a Blu-Ray is over, so a Blu-Ray is a safe bet. Blu-Ray is also capable of providing highest quality lossless audio (True-HD or DTA-HD Master Audio), allowing your dream home theater sound system to really shine. Eventually Blu-Ray will become the standard home video standard, but the good news is that they will play all your old DVDs as well. But if you are like me, once you've gotten used to Blu-Ray quality, it's hard to go back plain old DVDs.

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