Lets face facts: there are TV room and then there are TV rooms. Many people today are converting their TV rooms into home theaters. What is a home theater? Simply put, a home theater tries to replicate the experience of going to the movies in your home. That means a big screen, loud, rich sounds, high-definition and occasionally some extra goodies like 3D.
If you’re like me, you don’t aim to replicate the stinky smells, crushed popcorn on the floor or annoying previews! Essentially, building a home theater requires a TV, a receiver, speakers, a remote and a bunch of wires (oh ya, and the content that makes all this stuff worth buying in the first place). Regardless of your budget, this article will show you how to buy the necessary components to create your very own theater, at home.
Learn About TVs
As you probably suspected, a great TV is probably the most important part of a home theater setup. Since you’re wanting to replicate the movie theater experience, it stands to reason that you will want something pretty big. While it doesn’t necessarily need to be a top-of-the-line luxury TV set, you’ll probably want to appropriate more dollars to your TV set than to any other component listed here.
Just to give you a rough outline of what you might be looking for, consider a screen size in the 50+ range. Of course your optimal screen size will depend on how far away your couch or seating is. A good rule of thumb to follow is:
Minimum TV Dimensions = Viewing Distance / 3
If you’re on a budget, Vizio offers a lot of bang for the buck. If you have a bit more to spend and want some additional bells and whistles, check out a Samsung. If you value size more than anything else, Sharp can’t be beat. Finally, if you are looking for the highest resolution, check out Sony’s 4K offering.
Learn About Receivers
If your TV is the most visible part of your theater setup, consider your receiver like the beating heart. Your receiver functions as the hub of your system pulling everything together and make it all work optimally. Receivers today consist of three parts: a preamp, a tuner and an amp.
The preamp handles pulling in audio from certain sources like a smartphone for instance. The tuner pipes in radio from FM to satellite to Internet. The amp essentially makes your music and sound rock.
Remember I mentioned the receiver functions as a hub for your home theater setup? Here’s what I mean. A receiver can connect your speakers, a Blu-ray player, a cable or satellite box, a game system, an iPod/iPhone, your speakers and a Sonos CONNECT (for instance). What does that mean in practical terms? You want a receiver with enough power to satisfy the requirements of the devices hooking into it (especially your speakers).
If it sounds like receivers are just about sound, that’s not necessarily the case. Higher-end receivers can also provide advanced video processing for even better 1080p or even 4k video output.
Learn About Speakers
For a home theater to truly be a home theater, you need a big screen and big sound. More specifically, you need surround sound. You’ve probably heard of 5.1 surround sound before. It seems to be the most common, no? But in reality, there’s everything from 2.1 to 9.1 surround sound speakers. These numbers may seem cryptic at first, but they simply equate to the number of speakers and 1 subwoofer (your subwoofer will provide the bass). So 5.1 would be five speakers and 1 subwoofer.
Most people end up buying a pre-matched speaker system (in other words, everything already put together in one box). It’s easier, for sure. Or, if you prefer to get your hands dirty, you can piece together your own speaker set to make it a truly customized setup. Some speakers come with stands, some can be mounted to your wall and some can even be mounted in your wall (or ceiling).
Learn About Remotes
To make controlling your system as easy as possible you’ll want to get yourself a nice universal remote (meaning of course that it controls nearly everything in your home theater). It’s a big bummer to have to use a separate remote for your TV, a separate remote for your sound system, a separate remote for your receiver, a separate remote for your Blu-ray player… you get my drift.
These days no remote beats the Logitech Harmony line. The Harmony comes in a few different flavors ranging from touch-screen-enabled traditional candy bar-style remote to an app any member of the family can download to their smartphone.
Learn About Content
Of course no home theater is worth having unless you can pipe some great content into it. Content can come from a variety of sources including a Blu-ray player, cable or satellite TV boxes, streaming media set top boxes or over-the-air (antenna).
Learn About All-In-One Systems
For the time-strapped (but not necessarily cash-strapped) many companies have done all the work for you with convenient home-theater-in-a-box setups. These all-in-one systems contain everything but the TV and are worth looking into if you just want to keep it simple (stupid) and make sure everything is going to work together properly.