Sound is everywhere, no sound, no life. And the home theatre system is not only about sound, but it’s also about quality.
Home theatre system buying guide will inspire you, give you the power to choose the right one and that’s the target we want you to achieve when you touch the end of this article.
If you are planning to buy a new home theatre system or upgrading your old one that is surely good news.
But whatever you do it is very important to know the basics and so in this article, we will introduce you to all the mandatory topics which will help you with buying. Well, the sound is a crucial thing that creates a huge difference in your viewing experience.
If the sound quality is great then mediocre picture quality will give you an awesome viewing experience but poor sound quality with HDR picture quality will definitely hammer down your entertainment experience.
Table of Content
- What Is Home Theater?
- Home Theater System: Points to consider
- What are the types of home theatre system?
- Build your home theater system – Time to put the pieces together
4.1 The TV or projector
4.2 Video sources
4.3 Speakers for home theatre
4.4 The number of speakers
4.5 Type of speakers (big or small)
4.6 The basic setup of speakers
4.7 Connect a center channel speaker
4.8 When soundbars come to use?
4.9 Add a subwoofer
4.10 Understand the channels
a. Home theatre system – 3.1 channel
b. Home theatre system – 5.1 channel
c. Home theatre system – 5.1.2 and above
4.11 Receivers for home theatre
4.12 Important Stuff
What Is Home Theater?
Defining home theatre is quite difficult. It is an unclear term used while explaining home entertainment. But we don’t need to go deep because it will drag our actual point of discussion in another direction.
Generally, a home theatre system is a combination of electronic components like speakers, soundbars, and receivers, and these are decorated in such a way that recreates the experience of watching a movie in a theater.
Watching a movie, sport, or live concert in a home theatre system is more immersed in experience than watching them in an ordinary television without any sound system.
The actual motive behind a home theatre system is to create a small replica of a movie theatre at home. Because when it comes to picture and sound the theatre offers outstanding viewing experience we just don’t get at home.
But now in small size, we can recreate that experience at home with home equipment.
So, now let’s see what we need to get started:
- Big screen television at least 27 inches or more.
- Minimum 4 speakers.
- Surround sound signal splitting equipment.
- A surround sound player.
- At last, a suitable room to arrange all these things.
Whereas there are many other ways to fulfill the requirement but in the end, your home theatre system depends on how much money you are going to invest in.
Hence this is a basic overview of home theatre. Now let’s discuss vital points in detail which you should consider before buying a new one.
Home Theater System: Points to consider
What is your intent?
There is no doubt that a home theatre system will truly produce an immersive surround sound experience. But now we had a huge technological advance, especially in the entertainment sector.
There are different sound systems set up for different purposes but these are not possible to afford by everyone.
Whereas instead of that you can bring a sound system which will work at a satisfaction level for all entertainment sectors like movies, sports, music, live concert, and gaming.
Generally, a bigger and costly surround sound system is more inclined to watch movies, sports, and live concerts. And it is genuine to spend a little bit more.
On the other hand, when it comes to listening to music and playing games it is not necessary to have a huge and costly set up only a few speakers will do the work.
So, as we recommend before buying a home theatre system it is good to pick your basic needs, whether you are going to use it majorly for watching TV shows or for watching movies and sports.
If it is the matter of watching movies and sports then that sound system will also deliver a good experience for TV shows but you have to spend a little bit more. Whereas for watching TV shows you don’t need a costly system.
What is your budget?
How much can you spend on your new home theatre system?
Because as much you spend that much quality sound you get. And we think it is one of the important questions, especially for Indian people.
The purpose of buying and budget range will narrow down on home theatre options and it will help you in your selection more efficiently.
However, before buying any electronic equipment it is good to set a budget limitation otherwise there is a vast market out there and you will get puzzled.
What about your space or room size?
When you are going to set up a home theatre system it is very important to consider your available space and seating arrangements.
If you have a small room then the 7.1 home theatre system is not recommended instead of that you can opt for a home theatre package that uses bookshelf sized speakers.
And if you have a more spacious room then you can go for a 7.1 setup with a package that comes with either bookshelf or ground standing speakers.
Whereas compact speakers are trending but it is wise to select bigger speakers for a large-sized room. There is a general theory which is accepted widely is that a rectangle sized room is basically recommended for a home theatre system.
So, before setting up a home theatre system you should have a room of 15 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 8 feet ceiling height. Otherwise, if your room size is small then we recommend you go for a sound system setup with a couple of speakers.
Do You Need Speakers?
Are speakers important for the home theatre system?
It is not mandatory to have speakers in your home theatre packages but we recommend having.
Because speakers play a vital role in delivering good audio performance and some home theatre packages come with speakers (bookshelf or floor standing speakers) of 5.1 or 7.1 channels.
In the package, it comes with a subwoofer that reproduces low frequencies and others are satellite speakers for the front, center and rear channel speakers.
Generally in a home theatre setup with four-channel speakers you can place the speakers on the floor, for bookshelf speakers they can be placed on the shelf or you can mount the satellite speakers in every corner of your room.
Which type of set up do you want?
Which type of set up do you like easy or hard?
If easy is your criterion then go with a home-theater-in-a-box. The good thing with home-theatre-in-a-box is no brainer everything is included and very easy to install. But the downside is that they don’t have the best audio quality compared to assembled set up.
Whereas if you have enough budget then go with separate components because nothing beats a well planned and prepared home theatre system.
What are the types of home theatre system?
There are different types of home theatre systems, no matter what is your room size there is a home theatre solution for every room size. There are some rooms with a condition where you can’t hide wires in this situation you can go wireless.
If you live in a room which is quite big then you can opt for big speakers. Whereas for a small room you can get a subwoofer and soundbar combo for a 3.1 speaker setup.
Let’s see different types of home theater systems:
Soundbars – Technically soundbars are not a system but a good alternative when you are low on budget and also space is short. Actually, soundbars have left, center, and right speakers built-in, so only add a subwoofer and two rear speakers. And that’s why they take less space and deliver true home theatre surround sound.
Home-theater-in-a-box – Home-theater-in-a-box is a pre-built and made system by the same manufacturer, in a box. These are comparably cheap and easy to set up but it is not necessary they have the best audio quality. The home-theater-in-a-box contains color-coded cables, mounting hardware, and easy instructions.
Assembled Home theatre system – Another thing is that you can buy every individual speaker, subwoofer, etc as per your capacity to spend money and it is good to customize your home theatre system according to your room and taste. Though it definitely required more hard work, if you had a bigger room and want high-quality surround sound, it’s totally worth it.
Wireless Home theatre – If you don’t want too much mess like any drilling holes in walls and floors, and no running wires through walls a much easier installation then you can go for wireless home theatre system. Also, there are some benefits of wireless like less expensive, you can move components anywhere and at any time you want without having to rewire. Though wireless has benefits but wired is more reliable.
Build your home theater system - Time to put the pieces together
The TV or projector
It is very true to say in the entertainment world that the sky’s the limit it means you have the choice to select a really big projector screen of 8 feet or more for true theater-like imagery. We don’t want to say the small screen is bad but you have to understand that a beautiful picture is a key to great home theater. Hence, bigger is better if you can afford it. We strongly recommend to go with 4K UHD TV or even better is OLED (see the Best OLED TV in 2020).
Blu Ray players and 4K media players deliver outstanding picture quality and deep rich home theatre sound. And also with the same experience you get from devices like Roku and Apple TV, they connect with the internet and stream programs from a growing list of content providers like Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO GO, Hulu, etc.
Speakers for home theatre
When selecting a home theatre system first is to choose speakers then comes the part of receivers. Because the speaker type helps to determine the receiver type, like big speakers, need a receiver that can supply big power and small speakers need less power. Also, the selection of receivers depends on how many speakers you select, more speakers need more channel receivers.
The number of speakers
We like to repeat it again that more is always better but for a traditional home theatre system you need at least 5 speakers in the system of 5.1 channels (1 stand for a subwoofer).
But when the matter is related to sound then there are literally dozens of speaker combinations that can create true home theater sound.
In 5.1 channel home theatre system – one is a center speaker, two left and right speakers, two rear left and right speakers, and, of course, a subwoofer. The center speaker is right below the TV as it is mostly for dialogues.
Then left and right speakers are for the left and right direction and the other two left-right speakers are placed behind the viewing audience. The two front speakers are larger in size than the two rear speakers.
Type of speakers (big or small)
Our recommendations are for bigger speakers but you don’t need to stick with our recommendation. It is totally on you, it’s all about your personal preferences and room decor. But remember bigger is better and when you buy a sound system for your entertainment then it’s all about quality, a floor-standing speaker can give you authentic cinema-quality sound in respect to a bookshelf or in-wall speakers.
The basic setup of speakers
The basic speaker setup is 2.0 system, or a 2-channel setup, where a pair of speakers on either side of the television and it is known as stereo. This system is good for listening to music, it can be anything floor-standing, bookshelf, and in-wall speakers. We want to make it clear that the 2.0 system is not a home theatre. For true home theatre quality sound you need at least 3 speakers and for surround sound a minimum of 5 speakers required.
Connect a center channel speaker
You will get 3.0 set up when you add a center channel speaker with a 2.0 system. Centre channel speaker is placed between the left and right speakers, normally below or above the TV. The middle speaker delivers dialogue much easier to hear and by adding a center speaker you are a bit closer to a home theater setup.
When soundbars come to use?
Soundbars are nothing else left, right, and center speaker. It is very useful when you have a tight space and provides a neat, easy-to-fit 3.0 solution. After that, if you like you can add more speakers as per your budget and space to change your sound system to a full-fledged home theatre system.
Add a subwoofer
We think a subwoofer is very much important for any sound system because it is the thing that vibrates your chest and feels you with thrilling entertainment.
A good subwoofer not only creates bass but it also clarifies and amplifies low-end frequencies. There are some low sound frequencies that are beyond human hearing but we can feel them and that gives goosebumps.
Many home theatre lovers add more than one subwoofer and it is totally great besides you should have enough space to fit. Addition of more subwoofer results in better bass and better quality surround sound effect.
Home theater system - Understand the channels
There are many types of channels like 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 7.1, 9.1, 11.1, and 5.1.2, and so on. We already said think channels as speakers then take 7.1 system as an example – the number of speakers is 7 and one subwoofer.
And in another system 5.1.2 shows 5 speakers, 1 subwoofer, and 2 Dolby Atmos speakers. Whereas only for music 2 channel speakers is enough but for a home theatre system there is no limit.
The more channel receivers you have the more speakers you can add and the more speakers you add the more immersive sound you get.
But at the minimum level, we recommend 5 channels whereas we very strongly recommend you to go for at least 7 channels. Because with 7 channels you will get digital cinemas deep, thrilling, tight, theatre sound at home.
Breaking down channels:
- An old decent stereo speaker referred to as 2.0 means two speakers.
- The addition of a subwoofer for more impactful bass turns 2.0 to 2.1 means 2 front speakers and 1 subwoofer.
- 3 means “2” front speakers and “1” center channel speakers good for dialogue which seems to come from the center of the screen.
- With the 3.1 channel system add two more speakers to the back of your sitting position and at the corners of the room (if possible) for surround sound. And from here you get into the home theatre system.
- Larger rooms have more distance from your sitting position and the back wall may call for side and rear surround speakers which will turn 5.1 to 7.1 systems.
- To create outstanding cutting-edge surround sound through your home theatre system you can opt for the latest Dolby Atmos speakers. Where two or more speakers are placed at the ceiling to get actual 3D sound. Then 7.1.2 system stands for 7 speakers, two Dolby Atmos speakers, and 1 subwoofer.
Home theatre system - 3.1 channel
If you don’t have room to get a real surround sound home theatre setup then the 3.1 channel system is very good for you. Though it is correct it will not give you actual home theatre experience.
Home theatre system - 5.1 channel
A traditional home theatre system consists of a 5.1 channel system, one center speaker, two left and right, two rear left and right, and one subwoofer.
Home theatre system - 5.1.2 and above
For many years the 5.1 system is considered the best of its particular kinds. But as the recent technology breaks free it has taken the home theatre generation to a level above, new systems that are equal to the world’s finest cinemas.
And it is possible because of Dolby Laboratories. A few years ago sound gurus of Dolby came with an idea which is known as “3D surround sound” through a new sound technology called “Dolby Atmos”.
In simple words Dolby Atmos is great, truly outstanding, Dolby Atmos creates a sound layer that floats over the audience.
Not only that it floats in different layers above the audience and it does it really well. To describe the set up in 5.1.2 there are 5 speakers, 1 subwoofer, and 2 Dolby Atmos speakers.
For that, all you need is a Dolby Atmos-enabled receiver and at least two Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers.
Receivers for home theatre
The audio/video receiver is one of the vital organs of the home theatre system. Not a simple organ, an organ similar to the brain, it’s the brains behind the whole system.
The function of the receiver is to collect, convert, and then process the TV audio signal before sending it to its final destination: TV and speakers. It is not good to choose any receiver you will need a home theatre A/V receiver with at least 5 channels and an output for the subwoofer to operate your home theatre.
But we always recommend you an A/V receiver with Dolby Atmos-enabled and a minimum of 7 channels available which will let you make your home theatre system future proof and get a theater-like audio experience at home. But you should go for that only if you have enough space and budget.
Functions of a good home theatre system:
- All audio data is interpreted correctly and provides a channel for each speaker.
- If you decide to go wireless then it can stream anything from anywhere.
- It clears the path for your Blu-ray player to shine with stellar sound.
- You can switch between different sound modes like Dolby Cinema Surround Sound, Live Cafe, for music stereo mode, and others.
It is not that less expensive home theatre systems don’t have these features, they may have all these required functions. But it is the quality of audio that will make the difference, typically they don’t have the strength required to perform the function well.
Protection: You should take measures to protect your dream stuff (home theatre system) from sudden acts of nature and power surges with line conditioners and surge protectors.
Remote controls: It is good and also we recommend choosing a remote which is easy to use and universal means a remote that can do everything. Because it gives you full control.
Cables: A low-quality cable has the ability to hammer down all your experience. So, it is good to go for only the best quality cables. Though your home theatre system will need many cables but still invest a few more dollars to get good ones.
Home theatre frequently asked questions
We have explained some frequently asked questions that have been asked by the customers many times in different ways. If this fulfills your query then you can move on to our best home theatre in 2020. If not let us know.
How long does it take to get set up and how can you set up a home theatre system?
Generally, it takes hardly two days to get your system up and running. The first day you need to run your wires and the second day you need to go through your owner’s manual in detail.
Recent better home theatre receivers can self-calibrate. In the self-calibration process a receiver uses an in-built microphone to measure your room acoustics and automatically calculate the level and distance of each speaker to your listening location.
What is important to take care of is that before starting consider how loud or how dead your room is. Because everything in this world vibrates including space where you are going to install your system.
It can be found by clapping, if you can hear an echo then your room is too loud and if you hardly hear your clap then it is too dead. Whereas ideally, your room should be as acoustically as neutral as possible.
So, before the installation, we advise you to place acoustic panels and/or sound-absorbing materials not in the whole room but at the right spot. After measuring how long you need your speaker’s wire to be, ask your dealer to make up cables like that.
And don’t go for poor quality HDMI cables because your video quality depends on it.
What are the best home theatre brands?
No brand is best. Because when a brand reaches a quality level it falls into the category of best.
If you go with separate components, it is good to mix and match with brands, but we recommend to choose all speakers of the same brands.
Because not all premium brands typically do not provide high-quality speakers and receivers both, may some brands have but it’s your lookout.
So, it is good to have different brands for speakers and receivers. And if you go to the home theatre in a box then it all comes from a single brand.
As per our recommendation Bose, Sony, and JBL are world-class premium brands.
What about wattage for your home theatre system?
Wattage is very important like horsepower for cars. The performance depends on them. The higher the power of home theatre the louder at a lower volume.
You should have speakers with minimum recommended wattage. For a significant increase in sound level, a doubling of power is required.
If you currently have 70 watts per channel then to increase your sound at a significant level you need 140 watts per channel. So, we give a thumbs up to 125 watts per channel and it is ideal to overcome the fear of ever running out.
Though it is not possible to have everyone to go for that but always remember the bigger is better.
What about the warranty?
If you purchased it from an authorized dealer, it will come with a full manufacturer’s warranty. And also phone and email support from authorized dealers.
It is not so easy for the people who had jumped first time in the sound system world but also it is not so hard to learn. But if you still get confused then only follow the points to consider section and if required contact us our experts will help you out.