For many households, home theatre systems have been the most common purchase in the last decade. This makes sense because in many homes, the TV room is almost a rallying point. You use it to play games, watch movies and favourite sitcoms, keep up with the daily news etc. In many cases, they are the most cost effective in the short-term. A HTB (Home Theatre in a Box) can be had for under $400.00. In most cases you get a 5.1 system that includes 2 front speakers, 1 centre speaker, 2 surround speakers and 1 sub woofer – hence 5.1 (the sub being .1). I say short term because the quality of build is simply not there. A lot of “bang for the buck” is offered but if you consider that a decent home theatre Receiver only starts at about $700. it simply is not reasonable to expect long-term satisfaction from your purchase.
Home theatre systems are currently available in 5.1 configuration, 6.1 in which you have 2 centres (one front and one back*), 7.1 in which you have 2 front speakers, 1 centre speaker, 2 surround which are located on side wall often midway between front an rear surrounds. The surrounds in this case are not conventional but in a V shape, with the mouth of the V on the wall and identical speakers on each side of the V. There are rumours of a 10.1 but…….
Two systems that are often overlooked are 2.1 and 3.1 systems. In a 2.1, you have 2 front speakers and a sub. In this case, you would go to the menu on the DVD player and change to format to PCM or stereo. This format is excellent for those who mostly listen to music, but watch some television. The 3.1 includes 2 front, one centre and a sub. 3.1 is very rare but was popular a few years ago and is a pretty good solution for home theatre.
Many people, including myself are switching from a multi-speaker system to either 2.1 or a sound bar. A sound bar is simply a wide speaker that sits below or above your video screen, usually amplified or included with an amplifier and a sub is included as well. This is a great solution as it sounds good, offers easy placement, presents a “wall of sound” and is offered by many suppliers. The one that I use is from NIRO, should you have any questions, their web-site is niro1.com or contact me for more info.
Why the change, my preference is music so that is where I have placed a higher budget. My video room is for movies or television watching and in reality the soundtrack from movies is only mediocre at best when played back through an HTB. My video system (when used) consisted of a Denon receiver, Paradigm speakers and Denon CD player, paid in the range of $4,000 + tax and quite frankly sounded very poor on music only. My sound bar was about 40% of that, sounds okay and is easy to move when my partner decides that she wants to re-position the furniture in the room and we still use the Denon DVD. As we age, many multi-speaker systems can become annoying or confusing to listen to and often as we age, our environment changes as we downsize from a home to a condo.
Both 2.1 and sound bars are definitely worth consideration.
Check out the various configurations on line.