10-16-2008 01:48 PM
Honestly, the answer to your question is really dependent on what you’re looking for in a home theater system. Before anything else, you may want to ask yourself the following things:
1) How many speakers do I want?
2) What kind of connections do I need?
3) Do I need an upconvert DVD player?
4) Do I have a brand preference?
For starters, you’ll probably find that most common home theater system configurations will consist of two front channel speakers, two surround speakers, one center channel speaker and one subwoofer. Other configurations do exist, but the difference in price between four, six and eight-speaker systems can often prove to be quite significant. On the other hand, you aren’t necessarily limited to buying bundled packages. Most retailers, including Best Buy®, will sell individual components so that you can pick and mix your speakers. Keep in mind though that there is a trade-off for being able to do this: purchasing individual components often proves to be much more expensive than buying pre-packaged bundles.
Next, you’ll need to know what kinds of cables are used to connect your video game consoles to your TV. Most newer video game consoles will make connections for audio signals using digital optical or HDMI cables, but it’s recommended to double-check yours just to be safe. Once you know the cable types, you’ll probably want to look for a home theater system that has the same kind of inputs. For example: if you want to use HDMI cables to connect both your PS3 and Xbox 360 to your TV, the receiver should have at least two HDMI inputs.
Then the question becomes whether you should purchase a system with an upconvert DVD player. A good number of home theater bundles will include one of these players, which is great if you have an HDTV and want to watch older movies in a higher resolution. The downside however, is that whenever the player itself (or one of your speakers) needs repairs, you may find yourself packing your entire home theater back up – speakers, receiver, DVD player and all – just to obtain service.
Last, but not least, having a brand preference may be able to help you guide your purchase. After all, if everything else in your home is one brand, it might make sense to start by looking at the home theater systems offered by that same company. Many manufacturers even offer features that enable several devices of theirs to be operated simultaneously using your TV remote, as long as they are connected using HDMI cables.
While I can’t make any specific brand recommendations myself, one of the other forum users may be able to give you some feedback regarding a model that they purchased.
Geek Squad® Community Connector
Go Ahead. Use Us.
12-02-2008 03:49 PM
I really like Yamaha receivers - I have owned a Denon(which was whoa expensive) yet the Yamaha does a very good job at a fraction of the price.
For speakers - I always owned Paradigm until about 2yrs ago, I opted for Klipsch(which I use for my desktop pc) and LOVE them, very good sound quality, and the sub hits the deepest of tones.
12-27-2008 09:53 PM
Your budget will determine the sound quality that you ultimately end up with. Every manufacturer makes trade-offs in their gear to meet a market price point.
I would suggest starting out here to see what some of the industry experts recommend after sifting through and reviewing many systems: http://www.hometheatermag.com/buyersguides/
Remember, that you must set up your speakers properly and work on your room's acoustics to get the most of them.
04-23-2009 04:32 PM
As some others have mentioned, this is very hard to answer. I have my own personal preferences (Denon for receivers, Paradigm for speakers), but it's like asking someone what the best car is for the best price... No one can answer that for you.
Just take some time and do research. Lots of the points used to "upsell" are just marketing gibberish, and there is no reason at all to buy something bigger and better just to have more features you won't use.
The biggest thing that I would say to look out for is the power upsell. By this I mean the salesperson will show you one unit, that has, say, 300 watts total power. Then show you the one next to it that has 400 watts total power. That seems like a huge difference, 1/3 more power! The problem is that according to physics, every time you double the power you ONLY gain 3 dB (Decibels...a unit of measure for loudness or "volume")
So in this case you would only be gaining 1dB. 99% of people can't identify a 2dB difference, so 1dB is totally pointless. Not to mention that difference ONLY comes into play when you have things totally maxed out. So for this example, you would have to jump up to a unit with 600 watts total power to get even a tiny difference, then to 1200, then to 2400... You can see the trend.
(for any other technicians on here, pardon the oversimplification, I just don't want to end up talking all jargon).
This is the upselling technique that you will almost always hear, because everyone can do basic math and see how much more power a unit has, even though the numbers are totally misleading.
To go along with that, if you are concerned with getting things as loud as humanly possible, look at a spec on the speakers called "sens" or "sensitivity." It will be rated in dB, something like 89dB 1W/1M. This means that from 1 meter away, that speaker produces 89dB of sound with only 1 watt of power. The higher this number is the more efficient the speaker is, and the less power it will take to achieve a given volume.
So to sum it all up, research... Research... And research. Don't spend money just to have extra features if you have no clue what they do, because you'll never use them. Much like buying a porsche and then driving it to and from work at 35mph for it's whole life. Just a waste. And be careful of the upsells; especially the power one. Unless the numbers are exponentially higher, you won't ever hear the extra money.
I hope this made some semblance of sense.
05-14-2009 06:57 PM