Planning on a Home Theater????


There are several aspects to today’s home theater. Just purchasing a LCD or plasma TV does not make it a home theater. That is one part of a complete audio/video room. Below are some of the components you can include when planning your home theater room.


The Essentials

A surround-sound receiver—also known as a home theater receiver, audio/video receiver, surround pre-amplifier or audio/video preamplifier—is the brains of the system.  All the other units connect to this receiver.  Most receivers have video/audio connections; composite, component, Coaxial, SVideo, TosLink (fiber), HDMI, etc. There are the various methods that all the other units connect to it.  The receiver takes in the audio signals and processes them before they reach the speakers. A receiver or preamplifier contains the amplifiers for all your speakers, so you won’t need to purchase separate amplifiers. Be sure a receiver or preamp is capable of playing in Dolby Digital or DTS Digital 5.1-channel surround sound (meaning five speakers and a subwoofer), or whatever you want to hear.  Higher end units also are capable of playing in 7.1-channel surround sound which means seven speakers and two subwoofers.


*DVD/CD players are a must for any home theater. DVD players can also play CDs, and many “universal” players can play multichannel DVD-Audio (DVD-A), Super Audio CD (SACD) and any other kind of CD- and DVD-R/RW/ROM you can find. Also be sure to get a progressive-scan DVD player if you have an HDTV. New BLU-ray Disc and HD DVD players play high-definition DVDs, as well as standard DVDs and CDs. For the best possible signal a unit with HDMI connections is desired.


A satellite or cable receiver allows you to get programming from a cable or satellite TV provider. In either case, we recommend getting a high-definition receiver, because you’ll need it to watch HDTV. And DVRs are built into some receivers, saving you from having to buy another box.


iVideo Scalers.

Why does anyone need a scaler? It will generally do a much better job than your display or upscaling DVD player will when converting and sizing (scaling) low video resolution sources to your high resolution display. If your Standard definition (480i, 480p, 576i, 576p) sources like Cable or Satellite, VCR or Laserdisk look awful on your HD Television or projector, you can clean them up considerably with a high quality video scaler that output resolutions between 480p to 1080p, including 720p and 1080i. Also makes a great "Control Center" for your Audio and Video Sources - a switcher that will support all of your inputs.


Surround-sound processors

Also called home theater or audio/video preamplifiers or preamps, are used when you want to have a separate processor and amplifiers. These are primarily employed in high-end systems. If you’re getting a receiver, you won’t need this.


Amplifiers are used with surround-sound processors in what are called “separates” systems. One multichannel amp can support several speakers, or separate “monoblock” amps can be used for each channel. Again, if you’re going the receiver route, you won’t need one of these.


Great Add-ons

Digital video recorders (DVRs) allow you to record programs to a hard drive and/or pause the program you are watching. They can be standalone units, or integrated such as a satellite or cable receiver with built-in DVR. Most people by now have heard of TiVo.  These players are popular DVRs. Their extensive on-screen electronic program guides make recording and pausing simple. Today’s models can hold hundreds of hours of standard-definition programming.  Price is based on the size of the hard drive, and high-definition recorders cost significantly more.


Satellite radio tuners let you receive commercial-free radio from XM or Sirius satellite radio systems. These subscription-based services offer hundreds of channels for nearly every taste. Tuners come in a variety of configurations, from single-box systems to portable devices to dual and triple tuners for multiperson, multiroom use.  They can be used in your home theater or integrated into a whole-house audio system.


Digital media servers allow you to store, organize, and instantly access your personal music, pictures, and/or video movie collections. The internal hard drive store digital music, pictures, and video files and their capacity can range in size up to hundreds of gigabytes.  The hard drive size is in direct relation with how many music or video movies they store. They can catalog your “inventory” allowing the user to search via music or movie covers, artist information, and catagory. 


Whole-house audio systems enable you to route music to various rooms in your home. Multisource and multizone systems allow you to play different music in different rooms simultaneously. These systems are typically located in a central place in your house or part of a home entertainment system.  They are great to use with media servers and satellite radio systems, and some have optional iPod docks.


DVD recorders save your content to writable DVDs. Some DVRs (like TiVo) built in, so you can record a show to the DVR’s hard drive for temporary storage, then move it to a DVD to retain in your permanent collection. We’re still waiting for recordable high-definition BLU-ray and HD DVD players.


Streaming devices can take the audio or video content on your computer and stream it wirelessly to your home entertainment system using WiFi computer-networking standards.