Home Theater Equipment - Vital System Components

Essential Equipment

Home theater equipment

There’s plenty of fancy home theater equipment available, from screens that take up a whole wall to bass speakers that make the room shake. (It probably won’t be long before you can buy equipment that conveys the smell of the scene you’re watching, like the “Soarin’” experience at Walt Disney World Resort. Great for Chocolat, not so great for Dawn of the Dead.) Most of the really high-end gear is not strictly necessary for your home theater, but certain pieces of kit definitely are essential. This page lists the vital components of a home theater system.

A display screen. This is usually the first thing people notice about your home theater system, and it’s also the piece of equipment with the most potential for flashiness - some displays are the same size as the wall they’re on. You have two main choices when it comes to the kind of display: a TV display or a front-projection with a separate screen. Of course, within those two choices is a dizzying range of further choices. It’s possible to use your existing TV as the display for your home theater system, but you won’t get the full effect unless your existing TV has a large screen.

Speakers. These create the surround sound effect that’s vital for creating a movie-theater atmosphere. Your home theater equipment should include at least eight speakers: three at the front (left, right and center), two at the side and at least two at the back. You also need a subwoofer (bass speaker) for lower frequencies. Our pages on speakers and surround sound explain it all more fully.

A receiver. Although they don’t look as flashy as a 42” plasma display screen or a set of slimline speakers, they’re a very important piece of home theater equipment. The receiver is what takes in the audio/visual information from various sources and sends it out again through the screen and the speakers.

Sources. These are the pieces of home theater equipment that provide the movies you watch, the CDs you listen to, the games you play – in other words, the content that you enjoy on your home theater system. A source is anything that provides this, whether that’s a DVD player, a games console or an MP3 player.

You can see this equipment as your home theater’s vital organs. But organs have a network of veins and arteries to keep them nourished – what does your home theater equipment have? The answer is a network of cables: wires that keep electricity and information flowing between the vital parts.

Your home theater also has connections to sources from outside the system, whether that’s satellite TV, regular TV coverage or your Internet connection.

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