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Home Theater Systems

Buying Guide
In a box Home Theater Systems are great product usually, but of course wi...
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Buying Guide

In a box Home Theater Systems are great product usually, but of course with any product you need to find exactly what you need and check to see how they are rated by reviewers and other consumers to make sure you're getting the best value for your money.

Home Theater Systems are a great choice for those that don't know too much about setting up a component based system or just don't have the time to do it. They offer an all-in-one solution that can be just as good as those that are component based, just without all of the hassles of figuring out what you want.

One of the downsides to these system is that many times things are incorporated into each other making them harder to service and repair. If you got a tuner with built in CD or DVD player and one part goes bad you're out essentially two or three components. With a component system you just need to replace the part of the system that went bad.

Of course one of the upsides of these systems is that since they are an integrated system they are usually smaller so they take up less space in your home or stereo cabinet. They're great for those with apartments of just have limited space but want a nice home theater setup in their homes.

Home Theater Systems can range from under a hundred dollars, a couple hundred dollars and up to thousands of dollars depending on the brand, features and overall amount of components in the system. Many can contain several speakers, large or small for full surround sound effects, while some may have only three speakers to the entire setup, what you'll need will vary greatly on space you have available, the features you want and of course the amount of money you're willing to spend on the system.

Some of these systems can be very basic with just the ability to add surround sound to your existing setup, but others can be more elaborate like including DVD players, Radio Tuners and more. What type you'll need or want will depend on what parts you already own. They make a great base also for creating a home theater system if you're just starting out, you won't have to worry about figuring what components to buy to make sure they are all compatible with each other, these systems in a box are made to work together so it helps take out the guesswork of finding compatible parts.

Some thing you'll want to pay attention to when purchasing a Home Theater System are:

Connections:

Audio inputs and outputs:
With the outputs it usually isn't that important with a home theater setup as usually everything is included and designed to work together, but some systems do offer the ability to be expanded upon so you can add more satellite speakers or other types of devices like maybe a streaming media box to send the audio to another room.

With the inputs though you'll want to make sure they are compatible with any devices you already currently own, if you need a Toslink or Optical connection make sure the system has one included on the connections panel.

Video inputs and outputs:
Both of these are equally important to pay attention to, if you've got several devices like a camcorder or VCR, make sure you'll be able to connect them to the system. Some systems do offer front connections for ease of access for these types of devices, so if you use them often make sure the system you want has front access ports so you won't have to reach behind the system every time you want to use your devices.

Of course with the video outputs it's sort of obvious to make sure they are compatible with your current devices, make sure you can connect your TV to the system since this is a Home Theater System after all.

Speakers:

Since this is a home theater system you're interested in make sure it's got what you need, be it one subwoofer and several satellites for a complete surround setup or just two speakers for a smaller setup, determine what you need and want. Also of course pay attention to the size of the speakers, especially if you are space limited in your home. Some speakers can be wall mounted to help save space, but most systems do not include wall mounting brackets, so it will be an added expense to the overall cost of the system.

Surround Sound:

This sort of goes with the speakers, but not really, this is more of a preference as to what type of surround sound you want and what your other components can do. If you've got a high end DVD player that supports full blown surround sound then you don't want to buy a home theater system that doesn't support it. There are several surround sound formats that are available, you'll have to make sure your devices are compatible with each other. Of course if you buy a home theater system with a built in DVD player then it's not something to worry about too much. Remember though you can get a system with multiple formats you can't use which will allow you freedom to upgrade in the future.

Power of the System:

This is kind of an obvious one to discuss, many people miss this one, but if you like to feel the explosions in your movies, or like loud thumping bass in your music then make sure you get a nice large subwoofer. Also of course if possible try and test out the system before you buy it, many stores have demo models hooked up to let people hear them before they buy them, so you can play around with it to make sure it's exactly what you want.

Design and Color:

Aesthetics are very important, at least to me they are, I like my components to match, black with black or silver with silver or whatever other combinations there are. When you're looking to buy a system it's nice to have everything match, and of course you don't want something that's not pleasing to look at either since it's going to be the centerpiece of your system.

Remotes:

The remote that is included with a home theater system might be a small thing but it's going to be the main way of controlling the system. You'll want to make sure the remote has easy to access buttons that are arranged logically for you, you don't want to be fumbling to find the volume or other controls in the dark. Speaking of in the dark, some remotes have back lighting which is a very nice feature to have for a home theater setup. Some remotes that come with home theater systems can also be used to control your other devices, or they are universal remotes, they're nice to have so you don't have numerous remotes floating around the house for your components. If that's something you're interested in make sure the remote can handle as many device as you need it to, many are limited to the number of devices that they can control and it's usually noted somewhere in the specs and features of the product.

These are just some basic things to keep in mind that are often overlooked by most people, of course there are over features and options to think about as well.

When you finally decide on what system you want look around to see if other people own it and to find their opinions of the system, also check and see if there are professional reviews as well, reviews will often include detailed pictures and analysis of the product.

Wherever possible try the system first before you buy it, many stores have demo units on display that you can test and try out and some will even allow you to bring your own music or movies to play on the systems before your purchase.

A Home Theater System can be a large investment in money and it's something that you'll most likely use often and have for a long time, you'll want to make sure you get a system that you'll be happy with.

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