November 30, 2005
No I’m not talking about Home Theater itself but the gear that comprises the systems, or rather what to look for in that new piece of equipment; that will ensure it’s viable for years to come. In the interest of brevity, I won’t go into all the combinations of formats and configurations that are currently used, but rather a few simple rules of thumb for the home theater novice.
Displays: Again rather than writing a what, when, where and why of what I recommend here, I’ll just mention one thing any potential FPD/Projector buyer should keep an eye out for. Digital inputs, be it HDMI and or DVI. I highly recommend buying a display with a digital input vs. one without. It’s rare to run across a display without a digital input these days, but they are out there and more often than not these sets are the ones you want to avoid.
DVD Players: Just as the CD hasn’t been replaced by SACD, standard definition DVD’s will be with us for years to come, and with them standard definition DVD players. Again I’d recommend going with something that has a digital video connection. Sure it’s only a standard definition device, but that digital output will ensure the best picture quality and input compatibility with newer displays down the line.
Receivers: If I ask three people what they look for in an A/V receiver I often get three different answers; everything from easy to use to good video switching, whereas my only concern is that it sounds great. I suppose I’m a bit of an odd ball but I’ve never used my receivers for video switching. I’m of the belief that anything that breaks the signal path degrades the signal (yes even with digital). Obviously look for something that’s at least 6.1 and supports Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES, and is powerful enough to drive your room. Yes your room, because just about any receiver will drive a set of speakers, but a cavernous room requires more power than a small intimate home theater.
Speakers: Speakers, whether for 2-channel stereo or home theater, are often hard to recommend across the board. I don’t know if it’s from misinformation or just the psycho-acoustic nature of what listeners experience but one mans flat is another mans accurate. However there are a few general guidelines I’ll throw out. Size, many moons ago I started seeing the disturbing trend of tiny rear and side channel speakers. I don’t know why this happened but all I can say is just say no to tiny surrounds.
Another general (and there are exceptions here) rule is to try and keep to at least one line or one manufacturer’s speaker. Again there are exceptions to this but I’ve found that more often than not one brand tends to balance out nicer together than a hodgepodge of makes. Will a set of Thiel’s work with a Totem center channel? speaker Well of course they will but that’s not to say a full set of Totem’s would blend together a bit more seamlessly. Again, this isn’t written in stone but it’s definitely a starting point.
Of course these are just some very basic guidelines here, but hopefully some that might make your final decision just a tad easier.
Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Home Theater