You’ve just about got your home theater set up. Now you’re going to want a huge audio system to go along with the big television in your home theater, which is customarily comprised of a Surround Sound system. Yet a Surround Sound system can be a alarming purchase if you are not acquainted with the basics of home-theater audio. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
What type of Surround Sound system do I need?
A multichannel audio system decodes (makes audible) a surround soundtrack and then sends an individual channel (audio signal) to each speaker. Most Surround Sound sets available now are either 5.1-channel systems (5 speakers plus a subwoofer) or 7.1 channel systems (7 speakers, one subwoofer).
5.1-Channel Set Up
Besides the subwoofer for deep bass, all such systems have a center speaker for dialogue clarity, two front speakers (left and right), and at least two surround speakers. In a 5.1 system, the two surround speakers are historically intended to sit to both sides of you; nevertheless, they can be situated behind you for a encompassing aural experience.
7.1-Channel Set Up
A 7.1 system supports DVD/BD soundtracks that add a bit more direction to the sounds that “happen” behind you. It does this with an extra pair of speakers that should be mounted in the rear. This adds a realism that will cause you to feel more a part of what’s happening on the screen.
How Should I Buy My System?
I recommend buying separate components. The major parts of a home-theater sound system are speakers, a subwoofer, and a receiver (which takes a film disc’s soundtrack, decodes it, and parcels out its audio channels to the speakers and sub). You should purchase these separately if you’re particular about specific features, brands or speaker tone.
HTBs, or Home-Based Cinema in a Box, is a nearly complete kit; you’ll probably still have to get a cable or two, eg, to attach the receiver to your DVD/BD player. The benefit of an HTB is that the parts are prematched to work with each other, so it doesn’t need as much research.