Why do we watch a movie in a cinema theater when you can do so on your smartphone, laptop, or even at home on your TV?

You like to soak in the atmosphere and immerse yourself in the movie by listening to every word of the dialog or song clearly on the amplified sound system. Yes, the large-sized screens play a crucial part, but the audio system is what we relish the most.

If we say that you can enjoy the same cinema theater environment in your living room, how would you react? There is no need to roll your eyes in surprise because the home theater system does allow you this facility.

How much would you love to have your home theater system set up at home?

This buying guide should help you understand the home theater concept and invest in the ideal system for your home. Meanwhile, let us discuss some home theater system brands available in India.

1. Sony HT-S500RF Real 5.1ch Dolby Digital Soundbar Home Theater System

Sony HT-S500RF makes your movie soundtracks sound even more authentic with its 5.1 channels of real surround sound. This soundbar home theater system comprises a 3-channel soundbar, subwoofer, and two powerful rear speakers to recreate the authentic 5.1 channel surround sound experience.

The 1000W sound output delivers an out-of-the-world feeling. The diamond-shaped grill designs on the speakers maximize the aperture ratio and deliver higher sound pressure. Dolby Digital compatibility adds to your acoustic experience.

The soundbar includes two high-quality 1-inch front tweeters to reproduce high-frequency sounds and enrich the surround sound experience. The 18cm subwoofer unit allows you to enjoy powerful bass while watching your favorite content on your TV.

The system features two large bookshelf 21.6 cm rear speakers to complete the experience. Setting up this home theater system is easy as you can plug in and enjoy surround sound almost instantly. As all wires run into the subwoofer, it looks tidy and orderly.

This system, specially made for Indian conditions, features multiple connectivity options in Bluetooth, HDMI, USB, and optical. Thus, you can connect to your source through wires or wirelessly. Sony’s exclusive Music Center app allows you to control the music streamed through this home theater system.

2. Sony HT-RT3 Real 5.1ch Dolby Digital Soundbar Home Theater System

This Sony home theater system, HT-RT3, lets you immerse in every movie soundtrack with 5.1 channels of real surround sound. The system comprises strategically placed rear speakers and an external subwoofer that works with a 3ch soundbar to deliver authentic cinematic sound.

The total 600 watts output ensures a thrilling soundscape and converts your living room into a virtual cinema theater. Compatibility with Dolby Digital is the stand-out feature of this home theater audio system.

An exciting feature of this acoustic system is NFC (Near Field Communication) technology. It removes the need to have wires and thus, eliminates complicated setup sequences.

You can touch your NFC-enabled smartphone or other devices to the N-mark on the system’s body to instantly start playing the music. If you do not have NFC-enabled devices, your Bluetooth connections work equally fine.

Setting up this home theater is a breeze, as all you do is unpack the system and plug it into the power source for the system to start functioning. The color-coded connections allow you to wire up the speakers comfortably.

This system features a range of connectivity options other than NFC and Bluetooth. It includes HDMI ARC, USB ports, and optical inputs.

3. Sony HT-S20R 5.1 Channel Dolby Digital Soundbar Home Theater System

Sony is the undisputed market leader when it comes to producing high-quality home theater systems. Here is another Sony product, HT-S20R, that enables you to enjoy 5.1 channels of real surround sound through its wired rear speakers, a 3ch soundbar, and wired external subwoofer combination.

While your TV remains the primary originating source, it is not all about movies and your TV. You can stream audio/video content from your smartphone using Bluetooth connectivity wirelessly. Besides, you can plug in through the USB port and play from a memory stick with ease.

This home theater system also connects using the HDMI ARC port. You can connect your compatible TVs to this system and have an immaculate home theater-like experience. If your TV does feature an HDMI port, you can use the optical input for connecting the device to it.

This home theater system delivers 400W of quality acoustic output. The Dolby Digital compatibility enhances your audio experience to an entirely different level.

Setting up the system should not take more than a few seconds, as you unpack and plug the device into the power source to get it started. The system comes with an easy-to-use remote for convenient operations.

4. Samsung HT-J5100K/XL 5.1 Channel Home Theater System

If you are looking to get a massive bass boost, the Samsung HT-J5100K/XL 5.1 Ch home theater system should be the ideal one. It is designed to deliver more profound and more vibrant bass. It can reproduce the low notes beautifully as the vibrations radiate through the system to let you enjoy powerful sound as if you are at a movie theater.

You can trust Samsung to produce high-quality audio equipment because they value audio just as much as visuals.

This home theater system features unique patented Crystal Amp Pro technology to dramatically enhance sound quality through its multi-variable feedback of sound signals. Thus, you have better-sounding output as compared to other typical audio systems.

The equalizer settings on this Samsung HT-J5100 allows you to personalize your audio. These settings are accessible on your TV display. You can adjust the TV settings depending on your preferences and tastes.

This home theater system allows you to instantly watch TV in surround sound as you can turn the sound on feature at the touch of a button. Your remote has a hotkey to activate the powerful Samsung J5100’s speaker system instantly.

This 5.1 channel HT-J5100 delivers excellent 1000W sound output to recreate the movie hall experience in your living room.

5. Philips SPA8000B/94 5.1 Channel Multimedia Speakers System

Along with Sony and Samsung, you have Philips as one of the leading home theater systems. Philips and audio quality complement each other beautifully as this 5.1 channel multimedia speaker system signifies its exemplary performance.

This multimedia speaker system comes with USB and SD card slots for music playback. It also works on Bluetooth. Thus, you can directly play content from your smartphone or other Bluetooth-enabled audio devices right on this speaker system.

The FM tuner allows you to enjoy your favorite radio programs for a change. However, this system is ideal for playing music from your TV, laptop, PC, and MP3 players.

The multimedia speaker system comprises five high-quality 15-watt speakers and a 45W subwoofer to deliver a total sound output of 120 watts.

This home theater system is designed for style and looks as good as it sounds. Thus, it is the perfect appliance to have in your living room and enjoy an authentic movie theater-like experience. Setting up the speaker system is easy.

With this Philips home theater system blaring out music in your living room, you would never like to visit a movie theater again. You have one right in your home.

Buying Guide For The Best Home Theater

Watching your favorite movies and TV programs with their families is one thing everyone cherishes the most. Today, you have channels like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Sony Liv, Zee5, etc., bringing the latest entertainment avenues right inside your drawing-room.

Yes, the modern-day TVs do not have high-quality audio. Hence, a home theater system has become more of a necessity than a luxury today.

This buying guide takes you through the points you need to concentrate on when purchasing the best home theater for your home.

Before we proceed further, here is a cheat sheet that you can refer to when buying a home theater.

Invest in a good TV

Your home theater works around your TV. If you have a good 4K or HD TV at home, you can set up your home theater around it. If you do not have a TV, it is better to purchase one along with your home theater system.

You can check out the connectivity options available on your TV and compare them with your home theater system, especially when you wish to connect it to an existing TV.

When purchasing a new TV, it should not be a problem because all the latest smart TVs come with the appropriate connectivity ports.

The Dimensions of your room

Your room’s dimension is a critical aspect to consider when investing in a home theater system. Some systems have large speakers, whereas some do not.

You can hear the sound clearly when your TV plays its audio on the home theater. If your room is small, there could be echoing effects that can disturb your acoustic experience.

You should also look at the speakers from the room’s décor perspective. Some speakers look extremely attractive, whereas some might require hiding them behind walls or above false ceilings.

Video Streaming Devices

A home theater is an excellent appliance to have in your home. You can connect your PC, laptop, iPads/tablets, or even your smartphones to the home theater and have a great time. All these devices access the internet and hence can stream content live.

Home theaters come with wireless speakers. You can enjoy your favorite music through these speakers all-around your home.

Set up your home theater.

The home theaters available on the market today are the easiest to set up. All you do is remove the appliance from the packing and plug it into the power source. If you connect wirelessly, you have to pair using Bluetooth connectivity with your source device.

Setting up a wired connection is also easy because the wires are generally color-coded for convenience.

Let us now discuss what a home theater is and see its functioning.

What is a home theater?

Generally, a home theater system comprises the following components.

  • A TV or a projector with a screen (not a compulsory accessory as people usually have TVs at home)
  • A video source, like a Blu-ray player (again, not compulsory if you have one at home)
  • A home theater receiver (a critical aspect of the home theater)
  • Speakers (sound output devices – Depending on your home theater configuration, you have multiple speakers with advanced features)

We do not focus on the TV and other video sources because we assume that you have these appliances at home. Our discussion restricts itself to the audio receiver and speakers.

Home Theater Speakers

The number of speakers you like to have is crucial because it decides the type of receiver you need to go for. Hence, you should choose your speakers first. The more speakers you chose, the more channels are available on your home theater system.

We shall look into the numbering pattern and learn how to decipher them during this buying guide.

How many speakers are ideal for your home?

It depends on your preferences and the space available in your home. Generally, a home theater consists of a minimum of five speakers. You can have any number of speakers you want. However, we shall consider the general set up comprising five speakers.

These speakers include a center speaker, a right and left speaker, and two rear speakers. A home theater system also consists of a subwoofer.

Here is how a typical home theater setup looks like.

  • The center speaker is generally placed below your TV.
  • The left and right speakers are ideally placed to the right and left of your TV, respectively.
  • The two rear speakers are placed facing the TV behind the audience. Thus, these speakers have extended wiring and are place at the opposite end of the room. It, therefore, gives a surround sound feel to the room.
  • Generally, the speakers are the front are larger than the rear speakers.

The Numbering Convention

When you venture to purchase a home theater system, you come across standard numbering like 5.1, 7.1, 5.1.2, 11.2, etc. These are not random numbers as there is a logic behind them.

When you purchase a 5.1 home theater system, it entails that the system has five speakers. Similarly, a 7.1 home theater system has seven speakers, and so on.

Thus, the number before the decimal point constitutes the number of speakers in a home theater system.

The number immediately after the decimal point is the number of subwoofers in the system.

A 5.1 home theater has one subwoofer, whereas an 11.2 system has two.

In a numbering like 5.1.2, the breakup constitutes five speakers, one subwoofer, and two Dolby Atmos speakers.

Generally, any music format requires two channels, left and right. However, for a home theater system, the sky is the limit. You can have any number of speakers/channels as you want. The more channels, the more speakers you can connect to the system.

This table can help simplify things better.

Convention Break down
2.0 It constitutes a simple stereo system comprising of two channels and two speakers.
2.1 This system has one subwoofer to provide impactful bass. Hence, it has two front speakers and one subwoofer.
3.1 Such a home theater system has a center speaker beside the left and right speakers and a subwoofer.
5.1 The conventional home theater comes with five speakers plus one subwoofer.
7.1 This system comprises seven speakers plus one subwoofer.
7.1.2 Here we have two Dolby speakers in addition to the seven home theater speakers and subwoofer. Placing two speakers on the ceiling can give you authentic surround sound.

Should you go for big speakers or small speakers?

In the older days, home theaters had small speakers. Today, you have prominent floor-standing speakers in place of the bookshelf or in-wall speakers. However, it is entirely up to you.

If you wish to have prominent speakers, you can go for the same provided you have sufficient space in your room.

The Speaker Set Up

A 2.0 Music System

Today’s TVs come with thin speakers that are not capable of delivering output more than 20 watts each. Hence, a basic 2.0 home theater system is any day better than the TV speakers you have today.

However, two speakers do not provide the ideal home theater environment. You need more speakers to bring in the theater-like effect in your living room.

When you have two speakers, you can place them to your TV’s right and left facing the audience.

A 3.0 Music System

You can add a center speaker to the two you have on the sides to set up a 3.0 music system.

This addition means that you are on the way to set up a home theater system. A 3.0 system is better than the 2.0 configuration, but it still does not serve as a home theater.

Add a soundbar

Many people question whether investing in a soundbar is a better option than purchasing a home theater system. If you are cramped for space, the home theater is not the ideal option. A soundbar is a better bet. It features three speakers inside and qualifies as a 3.0 music system.

You can also have a subwoofer to make it a 3.1 system. Adding a couple of speakers more makes it a 5.1 channel surround system.

The Subwoofer

The subwoofer has an important place in your home theater system. This addition to your home theater lets you feel the action. You can feel the coffee table vibrate when the subwoofer amplifies the bass. The bass frequencies are so low that we cannot hear them, but the subwoofer enables us to feel them.

The more advanced home theater systems feature multiple subwoofers. You might need them if your rooms are large enough where the bass can drop drastically in some areas. However, you should remember that subwoofers are bigger than speakers and hence need more space.

A 3.1 Home theater system

Indian apartments do not have large rooms. Hence, many people stop at a 3.1 music system. This system includes three speakers and one subwoofer. Though such a system does not give you proper surround sound, it is an ideal arrangement to have when space is a constraint.

A 5.1 Home Theater setting

Ideally, the best home theater system is the 5.1 sound system comprising five speakers and a subwoofer.

Such a system has a center, left, and right speakers place on one side and two rear speakers placed on the opposite wall. Thus, the audience sitting in the room experiences a surround effect.

5.1.2 Dolby Atmos Setup

Dolby Atmos is the best thing that has happened to audio technology. It takes your home theater system to an entirely different level altogether. Dolby Atmos is also referred to as 3D Surround Sound. The concept is to create a sound layer that hovers over the audience in the room.

The best part of Dolby Atmos is that each of the speakers can give out different sounds. It is also possible to deliver sound effects from the ceiling. You need a Dolby Atmos receiver unit and at least two Dolby-enabled speakers, besides three home theater speakers and a subwoofer.

Home Theater Receivers

The home theater receiver is the brain behind the entire system. It receives, interprets, and processes the TV audio signal coming into the house before directing it towards its ultimate destination, the TV and speakers.

A home theater receiver with five channels and one subwoofer should be the minimum to surround sound effects.

If you have more space in your living room, you can go for a seven-channel system. Under such circumstances, you can invest in an AV receiver with Dolby Atmos compatibility.

Functions of a home theater AV receiver

  • Interpret all audio signals correctly and assign a specific channel to each speaker.
  • Transmit the above info to additional wired/wireless speakers in your house.
  • The advantage of a wireless receiver is that it can stream anything from anywhere.
  • Give your Blu-ray videos the sound effect they need.
  • Switch between multiple modes from Dolby Cinema Surround Sound to Stereo to Live Café and other modes

Preamp and amp combo

If budget is not an issue, you can go for a higher version involving separate processing units. In the case of a home receiver, you rely on one unit to do both signal distribution and amplification jobs.

A preamp and amp combo allows you to have different units. The preamp takes care of the distribution, whereas the amp caters to amplification.

Different types of home theaters

Your choice of the ideal home theater system depends on your room size and budget. If you live in a 12×12 room or a rented apartment, it is not possible to have wires drilled to install your home theater. A wireless system is a better option.

Similarly, a small room cannot accommodate large speakers and subwoofers as the sound can reverberate. Let us look at different types of home theaters that you can have in your home.

Soundbars

Soundbars do not strictly qualify as home theater systems, but they are the best options when you have less space at your disposal. The soundbar already comes with three in-built speakers to act as the left, right, and center speakers.

Depending on the area available in your room, you can opt for a 3.1, 5.0, or 5.1 speaker system.

Pre-packed home theaters

Installing a home theater system requires some expertise. However, the pre-packed home theaters are the easiest to assemble. It comprises mounting hardware, color-coded cables, and an easy-to-follow instruction manual.

Anyone can install such a home theater system comfortably within minutes. It is as good as a plug and play instrument. Such home theaters are the least expensive of the lot.

Home theater system comprising of separates

In contrast to the pre-packed home theaters, you have systems comprising individual speakers and subwoofers. They require installation by home theater professionals. The procedure involves drilling holes on the walls to enable the wiring. These systems are comparatively expensive.

Wireless home theaters

With Bluetooth and NFC becoming popular, you have wireless home theaters available. A wireless home theater system’s advantage is that you do not have to drill holes to accommodate wires. It is also convenient to pair different devices with your home theater without using wires.

You can stream content from anywhere. However, the disadvantage is that the connections are not entirely reliable. Obstructions like walls and furniture can affect acoustic performance. Bluetooth works well within a specific range. The farther you go, the weaker is the signal. Hence, your speakers can display fluctuating performances.

Other Factors to consider

We have discussed a home theater concept and discussed the different types of systems available on the market. Here are some other factors that merit consideration.

Cables – If you go for a wired home theater system, it is better to look for high-quality cables. Generally, home theaters feature color-coded wires to enable easy installation. You need to ensure proper insulation to prevent unnecessary disturbances.

Power Protection – Voltage surges are common in India. It is better to have a circuit breaker installed to protect your expensive home theaters from damage.

Remote Control – You have the universal remote-control concept today where a single remote is sufficient to operate your home theater and other devices like Blu-ray players.

Final Thoughts

This buying guide should have made it easy for you to understand the home theater concept, especially the numbering and compatibility aspects. With this information, you can comfortably proceed to purchase the ideal home theater for your home. It can enhance your TV viewing experience to an entirely different level.

Last update on 2021-03-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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