Angie's LIST Guide to
Stereo and home theater systems

The ideal stereo or home theater setup will depend on your needs and budget. On your own, or with help from a professional installer, you can put the pieces together to channel multiple entertainment options.


A home theater system may be a simple TV with speakers or as elaborate as a dedicated room with top-of-the-line components.(Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Rajinder S.)
A home theater system may be a simple TV with speakers or as elaborate as a dedicated room with top-of-the-line components.(Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Rajinder S.)

What's in a home theater system?

When it comes to home entertainment systems, the sheer volume of choices at all price points can be overwhelming. If you find that's the case for you, consider hiring a professional to help choose, arrange and install your components. Angie's List, which provides members with local reviews on service providers of all types, can help you find a top-rated consumer electronics installer. But whether you hire out or go DIY, it's a good idea to know the basics of a home theater system.

The main components are the display, receiver and speakers. These three items set the tone for the entire experience and prices can vary widely, so it's important to be clear about what you want out of your system and what you can afford.

Video display: The display may be as basic as a regular TV or as elaborate as a motorized drop-down projector screens with a theater-quality projector. Consider desired image quality and expected longevity, in addition to budget considerations, when selecting your display option. A flat-panel screen display is a flexible choice. The large screen is ideal for playing movies and games, and is fine for watching sports and other television choices. On the other hand, a drop-down or fixed projector screen can offer a more cinematic experience because of the larger image.

Receiver: Choices abound, so it's important to know what features you want and how much you can pay. Be sure the component you consider can support the other parts of your system and be sure it has the right inputs. When choosing a DVD player, a Blu-ray or high-definition DVD player can be a good choice, as they can convert and play high-definition discs.

Speakers: Surround-sound is a hallmark of a true home theater experience. Systems come in many sizes and with varying functions. A basic home theater will not need all the available features, but many systems can be augmented as needs change. Speaker choice definitely affects the home theater experience. It's important to test speakers before buying, as there are differences in power and clarity. In addition, you'll need to decide what style of speaker to use. There are tower or bookshelf speakers, as well as or wall- or shelf-mounted satellite speakers. Consider adding a subwoofer to the mix to help produce a fuller sound.

Another option is to buy a "home-theater-in-a-box," or HTiB, unit. But keep in mind that what seems to be the easiest or cheapest option may not provide the best value in the long run.

Setting up a home theater system

Before deciding where to place your home theater components, including at what height and distance to place the display and speakers, be clear about your goals. Will your system be just for watching movies and TV, or will you also use it for music and gaming?

Consider also the room that will house your home theater system. Will you be using a room that has other uses, or will you dedicate the space to the home theater? Take into account the natural and added lighting in the room, as well as features that affect sound quality, such as flooring, window treatments and wall coverings. Consider other details, such as special insulation, that can contribute to a better media experience.

A professional can design and install a system to meet your goals, but whether you do it yourself or hire out, be sure that speakers are well-placed. Proper placement of the center speaker, left and right speakers, surround speakers and subwoofer will go far in creating that theater-like experience.

Consumer tips for home theaters

Home entertainment systems can be costly investments. Before buying, be sure to do your homework, including seeing and hearing components or complete systems in action. If you hire an installer, check the company's or individual's experience and credentials. Get everything in writing. And remember, one of the top benefits of being an Angie's List member is being able to access local consumer reviews on all kinds of service providers.

Here are other consumer tips, from CEDIA, the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association, a trade group that provides certification for qualified installers:

Plan ahead. If you're building or remodeling, plan for future wiring needs. Wire is necessary to support wireless applications. Have your architect, builder, remodeler and interior designer work with an electronic systems contractor from the start of the planning process.

Insist on integration. Be sure the equipment you buy can be hooked up together and operated with one, easy-to-use control system.

Simplify controls. All-in-one remote controls are available for any system and can even be custom-programmed. New technologies offer control from other devices and even through Internet browsers anywhere in the world.

Think value, not just price. Quality and long-term dependability can be worth extra cost.     


what do u think of samsung (hte 6500w) and would u need both hdm cord and audio cord to hook up with a 3-d smart tv

you would only need a samsung hte 6500w and qty 2 hdmi cables; one as the input and one as the output to the tv. this will allow the audio unit to play the best audio sound available.

I have a Boston acustics speaker and its not working, gives a little sound.

can I get some advice.


a) You have a short in a speaker cable

b) you have a short in the audio cable for that channel- it will either be a red or white cable - exchange the cables - plus white into red and red into white and see if you have the same channel out - you can not hust the channels by exchanging the red for white, et.

c) you have a bd channel within your power source or the stereo unit providing sound to that channel.

d) if sound is coming through HDMI cable. then you have a bad channel on your power source

Home theater system gaining more popularity as per increase in demand of entertainment at home. Most of us use to buy either the assemble or the single unit. But the setup process varies from system to system.

This seems to be the best blog on home theater system. My home theater speakers are ultimate in terms of sound and better entertainment.

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