The Absolute Basics of Home Theatre
Although the name is pretty simple, the execution is far from it. Home Theatre (or Home Cinema as some like to call it) has exploded in the last 10 years and so has the ‘mumbo jumbo’ that has come with it. The term ‘Home Theatre’ covers something as simple as a humble sound bar to Full Surround Sound Atmos systems costing tens of thousands of dollars. This article is designed to break down a few of the basics.
What do you need?
For starters, you’ll need something to watch! So either a TV or a projector. In most living room applications, people will opt for a TV for simplicity but dedicated home theatres tend to utilise projectors.
I will touch on ‘TV vs Projector’ in future articles, but for now, we are keeping things simple.
Next, you’ll need a form of sound. Some just opt for TV sound which I’d argue isn’t really Home Theatre, but it’s a start. Sound bars are the choice for many due to their discrete size and simplistic set up and do offer improvements over regular TV speakers. True home theatre, however, requires surround sound.
What is surround sound?
Surround sound is pretty self-explanatory; it’s sound that ‘surrounds’ you (mind blowing right). The idea of surround sound is to put you in the shoes of whatever scene you’re watching. A car crashes into the driver of the movie you’re watching, your side speakers will light up, someone hits you from behind, your rear speakers light up! More recently, the introduction of ‘height’ channels mean we can now recreate sound overhead such a plane or helicopter flying over.
Below is surround sound in its simplest form known as 5.1.
Full surround sound for the home can have up to 34 speakers! But consumer available systems are currently limited to around 13 channels, shown below. This system is known as 9.1.4.
What do you mean by ‘channels’?
A single ‘channel’, in simple terms, is one source of sound. Whether it be a big speaker at the front, a subwoofer or height channels overhead. We won’t go into detail in this article, but the minimum ‘channels’ required for surround sound is generally 5. Which includes 2 front speakers, one center speaker and 2 ‘satellite’ speakers. A subwoofer can also be added to extend the range of sounded offered (yes, that means more ‘doof doof’).
All this is just the tip of the iceberg! We will be releasing a series of articles breaking down each of the elements of Home Theatre to help educate you on your choices and picking the system that’s right for you.
Home Theatre is an exciting (and expensive) hobby but if set up correctly can create an experience better than that of a commercial cinema. Why is it better? Because Home Theatre is all about you! Commercial Cinemas are built to please and accommodate hundreds of people, Home Cinemas are built to create the perfect experience for just one person (or a few people if you include your partner and kids!).
NB Speaker Cables offers cables for all Home Theatre applications. Head over to our 'Cables' section to see what's on offer.