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Home Entertainment At Its Best--Your Private Home Theater

by Larry Denton

You LOVE watching movies, but don't always have the time to roundup the family and journey to the local theater, or can afford to shell out the money for the cost of the tickets and the criminally priced greasy popcorn. So, you often resort to renting videos from your local store, but watching them on your 27" TV just doesn't quite have the same impact. Not only is the picture quality awful, the sound is even worse through those 4" speakers in your TV set. You've been hearing a lot about "Home Theater", and both your neighbor and your brother-in-law have the huge, new, big screen TVs, powerful surround receivers, and gargantuan speakers to shake the entire house. The kids are begging for a similar system, but your spouse is saying "no" to remodeling the front room for a wall full of techno gadgets. So, how do you keep everyone happy?

Perhaps the answer lies in a home theater system. Whether you are considering a home theater-in-a-box for $200, or are adding a entire room to house your $25,000 state-of-the-art equipment, there are hundreds of options and choices in the design and construction of your ultimate home cinema.

Home theater design has reached record levels of stylishness and complexity. Having a private theater used to mean you were either a wealthy celebrity, CEO of Paramount Pictures, or president of the United States. Today, however, with the advanced audio-visual technology (think DVD players, powerful new speakers, and digital high-definition projectors) nearly everyone can afford a stylish home entertainment environment that can rival your local movie theater.

The term "home theater" refers to any combination of audio and visual equipment in your home that attempts to duplicate or surpass the sights and sounds of the movie theater experience. This definition can vary widely, however. On the high end, you can have a custom designed (and built) home theater that costs thousands of dollars--complete with high end video projector, state-of-the-art DVD player(s), separate amplifiers for each channel, dozens of in-ceiling speakers and some subwoofers that can shake the paint off your neighbor's garage.

In reality, home theater in most households does not consist of major room re-modeling, expensive custom installations, or a lot of money. It can be as simple as a 27 inch TV, a basic DVD player, inexpensive stereo receiver and a set of modest speakers. You can have a home theater in just about any room of the house, a small apartment, office or even a dorm room. The options are nearly endless and the choices are yours!

Any home theater starts with a fantastic television screen. Screen size is no longer the only choice you have to make. You now have the option of standard tube televisions, flat-screen plasma displays, rear-projection televisions, in addition to the high-end front projector systems and pull-down wall screens. To add to the confusion, each of these types of screens is available in standard quality or the new high-definition format.

The second, and some would say most important piece of equipment, is the sound system. If you are truly looking to recreate the movie sound in your home, surround sound is your best bet. It is a recording technique that, when paired with a speaker system, puts the viewer in the center of the action with sounds that move front to back, and side to side. It is not about louder sound, rather, it is about sound that envelops the listener and provides directionality to off-screen sound effects.

A media player is another component to your system, and most people today choose DVD as their preferred format. When connected to a receiver and speakers, or when connected to a home theater system, most DVD players can play audio CDs. If you plan to use your DVD player to play CDs on a regular basis, you may want to consider a multidisc player over a single disc model.

Other necessities and accessories range from speaker choices, lighting controls, auto-retracting curtain (to conceal the screen), and certainly comfortable seating. Seating choices, like everything else, vary widely. Your biggest decision in this area is whether you want your home theater to look like a "home" or a "theater." If you want the miniature theater look, you can get stadium type seating that closely resembles your local theater. For a more "homey" look, you may wish to go with more traditional armchairs.

About the Author

Larry Denton is retired history teacher having taught 33 years at Hobson High in Hobson, Montana. He is currently Vice President of Elfin Enterprises, Inc., an Internet business dedicated to providing valuable information on a variety of important topics. For a theater full of additional information to help you create that "perfect" home theater, visit http://www.HomeTheaterHere.com

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