Must-have home theater components

It all comes down to four key parts. UPDATED FOR HOLIDAYS 2012

Why venture out to a movie theater when you can stay home and watch almost any movie you want in the comfort of your own home?

Home entertainment theaters were once the thing of rich athletes and movie stars that you got to see when some TV program did a special on their home. However the quality of the products out there continues to rise while the prices continue to drop, enabling the everyday person to go out and buy the components that they need for their own set up.

The added advantage is that there is no waiting in lines to get a poor seat at the movies and be forced to listen to the loud people behind you talking over the show. Sporting events seen on a screen in the relaxing confines of your home with comfortable seats, no expensive parking or $12 hot dogs is a great way to spend the evening with friends

The advent of streaming video and on-demand content has made it even easier to use a home theater since no need to go to a video store for the latest movie; they are often available on-line the same day as at a store, if a video store even exists where you live. The standardization of connections and interfaces has made it a relative snap to assemble and connect the components that are needed, and a user simply needs a few basic pieces to make a whole that is greater than the assembled parts.

Fortunately, the right equipment is easy to purchase and use. Adorama carries a comprehensive selection of Home Entertainment Theater-related components in our TV & Entertainment department, and we're here to help you figure out what you need. Four key components are must-haves for any home theater: a high-definition television (HDTV), a surround-sound receiver, a DVD or Blu-ray player, and speakers.

High Definition Television (HDTV)

The most obvious piece for any home entertainment center is its centerpiece, the television. There are a variety of options available; do you want 3D? Do you want plasma or LCD? How about going old school and getting a rear projector or a front projector. What you do want is something that says it is Full HD 1980p for the best available high definition video and images.

Also read: LCD or Plasma TV: How to choose?


LG 50PZ750 3D 1080p Plasma TV

LG 50PZ750 3D 1080p Plasma TV
Adorama price: $899

Plasma HDTVs with 3D capabilities seem to be the Swiss army knives of the HDTV world. At first glance a plasma television and an LCD one may appear to be the same, slim with sharp images, but it goes deeper. The main difference is one uses charged plasma cells and the other is two sheets of glass with liquid crystals in between that are altered by varying the charge. The knock against LCDs was that they needed additional lighting, in the form of what is called backlighting, to display the images and this was not always as crisp, particularly in early generation models.

With a huge viewing area this LG HDTV will enable a large group of people to watch on its 50-inch display. The HDTV features full 1080p HD 3D and with its 600Hz refresh rate there is no tell-tell blur when watching action movies or live action sports and with its contrast ratio of 10,000,000:1 it delivers incredibly vibrant colors and deeper and darker blacks. The $899 LG50PZ750 comes with LG’s NetCast Entertainment Access that enables direct Internet access without the need of a PC as an intermediary and so you can stream videos or surf the net, or both, with ease. It is Wi-Fi ready and so can connect to a home network. With four HDMI/HDCP connections it has ample connectivity to additional home entertainment unit components.

Sony Bravia KDL-55EX640 55

Sony Bravia KDL-55EX640 55"
Adorama price: $1,298

Not interested in 3D but still want a top of the line HDTV for your room, then a LCD HDTV should be exactly what you are looking for. The technology has advanced a good deal in the last few years and now gives plasma a run for its money in terms of clarity, color crispness and deep blacks. The $1,298 Sony KDL55EX640 will fill the bill for both a sharp display and a center for entertainment. It has a full HD 1089p 55-inch LED display. Sony’s Motionflow XR 240 technology delivers a wonderfully smooth picture with natural looking fast action scenes and movement.

Sony has addressed the backlighting issue with its Edge technology that provides a bright, clear picture. It comes with a wireless adapter to enable you to connect to the Internet or play games. It has a game mode that enables a PSP system or other hand held devices to be used on the large display using the full screen. It has a wide range of connections including four HDMI and an HDMI PC input .connection

The Receiver

Once you have your television set, you'll need something that will connect the rest of your home theater components to it: a surround-sound receiver. The receiver takes the audio signal sent from your video device—like a DVD or Blue-ray player or a satellite receiver—decodes it, and sends sound through the system so it can be fed through the appropriate speakers. This allows the sound to “move” around you. A jet that is moving from left to right on your screen, for instance, is also moving left to right in your ears.

Denon AVR-1913 7.1 Channel 3D Pass Through and Networking Home Theater Receiver

Denon AVR-1913 7.1 Channel 3D Pass Through and Networking Home Theater Receiver 
Adorama price: $579

While the television is the most obvious component for a home theater since it will be what all will see, a receiver could be the most important component since it is what ties all of the devices together. With that in mind you will need to decide what components you will want to ensure that the receiver can handle all of the inputs and attachments.  It does more than work as a crossroad where the various components meet but it also plays a vital role in decoding audio signals and ensuring that they reach the appropriate speaker so that sound can follow the action on the screen; if a car is racing from left to right, so is the sound.

The $579.99 Denon AVR-1913.7 is a network ready A/V receiver that features 7 channels of surround sound for your movies, music and games with 90 watts of power per channel. It supports 3D video and is a superb match for Blu-ray players, DVD players, game consoles and other entertainment devices, offering a total of six HDMI 1.4a inputs and one HDMI 1.4a output.
The AVR-1913 features an equal amp power design and supports a multitude of high resolution audio and has the ability to connect to the Internet via a home network enabling it to take advantage of its digital network audio and photo streaming capabilities, compatible with Windows 7 and supports playback of MP3, WMA, WAV and FLAC HD audio. It has a feature called AirPlay that enables you to stream music wirelessly from your iTunes library on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, or from your PC or Mac.
DVD or Blu-ray player?

Sony BDP-S580 3D Blu-ray Disc Player

DVD or Blu-ray? That is a question that many people ask themselves when developing a home entertainment center.  Blu-ray technology was designed to replace DVDs and has slowly beaten back rival hi-definition efforts to become the standard. The specification was developed in large part by Sony and it has been the first to market with players and has continued to develop on that strong beginning. One of the top-of-the-line models is the Sony BDP-S580 3D Blu-ray Disc Player  (Adorama price, $139.95)

Designed to provide full theater quality viewing with its 24p True Cinema mode and native HD 1080p resolution the player is designed to also support 3D media. It has built in Wi-Fi, support for iPhone/iPad or Android use as a remote control, and can connect wirelessly to PCs to stream video, music and photos.


Part of the enjoyment in a home theater system is getting as close as possible to movie theater–quality sound. You need a minimum of five full-range speakers set up in your room to accomplish this effect—left, center, right, surround left, and surround right—plus a subwoofer. This is called 5.1 surround sound. To get maximum sound out of your system, depending on the type of receiver you have, you can add two more speakers to create 7.1 surround sound, which is used in many of today’s home theater systems.

Yamaha YHT-797 5.1 Channel Home Theater System

Yamaha YHT-797 5.1 Channel Home Theater System
Adorama Price: $699.95
Speakers are often sold in sets to help you build the right sound for your theater. One thing to keep in mind when buying a package is to look and see if it has a receiver, which many of them include so that when designing your home theater so that you do not find the speakers of your dreams, ones that include a receiver, and you have already purchased a receiver earlier. One set that includes a reviver is the $699.95 Yamaha YHT-797 5.1 Channel Home Theater System. Designed for a home theater it supports Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio; Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD High Resolution Audio. It includes a 10" 100W multi-range subwoofer, two front speakers, a center speaker and two rear speakers. The company has developed a range of technology to ensure a smooth listening experience including Adaptive Dynamic Range Control (DRC) that automatically adjusts the dynamic range of the sound according to the volume level. This ensures that you hear clear dialogue and vocals and all sound effects at comfortable levels.

True sound aficionados, however, can pull together speakers from various sources to create a truly customized sound. Go with a center speaker and 600-watt subwoofer from JBL, and add surround-sound side speakers from Harman Kardon, for instance, at individually selected sizes, styles, and ranges to meet your needs.

Dolby Digital Facts

Dolby Digital is often referred to as the Dolby 5.1 format, a nickname that refers to the number of channels that the original Dolby Digital format supports. The 5 refers to the (front) right, left, center, right surround or right rear, and left surround (rear) channels. The .1 refers to the low-frequency effects (LFE) or subwoofer channel, which is considered a lesser channel, because the signal it receives translates to a much lower frequency—roughly one-tenth, or 0.1, of the frequency the other channels receive. In addition, 6.1 and 7.1 surround systems exist; a 6.1 surround system adds a single rear speaker, and a 7.1 surround system adds two side surround speakers. The choice of systems entirely depends on you and your listening preferences.

When you’re ready to bring together your home theater, Adorama can help. We’ve got the home entertainment equipment you need—from televisions and receivers to speakers and DVD/Blu-ray players. Let the experts help you create your dream movie theater.


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