Home cinema systems are used to provide surround sound in the home, they offer surround sound as is used in the cinema’s hence the name. Surround sound is great because the sound comes from every angle, if in a film a sound is intended to be from a certain angle then this is where you will hear the sound coming from. This adds a whole new dimension to films, if on the screen there is a plane flying overhead then you will hear it pass over you or if there is gunfire coming from behind the character on screen then you will hear the gunfire coming from behind you. Another advantage is the prices, they have come down quite allot meaning that you can easily find a cheap home cinema system, some of the shops have cheap special offers too.
Home cinema systems generally have five speakers although some do have more and they also have a subwoofer, this provides the bass and adds depth and power to the sound. There are many types of home cinema packages available including the standard five speaker and subwoofer set with a DVD player but you can also get wireless systems where there are no speaker wires, this makes it much easier to set up. There are also many manufacturers that sell DVD home cinema packages, these include Sony, JVC, Panasonic, Pioneer, Yamaha, Philips, Denon, Aiwa, LG, Samsung, Toshiba and many others. It is very important to set up the speakers properly or you will not get the correct sound and the effect will be ruined, spending a good amount of time setting up your home cinema system will be very worthwhile.
In a typical square room you will want the television to be placed in the centre of one of the walls and then have the 2 main front speakers in each corner of the room, alongside the television. You will then want the rear speakers to be placed in the opposite corners to the front speakers, it is better if you have the rear speakers slightly behind the listening position so if you have a sofa in the room it’s better to have the rear speakers behind that, do not block them though behind anything as the sounds can be quite subtle and easily blocked behind furniture and other items. The remaining speaker is the centre speaker, the centre speaker provides all of the dialogue in films and so should be placed as close to the television as possible, on top or below the television is ideal. Then there is the subwoofer, it does not matter where you place the subwoofer as you cannot tell where the bass the subwoofer produces is coming from, therefore you tuck this away anywhere in the room that is convenient.
Once you have the front, rear and centre speakers placed correctly there is a small amount of other setting up to do, most home cinema systems have a menu where you can choose various settings. The main one to look for is the speaker distances, this tells the home cinema system how far away each speaker is and adjusts the sound accordingly, it’s important that this step is carried out to get the proper sound. Most home cinema packages also have a test feature, this produces a small sound from each speaker and is useful for checking that all of the speakers are functioning correctly.
Most home cinema systems come with a built in DVD player, some of these are multi region and this is worth looking out for, multi region DVD players will play DVD’s from other countries so are useful if you have films from other countries. Multi region DVD players are useful as films are often not available in the UK or come out before they do here in other countries, for example when ordering a DVD from America you would need a multi region DVD player. Having the DVD player built into the home cinema system is also useful as the system will automatically detect what type of sound the DVD uses and alter the sound accordingly, there are several different types of surround sound available including the Dolby Digital, DTS, 5.1, Pro Logic and many others.
There are many formats of surround sound available so it is worth checking that the home cinema system you are going to buy supports these, the main surround sound standard is Dolby Digital. Dolby Digital is used it lots of actual cinemas and is the standard surround sound option for DVD’s, most home cinema packages will support Dolby Digital as it is the most popular surround sound type, it is even the standard surround sound for digital television. Dolby Digital is what is known as a 5.1 surround sound technology, this means that there are 5 independent sound channels (front left, front right, centre, rear left and rear right) and one low frequency channel for the subwoofer (the .1).
The other popular type of surround sound technology is the DTS system, DTS is also a 5.1 technology but is not as common, most home cinema packages support DTS as an optional extra with Dolby Digital being the default choice. DTS is different to Dolby Digital in the way that it has higher data rates, this means that it has slightly better quality of sound but takes up more room on the DVD disc, if you are an enthusiast then this maybe worth looking into but most users would not notice, the extra disc space also explains why it is less popular with film makers. There are also other versions of surround sound although not as popular as Dolby Digital or DTS, these include Dolby Digital EX, DTS extended surround (DTS-EX) and THX. These offer more advanced surround sound with 6.1 channels, the extra channel is a dedicated rear channel between the rear left and rear right speakers. And there is also the old Dolby Pro Logic surround sound, this was the first surround sound available in homes and is supported by many home cinema packages due to the fact that allot of old films use this technology.
So when buying a home cinema package there are a few things to consider, Dolby Digital is the best choice so you are better off making sure your new system supports this surround sound technology. The brand is also important, the most popular are Sony, Samsung, JVC, Panasonic, LG, Philips, Pioneer, Yamaha, Denon, Aiwa, Toshiba and lots more, Sony, Panasonic, JVC, Pioneer and Philips are the most popular. If you are looking for a cheap home cinema system then have a good shop around as many of the shops run cheap special offers where you can save some money and get a cheap home cinema package.
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