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How to Buy a Powerful Home Theater System: Part 1 (Limited Budget)

Aug 17, 2007
Thanks to advances in modern audio and video technology, more and more people are becoming home theater enthusiasts. And while some home theater system owners approach their systems as if money is no object, this is certainly not an option for most would-be home theater owners. Luckily, the recent advances in technology have also made home theater equipment even more affordable, allowing even those on a limited budget to buy a powerful home theater system as long as you know what to look for.

There are several things you should consider once you decide to buy a home theater system, especially on a limited budget (around $1000 or less). Since this is a popular price range, there are several options to choose from for each of the components you'll need to purchase. The goal is to have a system that gives you great performance, several steps up from the typical "home theater in a box" but still taking up minimal space. We'll take a look at the components you'll need and some considerations you should keep in mind. Note that since we're working with a $1000 or less budget, we'll leave out the television for now and assume you're using your current TV in the meantime.

Receiver: The receiver should certainly have Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound to provide an immersive experience when watching your favorite DVDs. It should also be expandable to other formats as your system grows. That way, you can rest assured that your receiver will still be able to satisfy your audio needs for years to come.

DVD Player: Definitely look for a quality DVD player. You can certainly find players in the sub-$100 range but you should be cautious on such deals and definitely check the warranty and return policy just in case. Something in the $150 ballpark will likely be sufficient but price isn't the only factor to consider. Since we're aiming for a 5.1 surround sound system, you'll need to be sure the DVD player is Dolby Digital compatible to ensure you have the best audio output from your new system (most players are). In addition, check to see what type of video inputs your television has-either component video, s-video or composite/analog video (which have been listed in order of video quality). You'll want to be sure your DVD player has outputs compatible with the best quality video input on your television. Finally, keep in mind that your DVD player will play a dual role, acting as your CD player as well.

Speakers: Again, with the goal being a 5.1 surround sound system, you'll probably want to go with a set of speakers rather than purchasing them separately or in pairs. You'll have 6 speakers in all, one in each corner of the room (roughly), one speaker front and center either on or just below the television and one subwoofer to handle the bass. You'll want to ensure that the speakers are rated to handle the amount of power put out by the amplifier in your receiver. That way, you can enjoy full, rich surround sound without stressing your speakers and possibly damaging them.

Cables: Finally, you'll need several types of interconnect cables to wire everything together. Some of these might come with the individual components you purchase depending on the model. If not, shoot for mid-priced cables rather than the lower end options. Surprisingly enough, the quality of the cables you purchase can have a dramatic effect on the overall performance of your system so skimping here is not advised.

By following these simple guidelines, you'll be able to find the best components to build your new home theater system. And you can rest assured that it will have all the features you need for a great home theater experience without breaking the bank.
About the Author
Kevin Nelson is a home theater enthusiast and writer for HomeTheaterForDummies.com - advice for consumers looking to buy a home theater system . See recommended products for this home theater setup and other valuable resources. Go there now.
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