What Is a Home Theater?

A home theater is an entertainment system designed to provide an immersive movie-going experience from the comfort of one’s own living room. The most common configuration consists of a projector and large screen, high-resolution movie media played on a DVD or Blu-ray player, and surround sound audio. More advanced installations may recreate a full small-scale cinema, complete with theater-style furniture and specialized acoustic construction to improve the listening experience.

The heart of any home theater system is the electronics. These are the devices that receive input from all of the other components, process them and output them to the speakers and display device (such as a television or monitor). Electronics can be divided into two categories: AV receivers and separates. A good AV receiver will contain all of the inputs needed for your home theater, processors to decode audio and video signals, and amplification to drive the speakers. Popular brands include Denon, Marantz, Yamaha, Onkyo, and Pioneer.

Most home theaters consist of a TV or flatscreen high-resolution HDTV, an AV receiver or separate audio receiver with multiple speakers for surround sound, and at least one source such as a DVD, a high-resolution digital movie media player, or a video game console. Many people also include a HTPC or computer running a media center software application to act as the main library for all of the video and music content in their home. The latest home cinema systems offer the option to stream movies and TV shows directly from the Internet.

Home theatre are available in a wide range of sizes and price points, from simple portable systems with Kodak 8 mm film projectors and monaural sound to sophisticated dedicated rooms that rival the quality and comfort of a commercial movie theater. In recent years, some people have even set up outdoor home-cinemas with inflatable screens and purpose-built AV equipment mounted in weatherproof cabinets.

Almost any room can be converted to a home theater, but the most common location is the family or media room. This space usually has comfortable seating and a flatscreen TV or projection screen. The screen should be placed on the far wall of the room to prevent light from reflecting off of it during a movie, and it is best to avoid mounting it on a window or other directional location.

Connecting the speakers to the receiver is the most difficult part of a home theater system to set up. Speaker wire has a red and a black end, so it is important to match the color code of the speaker cable with the colors of the connections on the receiver. Most speaker wire has a wax sheath that must be removed to expose the bright copper wire that makes the connection. The speaker cables are then connected to the receiver with the matching colored ends.

Once the speakers are connected, most systems require a power outlet to be plugged in, and a surge protector or protective box is often used to protect expensive electronic equipment from power spikes and other problems. A ceiling-mounted fan can be added to help with cooling when the system is in use. Tangled wires can be a nuisance, so it is important to professionally conceal the wiring wherever possible.

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