HOME CINEMA SYSTEMS
Thanks to high-tech sound systems and 4K TVs, it’s never been easier to enjoy an immersive cinema experience at home.
Home cinema systems can seem complicated at first, but this handy guide will explain the key features so you can find the perfect setup. Read on to find out more.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN A HOME CINEMA SYSTEM?
A home cinema system typically includes a TV or projector, a sound system, and devices to provide content – usually a DVD or Blu-ray player. You can find all-one-systems, which are the easiest to set up, and may be a good choice if you don’t know which speakers you want.
Home cinema systems can use media streamers, which give you access to a range of apps and online services. If you have a Smart TV, you can also stream thousands of films and series straight from your television.
Blu-ray films are the highest quality available and provide the best experience when used with a high-quality TV and a surround sound system.
The lowest display or television standard we’d recommend for a home cinema system is full HD. 4K TVs have a resolution four times better than a full HD screen, so are worth considering as well.
Speakers deliver professional quality audio to complete the full immersive experience. Home cinemas systems usually have a surround sound system that uses 2.1, 5.1, or 7.1 sound formats. The numbers represent how many speakers and subwoofers a system uses. For example, a 2.1 system includes two speakers and one subwoofer.
Wireless systems are available, and are great if you don’t want to use cables to connect all of your speakers together.
HOME CINEMA SYSTEMS’ SCREEN QUALITY
The screen size is often the most important factor when buying a home cinema system. We recommend picking a screen that is at least 40”, but you should also consider the picture quality.
LED screens have replaced LCD as the most popular home cinema displays on the market. They are popular because they don’t use as much energy and have better colour depth. You should also consider OLED screens, as you’ll get a more realistic image quality.
If you’re going for a 3D screen, you will need to use compatible glasses to see the effect. You should also bear in mind that 3D TVs have dropped in popularity, so you won’t have a big choice of models.
The standard for high definition (HD) home cinema systems is 1080p, which provides a high-quality image for films and TV shows. You can also get 4K UHD TVs, which offer a better quality than HD, but you’ll have to pay a little more for these models.
Some people use projectors instead of a TV screen, but you will need a dark room to see the picture clearly.
Plasma TVs were the first flat screen televisions to become popular, but they are no longer being produced. Instead, you should look at LED, or even OLED or QLED models. These TVs also give you more vibrant colours, ultra-thin screens, and better viewing angles.
LED screens have replaced LCD as the most popular home cinema displays on the market.
HOW MANY SPEAKERS DO I NEED?
Not all living rooms are the same, and your needs may be different because of your room layout, shape, or size.
As the name suggests, home cinema systems give you the feel of the cinema, but this is only achieved by creating a truly immersive experience. The most popular way to do this is to use a 5.1 home cinema system. This is because most movie releases support this format, whether they are Blu-Ray, DVD, or streamed online.
2.1, 5.1, and 7.1 systems all have a different number of speakers to surround you and your family, and they need to be set up accordingly. Most setups include a subwoofer which is a speaker specially designed to produce low bass notes. This can be placed almost anywhere in the room except in a corner. This is because this generates boom, which is bass that sounds too heavy.
The most popular speaker setups are:
• 2.1 sound system: This setup includes one left speaker, one right speaker, and one subwoofer. The left and right speakers should be placed next to the screen and angled towards the audience. You can also find 2.1 systems which come with one soundbar and one subwoofer.
• 5.1 home cinema system: This system uses the same speakers as a 2.1 setup, but also includes speakers placed behind the audience to give a complete ‘surround sound’ effect.
• 7.1 surround sound: These are the best home cinema systems on the market today, because very few films are produced for setups larger than this. As with 5.1 systems, there are front left and right, as well as rear left and right speakers, accompanied by a subwoofer. The only difference is that 7.1 systems have dedicated side speakers to sit on the left and right of the audience.
You can also get soundbars which sit underneath your TV to improve the quality of the audio without the need for a huge number of speakers.
As you’d expect, you’ll need a bigger budget for a system with more speakers. It may also be worth investing more money to get a great quality setup that will last for years to come.
When it comes to setting up your system, take a look at our handy how to guide for some top tips.
HOW ENERGY EFFICIENT ARE THEY?
Home cinema systems can use a lot of energy, so you should only use all of the speakers when you want the full experience.
Compared to LCD and LED televisions, plasma screens use the most energy. LED and OLED screens are typically the most energy efficient choices.