What Is A Home Theatre?

While growing up, if I ever wanted to watch any kind of movie with decent sound and on a screen that I could see from more than three feet away, I had to go to the movie theatre. There was no competition between seeing and hearing a movie in a place built for optimal entertainment and seeing and hearing it on a small screen television with one speaker. It was with more than a little joy when I finally discovered affordable systems for setting up a home theatre right in my own living room.

What is a home theatre, you ask? There are a lot of different systems and a lot of different ways you can set it up in your home but simply put, a home theatre is an entertainment system installed in your home in order to recreate the experience of watching a movie in a theatre. Some of these systems are fairly affordable, costing a few hundred dollars for some speakers and wiring. Other home owners with deeper pockets have been known to have a separate room with seats, a large screen, and a rear projector. However you set up your home theatre, there are some common items that you are going to need.

Equipment And Components for Home Theatres

One important element of home theatres is the sound. You have to have the right sound or the experience just isn’t the same. A movie theatre has three main speakers behind the screen. There is a speaker to the right, to the left, and in the middle. Then you have speakers spread out around and behind the audience. This gives you that great surround sound so that you can hear different elements of a movie coming from different locations. You can replicate this same system in your home but to do it you need three main components: a home theatre receiver, surround sound speakers, and a subwoofer.

A home theatre receiver is the heart of any home system. This controls the audio signals that are sent to all of the individual speakers. All of the components are connected to the receiver and it can amplify any parts of the sound.


Surround sound speakers is a general definition for a set of speakers for your home theatre. A surround sound system is a set of speakers that perform different functions.  There are the front speakers which are placed in front of and to the left and right of the television screen. The set also includes a center channel speaker. This speaker usually sits underneath the screen. The center channel speaker is the key for dialogue because it keeps the dialogue centered on the screen where the actors are. The last part of the system is the rear channel speakers. These are normally placed behind the viewer and create a 3D effect with sound that draws you more into the movie. When an airplane flies overhead in a movie, the sound will start in the rear channel speakers and move forward with the image of the plane.

The last element of a surround sound system is the subwoofer. The subwoofer handles all of the low bass sounds that add depth to a movie’s soundtrack, making it more realistic. Low rumblings heard in movie thunderstorms and explosions come from the subwoofer. A high quality one can really make the floor shake in the right setting.

Besides sound, home theatres need a good picture. The most common solution is to get a high-definition television with a large wide-screen. The image ratio for high definition tv is the same as a movie theatre. You can also use LCD and Plasma-screen televisions but since television signals in the U.S. went digital, high definition tv is probably your best option. Also, to add to your television, you need the right movie player. VCR’s have long since left he market so DVD’s are pretty much the staple movie-watching system of choice. However, if you have a high definition television, you can get a sharper, clearer picture if you have a Blu Ray player.

All Of The Elements Put Together

Most people set up their home theatre systems in their living rooms. Why not? You already have a television in there along with comfortable seating. That big screen television can go right in front of the couch and you can set up the speakers around the room. If you want to invest more money, you can have speakers installed in the walls so you don’t have wires running all over the room. You can even mount your television on the wall so that you are slightly looking up at it like in a real movie theatre.

Since we are talking about quality home entertainment, I should mention the importance about proper seating. I know, it is not actually a technical part of a home theatre system but it still plays a part in the overall enjoyment. Nothing is sadder than seeing someone who has shelled out a lot of money for all of the equipment for a good home theatre but all they have to sit on is one simple chair. For good seating, especially if you are going to show your system off to your friends, you need a couch and several chairs, maybe even a beanbag or two. You can never go wrong with a good recliner. Remember, a good home theatre is about having a quality system set up in the most comfortable environment in your home.