A beginner's guide to buying a home theatre audio system

November 6, 2014

A home theatre audio system can bring the cinema experience into your living room. Navigate the tricky waters of finding the right system for you using this guide.

A beginner's guide to buying a home theatre audio system

Soundbar or surround sound system?

  • If you don't have a lot of space in your living room, then a sound bar could be a suitable option for your home theatre audio system. You can mount it on the wall or place it on a stand.
  • Although it won't offer the full surround-sound experience, a soundbar can replace the front speakers and subwoofer in a multi-speaker surround sound system.
  • For a truly immersive experience, you'll need a minimum of five separate speakers to deliver sound from all angles.
  • Ideally, you could place two front speakers, two rear speakers and a centre speaker around the room, in addition to a subwoofer to deliver the deepest bass tones. The subwoofer can be located anywhere in the room.
  • Larger rooms can benefit from a 7.1 or even a 9.1 system, which features seven or nine speakers in addition to the subwoofer.
  • If you want a true home cinema experience, then this extensive set-up is something to consider.

Complete system or customized set-up?

Many pre-packaged home theatre audio systems are available for purchase, but you can also create your own system by buying each component separately.

  • The customized approach requires a lot more planning, as you need to choose each speaker for your system.
  • In general, it's advisable to buy speakers of the same brand, as they work together most effectively.
  • The exception is the subwoofer, which can be of any brand.
  • Brands that produce the best speakers do not always offer the best subwoofers, so it's a good idea to do some research to find the best subwoofer for your needs.

How to buy a receiver for your home theatre audio system

In addition to the speakers or soundbar, your home theatre audio system also needs a receiver.

  • A stereo receiver can generally only operate two speakers at a time, although some also have a subwoofer output.
  • An A/V receiver, on the other hand, can operate a surround-sound system with multiple speakers.

The first step in buying a home theatre audio system is to decide how many speakers your room can accommodate, and then buy a receiver designed to work with that number of speakers.

If possible, visit an audio store where you can explore the ranges and powers that different speakers offer before making a purchasing decision.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
Close menu