HDTV Home Theater - Home Theater HDTV

Many HDTVs do a good job of delivering quality audio, but few in built speaker systems will satisfy audiophiles. After all, if you have invested in the top quality HDTV, you will also want to accompany that with the high end audio possible only with a HDTV home theater audio system.

The two basic components are a receiver and set of speakers.

Home theater receivers are much like standard stereo receivers, but support more channels. Stereo is two channel, home theater is three or more, usually five to seven.

Receivers have to have sufficient output power to drive multiple speakers. Any receiver can play audio loud enough to annoy even hard rock fans. But along with that high volume can come noise inherent in the electronics.

To get good volume with noise free sound requires higher power. Most HDTVs have 10 watt per speaker systems and cannot deliver that. Home theater systems have 30 watts or more per channel, often up to 50 watts. All other things being equal, the more power the better but more power, usually costs more.

Receivers will also need to have enough ports to connect all the devices you will want to run through them. That includes at least two HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) ports, component, S-video and connectors for the speakers. It can also serve as a FM-tuner, or in some cases a satellite radio receiver.

Speaker systems run the gamut from three speaker sets - the bare minimum since otherwise you could just use your stereo system - to seven channels with possibly multiple speakers connected to each channel.

Five speakers would form the set for most high end systems: left and right front channel speakers, left and right surround system speakers and a center channel speaker. Often, though, a sixth called a sub-woofer is added.

The center channel carries most of the dialogue and the left and right front channel units provide most of the background and major sound effects. There is considerable overlap in any system between sources, though. Otherwise the system would sound unnatural.

The sub woofer, as the name suggests, carries the very low bass common in a great many modern movies with special effects such as jets, crashing buildings, earthquakes... anything that produces very low frequency sound.

The surround speakers are generally placed to the side or in back for that 360 degree effect everyone is now used to from movie theaters. They add the 3-D audio realism of bullets zipping by, swirling wind, chirping birds, etc. Though, again, those sounds will come partly from all other speakers, as well.

Contemporary HDTV sets do not use an electron gun, so they are not sensitive to the magnets in speaker systems, but it is still a good idea to look for video shielded systems.

Any set will have to be matched, though most manufacturers do a good job of providing seamless integration between all speakers. Even so, it is important to listen to any system you are considering in good testing conditions to ensure it is capable of producing a high end, realistic audio experience.