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If you’ve just bought a great TV and are looking match the image with quality surround sound, a home theatre system will be the perfect addition to your set-up. Whether you’re upgrading your components or are buying a system for the first time and have some questions, we’ve got you covered.

Common Mistakes

You spent a tonne of money and time setting up your new home theatre system, but something just doesn't seem right. Did you make any mistakes? To find out, check out our list of common mistakes many of us make when trying to put together a home theatre system.

1. Buying cheap speakers

Some spend a small fortune on audio/video components but don't give enough thought on the quality of the speakers and subwoofer. This doesn't mean you have to spend thousands for a decent system, but you should consider speakers that can do the job.

With many choices it may seem difficult but the best thing to do is to actually listen to speakers at one of our stores before you buy. Do your own comparisons by taking your own CDs and DVDs with you to hear what they sound like with various speakers.

2. Unbalanced speaker levels

You've connected and placed the speakers, turned everything on, but nothing sounds right; the subwoofer overwhelms the room, dialog can't be heard over the rest of the soundtrack, and the surround sound effect is too low. This is easily solved as most home theatre receivers have a setup menu that allows you to note the size, as well as the distance of the speakers from the prime listening position. This also includes a test tone generator to assist in adjusting the sound output level of each speaker.

3. Not reading the user manuals

No matter how easy it looks, it is always a good idea to read the owner's manual for your components, even before you take them out of the box. Get familiar with functions and connections before you hook-up and set-up.

4. Not buying an extended warranty on an expensive system

Although service plans/warranties are not needed for all items, if you are buying an expensive home theatre system, it is something to consider for two reasons:

  • House calls by a third-party repairer are costly when paid out of pocket.
  • If you have a problem with your system and you cannot repair the individual defect, you will most likely have to replace the component - which probably means the entire thing.

5. Buying by brand or price, instead of what you really want

Although browsing by brand is a good starting point, it won’t always guarantee that the "top" brand for a particular item is right for you. When shopping, make sure you take a variety of brands, models, and prices into consideration. Also, avoid prices that seem to be too good to be true. Paying the big bucks is not always necessary to get a good product but, more often than not, sale items will not be able to fit the bill in terms of performance or flexibility.

6. Cable Mess

We are all guilty of this. Every time a new component is added to our home theatre, we add more and more cables. Eventually, it is difficult to keep track of what is connected to what especially when you attempt to track down a bad cable signal or move the components around.

Here are two tips:

  1. Make sure your cable runs are not too long, but long enough to allow easy access to your components.
  2. Label your cables using coloured tape or other marking

7. Using Cheap Cables

There is constant debate on whether it is necessary to purchase very high priced cables for a basic home theatre system. One thing to consider is that the thin, cheaply constructed cables that come with many DVD players, VCRs, etc. probably should be replaced by something that is a little more heavy-duty. The reasons are that a more heavy duty cable can provide better shielding from interference and will also stand last for longer. On the other hand, there are also some outrageously priced cables. For instance, although you shouldn't settle for cheaply made cables, you don't have to resort to spending a $100 or more for a 2 metre HDMI cable either.

8. Not Getting Professional Help When You Need It

You have done everything you can - you've connected it all, you set the sound levels, you have the right size TV, used good cables, but it still isn't right: the sound is terrible, the TV looks bad.

Instead of spending more time and money, or returning it all, consider calling a professional installer to assess the situation. You might have to swallow your pride and pay $100 or more for the house call, but that investment can salvage a home theatre disaster and turn it into home theatre gold.

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Auto-Calibration

What is auto-calibration and why do I need it?

Most home theatre receivers come with an auto speaker calibration setup that you can use with the supplied microphone and in-built calibration software. With this equipment, you can automatically equalise and calibrate your home theatre system – a useful tool if you have issues with speaker placement and acoustics in your room. Auto-calibration can also match your subwoofer and speakers for a properly balance sound, set the delays so that sound from all speakers arrive at the same time, and also balance the frequency response of all the speakers.

What are the steps involved?

  1. Make sure you have connected your speakers to the A/V receiver using speaker cable and connected the subwoofer to A/V receiver using a subwoofer cable
  2. Connect a HDMI cable from ‘monitor out’ on the A/V Receiver to ‘HDMI in’ on the TV
  3. Turn on your A/V receiver and select ‘Setup’
  4. Go through the automatic setup process and connect the microphone to the A/V receiver when prompted
  5. Place the microphone at ear height in the primary listening location and follow the prompts
  6. Test tones should be heard through each speaker as the speaker calibration takes place
  7. Many auto speaker calibration setups have multiple listening zones so be prepared to move the
  8. microphone around and go through this process a few times especially in areas with multiple seating areas
  9. Once the measurements are finished, the calibration software will create a room equalisation filter for each speaker and save it to your A/V Receiver
  10. The A/V receiver is now optimised and ready for an enjoyable and engaging audio experience

Calibration Questions

Q: I haven’t noticed anything wrong with my system. Will I need to calibrate it?
A: The auto speaker setup will calibrate your speakers to suit the particular environment the home theatre system is in and the location of the speakers. This will optimise your listening experience to make the most out of your home theatre system.

Q: I’m not very technically-minded, so do I have to buy a system that has auto-calibration?
A: You do not ‘have to’ buy a system with auto-calibration, but it would be an excellent feature to have for someone who wants to maximise their audio experience without having the knowledge or experience to manually adjust the audio settings.

Q: Can I still adjust the calibration manually to suit my needs?
A: Yes

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Bose Home Theatre

Bose is a leader in home entertainment and is a premium brand that prides itself on high-quality products and design. Bose’s latest home theatre range is built with style in mind and also focuses on compact units, with big sound capabilities, that fit seamlessly into your existing set-up. This buyers guide will show you the home theatre systems available by Bose, with one bound to suit your needs.

5.1 surround systems

Bose Lifestyle home entertainment systems deliver vivid surround sound that brings movies, sports, video games and music to life. Engineered with Bose Unify technology, these advanced Lifestyle systems use easy-to-follow onscreen messages to guide you through the setup process, and with the easy-to-use remote control and navigation menus, you'll spend more time enjoying it and less time figuring it out.

Connect up to 6 HD video and audio sources—such as your Blu-ray player, Foxtel box or gaming system—and control it all with a single remote. The Unify intelligent integration system even simplifies programming your Bose remote, teaching it to control your components with just a few button pushes.

All Lifestyle systems feature ADAPTiQ® technology to customise the system's sound to your room environment. This allows greater flexibility of speaker placement and ensures optimum performance every time you listen.

2.1 surround systems

Bose 2.1-channel systems feature dramatic home theatre sound without the drama of a complicated setup: only a few connections are needed. And with no rear speakers, there's no wiring to the back of your room.

And the sound? A powerful 2.1 acoustics package brings your entertainment alive in dramatic fashion. New Gemstone ES speakers incorporate a third driver to create a significantly wider soundstage than original Gemstone speakers. These new speakers are paired with the Acoustimass module used in Bose 5.1 systems to deliver the most immersive 2.1-channel sound.

Home theatre speakers

Acoustimass surround sound speaker systems (with 3, 5, 6, 10 or 15 speakers) increase the impact of home theatre listening with a rear centre speaker for even greater drama and realism. This heightened experience in music and motion picture listening is largely aided by a powered Acoustimass module for exceptional sound that appears to come only from the small speakers. The Direct/Reflecting cube speakers (barely over 15cm high) deliver sound you'd expect from speakers many times their size, and the horizontal centre-channel speaker keeps dialogue focused on the screen and complements flat-panel TVs.

Soundbar

A roomful of sound, one slim speaker: a perfect match for the home theatre enthusiast who values elegant design. The CineMate 1 SR speaker system provides thrilling home theatre audio that you might expect from a multi-speaker system. But its singular, sleek profile makes an ideal complement to your HDTV.

Bose innovations enable wide, spacious sound that extends well beyond the speaker's physical size with the wireless Acoustimass module adding emphatic low notes to movies, music and games while neatly tucked from view.

Proprietary Flexmount technology detects the speaker's orientation and ensures optimal audio output whatever the position, as well as the PhaseGuide and array technologies which work together with TrueSpace technology to direct sound with precision, sending acoustic detail to the left, right and centre of your room. The wireless Acoustimass module adds dramatic low notes to your entertainment—without adding a cable connection from the module to the speaker. And you'll control it all with a simplified universal remote, eliminating the clutter of remotes you may currently have. The soundbar speaker's performance is also customised to the acoustics of your room with the Bose ADAPTiQ audio calibration system. Once you've placed your speaker, just run the ADAPTiQ system and enjoy consistent performance throughout the room from then on.

Additionally, the SmartSource™ input selection system automatically monitors the speaker's auxiliary inputs. As you switch sources, the system retrieves the best audio signal available meaning what you see and what you hear are in sync.

SoloTV

Love watching TV? Well, it’s about to get better. The Solo TV sound system reveals a much more deep and detailed sound that most flat panel TVs simply cannot reproduce from their internal speakers. The Bose Solo system sits beneath most TVs up to 37” and many up to 42” so it’s an ideal choice for your main room or for use in a second room, such as the bedroom. Make one connection to the TV, plug the speaker into the wall and embrace a whole new experience in minutes flat. All the sound you hear is made possible by advanced Bose speaker array technology which reproduces a wide range of sound evenly throughout the room from the compact Solo TV box. These units are great for those who want immersive sound without the tricky set-up and mess of a multi-component home theatre system.

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SONOS

Sonos is a system of HiFi wireless speakers and audio components. It unites your digital music collection in one app that you control from any device. Play what you want in every room over a dedicated wireless network. Sonos wireless speakers are custom designed for every space in your home – from the compact PLAY:1 to the TV-compatible PLAYBAR, Sonos line-up fills any room with crystal clear HiFi sound at any volume. These units also allow you to integrate with your existing Hi-Fi or Home Theatre system using a Sonos CONNECT product.


Main features of SONOS speaker systems:

BUILT-IN WIRELESS CAPABILITY

Any SONOS product can go anywhere, delivering music to any room in your home wirelessly. NOTE: To get started, you need to wire either one player or BRIDGE to your home network using a standard Ethernet cable

INTEGRATED MULTI-ROOM CONTROL

If you have multiple music players, you can control what music is playing in every room in your house, from anywhere in your house.

EASY INTERNET CONNECTIVITY

When wirelessly connected to a BRIDGE or another player, you can use the Ethernet port of the back of your SONOS product to bring internet connectivity to your set-top box, DVR, PC, game console or network hard drive.

EXPANDABLE

Wirelessly add more products to your house with the press of a single button and enjoy true multi-room music.

SONOS product range:

PLAY:1

The PLAY:1 connects seamlessly to any Sonos product and you can place the PLAY:1 anywhere in the home thanks to its compact size, mounting hole and custom designed power cord. You can also link two PLAY:1 speakers together as a stereo pair in the same room. Separating the left and right stereo channels creates a richer, more immersive sound.

PLAY:3

The PLAY:3 uses 3 state-of-the-art digital amplifiers individually coupled with 3 speakers to deliver pure, clean sound to any room. A bass radiator produces powerful low notes while two mid-range drivers and one tweeter fills out the sound.

PLAY:5

The PLAY:5 uses 5 state-of-the-art digital amplifiers individually coupled with 5 speakers to deliver superior sound to any room. A subwoofer produces powerful bass while two mid-range drivers and two tweeters fill out the sound.

BRIDGE

Connect the SONOS BRIDGE to your Internet router and wirelessly link every SONOS player in your house. With a BRIDGE, you are able to place your Sonos components in any room, extending the wireless range to a remote location.

Ways to connect:

A: Router + PLAY:1/3/5
B: Router + Bridge + PLAY:1/3/5

Instant wireless setup

Just connect a BRIDGE to your router using a standard Ethernet cable. Then, a simple button press will start SonosNet, a secure AES encrypted peer-to-peer wireless mesh network that enables all other Sonos products to control and play music wirelessly.

PLAYBAR

PLAYBAR’s nine speaker design floods your home with huge waves of epic, full-theater sound for TV, movies, music and video games.

Easy setup

PLAYBAR connects to your TV using a single optical cable and power cord and plays everything that is connected to your TV, from cable boxes to gaming consoles.

Wireless

No rewiring required – connect PLAYBAR or BRIDGE to your wireless router and link all Sonos plays with one touch. NOTE: To get started, you must wire either one player or BRIDGE to your home network using a standard Ethernet cable.

Easily create a 3.1 or 5.1 Home Theatre

Pair PLAYBAR with SUB for 3.1, or PLAYBAR with SUB and two PLAY:3 s for 5.1.

SUB

Fills an entire room with thick layers of deep, bottomless sound that lets you hear and feel every chord, kick, splash and roll. You won’t just hear the difference our wireless subwoofer makes – you’ll feel it in your bones.

One-button setup

No wiring. No programming. Press one button, follow the simple prompts on your Controller and the system automatically adjusts audio settings to perfectly balance your SUB and the paired Sonos component for a flawlessly optimized, whole-room listening experience.

CONNECT:AMP

Sonos CONNECT:AMP turns your speakers into a music streaming Sonos system. Just attach CONNECT:AMP to your bookshelf, floor-standing, outdoor, or in-ceiling speakers. With 55W of amplifying power, stream all the music on earth wirelessly to any room. No receiver needed.

CONNECT

Fits into existing home audio systems and transforms your existing stereo or home theatre into a music streaming Sonos system.

SONOS control and set-up

EASY TO CONTROL:

Play songs from all your favourite music services.

The Sonos Controller app lets you access all the music you love in one place – no matter where your music library lives, or how many music services you use, or what country your radio streams from.

Use the Sonos Controller app on any device.

The Sonos Controller App is easy to use on any device. You can use your smart phone, tablet, or desktop computer to take control of your home listening experience.

Get total control over your home.

Stream different music in every room or group rooms to play one song simultaneously. Choose ‘group all’ to play the same beat throughout your house, and control the volume of each room individually or together.

EASY TO SETUP:

  1. Connect Home Network Wirelessly connect your Sonos to a BRIDGE or another Sonos device. Or you can connect your Sonos product directly to your home internet router.
  2. Plug In Your Speaker To get started, plug your Sonos product into the nearest power outlet
  3. Get The Sonos App The Sonos Controller App lets you connect and configure new devices. You can download the app for Android, iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC

FAQ

Do I need a bridge?

Sonos needs one a component connected to your router with an Ethernet cable to create the Sonos wireless network. Any player (PLAY:1, PLAY:3, PLAY:5, CONNECT, CONNECT:AMP) or a BRIDGE can make this hard-wired connection. If you don’t want to hard-wire a player unit, you can use a BRIDGE instead. A single BRIDGE will allow up to 31 other Sonos components to operate wirelessly.

What’s the difference between the CONNECT and CONNECT:AMP and will it work with my existing equipment?

Basically, the CONNECT is unamplified whereas the CONNECT:AMP has in-built amplification. If you already have a stereo, use the CONNECT. If you just have speakers, the CONNECT:AMP is all you need.

Can I connect SONOS to my TV?

PLAYBAR is the only soundbar that delivers outstanding Hi-Fi Sound for your TV and is a complete Wireless HiFi System that plays all the music on earth. It is simple to set-up, control and expand throughout your home. With only an optical cable connecting PLAYBAR to your TV, you can control it with your regular TV remote or with the free Sonos apps on iOS, Android, Mac and PC.

Types:

  • PLAY:5 – speaker system: 5 digital amps 2 tweeters, 2 mid-range drivers, 1 subwoofer (needs BRIDGE to operate)
  • PLAY:3 – speaker system: 3 digital amps with 3 speakers (needs BRIDGE to operate)
  • BRIDGE – connect a Bridge to your router using Ethernet cable, enables all Sonos products to play music wirelessly
  • PlayBar and Subwoofer – epic full-theatre sound with 9-speaker design, angle tweeters and a class D amplifier, perfect accompaniment to any Sonos set-up
  • CONNECT Zone Player – lets you play music through all your existing audio equipment, just connect to any audio device and it’s part of a Sonos set-up

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AV Receivers

If you want true high-quality sound, you have to graduate from a sound bar to an AV receiver and speakers. For amazing sound in your living room, a simple sound bar is not the most premium option, although they are very convenient, easy-to-use and can boost TV sound. You may be surprised to know that an AV receiver with even the most basic speaker set-up can really take sound quality up a notch. The main purpose of an AV receiver is to be the audio and video switcher for all your current equipment; think of an AV receiver as the hub of your home theatre system. For example, if your system has a Bluray player, a game console and a TV, the amplifier can control all these items via a single remote.

There are a number of different AV receiver brands on the market, so the decision can be quite confusing. If you're looking for more information, here's what's important.

An AV receiver can do all of the following:

  • Connect and switch your audio sources: Every audio source in your home theatre should connect to your AV receiver. The preamplifier section of the receiver allows you to easily switch to (or select) the audio source that you want to listen to.
  • Connect and switch your video sources: Your video source devices are also connected directly to the AV receiver, which is connected to your TV. This setup helps to simplify the selection of video sources when you want to play a Bluray or DVD, a show recorded on a PVR or USB, or anything else. In most cases, you select what you want to watch on the receiver’s remote and don’t have to adjust anything on the display.
  • Radio tuning: Most receivers include a radio tuner (analogue or digital)
  • Decode analogue and digital surround sound formats: This is a feature that distinguishes an AV receiver from a more traditional stereo receiver. Some receivers now also have the ability to decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio formats found on some Bluray discs.
  • Amplifies audio signals to drive multiple speakers: an AV receiver contains at least five channels of amplification to provide power to your surround sound speaker system.
  • Provides the user interface for your home theatre: The interface includes the receiver’s remote control, the display on the receiver’s front and (in many cases) an on-screen display on your TV. All these elements enable you to command all the electronic components in your home theatre.

Common inputs/outputs

Most of the current models will have multiple inputs such as:

  • Analog audio
  • Digital audio
  • Composite/S-Video (RCA connector) – no audio transmission, just standard def video
  • Component video – signal split into two + channels
  • HDMI – replaces red, white and yellow RCA cables for audio and video, combined into a single high definition cable
  • USB

Suggested speaker types

Each home theatre system is different and the size of the speakers that are right for you will depend on personal needs and space in your room. These speakers are compatible with the current amplifiers on the market:

  • Small: satellite speakers (can be mounted to the wall for surround sound effect)
  • Medium: book shelf speakers (can sit next to your system on a cabinet or stand)
  • Large: floor standing (sit on the floor up to around 1m in height and can be placed around the room)

FAQ

How are AV receivers different from stereo receivers (or amps)?

A stereo receiver is designed to operate two speakers at a time, sometimes in multiple rooms. Today’s stereo receivers will often feature digital radio capability, in addition to traditional AM/FM tuners. AV receivers are intended to function as the core of a home theatre system. They add to the stereo receiver concept by adding surround sound capability, digital audio and video processing and switching, am automatic speaker setup system and, more commonly, network audio and video support. Stereo receivers can be a great fit for those who have a number of audio components, or for use in smaller rooms like offices and bedrooms, whereas an AV receiver is best for an existing home theatre system with many separate audio and video units.

How many HDMI inputs will I need?

This normally depends on how many components you currently have that are HDMI compatible. An easy way to check your existing equipment is to look for HDMI outputs on the back of the unit.

Do I need AirPlay, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi functions?

If you are considering playing music in multiple rooms, Airplay or DLNA compatibility in a Wi-Fi enabled AV receiver is what you need to look for. The Bluetooth in your smart phone can connect to the AV receiver, streaming music from your phone via the amp into your speakers, greatly enhancing your listening experience.

Is sound quality really important?

If you have purchased an expensive AV receiver, it is very important that your speakers are of equal quality, otherwise the sound quality will not be able to reach its full potential. A good example might be when you buy a new car – you wouldn’t buy second hand or sub-standard tires with it.

Is a 7.1 setup worth it over 5.1?

It always depends on the room the system is going in. If you have an open living room, 5.1 channel is recommended, but if you have a dedicated media room, then 7.1 channel will be the best option. This is because 7.1 channel AV receivers allow you to have an extra set of speakers in the room, creating a total surround experience.

What is second-zone audio?

Second-zone audio in an AV receiver controls different audio sources into different rooms i.e. one person can watch TV in the living room, while someone else listens to a CD in the bedroom. You will need to run wires from the primary room to the secondary room, which isn't always easy. Some AV receivers have smart phone control to control the second zone, which increases functionality. For more multi-zone audio, see SONOS.

What about watts? How much power do I need?

It is very important that when you purchase an amp to check the speakers you want to use with the unit. You need to make sure the AV receiver and speakers are close in wattage, for example if you are considering an amp with an output of 100W, you should look at speakers that are rated around 100W RMS.

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Stereo Receivers

A stereo receiver (or an amp) is an essential part of a complete home theatre system and allows users to integrate multiple audio devices and switch between them with the click of a button. They can also supply electrical power to speakers and play radio. Stereo sound has two channels: a speaker to the left and one to the right, for a feeling of deeper sound. Amps rarely support video or digital audio inputs, favouring analogue stereo instead. If you love listening to music and want to get the best possible sound from your devices, a stereo receiver is a perfect addition to your home.

We’re here to help you decide on the right stereo receiver for your entertainment system.

A stereo receiver can do the following:

  • Connect and switch your audio sources: Every audio source in your home theatre should connect to your amp. The preamplifier section of the receiver allows you to easily switch to (or select) the audio source that you want to listen to.
  • Radio tuning: Most receivers include a radio tuner (analogue or digital)
  • Amplifies audio signals to drive speakers: an amp provides power to your surround sound speaker system.
  • Provides the user interface for your home theatre: The interface includes the receiver’s remote control, the display on the receiver’s front and (in many cases) an on-screen display on your TV. All these elements enable you to command all the audio components in your home theatre.

Common inputs/outputs

Most of the current models will have multiple inputs such as:

  • RCA (or composite) – red and white plugs for CD player, tuner, aux
  • Phono – used for audio signals from record players
  • Speaker terminals
  • Headphone jack
  • Pre-out – allowing sub-room functionality

FAQ

How are stereo receivers (or amps) different from AV receivers?

A stereo receiver is designed to operate two speakers at a time, sometimes in multiple rooms. Today’s stereo receivers will often feature digital radio capability, in addition to traditional AM/FM tuners. AV receivers are intended to function as the core of a home theatre system. They add to the stereo receiver concept by adding surround sound capability, digital audio and video processing and switching, am automatic speaker setup system and, more commonly, network audio and video support. Stereo receivers can be a great fit for those who have a number of audio components, or for use in smaller rooms like offices and bedrooms, whereas an AV receiver is best for an existing home theatre system with many separate audio and video units.

What about watts? How much power do I need?

It is very important that when you purchase an amp to check the speakers you want to use with the unit. You need to make sure the amp and speakers are close in wattage, for example if you are considering an amp with an output of 100W, you should look at speakers that are rated around 100W RMS.

How do I set up my receiver for multi-room music?

If you’re interested in building a multi-room or second-room music system, you’ve got a few options. Many stereo receivers can work as part of a multi-room music system. It’s worth noting, however, that most receivers can only play sources connected via analog audio in the second listening area. If you really want to listen to your digital music sources such as music from your computer, Internet radio stations, or Spotify, a wireless system such as Sonos [LINK] would be a better fit.

One receiver setups are the most simple and affordable ways to enjoy second-room audio. If your stereo receiver has a second set of speaker outputs (often labelled ‘B’ or ‘zone 2’) to drive a second pair of stereo speakers in a second room, then you’re ready to go.

If you're planning to power your speakers from an amplifier that will be located in a separate room, it's important to make consideration for speaker wire. You'll need to figure out where you're going to place the wire and how far the signal will have to travel from your amplifier to the speaker. You can either run speaker wire along the floor, concealing it tightly against walls, or feeding through the wall, a measure only recommended for large, permanent set-ups.

Also, if you’d like to listen to two different audio sources in both rooms at the same time, you will need a dual-source unit, a more common feature in AV receivers, and not stereo receivers.

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Jargon Buster

If you don't know your woofers from your tweeters, or you're baffled by technology, let us help you out! This handy jargon buster has been designed to demystify some of the most common hi-fi and home cinema terms.

Amplifier
An electronic device that amplifies or boosts the signal from a source component to a required volume.

Aspect ratio
Aspect ratio The displayed width of an image divided by its height. There are the two main aspect ratios around - the traditional 4:3 and its modern 16:9 (1.78:1) successor, used in HD television or the cinema.

Bass
Bass The lowest part of the frequency range, which is reproduced by woofers and subwoofers in loudspeakers.

Blu-ray disc (BD)
Blu-ray is a high-density optical disc format for the storage of digital information. The format offers more than five times the storage capacity of traditional DVDs – up to 50GB on a dual-layer disc. Named after the blue-violet laser used to read the new discs, it is backed by Sony, Pioneer, Samsung and Apple amongst others.

Contrast ratio
This is the difference between the lightest and darkest content that a screen or projector is capable of producing. It’s helpful to know that the contrast ratio you see in ads is always measured under the optimum condition of a room in total darkness. In typical viewing situations, the contrast ratio is significantly lower, making it harder to distinguish between different devices with very high contrast ratios.

DAB
Stands for Digital Audio Broadcasting and is a digital radio transmission that gives a clearer signal, greater selection of radio stations, and wonderful ease of access. What’s more, as well as sound, this technology allows the broadcast of station information and EPG. Look out for DAB+ technology, which offers superior sound.

Digital tuner
With digital TV, a digital tuner receives sound and pictures from the broadcaster in ‘bits’ of information and turns this signal back into pictures and sound. You can access free-to-air HD programming such as Go! Gem, 7mate, 7Two, OneHD and ABC’s 24 hour news channel, amongst others.

Dolby Digital
A digital audio format that delivers surround sound replay, via a 5.1 speaker system. It is the designated audio standard for DVD worldwide and is also the preferred multichannel audio standard for direct broadcast and digital cable systems.

Driver
Another way to describe the round cones in a loudspeaker that create sound. Their diameter is measured in inches and generally; a bigger speaker will give a bigger sound.

HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface)
A wonderful 'pure' digital, high quality connection between a source and screen. It can carry both sound and vision between home cinema components, and has copy-protection capabilities.

Passive/Active
Active refers to a loudspeaker or subwoofer that includes some form of amplification, which is often digital in nature, to power the signal that is received from the crossover. The majority of loudspeakers are passive, which means they need some form of amplification to work.

Pre-amplifier
Refers to a separate component that controls and routes signals coming from your source components.

Progressive Scan
A way of delivering a superior, flicker-free image by drawing all the lines that make up a frame simultaneously, in one clean sweep.

PVR (personal video recorder)/DVR (digital video recorder)
Records video in a digital format to a hard disk. Some manufacturers have started to offer televisions with DVR hardware and software built in to the television itself. If you have a twin tuner, which has two PVRs, you can record two programs at once, or watch one and record another.

Tweeter
A piece found at the top of most speakers; a drive unit that handles all the higher frequencies that need to be reproduced.

Up-scaling
The latest DVD players can upscale the original DVD signal produced by filling in the gaps with new information to produce better pictures. Upscaling isn’t quite HD DVD or Bluray – they cannot add detail that wasn’t in the original recording – but it does boost performance.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is meant by "Home-Theatre-In-A-Box"?

Home Theatre-In-A-Box is becoming quite popular amongst consumers and are a great introduction to the fun of home theatre.

These one-box systems contains most (or all) of the components needed for a basic Home Theatre, including all speakers, a surround sound receiver, and a DVD/CD/Blu-ray player. If you are new to Home Theatre for the very first time and are looking for an easy option, a Home Theatre-In-A-Box is a good place to start.

Benefits of a Home Theatre-In-A-Box system:

  1. They’re reasonably priced. Complete systems start as low as $200, but can be priced as high as $2,000 or more.
  2. They’re compact. These systems are designed so they don’t overwhelm the average person. The central DVD/receiver units are usually no larger than a DVD player, although some systems do include separate DVD player/receiver components.

    The included satellite speakers are typically small enough to be mounted in room corners or on shelves. Even the included subwoofer is usually of very compact design – it can be easily placed in a corner or next to a table without attracting attention - except for the deep bass sound it generates.
  3. They’re easy to install and use. Most all of the required connection cables are provided so all you need is a TV with AV inputs and audio outputs, a DVD/Blu-ray Player (unless one is supplied), and you are ready to go. No special skills are required, just the ability to read simple instructions and diagrams. Also, most systems come with a remote control that is used for all the functions of the system.

What is ‘surround sound’ and how do I get it? And what is an AV receiver?

‘Surround sound’ is a term for sound coming from all directions to give an ultimate immersive experience.

Getting surround sound - the Home Theatre, AV, or surround sound receiver

To get surround sound, you need a component that can play DVDs, CDs and or Blu-ray discs. This component is referred to as an AV Receiver (Audio/Video Receiver), Home Theatre Receiver, or Surround Sound Receiver.

Any of these receivers combine the functions of three components:

  1. A radio tuner for AM/FM and, in some cases, digital radio
  2. A pre-amplifier that switches and controls which audio and video source is selected (such as a DVD player, Blu-ray, CD player, etc.) and processes the incoming stereo or surround sound signals and distributes them to the speakers and the subwoofer output. The pre-amp in an AV receiver can also route video signals coming from a disc and direct the video signal to the television.
  3. A built-in multi-channel amplifier (5.1, 6.1, or 7.1 channels) that sends the surround sound signals and power to the speaker system.

Receiver or separate components?

The home theatre receiver is the heart of a home theatre system and provides most, if not all, the inputs and outputs that you connect everything into, including your TV. An AV Receiver provides an easy and cost-effective way of centralising your home theatre system.

Do I need a subwoofer?

A bass speaker will be necessary if your speakers are unable to reproduce the lowest frequencies, which is generally the case for small-sized speakers. Floor-standing speakers often don’t require the use of a subwoofer. In home cinema, signals are designed for multi-channel sound (5.1, 7.1, etc), with one channel dedicated to the bass speaker. For the best performance, it might be worthwhile to incorporate one into your installation, even though other speakers (front and surround) are capable of descending to low frequencies.

What is the difference between floor-standing and bookshelf speakers?

Floor-standing speakers take up a bit of floor space but are elegantly designed and have sizeable internal volume. This means you can have a greater number of speakers in your set-up than if you just had bookshelf models. As mentioned previously, by dedicating one or more speakers to bass frequencies, floor-standing speakers eliminate the need for subwoofers, particularly if you’re using them for music.

Bookshelf speakers can be mounted on furniture or onto stands, meaning they are a great choice for smaller rooms or for where a more discreet look is needed. These speakers are slightly less powerful and don’t produce lower frequencies as well as floor-standing types.

What is a running-in period?

The components used in speakers are complex mechanical parts which require a running-in period so that they can work to the best of their ability and adapt to the temperature and humidity conditions of your environment.

This running-in period can vary depending on the situations the speaker is used in and can last for several weeks. To speed up this process, you should:

  • Run your speakers for twenty hours.
  • Start with pieces of music without excessive bass and with low sound volume.
  • Regularly increase the volume and change the style of music.

Once this has been done properly, you will be able to enjoy the maximum performance of your speakers. Also, if you use your speakers regularly at a reasonable volume, this will continue to run in your speakers and improve them.

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