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Discover the many options for your home theater audio system.
You can choose from four basic types of home theater audio systems:
Home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) system
Sound systems are available in a range of prices—here are general guidelines. For HDTVs, see Choosing the Right TV. Manufacturers continually add features while keeping prices fairly steady, so careful shopping can often net you bargains.
Essentially, for all equipment, more money can buy more features and higher maximum listening levels.
If you're planning a component system, save about 50 percent of your budget for the speakers.
For more details on HTIB systems, sound bars, and components, see Surrounding Yourself with Sound.
Where you plan to set up your system can dictate what you'll need. A large speaker system can overwhelm a small room. And a sound bar won't be able to fill a large room with sound.
When planning, remember to prepare routes for the wires to the surround speakers, furniture, and electrical power. See our speaker setup guide for recommended speaker positioning.
Here are some equipment guidelines for room sizes and functions:
Although the ideal may be to have a dedicated home theater room, this is not necessary to build a home theater system you'll really enjoy. Even the least expensive sound bar or HTIB system will sound far better than your TV speakers.
Whether you like to watch video games, sports, movies, or cultural programs, you can include equipment to bring that content and media to life. If you know, for instance, that you'll be renting movies on Blu-ray, you can include that in your initial planning.
Here are some program sources to consider:
For details on what you'll need to take advantage of these, see Streaming, Online, and Broadcast Content.
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