Home Theater Displays
We have talked about the anatomy of the home theater system before. Today, we will dive deeper into the waters of home theater systems. Of course, every home theater needs a display. LCD (liquid crystal display) televisions have gotten large enough to accommodate the entry-level home theater. Reasonably priced LCD televisions are available up to 85”, which is equivalent to a small projection screen. LCD televisions now feature LED backlights for thinner, more energy efficient displays and are available in UHD (ultra high definition) 4K resolution. The best home theater systems feature projectors with projection screens. Home theater projectors are available with DLP (digital light processing) or LCD processing technology. It’s difficult to say one technology is better than the other, both having various positives and negatives, however LCD projectors have superior contrast ratio, which is an important performance metric when talking about projectors. Another key feature of projectors is brightness. Brighter projectors are not necessarily better. A projector with brightness appropriate to the home theater environment should be specified. A family room home theater with limited light control may require a brighter projector, while a dedicated home theater may require a projector with a dimmer bulb. Of course, the projection screen also has a lot to do with brightness. The key feature of film screens is screen gain, which affects the brightness of the display and can compensate for a brighter home theater environment, but also affects black levels and contrast, which is another key performance metric of the home theater system. Film screens can also be specified with acoustically transparent or perforated material, which allows speakers to be placed behind the screen.
Home Theater Speakers
Speakers are the next vital organs in the anatomy of the home theater system. At a minimum, three front speakers, left, center, and right, two rear speakers, left and right, and one subwoofer are required for surround sound. Surround sound systems can include as many as eleven speakers and four subwoofers. Surround sound speakers should ideally be installed at the height of the ear of a seated listener, which is about 45” above the finished floor. Home theater speakers come in many flavors. The key factor in performance is the material used for the actual construction of the tweeters, midranges, and woofers. Rubber, carbon fiber, Kevlar, titanium, and silk are the most commonly used materials in the construction of home theater speakers. Each material has its own unique properties, which affects the performance of the speaker.
Home Theater Electronics
Of course, home theater systems require electronics to drive the images and sounds that you see and hear. Home theater preamplifier / processors or receivers process both the video input signals from video sources as well as the audio input signals from the audio sources. A home theater processor is everything that a home theater receiver is without the amplifier built-in. One might think that having the amplifier built-in makes the receiver the best option in a home theater, however, while it is compact and efficient, the best home theater systems have separate pre-amp processor and amplifiers. For starters, whenever one device tries to do more than one thing, there is a sacrifice in performance. Moreover, dedicated processors are just better at doing the video and audio processing of the home theater system. Then, an array of amplifiers, engineered to support the specific speakers in the surround sound system can drive the audio. Home theater receivers and processors take the video and audio signal from video and audio sources. These include DVD or Blu-Ray Disc players, media servers, and satellite receivers.
There is more to the anatomy of home theater systems. If you are interested in learning more, stay tuned to our blog. If you are interested in getting your own home theater system, give us a call today.