01.What suits you?
Bad sound equipment is often the result of good marketing overriding good sense. You should ignore all home theatre manufacturers’ power output numbers and claims relating to quality. They’re either made up, irrelevant or misleading.
Most people start out listening to a two-speaker stereo system, and these products can deliver a good listening experience. In fact, if you mainly listen to music mixed for stereo, a full 5.1 home theatre system is a poor choice. On the other hand, if movies are your thing, a stereo or even a soundbar system is probably not going to deliver the immersive experience you crave.
At the cheaper end ($500 or less), home theatre systems and soundbars are pretty simple to install and use. This is usually because they don’t have many features or settings to allow you to tune them to your room. Often their performance is very disappointing.
In the mid-priced range ($600-$1500) performance can vary from being as poor as the cheaper systems to quite acceptable, as long as you don’t put them into too difficult a space. Both home theatre systems
in this price range will probably have more features, some of which you’ll probably never use, and there’ll be more options when it comes to connections. A few will have auto-setup features, but in our experience they rarely work well at this price point.
If you can afford more than $1500, avoid home theatre in a box and begin by spending the bulk of your funds on the speakers
. Even a relatively cheap AV receiver
will have enough power to drive them and it’s easier to upgrade to a more expensive one if necessary in the future. A good set of speakers should last a long time and they are the most important part of the system by a very long way. More expensive AV receivers will have more features, but probably won’t include a player, so you will have to include that cost as well.
Our expert listeners get to hear each system in the same realistic conditions using the same music and movies. At CHOICE we measure real output at quality levels we believe most people will be happy with.
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