The point of technology is to make every day tasks more convenient and effective, but it certainly has a tendency to make things more complicated.
The transition from satellite to digital cable signals that has occurred in the 2000’s has led to a total revamping of the entertainment devices common to the standard American home. Flat-panel TV screens, wireless networks, Blu-ray readers and always-on connectivity are more the standard than the exceptions they once were, and with those advanced new features comes new operating systems, new remotes, and a new learning curve when it comes to learning how to use the devices we already own.
Ready to dim your lights and watch a movie? Most television watchers are currently using either LCD or LED screens; they’ve pretty much become the standard. However, the home theater AV aficionados have been the true pioneers of at screen and audio technology. There is a whole deluge of products for sale that cater to every whim of the AV lover, and many are red herons meant to fool unsuspecting watchers into over-paying for shoddy, designer equipment.
Perhaps the best way to begin to think of what gadgets to get for your viewing pleasures is to tackle the question by beginning to make your home theater, combining surround-sound speakers with a central receiver that you can easily plug into your TV. Then you’ve got the question solved easy peasy.
The system I’m referring to is called “Home Theater in a Box”, and it’s basically a plug-in-and-go system that allows you to get your home theater running without spending too much time reading through directions or puzzling over a mass of cords and plugs. They generally include a receiver and a number of speakers. The receiver acts as a way=station for all the signals your digital devices can supply, including radio and CD audio, cable signals for your TV, onboard DVD and/or blu-ray players, and even an A/V input from your laptop and/or other computer media stations if you happen to be so lucky.
That means your use of a button on a remote allows you to determine the source of your entertainment (be it your computer, DVD player, etc.) and audio input will go through your speakers while a video is displayed on your TV screen.
That said, you can always opt into separate speaker set ups. Some listeners will opt into this choice to make sure they’re getting the cream of the crop when it comes to surround sound.
One option is a 5.1 system, which includes five speakers to create surround sound, not including a subwoofer for the bass channel. A 7.2 system uses seven smaller speakers and two subwoofers. As you might have guessed, the number to the left of the decimal point connotes the number of normal speakers in use and the number to the right of the decimal point implies how many subwoofers will be utilized by the system.
You may be worried that your system wasn’t built for that many speakers and that the signal you’ll be working with won’t be able to handle it; don’t sweat it; your receiver will just combine signals if necessary to match your system’s output!