If there’s been any real change in the home theater audio landscape recently, it’s been the emergence of the anti-AVR. From soundbars to powered tabletop systems to wireless streaming speakers that can double as your TV’s audio system, the trend is toward all-in-one solutions that are simple to shop for, easy to install, and a cinch to operate. Granted, even the most basic receiver is none of those things. But the Swiss Army knife of the A/V world still remains the best value in the land, packing more power, features, flexibility, and (when mated with good speakers) performance than any integrated approach.
When the technical specifications of a new but humdrum TV fail to come up to snuff, the model almost certainly will be priced less than the one with better resolution, faster processing, more connections, and so on. Whether it’s manufacturer or retailer, nobody interested in making a buck will promote the TV as “nothing special”—even if that’s exactly what it is. Sellers will likely spin the spec as “great value.” But not always.
What do you get for the home theater buff who has everything…even if that home theater buff is you? We’ve uncovered an assortment of add-ons, doodads, and whatnot that will raise the bar on your audio/video rig and beyond.
Ever seen a TV set disco? Retailers see TVs dance off the shelves two or three times a year as manufacturers refresh their lines.
Welcome to the secret language of consumer electronics (CE) retailing. To the public, a set that discos should be mounted on a turntable so that the screen can be swung around by viewing partners from opposite directions. But to those who sell TVs, the term is shorthand for discontinued.
Of all the components in your home theater system, none gets more playtime than your audio/video receiver. But buying an AVR can be daunting for home theater newbies or even seasoned enthusiasts diving back into the upgrade pool. AVR technology and features have been constantly moving targets these last few years. Here are some basics to help you make your selection, circa 2012.
An A/V receiver combines three audio components in one box. Primarily, it performs the traditional roles of a preamplifier and power amplifier. The sound for any home theater begins as a relatively low-level audio signal coming off a source component such as a cable box or disc player. These days, it’s more likely to be a digital audio signal than an analog signal. That signal gets converted between digital and analog as needed, manipulated to affect your volume adjustment, and might perhaps have some bass and treble contouring (or more sophisticated equalization) applied before it’s sent to the power amplifier, whose only job is to pump it up to the power level necessary to drive your speakers to sufficient volume.
If you've got your heart set on a new big-screen for the big game, you're in luck. The days leading up to Super Bowl Sunday are the traditional last, best chance for retailers to dump their remaining inventory before new models hit shelves in the spring. The competition is as fierce among stores this week as it will be on the field this weekend. But your primary TV shouldn't be an impulse purchase, and jumping on the first hyper-bright picture or low pricetag that catches your eye is a recipe for long-term remorse. So, slow down, take a deep breath, and tackle these tips to guard against the dreaded Monday morning quaterbacking.
Flat-panel HDTVs have undergone rapid changes in technology and pricing. There are now two types of 3D systems for you to decide between, screen sizes have continued to inch up, prices have come down, and the battle between LCD and plasma for image-quality supremacy has heated up, with the latest generation of top-line LED models challenging plasma’s long-held position at the top of the enthusiast heap.
As the song says, it's the most wonderful time of the yearor the most dreadful, depending on whether or not you plan to join the buying frenzy on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. Many stores open at an ungodly hour and offer seemingly outrageous deals on certain products to get people in the door, hoping that they'll buy more than they bargained for and put the store's accounts in the black for the year, which is why it's called Black Fridayeither that, or it might be due to all the black eyes resulting from fights over the last remaining $40 Blu-ray player.
Scanning some of the myriad Black Friday websitesmy favorite is bfads.net because you can search by product category from multiple retailersI found a few great deals on home theater gear. In many cases, however, these products are already available at less than the MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price), so the savings I cite here might not be as great as they appear. I've included links to HT's reviews of the same or similar items if available, so let your mouse do the clicking before you venture forth to battle the hordes.
Home Theater’s gift guide goes outside the black box with cool stuff for the movie, music, and game lovers on your list.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…are you humming along with me yet? Time to get in the mood and brace yourself for a few crazy weeks. The holiday hype started in stores weeks before Halloween, the commercials are nonstop now, and many folks made their wish lists months ago. So did we. We scoured pre-holiday events, called manufacturers, and went on an all-out hunt to find some of this season’s hottest holiday tech swag—gifts you’ll want to both give and get. Skipping the 3DTVs and audio gear we report on month in and month out, we instead zeroed in on some cool extras that’ll enhance your theater room or help you and your giftees enjoy your favorite movies and music on the go. Prices range from totally affordable to the serious splurge, but there’s a little something here for everyone. Read on for our selections, and happy holidays from Home Theater!
When it comes to the nerve center of a home theater, most consumers opt for an A/V receiver, which combines a preamp/processor (pre/pro) and multichannel power amp into one chassis. However, some enthusiasts choose to buy a separate pre/pro and power amp, believing that this results in superior sound quality, though it's generally a more-expensive way to go. If you want the best possible soundand you have the budgetyou're probably shopping for separates.
It wasn’t so long ago—less than 10 years, in fact—that video projection in the home meant a bulky CRT projector that often weighed 200-plus pounds and took hours to set up. It used three separate CRTs, one each for red, green, and blue, which had to be precisely converged and focused on site. Once the setup was complete, you couldn’t move the projector without risking a need to repeat the entire operation. The CRTs also tended to drift, so periodic reconvergence was needed, either by the dealer or by a tech-savvy owner. It was complicated and expensive. Once you threw the cost of the then-expensive video scalers (needed by the day’s standard-definition sources) into the mix, the proposition could easily run into six-figure prices. But the best of these CRT setups were truly amazing—even in standard definition.