How to Choose a Speaker System For Your Home Theater


While an oversized, high resolution screen is ideal for a home theater, you won’t get the full experience without a great speaker system. The next question is: how to choose a speaker system for your home theater. Surround sound lets you completely immerse yourself in the experience, whether you’re watching a movie or playing a video game.

The most common surround sound for the home is a 5.1-channel system, meaning you have five speakers around you and one standalone subwoofer. The speakers provide the sound that you’ll hear from all directions, while the subwoofer will provide a deep bass sound for sound effects like explosions. For those who really like a smooth bass across the entire room, consider a 5.2-channel system. Wondering if you should go for an additional subwoofer? A rule of thumb many recommend is that the smaller your speakers, the more need for a subwoofer to balance the sound.

The second most popular option is a 7.1-channel system. Rather than having one speaker center, one front left, one front right, one rear right, and one rear left, you would have two side and two rear speakers. This is to provide a more complete surround sound experience. Not as common, but still a decent option for someone on a budget, there are also 2.1-channel systems. While you won’t get a full surround sound experience, this system is meant to simulate it.

Beyond determining the number of speakers, you also need to choose the size and shape of speakers. There are floorstanding models, bookshelf-sized speakers, thin wall-mounted speakers, and more. It all depends on your desired balance between sound quality and strength and the look of your room.

If you are creating a dedicated home theater room, you have more options, as you can easily use oversized speakers or floorstanding options. If you want to use your living room as your home theater, you likely want to look into small speakers that aren’t as noticeable. The best options, in this case, are in-wall or in-ceiling speakers. There are even in-wall subwoofers available. And, if for some reason, you or your roommate/significant other just can’t see yourself having speakers around the room, take a look at soundbars. This sits right above or below your TV. With multiple speaker channels in a single speaker bar, it manipulates acoustics to create the sense of surround sound. Will it sound like surround sound? Not really, but it’s a great option for small spaces and is still better than TV speakers.

One final tip, when you go to purchase your speakers and sub, don’t forget to get a compatible receiver! Too often people buy each item without ensuring they all seamlessly work together.

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Jeff is a tinkerer. He loves gadgets, but usually waits until the reviews are out before buying something. He loves the DIY projects, and loves help setting things up too. Some of his favorite products and services may not be the most well known, but he loves his custom solution.