Breaking Down Home Theater Components



In the olden days, all you needed for a home theater was a television and remote control. However, with screens, speakers, cable boxes, Blu-ray players, streaming media, game systems, receivers, and more, the world of home theaters can be difficult to navigate. To help point you in the right direction, we have explained some of the equipment you will need in your home theater.


It may look like a boring black box stuck full of cables, but the receiver is the nerve center of your home theater system. The technical term is audio-video (AV) receiver, because it receives input from your sound system and whatever visual setup you have from video game console to TV to computer. Receivers also act as amplifiers and high end ones will enhance your sound. A standard receiver is capable of providing cinema quality sound in a room that is 2,000 cubic feet or smaller. If your home theater room is between 2,000 and 3,000 cubic feet an enhanced receiver could be right for you. You can spend anywhere from $100 to $4,000 on a receiver. Top of the line models come with advanced features including:

  • Streaming music and movies from sites like Pandora and Netflix.
  • Wireless playback of your own music from your mp3 player, tablet or computer.
  • HD radio.
  • 3D compatibility.
  • High quality sound with clear, precise sound at high volumes.
  • Interfacing with your tablet or smartphone.

If you are on a budget, remember that very inexpensive receivers are likely to deliver a low quality sound experience with distortion at high volumes.

Separate Components

AV receivers have built-in amplifiers. The power these amplifiers can deliver to your speakers is limited by the size of the receiver box. If you have a large room and need large speakers to fill the space with earth shattering sound, you will need a separate power amplifier and preamp in place of an AV receiver. What do these components do? Just like a receiver, the preamp takes in all your video and audio input. Then it boosts the audio signal before sending it to your power amplifier. You really only need separate components if you have large, powerful speakers that need a large, powerful amplifier. In the past audiophiles have looked down on AV receivers, but current receivers will certainly meet the audio needs of most home theater customers. Given that preamps and power amplifiers are made for the audio connoisseur, they tend to cost more than receivers, even at equivalent sound quality. They can be the best choice for the true home theater aficionado. You can keep your amplifier and continually upgrade your preamp as new features and technologies are developed.

Projectors and Screens

A great home theater needs a great projector. Selecting and setting up a projector can be complicated. Factors such as the size of your room and your ability to block out ambient light will determine what type of projector and screen you should get. You may want a fixed screen or one that can roll-up and out of your way. When making a projector purchase, remember that 3D projectors are becoming more and more affordable.


Many devices allow you to stream video and music from websites like Hulu or Netflix directly onto your home theater screen. You can stream from most video game consoles including PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox. No console? Stream from your computer or stream directly to your AV receiver if you purchase a higher end model.

Tablets and smart phones

Can’t find your remote? Download an app that enables your tablet or phone to communicate with your home theater system. Use your phone to turn on your TV, record a show, change the volume, etc.

Home Automated System

Go beyond just the home theater equipment set up and get this amazing system to automate and control just about everything in your home. Not only will you be able to control your home theater from a distance, you can also turn on the lights, adjust the thermostat, unlock a door, open a garage, and much more all with one handy home remote.


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