With over 500 models of home theater speakers available through a generous number of high and low-end brands, many consumers rely on salesperson to lead them in the right direction. Consumers with only a limited budget will undoubtedly flock to the cheapest option available to suit there needs. This however, nearly always results in a less than ideal sound system that fails to meet the expectations or needs of the owner. It is therefore a good idea to educate one’s self on the best brands, speaker styles and specifications that will fit a home’s needs before making a choice.
A home theater speaker system is typically made up of a front speaker, left and right speaker, a center-channel speaker, a pair of surrounds, and a subwoofer. A home owner may mix-and-match components but help from a professional is advised to make sure the speakers are all compatible. These speaker types come in varying sizes, sound output and design. The following are the types of styles in which these speakers may be found:
Floor-Standing speakers are the largest home theater speakers available. They can be shifted around the theater area or be moved to another home.
Bookshelf or Cabinet speakers stand independently, just like floor standing speakers, but are smaller and can be placed on or in entertainment centers or shelving to save space.
In-Wall speakers require no floor space, and can disappear if matching the walls. Their quality is usually very good, but they need professional installation and wiring.
On-Wall speakers are recommended for use with a flat-panel television. They provide exceptional sound as well as a pleasing aesthetic component.
Home theater owners or designers must determine the listening requirements and preferences for a specific room in order to create a quality home theater space. Room size and layout are important factors as this will dictate the speaker configuration. Logistics like electrical outlet placement, room size, and useable room space strongly affect the type of equipment that can and should be put in the room.
Home theater speakers are available in many sizes. However not all sizes are meant for all rooms. Large speakers are not advantageous for small rooms because they will need to be played at a much lower volume. This may cause distortion to the audio. Lower quality small speakers used in large spaces may produce a tinny or thin sound if they are unable to produce enough sound at a decent output level. Speakers of similar size may differ greatly in their sound output or reproduce different levels of sound unequally so it is very important to listen to various speaker brands and sizes and compare them before buying.
Speakers are available in a variety of encasement types - natural or laminated wood, metal, and occasionally plastic, but often preferences may be limited by brand or model. Speakers are as varied as tennis shoes so make sure you try on several and know how they fit into your home theater before making a purchase.
~ Ben Anton, 2008