Buyers Guide: Page (1) of 2 - 11/18/05

Top 12 User Rated Home Theater Surround Sound Systems

An even dozen of the top user rated surround sound systems

By Guy Wright

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There are three main components to consider when building a home theater a big screen TV, some content to watch (from a DVD player, VCR, cable, satellite, or broadcast source), and a surround sound system.

Not too long ago ?Home Theater in a Box surround sound systems were notoriously poor quality, but in recent years these systems have improved dramatically. We scouted around and found an even dozen of the highest user rated home theater surround sound systems rated by users who actually own them.

At the heart of any surround sound system is the receiver sometimes it is a separate, stand-alone unit and sometimes the receiver is built into a DVD player. The receiver ?decodes the specially encoded surround signals (Dolby, DTS, THX, etc.) into different channels, amplifies each of these channels, and sends them to the multiple surround speakers. Early surround systems had three speakers (left, right, and center) but today most surround systems have at least six speakers (left, right, center, two surround speakers, and a sub-woofer). Since many surround encoding schemes dont actually have a discreet sub-woofer signal the receiver has to ?synthesize the sub-woofer channel based on the other five signals which is why a six speaker surround sound system will have the designation 5.1 (the ?dot one refers to the sub-woofer). These days there are 6.1 systems, 7.1 systems, and some with even more speakers (although youd be hard pressed to find any content that is encoded for anything above 7.1).

Now you could go out and buy a surround sound receiver and cobble together an assortment of home stereo speakers from different manufacturers but the odds are youd be disappointed with the results. Thats because its important for all the speakers in a surround sound setup to be ?matched in other words they should all have the same acoustic profiles. That is why manufactures started offering complete systems with receivers and sets of matched speakers.

When shopping for a complete system youll want to look for watts per channel (on the surround speakers that is, not just the sub-woofer or the total system wattage). Generally speaking more is better and the larger the room the more important it becomes to get a system with enough power to fill the space. However, in smaller rooms where space is an issue you might consider a system with smaller speakers. Youll also want to look for the type(s) of surround decoding that the receiver (or DVD/receiver combo) can decode although these days just about any surround system will decode an assortment of formats. If you burn your own discs and youre looking at a DVD/receiver combo system then be sure the DVD player supports recordable media such as CD-R, DVD-R or DVD+R, etc. again, most DVD players these days support just about any format discs.

One last note, everybodys ears are different to one degree or another and only you can determine what sounds best for you. If at all possible take a few of your favorite discs down to the store and listen to a number of different systems. You may find that a less expensive system is perfectly acceptable or you might decide to invest in a more expensive setup.


Yamaha YHT-160Yamaha YHT-160
$244 - $300
Speakers: 5.1
Includes: Receiver
Power: 30 watts
Surround Decoding: Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II

DSP with 14 Surround settings

For more details click HERE

Sony DAV-FX100WSony DAV-FX100W
$613 - $900
Speakers: 5.1
Includes: Progressive Scan DVD Player, AM/FM Tuner
Power: 143 watts
Surround Decoding: Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby Pro Logic II

DVD player includes analog audio, digital coaxial, and digital optical inputs and supports DVD Video, VCD, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, SACD, CD (Audio), CD-R, CD-RW

For more details click HERE

Samsung HT-P38Samsung HT-P38
$180 - $300
Speakers: 5.1
Includes: 5-Disc DVD Player, AM/FM Tuner
Power: 134 watts
Surround Decoding: Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby Pro Logic II

Bluetooth technology enables wireless speaker setup

For more details click HERE


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Related Keywords:Home Theater, Surround Sound, Yamaha, Sony, Samsung, Kenwood, Harman Kardon, Onkyo, Bose, Denon,

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