Limited budget and space need not stop you from getting surround sound

For many people the best results for home theatre can be met by choosing a ‘home theatre in a box’, rather than separate speakers and home theatre receiver. This can often be a highly economical end point – all the system you need for your home – or a stepping stone along the way towards a higher end system.

Or it could be that your home simply won’t accommodate all the loudspeakers involved for a full 5.1 channel home theatre system. No need to despair, for modern technology has managed to provide some effective systems for making the sounds of TV broadcasts and movies on DVD seem like they’re coming from all over your room, even though they are being projected entirely from the front.

All in a box

Home theatre in a box is a simple solution that provides surround sound all packed into one box. All you need for home theatre is to add a TV, and in some cases a DVD player. They consist of three parts: electronics, speakers and subwoofer. The electronics is basically the home theatre receiver we talked about in a previous chapter, however some units also have a DVD player built in. Almost all also have an AM/FM radio included.

Usually the home theatre in a box (HTiB) comes with five satellite speakers (very small speakers well suited to wall-mounting) and a subwoofer to deliver the system’s bass requirements. While separate component systems normally have ‘active’ subwoofers (where the subwoofer has its own power amplifier built in), many of HTiB systems rely on having the subwoofer’s amplifier built into the receiver unit, which typically means it doesn’t perform as well.

Some of the newer models – and not necessarily especially expensive ones – feature HDMI inputs and outputs. HDMI is the best connection standard there is, and to enjoy the high definition available from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games you will find it convenient to be able to use your HTiB as the central control unit for your system, switching video through to your TV as well as turning the sound of the broadcast into encompassing surround sound.