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ADVERTISEMENT Home Cinema ...so good, you’ll believe you’re there?


Choosing a home cinema system is a potential minefield that must be negotiated with great care or safely avoided by letting experts guide you. If you want to end up with a system that, as a minimum, meets your expectations in terms of picture and sound quality, reading magazine product reviews and choosing the recommendations, five-star favourites or best buys can only ever be part of the answer at best. Looking for the cheapest price and having a system delivered to your door, even with a ‘knowledgeable’ friend to help set it up, is a well-trodden path to disappointment.


There is a bewildering choice of components on the market today and also different ways in which components can be installed and connected together. Which sort of visual system do you go for? Projector and screen, or plasma, LCD or LED TV? 3D or non-3D? Full 1080p capability is now the only sensible choice but the appropriate source components, such as a Blu-ray player, need to be part of the equation. The sound performance of a system is also hugely important, even more so if you will be listening to music, or music DVD’s, through the same system. If so, you need an amp that approaches the performance of a decent 2-channel hi-fi amp, which is not that easy to find. Having an amp with the right inputs for the best connectivity is essential but you will also need to decide on a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system, passive or active sub and, crucially, where they will be sited for the best results. In short, it’s complicated and very fertile ground for getting it wrong.


Achieving potential


To select a system, you could choose a collection of ‘Best Buy’ components in the hope that they will be a great combination. Maybe, but probably not. You could buy a pre- packaged all-in-one system from one manufacturer. This is almost certainly not the best route either as you will miss out on enormous potential. From informal surveys conducted, it appears highly likely that the majority of home cinema systems selected


and installed on a DIY basis (that is without professional input) are performing at way below their optimum level. To compound matters, most are also ill-matched to the room in which they are installed and are, in reality, the wrong system. Without considerable knowledge or experience, high quality home cinema is not a suitable DIY activity.


Our aim must be to buy a home cinema system that will provide an excellent picture quality plus an audio delivery that will match, or even better, the commercial cinema experience. It must be exciting, reliable and deliver true value for money.


What and Where to buy


To ensure a home cinema system is right for you, where do you start? Here’s an important tip … don’t start with WHAT, start with WHERE. There’s only one way to give yourself the best


chance of getting it right first time, and that’s through a specialist AV dealer. It’s possible you have preconceived ideas that put you off visiting one. Although you would welcome the advice and guidance, you don’t know the technicaljargon.You don’twanttobetalked down to. Your friend has said they only sell expensive gear and they’re not interested if you don’t have a big budget. They’re expensive. These are just myths.


Most specialist AV dealers are running their business because, above all, home cinema is their hobby. They spend a large portion of their time comparing systems to get the best possible results. They know the component combinations which don’t gel together and, conversely, they know the combinations which give the best performance within a given price range. Very importantly, they know how to get a system working to its optimum. But they all also know the system must suit you.


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