A new way to entertain or relax~ a home theater! This term refers to home entertainment audio-visual systems that seek to reproduce a movie theater experience and mood using consumer electronics-grade video and audio equipment that is set up in a room in your home. In the 1980s, home cinemas typically consisted of a movie pre-recorded on a Laser Disc or VHS tape; a Laser Disc or VHS player; and a heavy, bulky large-screen cathode ray tube TV set. In the 2000s, technological innovations in sound systems, video player equipment and TV screens and video projectors have changed the equipment used in home theatre set-ups and enabled home users to experience a higher-resolution screen image, improved sound quality and components that offer users more options (e.g., many of the more expensive Blu-ray players in 2018 can also “stream” movies and TV shows over the Internet using subscription services such as Netflix, Hulu and more). The development of Internet-based subscription services means that 2018-era home theatre users do not have to commute to a video rental store as was common in the 1980s and 1990s (nevertheless, some movie enthusiasts buy DVD or Blu-ray discs of their favorite content).
Today, a home theater system typically uses a large projected image from a video projector or a large flat-screen high-resolution HDTV system, a movie or other video content on a DVD or high-resolution Blu-ray disc, which is played on a DVD player or Blu-ray player, with the audio augmented with a multi-channel power amplifier and anywhere from two speakers and a stereo power amp (for stereo sound) to a 5.1 channel amplifier and five or more surround sound speaker cabinets (with a surround sound system). Whether home cinema enthusiasts have a stereo set-up or a 5.1 channel surround system, they typically use at least one low-frequency subwoofer speaker cabinet to amplify low-frequency effects from movie soundtracks and reproduce the deep pitches from the musical soundtrack.
In the 2010s, many home cinema enthusiasts aim to replicate, to the degree that is possible, the “movie theatre experience”. To do so, many home cinema buffs purchase higher quality components than used for everyday television viewing on a relatively small TV with only built-in speakers. A typical home theater includes the following components:
Movie or other viewing content: As the name implies, one of the key reasons for setting up a home cinema is to watch movies on a large screen, which does a more effective job at reproducing filmed images of vast landscapes or epic battle sequences. As of 2018, home cinema enthusiasts using “Smart” Blu-ray players may also watch DVDs of TV shows and recorded or live sports events or music concerts. As well, with a “Smart” player, a user may be able to “stream” movies, TV shows and other content over the Internet. Many 2018-era DVD players and Blu-ray players also have inputs which allow users to view digital photos and other content on the big screen.
Video and audio input devices: One or more video/audio sources. High resolution movie media formats such as Blu-ray discs are normally preferred, though DVD or video game console systems are also used. Some home theaters include a HTPC (Home Theater PC) with a media center software application to act as the main library for video and music content using a 10-foot user interface and remote control. In 2016, some of the more-expensive Blu-ray players can “stream” movies and TV shows over the Internet.
Audio and video processing devices: Input signals are processed by either a standalone AV receiver or a preamplifier and Sound Processor for complex surround sound formats such as Dolby Pro-Logic/and or Pro-logic II, X, and Z, Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The user selects the input (e.g., DVD, Blu-ray player, streaming video, etc.) at this point before it is forwarded to the output stage. Some AV receivers enable the viewer to use a remote control to select which input device or source to use.
Audio output: Systems consist of preamplifiers, power amplifiers (both of which may be integrated into a single AV receiver) and two or more loudspeakers mounted in speaker enclosures. The audio system requires at least a stereo power amplifier and two speakers, for stereo sound; most systems have multi-channel surround sound power amplifier and six or more speakers (a 5.1 surround sound system has left and right front speakers, a center speaker, left and right rear speakers and a low-frequency subwoofer speaker enclosure). Some users have 7.1 Surround Sound. It is possible to have up to 11 speakers with additional subwoofers.
Video output: A large-screen display, typically an HDTV. Some users may have a 3D TV. As of 2017, flat screen HDTV is the norm. Options include Liquid crystal display television (LCD), plasma TV. Home Theater users may also use a video projector and a movie screen. If a projector is used, a portable, temporary screen may be used, or a screen may be permanently mounted on a wall.
Seating and atmosphere: Comfortable seating is often provided to improve the cinema feel. Higher-end home theaters commonly also have sound insulation to prevent noise from escaping the room and specialized wall treatment to balance the sound within the room. Some luxury home cinemas have movie theatre-style padded chairs for guests.