There is no exact definition of a home theatre or a "home cinema", and it means different things to different individuals. Broadly speaking, home cinema is a home entertainment system that strives to reproduce a movie theatre experience and environment with the help of audio and video devices. In other words, it is a system that provides a similar viewing experience as a real cinema but in the comfort of your own home.
A typical home cinema format consists of an LCD or LED high-definition television and a DVD player or Blu-ray player. A home theatre receiver plays a pivotal role in a home cinema and is mostly used for tasks like switching, signal processing, amplification, and tuning.
Making home movies first started growing as a trend in the U.S. in the 1950s as projector equipment became more affordable. By the 1980s, laser discs and VCRs were being used with rear and front projection TVs. The home cinema industry continued to evolve and Dolby Digital 5.1-channel audio speaker systems, DVD players, and high-definition televisions (HDTV) entered the scene in the 1990s and 2000s. The recent addition of Blu-ray discs and 3D television technology has continued to take home cinema to new heights.
Knowledge of the different components in a home cinema system is imperative to choosing the equipment that is right for your viewing needs. Electronics stores and many other retail outlets, including online outlets like eBay, feature a wide range of home cinema equipment for various consumer needs.
Home Cinema Components
As the exact definition of a home cinema system is blurry, so is the list of necessary components. While a few items are absolutely necessary to create a noteworthy home cinema, other items are only included based on a buyer’s preferences.
Audio Video (A/V) Input Devices
A home cinema consists of at least one audio video input device, and the inclusion of several devices is common. Thanks to technological advances, high quality media formats, such as Blu-ray discs, are now being used as input devices. Laser disc players, VCRs, DVD players, and video game consoles are also commonly used by buyers. Some buyers also include a media centre or home theatre PC (HTPC), which is a combination of personal computer capabilities with a software application that acts as the main library for audio and video.
Audio Processing Devices
A preamplifier or a standalone A/V receiver is typically used for audio processing of the input devices. A sound processor is used for surround sound formats, such as DTS, Dolby Digital, and Dolby Digital EX.
Depending on user preferences, an A/V receiver performs several signal processing tasks on the input source, such as simulating sound fields, THX post-processing, bass management, and digital audio decoding. An A/V receiver also serves as an amplifier to increase the signals to the drivers of the audio output sources (speakers). It also manages the playback volume.
Audio Output Devices
A home cinema consists of two or more speakers. 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound systems are the most frequently used systems, and using up to 11 speakers is possible with modern technology and additional subwoofers.
Video Output Devices
Video output is obviously a mandatory part of a home cinema, and buyers today certainly have plenty of options available. SDTV, HDTV, and 3DTV are all possible video outputs with specific styles that include LCD, plasma TV, DLP, and rear-projection TV.
A cinema-like environment adds to the overall viewing experience and is a critical element, even though it cannot be categorised as an actual ‘part’ of a home cinema. A comfortable seating plan and an organised room help a great deal in creating a cinema-like atmosphere. Some buyers even install sound insulation or specialised wall treatments that are designed to keep sound from escaping the room.
Home Theatre in a Box
As the name suggests, home theatre in a box (HTIB) is a bundle pack of home cinema equipment. It is typically a combination of an A/V receiver, connection cables (colour-coded), speaker wires, low-frequency subwoofer, remote control, and surround sound speakers. One great advantage of an HTIB set is that it removes all the hassle of matching and pricing different components. A step-by-step guide accompanies a set, which facilitates the setup process. Price ranges depend on the included features and components.
The speakers in HTIB sets usually feature four or more channels to create surround sound. Speaker sets generally consist of a centre-channel speaker, two front speakers, two satellite surround speakers, and a subwoofer.
A centre-channel speaker should be placed above or below the television so that it faces the primary listening position, and the effect is that the sound is coming directly from the television.
The left and right front speakers should be placed on either side of the television. These speakers should preferably face the primary listening position and be oriented at a 30-degree angle for the best performance.
Satellite Surround Speakers
Left and right satellite surround speakers should be placed behind the primary listening position, preferably at equal distances on both sides for the best performance. This helps create the illusion that the sound is coming from all directions, which makes the listening experience feel more realistic.
For a comparatively better bass response, most users place the powered subwoofers in the corner of the room. Subwoofers come in a variety of sizes and reproduce a low-frequency bass channel. As a safety precaution, the subwoofer should be placed out of the way of foot traffic.
A Comparison of Component Systems and HTIB
Home cinemas can be purchased component by component or as a complete HTIB package at one time. Both options should be explored by the average buyer, as they have their own pros and cons. HTIB sets are particularly handy for most families because they are cost effective and comparatively simple to install.
Component systems, on the other hand, sometimes have the benefit of offering improved audio and video quality, primarily because some speakers perform better in small size rooms and others perform better in large size rooms. Buyers should do some research and consider the size of the room before making a buying decision. Seating locations and other variants should also be considered before purchasing individual components or HTIB.
Dedicated Home Cinema Rooms
It is no surprise that die-hard enthusiasts sometimes go above and beyond normal traditions and, in some cases, create dedicated rooms for their home cinema systems. A room-in-room construction, for example, isolates sound and provides a nearly ideal listening atmosphere. These rooms are sometimes referred to as screening rooms.
How to Buy a Home Cinema on eBay
Put simply, home cinema brings real cinema home. The basic understanding of the different components of a home theatre system is critical to making an informed and intelligent buying decision. Home cinema can be purchased as a complete package (i.e. an HTIB set) or on a component by component basis. Both methods of purchasing have their own pros and cons, and it generally comes down to the exact needs and preferences of the buyer.
To begin your home cinema format search, you can visit electronics stores or large retailers, or you can visit an online auction site like eBay.. To find items from the eBay homepage, simply enter a relevant string of keywords into the search bar. For example, "home cinema" is a great place to start, and then you can surf through the various options to find a good fit. Home cinemas are available in different price ranges, brands, and styles for a diverse range of buyers.
If you prefer to try to avoid shipping charges and delays, enter your postcode under the ‘Distance’ filter on the results page to find sellers that are close to you. It is important to remember to leave feedback for the seller as soon as you have received and evaluated the item you purchased.
The definition of a home theatre system varies from person to person. Generally speaking, it is the components that allow you to reproduce a movie theatre experience in the comfort of your own home. The home cinema format has evolved over time with changing technology, and thanks to the invention of Blu-ray and home 3D technology, home cinema has entered a new era.
General knowledge of the various components of a home cinema is important in order for buyers to make the right choice for their homes and families. A typical home theatre system consists of audio video (A/V) input devices, audio processing devices, audio output devices, and video output devices. Home theatre in a box (HTIB) consists of a pre-bundled set of various common home cinema components.
A typical HTIB set consists of an AV receiver, a centre-channel speaker, two front speakers, two satellite surround speakers, a subwoofer, and colour-coded cables. eBay and various other retailers offer a wide range of home cinema components that can be purchased separately or as part of an HTIB set.