Home Theater, a word coined to replicate the cinema hall experience in homes, has actually glamorized today's industry multi-fold with vast collection of products and solutions which claim to recreate that magic. But to help you get on the right path, we are going to share the main types of Home Theater systems along with their applications, budget and power; so that every time you check a product online or offline, you are able to make the right selection.
1. HTiB (Home-theater-in-a-box) -
A home theater in a box (HTiB) is an integrated home theater package which "bundles" together with a combination DVD or Blu-ray player, a multi-channel amplifier (which includes a surround sound decoder, a radio tuner, and other features), speaker wires, connection cables, a remote control, a set of five or more surround sound speakers.
HTiB is an "all-in-one" way for consumers to enjoy the surround sound experience of home cinema, even if they do not want to or do not have the electronics "know-how" to pick out all of the components one-by-one and connect the cables. These packages are hot sellers in Big Electronic Retail Stores, where they are referred as off-the-shelf systems.
These systems provide a decent surround sound experience at a low cost with regards to other Hi-Fi Home theater setups. Some of the favourite HTiB brands shopped by consumers in India are Yamaha, Pioneer, Onkyo and Sony. You can check our recommendations for top 5 HTiBs under ₹50,000/- here
Most common complaints of HTiB packages are -
No scope of customization in such packages
Constant failure of products due to power distribution amongst speakers, subwoofers, disc players, USB, Bluetooth, etc.
Less Punch and Dialogue Clarity
Less inputs for HDMI devices
Atmos Technology missing
In spite of all this, these are still most common in most of the modern households across India as they are pleasant companions for your living room or bed room Televisions.
2. Soundbar -
An elongated wide box often placed under the TV with multiple small speakers inside and a separate dedicated subwoofer (wired or wireless) is referred as the Sound Bar.
It is that type of home theater system, which projects audio from a single enclosure. The shape, size, weight and performance makes it an easy to buy and easy to install home theater. Though not all sound bars deliver surround sound home theater as they are also popular in the 2.1ch audio system segment; whereas a 2D surround sound demands atleast 5.1 audio configuration. While mostly all the 5.1 Soundbars work on a virtual surround sound technology; in the recent past, many companies have explored a wireless real surround speakers which are detached from the main sound bar body during a home cinema experience.
Some of the most popular brands in this category are JBL, Samsung, Sony, Sonos and Yamaha. They have got wide range of products from 2 channel to the latest Dolby Atmos Soundbars. Soundbars generally are the cheapest of all, as they are priced from ₹8,000/- onwards. One of the most popular Atmos soundbar that is making big sale in India is JBL Bar 9.1
Some of the common complaints observed in Soundbar are -
Lack of Vokal Sound
Less Surround Effect (as it requires wall on all the sides to reflect the sound)
Less HDMI inputs
Analog models with only Bluetooth
After Sales Service
We prefer to refer these elongated Sound Bars with Built-In Amplifiers as wireless HTiB packages that are mounted only below the TV and provide a virtual surround sound experience. They are most dominant in Bedrooms and Living Rooms Television sound needs to be amplified for better listening.
AV Component system
AV Component is a custom-built Home Theater System with AV Receiver, Speakers, Subwoofers, Atmos Speakers and single or multiple Input Source Devices.
This is the most popular home theater type wherein we design and assemble solution as per the room, budget, ambience, etc. One can enjoy Dolby Digital as well as Dolby Atmos solutions in this type. In this system, the Audio-Video Receiver is a primary brain and heart of the system and the common brands are Denon, Yamaha, Marantz, Pioneer, Onkyo, etc. There are also premium AV Receivers brands from North American continent like NAD, Arcam, Anthem, McIntosh, etc. These AV Receivers provide a strong engine to your Speakers as per the configuration of 5.1, 5.1.2, 7.1.2, 7.2.4 and so on.
Unlike HTiBs, you can opt for different type and brand of speakers based on your room design and budget to match these AVRs. We have discussed in detail on these types of speakers here.
These systems can create one of the best 2D as well as 3D surround sound experiences for your Living Rooms, Media Rooms or dedicated Cinema Rooms and it can be only achieved when you setup your AV Receiver with the right settings.
AV Separate System
AV Separate Home Theater System is more like an extension to AV Component System wherein it replaces an AV Receiver System into a separate Power Amplifier and a separate Pre-Processor for a more better, clearer and powerful output.
An AV receiver is a one-box solution containing an AM/FM tuner, preamplifier/processor, and amplification. AV Separates divide these components out into two or more chassis, most commonly one box for the tuner and preamplifier/processor, and another for the amplification based on the number of channels and speakers.
When it comes to comparing Audio Video Receivers to Pre and Power Amplifier combination, the differences are found only in their functionality. So, if you have more than one input device then a receiver will always make sense, but if you truly want a customized powerful setup, then an AV Separate will always be the right type of home theater system in your environment.
You can also check our detailed video on these 4 types of home theater here.
I hope, that this article makes you scrutinize the home theater systems properly, and if you have already made a choice with regards to the type you're buying, tell us in the comments below.