Blog / Big AV

  • A First-Time-Buyer’s Guide to Home Theatre Systems

     

    Buying your first Home Theatre System can be a tough task. The choice of devices and systems alone can be overwhelming for anyone just starting out in the world of home entertainment. Which is why we’ve put together this handy buyer’s guide. It will cover everything a newbie video/audiophile needs to know before actually parting with their hard earned cash. So if you’re thinking about getting your first Home Theatre System, read this and you’ll be able to make an informed purchase decision.

     

     

    Which Home Theatre System Should I Buy?

    Before we get into the details you should know one hard fact about Home Theatre Systems; the more channels a system has the more expensive it will be. That’s just the way it is so keep that in the back of your mind. That said, choosing the best Home Theatre System for your individual needs will involve more than just making a decision based on price.

     

    First off, ask yourself what you are going to use the system for. Will you be listening to non-stop dance music? Perhaps you’re a fan of classical and are looking forwards to listening to Beethoven and co. for hours without end. Or is your main objective to watch cinematic blockbusters in the comfort of your own home?

     

    Why is this important? Because films and music do not sound the same. They both place different requirements on a sound system. The dynamics of film sound (how loud or soft things are) is a whole world away from a piece of recorded music. Films need more channels to feed surround sound systems. Music doesn’t. So it’s always good to know before you buy what it is you need to spend your money on; a system geared towards films or towards music, or perhaps a mixture of both?

     

    The good news is that when you buy a HTIB (Home Theatre In A Box) you’ll normally have everything you need to create high-quality sound at home. Your new system will contain an AV receiver, speakers, subwoofer(s) and amplifier(s). All in one neat package. You’ll still need to provide a TV and some kind of video player like a gaming console or a Blu-ray, but once you have these devices set up (and most of you will have them already), then you’re all good to go.

     

     

    What’s the Difference Between Expensive and Cheap Models?

    Okay, this is a tough one. There are so many variables involved that answering this question is really quite difficult. But let’s assume we’re talking strictly about Home Theatre packages and we can say that it’s the additional technology that makes one system better value for money than another. Think of Dolby-ready audio or 3D and 4K capability. You most probably won’t find these features on cheaper systems.

     

    Another frequently asked question is whether it’s okay to mix components from different brands. The answer is a definite ‘maybe’. In principle, there is nothing wrong with the idea. But when you consider that speakers and other devices from the same manufacturer are all synced in the factory to work together, then it suggests that sticking with the same brand would make more sense.

     

    7.1, 5.1 and 2.1 Explained

    This refers to different kinds of surround sound systems and denote the number of speakers within that system. The .1 is the subwoofer included in the package, which is a dedicated speaker to push out the bass. There’s no guarantee a system with 7.1 speakers will sound better than five; this will depend on speaker quality and the size and shape of your room. If it’s relatively small then 5.1 will be enough to achieve a full and satisfying surround sound. A big room, on the other hand, might need seven speakers or in extreme cases, even more.

     

    Dolby Atmos And DTS: X

    You’ve probably seen these letters every time you go into a hi-fi shop or browse a home theatre website on the Internet. Dolby Digital seems to be everywhere these days, and with good reason. One of Dolby’s most exciting inventions is the Dolby Atmos system. It’s designed to move sound around, including up and down. It all adds up to an enhanced viewing/listening experience but of course, there’s a catch. Dolby Atmos will only work with special receiver channels and special speakers.

     

    DTS, another famous company have created a similar system called DTS:X. There is one major difference, however; DTS doesn’t need special speakers to work. Something to think about if you’re planning your new Home Theatre on a budget.

     

    The Jargon

    Tweeter: A speaker that puts out high-frequency sounds like human voices and hi-hats. Manufacturers generally put a lot of work into their tweeters. Paired with the woofers which are designed to produce sounds in the low-frequency range.

     

    Subwoofer: A speaker designed to produce extremely low-frequency sounds, and then deliver them with a wallop. You should have one of these in your new system. If not, you’ve been robbed.

     

    Satellite Speakers: All the other speakers in a surround sound system.

     

    3D Capability: Some (not all) Blu-Ray players and discs support the three-dimensional format, which can only be streamed via an A/V receiver with an HDMI 2.0 connection.

     

    4K Capability: 4K means TVs with 4000 pixels capability, a reference to ultra high definition imaging.

     

    Dolby Digital: We mentioned these earlier. Dolby is a company which specialises in audio compression. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll see their stickers everywhere.

     

    Finally, A Word About Cables

    No one ever said that cables are sexy. And here’s why: cables are ugly, boring and cumbersome. Unfortunately, they are also absolutely essential to your Home Theatre System. It will be worth your time to note that at some point you may need additional cabling and in that case, it’s best to go with the best you can afford. There’s nothing worse than having to sit through a substandard home entertainment session because you’ve scrimped on the cost of a decent cable.

     

    Well, that’s it for now. Of course, with a hobby as complex as Home Theatre, there is always more to learn. But this guide should be enough to get you started. Just please always remember to do the research before you buy and when in doubt, ask an expert!

  • The Top Ten Shows of BBC TV

     

     

    The British Broadcasting Corporation is the world’s oldest broadcasting organisation and over the years it has created some iconic television shows, many of which have become standard favourites in almost every country on the planet. We’ve put together a list of the Top Ten television programmes with no criteria limitations in terms of genre or era--just as long as the show was first aired on the BBC and not ITV or any other channel.

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  • The 10 Most Anticipated Hollywood Blockbusters of 2017

     

     

     

    2016 was a huge year for films. We had Captain America Civil War, Zootopia, The Jungle Book, The Secret Life of Pets, Batman vs Superman, Dawn of Justice, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And we're not even mentioning Suicide Squad and Rogue One. But now it’s time to get even more excited about the future. Here is a list of the Top 10 biggest films coming out of Hollywood in 2017.

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  • HDR10 or Dolby Vision

    What’s the Difference?

    Which is Better?

     

    The world of television has already undergone the transition from Full HD to 4K UHD. The next big event on the home viewing horizon will be the arrival of HDR (High Dynamic Range). And because we’re talking new technology, consumers can fully expect to be confused by the different HDR TV formats they’ll have to choose from. If you can recall the battles between VHS vs Betamax and DVD vs Laserdisc, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. Now the arena has been cleared for two new opponents. Say hello to Dolby Vision and HDR10. Which is which and what does what? We’ll come to that. But first, let’s take a look at the basics:

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  • Top Tips For Buying A TV Stand

    TV stands are ideal for storing your TV off the floor, allowing you a better viewing angle, and providing ample storage space for related items. In this article, we'll give you all the tips you'll need to know before going out and spending your hard-earned cash on the latest AV related furniture.

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  • Do We Really Need Film Censorship?

    Film censorship is when a group of people or an organisation or even a government tell us what we can and can’t watch in films. This all started in America in the 1930’s when a man named William H Chaise put an organisation together called the MPAA. The organisation is still going strong. In the UK we have the BBFC. They tell us pretty much which kind of content is okay to put in a film.

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  • A Super Short History of Super 8 Film

     

     

    In these enlightened times, many A/V enthusiasts might be forgiven for thinking that the home cinema phenomena began first with VHS in the 80’s, then in the 90’s it was DVD. Since 2000 home theatres have been dominated, more or less, by the advent of Blu-Ray. And whereas that chain of command may be true, the practice of owning and operating your very own personal screening room goes back way before VHS.

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  • The 10 Worst Films of 2016

    Yep, it's that time again. Today we're talking about some of the truly awful films that crawled across our cinema screens in 2016. And there were quite a few to choose from — some so bad that we not only questioned why we even bothered to fork out the price of the admission ticket — we began to ponder the very meaning of our paltry existence! But before we get into the nitty gritty of the worst of the howlers, here's a few (dis)honourable mentions: Continue reading

  • Top 10 Pop Songs of All Time

    Even if some of us loathe to admit it, we all like a good pop song. They are the tunes we find ourselves singing in the shower or humming under our breath on the bus to work. And if we think no one is watching, these are the songs that actually make us get up and boogie around the kitchen. Here then are our picks for the Top 10 Pop Songs of All Time. Continue reading

  • Music Piracy: Real Crime or Just an Abstract Idea?

    The practice of music piracy is still widely regarded as the main reason for the global drop in conventional music sales. But not by everyone. It could well be argued that music piracy is more of an abstract idea rather than an actual phenomena. And while it’s true that most recording artists despise the idea of music piracy, a lot of consumers think it’s okay. This difference in opinion could be explained by the fact that the term ‘piracy’ is in itself ambiguous and can be tailored to fit almost any argument. It follows then, that before we even try to understand how music piracy is affecting the industry, we must first find a contextual definition for the phrase.

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