Create a Fantastic Home Theater System for Less Than $300!

By: Ike Ridley

So you have questions about connecting a Home Theater System to your Big Screen TV. There are lots of good questions that may be floating around in your head:

What type of audio system is needed? What system will provide the best sound? Can I use my old stereo? What connecting cords are required? How much will it cost?

We're going to offer you three levels of Home Theater System performance: Beginner, Good and Pro. If you're on a tight budget, start off on the Beginner level, but please don't settle for that. A Beginner system doesn't deliver the full sound quality your TV is capable of producing.

Gradually add pieces until you move your system up to Good or Pro level. A Good system gives you the minimum audio quality needed for High Definition TV broadcasts.

A Pro level system gives you bragging rights for your whole neighborhood!

&bull Beginner Home Theater System ($300 - $500*)
Hook together the following equipment: a Big Screen TV, quality Component and HDMI cords, digital cable, your current VCR, your current DVD player and your home stereo. You'll need component cords for the VCR and DVD; your cable company should provide a HDMI connection for the cable box.

(If you're not familiar with some of the terms used above - component, HDMI, digital - Google the "123 Guide To Plasma TV.com")

Using your existing components will keep the cost down, but will not give you the full Dolby sound your TV is capable of. The stereo sound beats the audio that comes out of most televisions, but don't settle for this.

&bull Good Home Theater System ($800 - $1000*) &bull
Assemble the following equipment: a Big Screen TV, quality HDMI cords, digital cable, a HDTV DVD player, a TiVo and a Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound amplifier and speakers.

A low cost "Home Theater In A Box" ($200 - $500) is required in this configuration. You'll can get a Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound amplifier, five speakers and a subwoofer from manufacturers like Sony and Panasonic.

This setup will give you full digital HDTV picture and sound; you'll enjoy a brilliant image and crystal clear audio. You'll need a separate HDMI cord for each peripheral.

&bull Pro Home Theater System ($1500 - Up*) &bull
Now we're ready for a Top Of The Line audio system delivering movie quality sound! Hook up the following: a Big Screen TV, quality HDMI cords, digital cable, a HDTV DVD player, a TiVo, a Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound amplifier and speakers, theater seating, a popcorn maker, professional soundproofing and motorized window blinds.

Hire a cute usher for your home theater and you're good to go!

A premier Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound Home Theater System can run $800 to $1,500, and some cost much more. What you'll get is eight channels of crystal-clear, pumping sound from seven speakers and a subwoofer, with sound coming from in front of, on both sides and behind the viewers.

* The estimated prices above do not include the cost of a Big Screen TV.

These three Home Theater setups range from bare bones to luxurious. Pick the one that you can afford and feel comfortable with. Over time, you can upgrade to a better system with more bells and whistles.

Please don't settle for the Beginner system; it doesn't produce the sound that your system (and you) deserve. With a little perseverance and planning you and your family will enjoy booming movie sound tracks and digital broadcasts for many years to come!

It's as easy as 123!

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