Home entertainment systems are growing in complexity and capability. A new generation of home theater components, such as audio preamplifiers, integrated amplifiers and surround processors, is emerging to meet those challenges. These new components are so sophisticated that they’re challenging the traditional way we think about home entertainment systems. These new devices are creating spaces within our homes that are equipped with speakers and other listening locations. The home theater system is no longer just a single room with a TV screen; it’s now a multidisciplinary complex of rooms all connected by speakers and wires. Whether you call it a Home Theater System or an Integrated Home Entertainment System, the concepts behind them remain the same, combining audio and video signals into one signal that can be distributed throughout your home. So read on to find out what’s new in the world of home entertainment systems.
What to Expect from Home Entertainment Systems in the Future
If you’re looking to build a new home entertainment system, now is the best time to do it. Significant advancements are happening in all areas of the audio/video industry. Here are a few things to look forward to in the future:
- Better Sound Quality: High-resolution audio is quickly becoming the new standard. You’ll find that most people agree that higher-resolution audio files sound richer and more detailed than MP3s or CDs.
- Better Picture Quality: 4K entertainment systems are finally here. Companies like Samsung, Sony, Vizio and LG are releasing ultra-HDTVs with HDR (high dynamic range) capabilities built in.
- Better Connectivity: Wireless audio and video systems are growing in popularity, making it easier for you to enjoy entertainment around your home. - Better Design: While home entertainment systems used to be considered a “man cave” activity, they are now being designed to blend in with the rest of your home.
- Integrated Home Entertainment Systems: The traditional home entertainment system is no more. It’s been replaced by an “integrated” home entertainment system that seamlessly blends together all your multimedia devices.
New Form Factors in Home Entertainment
Home entertainment systems have evolved beyond the classic AV receiver/DVD player/TV combination. New form factors are emerging to suit a range of living environments, music tastes, and lifestyles. Below are some examples of where home entertainment systems are headed.
- Mini Home Theater Systems: Mini home theater systems were one of the first types of “all-in-one” home entertainment systems to emerge. Designed to be installed in a single room, they are built around an AV receiver and an HDTV.
- Streaming Music Systems: Streaming music systems are designed for rooms where you want to listen to music, but don’t need a TV.
- Multi-room Audio Systems: If you want to listen to music in several rooms of your house at the same time, then a multi-room audio system is for you.
- Whole House Audio Systems: If you want to listen to music throughout your entire house, then a whole-house audio system is what you need.
4K Content is Becoming the Norm
4K Ultra-High definition (UHD) televisions are no longer a novelty item. They are quickly becoming the norm and are being adopted at an impressive rate. According to a survey by the Consumer Technology Association, sales of 4K UHD televisions grew by more than 55% in 2016. All the major TV manufacturers have now released their “4K-ready” models and are quickly replacing their “HD-only” televisions with 4K models. If you’re shopping for a new television, you should buy a 4K model. If you’re building a new home entertainment system, you should purchase a 4K-capable AV receiver, Blu-ray player and media player. Plus, it’s a good idea to invest in a 4K-capable internet service, especially if you want to stream 4K content. With 4K content growing at an exponential rate, you’ll soon be spoiled for choice.
Multi-Channel Sound is Back
For years, the home theater experience was all about surround sound. You couldn’t call it a home theater system unless it was equipped with speakers on the sides, in the back, on the ceiling and even on the floor. But in recent years, surround sound has become a bit of a lost art. Multi-channel surround sound systems are experiencing a renaissance as more and more home theater enthusiasts are rediscovering the benefits of immersive sound. In addition to the five standard surround channels (left, right, center, left rear and right rear), all the latest home theater components are designed to accommodate a sixth channel, the “sub” or “low-frequency” channel, which reproduces sound in the bass range (20-200 Hz).
The home entertainment system is a complex network of multimedia devices. It consists of several rooms, wired for sound and video transmission. The system may include an AV receiver, a TV, a Blu-ray player, an amplifier, speakers and even a digital video recorder (DVR). The selection, placement and setup of these components determine the quality of the system, as well as the enjoyment derived from it. With a little bit of knowledge and a lot of research, you can build a home entertainment system that is truly second to none.