The Right Audio-Video Equipment
A Guide to Selecting & Buying Audio-Video Equipment
The right audio-video equipment at home or work makes a huge difference in the listening and viewing experience. And, like computers, today’s audio-video technology is amazing and getting more advanced with each passing day. But it doesn’t have to break the bank or cause the kids to start skipping meals either.
Great sound for a home theater system is critical for enjoyment at the highest level. But all too often people settle for the easily accessible, mass market stuff you’ll find in the typical big box stores.
You don’t have to be biased against big box stores to recognize they don’t carry top of the line equipment. They are all about low-prices and struggle to offer even moderately priced merchandise with any degree of advanced functionality.
Fortunately, there are specialty stores that focus on every aspect of audio-video for at-home systems as well as commercial or business use. These specialty stores have experienced professionals that know volumes more than anyone in a typical retail outlet because they work with the finest equipment available and focus on audio-video and not washers, dryers, or refrigerators. No teen or young adult could accrue enough expertise to compete at their level.
Audiophiles know that obtaining the best sound possible will overcome less-than-perfect video. Most inexperienced individuals focus more on picture quality than audio output, but that is understandable even if it is bass-ackwards. Sound is every bit as important but can support inferior viewing with the richer sound.
Scrimping is Out
Everyone has their unique perspective on affordability and an equally unique comfort level for spending. Likewise, there are many people with serious admirations for great sight and sound and seek to achieve a great home entertainment experience. We encourage both to seek out a professional for the right recommendation and avoid just some sales guy. Spend what you can afford (but try not to be cheap). Do you remember the adage “you get what you pay for”? Well, you also DON’T get what you don’t pay for.
Would you like to experience the best output from your equipment selection, regardless of the price? Here are a few recommendations:
- Visit an expert retailer and communicate your budget and your quality aspirations; also share the type of music or viewing you most enjoy.
- Let him/her help you choose a system tailored for the room where it is likely to be enjoyed.
- Make sure the audio equipment is the highest quality you can afford; great audio makes the weakest video much more satisfying.
- Opt for professional installation, and from people that do it for a living (not the kid from the big box store).
Sight and sound professionals that sell high-end equipment rely on the absolute best equipment manufacturers, but they also offer moderately priced options. When you visit a professional audio video store don’t expect to find the mass market, big box models; these are often built by the manufacturer to hit a specific retail price, set by the store buyer. To do so, profitably often results in diminished functionality or features. The “better” stores don’t offer low-end systems for several reasons, chief among them being low quality and unreliability.
A well thought out plan will allow you to upgrade key elements in stages and over time. The right 2.0 system for music can evolve into a 2.1 system for home theater, followed by a 5.1 system which can later evolve into a 7.1 setup.
Adding a subwoofer will produce much more presence and low-frequency effects and is one of the most important speakers in the home theater system (it’s the .1 after all).
Another is the addition of extra speakers. In a 5.1 setup, a pair of speakers are placed directly beside the back of the room. In a 7.1 design, it would be all of these along with another pair, usually above the rear seating area.
One of the latest state-of-the-art sound processes is Dolby Atmos 9.1 . Yes, you guessed it, the Atmos system utilizes nine speakers and a subwoofer and is considered the new gold standard in surround sound. A well-designed system using Atmos technology will provide quality above what the typical movie house provides.
Installation of your audio-video system
Since the experts know EXACTLY how equipment should be set up for maximum enjoyment, take their word for it when they recommend cutting holes in your ceiling to install speakers. They’ll know how to route the cables in the walls or floors invisibly.
Where will you be enjoying this system? The shape of the room where the audio-video system will reside makes a big difference, for proper speaker and woofer placement is crucial. Professionals will be able to determine placement for maximum enjoyment.
If you purchase a 5.1 setup, the speakers are placed in a rectangle to the seating, with a front pair, a rear pair, and a subwoofer.
Consequently, the 7.1 setup would follow a similar pattern but add one to each side in the middle point of the space.
You don’t know what you don’t know. Your current audio-video setup might sound just fine to you; without a basis for comparison, nearly every system will. But once you’ve had a demonstration of a professionally installed, quality system, you will quickly deduce you’ve been missing something.
A quality audio-video experience does come with a price, but it also provides innovation, functionality, convenience, and performance. To the discerning ear of an audiophile, price is not the primary motivator in the purchase of a home entertainment system.
For many consumers, “good enough is good enough” with the price being the overriding decision driver. Such a perspective is understandable, and why the right store will inquire about your budget and identify a good but less feature-oriented system with pricing that aligns with your spending goals. Note: they’ll offer a system with lesser functionality but not lesser quality, as they only deal with high-end manufacturers. Those brands, like that store, have a reputation predicated on delivering quality and exceeding your expectation.