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Home Theater Hacks by Brett McLaughlin

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Chapter 3. Audio Components

Hacks 22–27

If picture is what makes your buddies perk up, it’s audio that gets the real theater geeks. Multichannel, surround sound, Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES, Neo:6: these are the terms that make the hearts of audiophiles pound a little quicker. That’s largely because you can easily buy great picture; getting killer sound is a much trickier proposition.

Although there’s lots of tweaking to be done in a good home theater setup, buying good gear is still the first step. This chapter begins with that subject, and then takes you into the high-end strategies for audio.

Get the Right Receiver

The brains of your home theater are always going to be in your audio processor. Most folks at least begin with a receiver, which has to handle the demanding task of preamplification and processing, as well as pumping out power to your speakers. Getting the right receiver is crucial.

Receivers are tricky creatures, and a lot like Microsoft Office; you’ll often find lots of bells and whistles, but it’s not easy to figure out what you actually need. Assuming you want to impress your buddies, there are some definite requirements.

Industry-standard six- and seven-channel decoding

Ensure that any receiver you look at has Dolby Digital EX (6.1/7.1-channel decoding) and DTS-ES (6.1-channel decoding). These are usually well represented on both the box and the face of the unit (see Figure 3-1).

Optical and coaxial audio inputs

Ensure you have at least two coaxial audio inputs and two ...

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