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So, what exactly is a home theater anyway? Many will say it is an attitude, many others will say it is equipment. In reality is is a perfect combination of both.

As far as equipment goes..."If everything is a home theater, then nothing is a home theater".

A 13" TV with a VCR source and the most avid film buff watching is not a home theater, neither is a 100K system with a guy that watches pan and scan films or zoomed 2.35:1 ratio films on it.

This isn't about money, but Im afraid the reality is you must spend some money to have a home theater. Many people with great systems do not feel that they have a home theater. Many people with well below what is needed feel that they do.

An "enthusiast" will try as best they can to reproduce the image and sound as it was determined by the artist to be seen and heard. This will require some minimum equipment levels like it or not.

If you are just starting out you will need a bare minimum of these things....

1) A display device.

It doesnt need to be Hi-def or 16:9 ratio, but when you watch a widescreen film, you should never zoom it or crop it in any way to fill your screen. Also, if you do opt for a 16:9 screen, you should never zoom a 4:3 film to fit it. This knife cuts both ways.

2) A video source of some kind.

For most today, that is a DVD player. A VCR or a Laser Disc player will do but you will find the standard piece of video source equipment will probably be a DVD player, and at the current market prices there is no reason not to have one.

3) An audio decoder

Most people will opt for a receiver here. It needs to be capable of re-producing surround sound, preferably a minimum of Dolby Digital 5.1 Most modern films have 5.1 soundtracks, unless you only watch pre 1980 films, you will need surround capabilities and should have a dolby digital decoder. DTS and the other surround formats will be icing on the cake for you.

4) Speakers.

You need 5 speakers and a subwoofer. No room for fudging here. 5 speakers an a subwoofer.

Now you have the basics for a home theater. Make sure you have the right attitude and you will be on your way! What is the right attitude? I guess I could sum it up in one sentence...

The artists that created this film know much better than I how it should be viewed.

There you go, try to display the film the way the artist created it and you will be an enthusiast. You can be an enthusiast and not have a home theater, you can have a home theater and not be an enthusiast, but the combination of the two is what you seek.

Good luck on your journey.

Mike © Copyright 2002 All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission.

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