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>Home >Home theater >Speakers and subwoofer

Speakers and subwoofer

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Depending on your total budget and the priority you place on audio, your speaker budget may be between a few hundred and several thousand dollars. Remember, if you spend extra on a great receiver and go cheap on the speakers (or vice-versa!), you're essentially throwing away your money.

Klipsch HD 500 Compact 5.1 Home Theater System
Klipsch HD 500 Compact 5.1 Home Theater System

If you refer back to the budget section, you'll see that I had receiver/speakers listed in one category. Within that amount, I'd probably spend 30-40% on the receiver and the rest on speakers.

You'll want to get a 5.1 system (at least). This means 5 speakers (front left and right, a center channel, and 2 surround speakers) and 1 subwoofer. While you don't need to have all speakers of the same brand, it's a good idea. It is especially important to have your front (left and right) speakers be from the same company as your center speaker.

Aperion 12" subwooferThe subwoofer is a critical part of the package. It will deliver the low end sound effects that will have your room rumbling! People that skip the sub don't know how much they're missing!

It's less critical to have the sub be of the same brand as your other speakers. Some subwoofer companies don't even sell regular speakers.

Speaker shopping tips

Here are some things to keep in mind when you go speaker shopping:

  • Listen to several brands at the same volume to get a feel for the ones that appeal to you. Each company has its own unique sound.
  • Your final purchase will be a compromise between price, sound, and size. While full size tower speakers in the front may sound the best, their SAF (spouse acceptance factor) may make them a prohibitive purchase.
  • Get a decent subwoofer. This will become the workhorse of your system- especially during action movies. The impact of hearing (and feeling) the explosions will make the sub worth its weight in gold.
  • Avoid the teeny, tiny plastic cube speakers if you can. It's just too difficult to get a decent soundstage from a tiny little box.
  • Speakers may sound much different at home than they do in the acoustically perfect room at your high-end A/V store (or in the giant, noisy showroom of your big box retailer). See if you can get an in-home demo, or at least find out the store's return policy.
  • Remember that speaker technologies don't change as often as those of other components (DVD players, TVs, receivers, etc.) A quality speaker system can easily last 10 years or more!
  • Check out one of the REPUTABLE online-only companies such as Aperion. They offer a 30-day money back guarantee (including shipping both ways) if you're not happy. You can also 'trade up' (within a year) if you suddenly come into some extra money and want to upgrade.

    The Aperion 422 5.1 surround sound system is an excellent entry-level home theater speaker system!I have a 5.1 Aperion 422 system with an 8" sub that I purchased ($799) just over a year ago for bedroom sized room- our family 'lounge'. I just LOVE the sound! The clarity and tonal qualities are magnificent, and despite their diminutive size (4" woofer) they sound AWESOME! There's nothing like popping in chapter 4 of "Master and Commander" and cranking it up!

For more on speakers and speaker location, check out our home theater setup section.

Home Theater Topics

Setting your budget

Selecting components

A/V receivers

How big should the screen be?

Display technologies

Front projectors

HDTV shopping tips

Speakers and subwoofer

DVD players

Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD

How to buy a Blu-ray player

Top Blu-ray players

Lutron dimmers: Custom home theater lighting

Lutron Spacer System: Custom programmable scene lighting

Cables and accessories

Buying home theater systems

Buying home theater speaker, Blu-ray players, and accessories

Home theater setup



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