NOT JUST FOR THE MOVIES
We tend to think of
multichannel surround-sound systems as being strictly for the home theater crowd, those types who want to keep their neighbors up with a late-night viewing of The Matrix played at some lease-breaking volume. In reality, almost every type of television programming, with the possible exception of C-SPAN and The Weather Channel, will benefit from an audio system that goes beyond those buzzy little speakers found in most TVs. More importantly, many high-end plasmas and most pro
jectors don’t give you audio at all, working on the assumption that you’re going to want to add your own. So, even if we don’t plan to start referring to the living room as "the theater," most of us could still benefit from a 21st-century sound system to go along
with our new 21st-century television.
Typically, a multichannel audio system consists of two basic parts: a speaker package with five to seven loudspeakers plus a subwoofer, and the electronics needed to drive
the speakers and connect all
of your other components. As with most luxury goods, whether they’re cars, bottles
of wine, or even fine clothing, there’s a pretty staggering range of prices, and it’s often hard to know how much to plunk down. To see what you could expect to get for your hard-earned bucks, we decided to check out three popular electronics packages, from all-in-one receivers to separate preamp-processors and
amplifiers at widely different price levels.