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Introduction and Speaker Types

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In Part One of our Surround Sound Buyer's Guide we looked at AV receivers. This second and concluding article is about speaker types to help you get the most out of your home cinema experience

Watching movies at home without a surround sound system is like visiting Alton Towers without going on any of the rides – sure, you’ll still have a good time but it won’t be half as thrilling. That’s why any self-respecting movie lover should invest in a decent home cinema system to really bring those sizzling cinematic moments to life.

There are several types of home cinema system offering convenient, cost-effective solutions – 2.1-channel systems with virtual surround, 3.1 systems, soundbars, all-in-one systems with built-in Blu-ray players – but to ensure the best-possible sound quality you’re often better off buying a separates system, which at its most basic level involves pairing an AV receiver with a 5.1 or 7.1-channel speaker system.

In Part One of our Surround Sound Buyer’s Guide we told you about the features you should look for when buying an AV receiver, but in Part Two we throw the spotlight on speakers, highlighting some of their key features and explaining the jargon that you’re likely to encounter when shopping for your ideal system.

Speaker types
One of the biggest driving factors behind the type of speakers you end up with will be the amount of space available in their intended location. Be realistic – you can’t expect to squeeze fridge-sized speakers into a bedsit and get the best out of them, so limit your search to systems you can comfortably accommodate.
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Orb Audio People’s Choice 9/10 Recommended - DEC '09


There are plenty of sizes on offer, but if space is really tight, then check out systems that come with tiny ‘satellites’, like the Orb Audio People’s Choice system. Diddy sats like these can be placed around the room on shelves, mantelpieces or windowsills, without making unreasonable demands on your space. You may have to sacrifice sound quality somewhat, as small satellites can’t hope to match up to larger speakers with bigger drivers and more voluminous cabinets to play with, but you can still get loud, dynamic sound out of smaller speakers.

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