Center Channel Speakers: Every home theater system needs a center channel. It is by far the most important speaker since it plays the majority of all the sounds. For that reason, it is crucial that you get a quality center channel. Even though any type of speaker can be used as a center channel, you should use a speaker designed for that purpose. A table top center channel will be the best that you can get. Normally, you put them on a shelf or cabinet above or below the TV. They will range in cost from $100-$1900 depending on quality. The average consumer will spend $200-$400.
This a center channel without the face cover on.
Tower Speakers: Tower speakers are the best sounding speakers since they can provide such a wide range of frequencies. In other words, tower speakers will produce low, mid, and high tones that are smooth, loud, and clean. They are very large and can be hard to place, but they have such a commanding presence that they can make a home theater system look powerful and engaging. Once they are installed, they can be part of the room decor. They are the most expensive of all the speakers, but if you want the best sound possible, towers speakers are a must. Prices on tower speakers vary dramatically starting at $300 each and going up to $3000 each or more. The average consumer will spend $500-$800 each.
These are tower speakers on either side of a big screen TV.
Soundbar Speakers: Soundbars are relatively new to the home theater world. It’s one long slender speaker and sometimes comes paired with a powered subwoofer. A soundbar uses technology to simulate surround sound. The Yamaha soundbar, for example, uses tiny speakers that can individually pivot in order to bounce the sound off your walls and ceiling. They create the effect that sound is coming at you from the sides and rear of the room. Some soundbars do better than others, but none sound as good as a full surround sound system. They should be installed above or below the TV (preferably below). Soundbars usually have a receiver built-in, so you don’t have to buy a separate component. They are great for rooms that can’t have a full surround sound system and bedrooms (where you might want nice sound but don’t want a battery of speakers). Prices range from $700 to $2000 depending on quality. The average consumer spends $1200-$1700 on a soundbar.
This is a soundbar installed below a flat screen TV.
Subwoofers: Subwoofers are used to add clean bass to your system, and your home theater will not be complete without one. There are two types of subwoofers: passive and powered. Passive subs are powered by a separate amplifier. Powered subs have a built-in amplifier. The only passive subwoofers you will usually find are in-wall subs. Even though they don’t sound as good as a stand-alone sub, a good in-wall sub still sounds nice and solves the eye-sore problem. Mini subwoofers are gaining popularity now and they pack a surprising punch. These tiny subs are about the size of a large toaster as opposed to a standard subwoofer’s large microwave size. A good subwoofer gives solid, clean bass at very low frequencies and won’t crackle or distort at high volumes. Subwoofers have a wide range of prices starting at $300 going up to $3000 depending on quality and size. The average consumer will spend $400-$700 on their subwoofer.
Here are a couple of Velodyne’s subwoofers.
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