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Buyers' guide: Best home theatre systems under Rs 20,000

Buyers' guide: Best home theatre systems under Rs 20,000I have a budget of Rs 20,000 for a home theatre system. Could you tell me about the difference in quality between a 4.1 and a 5.1 set-up; also suggest models that come with Karaoke, and preferably something that's compatible with my Sony television.

Siddharth Rawat, Shaji P, Pankaj Sharma, Sreenath Satheesh

Whether it's a 2.1, 4.1, 5.1 or a 7.1 system, the first number denotes the number of satellite speakers which handle the frequency range between 100Hz to 22,000Hz. The second digit (after the decimal point) denotes the subwoofer (bass speaker) that's responsible for all the low rumbling sounds and thumps between 20Hz to 200Hz. In effect, a 4.1 system comprises four channels: front left, front right, back left and back right satellites along with a subwoofer. A 5.1 system has one extra satellite: the centre front.

Now, if you're shopping for a home theatre system to watch DVDs and Blu-ray discs, we would recommend a 5.1 setup. The centre channel, while handling the dialogues in movies, also works best for listeners who are not centred between the right and left speakers.

In your budget of Rs 20,000 you can expect to pick up models that have a total output of 1000W and come with connectivity options such as optical, HDMI, composite, USB and sometimes even Bluetooth.

For Karaoke, you could look at the Samsung HT-E450K (Rs 16,500), with compact speakers or the Samsung HTF453K (Rs 19,000) that come with tower speakers.

Go for the LG DH6230S (Rs 18,000) if you want a compact system that comes with a USB port that supports external hard drive playback, direct audio recording to USB and Bluetooth connectivity for wireless music playback.

It should be noted that the systems listed above can play DVDs, but do not support Blu-ray discs.

Opt for the Sony BDV-E290 (Rs 18,000) if you have a Bravia TV. This compact system not only comes with a Blu-ray player with support for Ethernet connectivity, but also supports Bravia Sync that lets you link all compatible devices for a simple one-push startup shutdown process, using just the Bravia remote control.

If you have a smaller room, you could consider the JBL Cinema BD100 (Rs 19,000) that supports Blu-ray discs and Bluetooth for audio streaming, while its DLNA-compatible network connection lets you stream audio content from other devices on your home network. It even streams entertainment from online services like YouTube and the Picasa cloud photo service. On the flipside, it has a total output of just 300W, which is still enough for small-to-medium-sized rooms.

Before settling for a model, we would advise you to make note of all its connectivity options to check if these suit all your entertainment purposes. Also, when shopping, carry along your favourite CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs to try them on these players. If possible, also carry a USB pen drive and an external hard drive with your favourite digital content.

And remember a 5.1 system only works best if you set it up properly. So you might also need some minor re-wiring to be done.


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