A home stereo system can be used to listen to music, and it can be hooked into a television to provide stereo sound during movies and TV programs. Those who want to attach the speakers to a television or DVD player to create a home theater will probably want to look into surround sound systems for a cinema experience. Listening to music, on the other hand, only requires stereo sound without surround capabilities. In most cases, the way to get the best home stereo system is to make sure the speakers are high quality and in the configuration you need.
The receiver/tuner is the part of the home stereo system that processes sound and radio waves. It may hook to a television, a turntable for playing vinyl records, a cassette deck, a CD player or a digital music player. Many receivers on the market today come with special ports where MP3 players and smartphones can be plugged in to play digital music through the stereo system. Choose a receiver that has enough input ports to handle any devices that will need to go through it, such as a television, DVD player or CD player.
A home stereo system requires at least two speakers. Systems with one speaker will usually only produce mono sound, which means all of the sound travels on one channel. Stereo speakers work together, each handling different qualities of sound, to create a richer, fuller sound than mono speakers can. An important component of stereo sound is a special speaker or part of a speaker known as a subwoofer.
The subwoofer handles the lowest bass sounds that a home stereo system is capable of producing. Without the ability to amplify the low bass tones, even quality stereo speakers can produce a sound that is tinny or sharp. Some large speakers have the subwoofers built in, but a separate component will usually produce better sound. Surround sound systems will typically need a separate subwoofer to come close to movie theater sound quality.
Surround sound systems generally have two basic speakers designed to go on the left and right of the receiver, a central speaker that goes in the center, a subwoofer, and either two or four surround sound speakers. A system with two surround speakers is known as a 5.1 system. The more advanced systems with four surround speakers are known as 7.1 systems. The 7.1 systems come closer to a true cinematic experience and usually produce a richer stereo sound.