There’s a pretty simple rule to follow when you’re looking at buying a quality home theatre system - don’t spend a cent until you’ve heard what the system sounds like in person. Fortunately, there are still a number of high-end audio showrooms around Australia to “try before you buy”, where you can go to check out different systems performances in a proper environment.
Naturally, the acoustics in every room are different, so the audio you get at the showroom probably won’t sound exactly the same as when it’s installed at home. But there are still a few things you can do when you go to a showroom to work out which system is best for you...
1. For a start, make sure you take a CD or (high quality) MP3 of your favourite album with you when you’re buying a speaker system. Being able to discover the deep low notes and a powerful mid-range is a lot easier when you know the music inside out.
2. Similarly, if you’re looking at picking up a TV or projector for your home theatre at the same time, take your favourite movie on Blu-ray so you can watch key scenes on the test unit — it won’t be exactly the same when you get the product home, but it will help make the decision easier for you.
3. As with buying any gadget, it's well worth doing your research online before you hit the shops. But if you're completely out of your depth, at a bare minimum have a basic idea of what you want to install. For example, if you’re renting and can’t punch holes in the walls, you’ll want a home theatre solution that will let you install with a minimum of fuss - either a soundbar, or something with a wireless connectivity option for the rear speakers. Alternatively, perhaps you're after a solution that will let you play back music all through the house. Knowing what you want will help you avoid being sold items you don’t need.
4. Also take with you a list of what components you’ll want to plug in to the setup. Do you need connections for games consoles? Foxtel? The Blu-ray player? Are you planning on including both a TV and a projector? Having a full list of what components you want to include in your setup will help make the setup process much easier.
5. Finally, there's the retailers themselves. Finding the best showroom to see a demo can depend largely on the brand you choose. Some AV companies have branded showrooms around the country, as well as a network of authorised resellers. We’ve got shortcuts to a range of showrooms from leading brands below:
• Arcam • AudioPro • Bang & Olufsen (stores) • Bose (resellers and stores) • Bowers & Wilkins • Classé • Denon • Harman/Kardon • Jamo • JBL • Loewe • Marantz • Mordaunt-Short • NAD • Onkyo • Pioneer • Tannoy • Yamaha