How much money you're willing to spend is the FIRST step...You need to allow in your budget for HOW MANY speakers you'll be placing in your living room...Whether it's two, five, six or seven you'll want get as much SOUND as possible for your money
The NEXT thing you need to do once you've figured out your PRICE RANGE is actually go down to your local Home Theater store and DEMO some speakers...Be sure to bring along a CD that you're FAMILIAR with...The idea is that you'll be able to notice a difference in SOUND QUALITY from what you're use to.
Something with FEMALE VOCALS would be the BEST if you have that...Female vocals are the most DIFFICULT sounds to reproduce on a speaker...Most people only listen for BASS and TREBLE on a speaker when shopping around...But how well a speaker plays the MID-RANGE audio is the REAL test of it's quality
Besides LISTENING to pairs of speakers, you must ALSO consider the APPLICATION...What are you going to be listening to the MOST? Do you just want MUSIC? Do you just want MOVIES? Or do you want speakers for BOTH? For MUSIC you really only need TWO speakers...For MOVIES you'll need FIVE, SIX or SEVEN...And maybe a SUB-WOOFER.
We recommend running a SUB-WOOFER with BOOKSHELF or TOWER speakers for music OR movies...Having your AMP and SPEAKERS only play the MID-RANGE and TREBLE will sound SO much better...HALF the power always goes to the BASS...If you use a POWERED SUB your amp will be working HALF as hard...This will ALWAYS offer much CLEANER sound - even on the CHEAPEST of equipment.
Now you should know that music CAN be played back on a "five-speaker-system" just fine...You can run it out of ALL FIVE or just play the TWO FRONT speakers by themselves...So you CAN play music on your SURROUND SOUND set up, but you CAN'T play "surround sound" on your TWO SPEAKER set up...Oh yes, the sound WILL play on two speakers and a sub AND will sound 100 times better than JUST your television's speakers, but the sound will be LIMITED to the FRONT of the room.
Now for MOVIES...The big questions are: "How many speakers do I need? Do I want '5.1', '6.1' or '7.1'?" Most people are happy with 5 speakers. Your DVD collection can only take advantage of up to 6 speakers. The Blu-ray Disc offers, for the first time, true 7 speaker support. But if your couch is against the back wall in your living room, 5 speakers is all you'll have room for. Check out our our Speaker Placement page to see how many speakers you should get.
If you've survived the HARDEST part (finding a good pair you like), then all you need to do is get FIVE, SIX or SEVEN of that same make and model...Most movie soundtracks are mixed in the studio on 5, 6 or 7 of the SAME speakers...So isn't that how we should play them back in our OWN living rooms? Don't waste your time on DESIGNATED "CENTER" and "REAR" speakers...When a car "ZOOMS" around your living room, you don't want it to sound like CORVETTE in the 2 FRONT speakers and then like a VOLKSWAGON in the CENTER and REAR.
Then find a SUB-WOOFER that can keep up with all of your speakers...One that has enough POWER to be heard over your RECEIVER and SPEAKERS...This is NOT too hard at all.