One of the most expensive product categories in the market today is the home theatre. The Indian market is slowly opening up, and will continue to as more homes start using large high-definition TVs and projectors. There’s a demand for equally impressive audio systems and simply desktop speakers don’t cut it anymore. The enthusiast class of amplifiers and speakers have arrived and we’ve tested quite a few of these over the year. Here’s a list of some of our favorite ones.

Harman Kardon BDS 700

The Harman Kardon BDS 700 aren’t as thorough as, say the JBL Studio One. For one, it has been priced at a more affordable Rs. 59,990, which includes taxes. The BDS 700 includes a lot – a Blu-ray player and a home theatre system. The Blu-ray player works well and the video quality was good.  The audio playback wasn't very impressive, but the speakers were loud. The speakers lack the punch you get from woofers in larger home theatre systems. The system needed to be tweaked to get the maximum out of it. 

An affordable setup for those who want features

An affordable setup for those who want features

It looks just fine, but it is in a way, as massive as, say the Wharfedale Obsidian 600 setup or the JBL Studio One. It offers a decent set of features and the speakers aren’t too weak, either, but out of the box, they lacked the quality expected. 

JBL Studio One

The JBL Studio One wasn’t the most expensive of the home theatres that we tested this year. In fact, it was made for price conscious who didn’t want to a complicated setup, but a simple solution-in-a-box setup. The JBL Studio One is a mix of several components from JBL and Harman Kardon. The Studio One sound crisp and clear, and sound just right for metal and rock genres of music. There are a few complaints and there’s definitely no jarring or distortion at higher volumes. There is some tone abnormalities – upper mids sound heavier. The woofer as impressive in looks as it is, in quality and power output. 

A great all-in-one solution

A great all-in-one solution

The JBL Studio one is priced at  Rs.72,500 in India, which includes the amplifier-receiver, two large floorstanders, a centre channel and smaller rear satellites. It does sound like a fair bit of money, but considering that you get everything you need in that sum, and it being an easy-to-setup solution, it makes a lot of sense.  Our only complaint is that the amplifier lacks a few features, keeping in mind its performance, while playing music and movie viewing, it’s pretty impressive for the performance it offers. If you have a bigger budget, we would recommend you look for the same speaker setup, but with a better amplifier.

Wharfedale Obsidian 600 and Diamond SW150

We reviewed the Wharfedale Obsidian 600 and Diamond SW150 months back on a Denon AVR-1912 receiver. While these products aren’t sold in a single box, they complement each other really well. They’re massive, tall floorstanders and a pair of rear satellites with a centre channel, all of them very neatly polished to go with the theme. These speakers are priced at roughly the same size as the JBL Studio One, but they offer much more. The superior Denon AVR-1912 is a key part of this setup and offers all the features expected from a modern, high performance amplifier-receiver.

The Obsidian 600 is impressive as a set of speakers, by themselves. The bass is punchy by itself, but the Diamond SW150 woofer added to the setup makes things much better. It does wonders for movies, but tweaking of the SW150 woofer is also critical. This is where you might need some help setting up, in case it’s your first time setting up such speakers. As far as performance, the setup doesn’t disappoint. Distortion isn’t audible and the speakers perform well across all genres of music ranging from rock to metal to even classical. 

Massive power, massive style

Massive power, massive style

When it comes to high-performance audio quality, it does come at a price. The Obsidian 600 and SW150 woofer unit sells together for roughly Rs.70,000 in India. This setup is for the more serious audiophiles amongst us. This means, you should ideally have a house with good room acoustics, high quality audio sources and the rest. Assuming you have that, this price isn’t a lot to ask for. Don’t forget to consider the additional Rs. 40,000 or so for the Denon AVR-1912. These are some of the best speakers we’ve heard and we’ve giving it our stamp – Gadget of the Year 2011 for Home Theatres.

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