Shari Sagan McGuirk's Blog
Technologies for home theater audio are rapidly changing. At one time if you wanted a good listening experience in your living room you have to spend hundreds on surround sound speakers, subwoofers, and receivers. Then, you had to run wires throughout the room and try programming your remote to make it all work.
While surround sound speakers are still a good option, there are other ways to experience quality audio in your home. In this article, we’re giving you a guide to choosing a home audio system that fits your needs and, more importantly, your budget.
The latest addition to home theater audio is the sound bar. These are slim, sleek speakers that usually come with a small subwoofer.
Sound bars come in several varieties. Some are plug-and-play, meaning you don’t need to worry about purchasing amplifiers or devices, you just plug them into your television via an HDMI cable or connect to your TV through Bluetooth and you’re done.
Other sound bars are more like bases that your TV sits on top of. Sound bases aren’t as popular as they once were, so there are limited options. Furthermore, they typically don’t include a separate subwoofer so they can lack deep bass.
The other benefit of sound bars is just how simple they are to use. Even the cheapest sound bars often come with Bluetooth, so you only have to worry about one outlet spot for the power cord.
For most homeowners who want sound quality far better than their television’s internal speakers can provide, sound bars are an easy way to vastly improve your audio experience without breaking your wallet.
Before buying a sound bar, try them out at a local electronics store to gauge what quality you need. You also might want to measure your television to find one that matches its width.
The classic home theater experience is a bit more complicated. However, you can often buy a “home theater in a box” which includes everything you need for an audio system.
Most commonly, you’ll find 5.1-channel surround sound. This means there are five speakers and one subwoofer included in the box. These systems have one central speaker, two speakers that are placed to the left and right side of the television, and two rear speakers. However, you can also find 7.1-channel systems which include two extra speakers.
Many “home theater in a box” packages include an audio receiver. However, if you already have one, your money will be better spent on buying a higher quality speaker system than replacing your receiver.
The downfall of buying a speaker/receiver package is that their quality is often only marginally better than a (much simpler and easier to set up) sound bar. To get the optimal experience out of a surround sound system, you’ll need to spend more and do your research.
So, if you have a high budget and want a dynamic, high-quality surround sound system, your best bet is to buy a quality receiver (usually somewhere in the $600 range) and then spend the bulk of your budget on speakers.