Sound bar or surround sound? What to choose for your home cinema audio system

Sound bar or surround sound? What to choose for your home cinema audio system
Sound bar or surround sound? What to choose for your home cinema audio system
The choice between the use of a sound bar or a full surround sound installation isn't an easy one to make. But if you're looking at buying a projector for the visual requirements of your home cinema system, it's well worth giving some thought to your investment in a decent audio setup too.

Sound bars

Sound bars are a pleasantly simple setup in comparison to many audio options in this area and it's this that makes them popular with so many people. They are typically compact and include several speakers set within one rectangular 'bar' that can either be mounted on the wall or set alongside your projection screen.

In most cases, you'll be able to get an external subwoofer with your sound bar, which means there's no need to sacrifice on lower frequencies and deep bass notes.

Clever electronic options also mean that the sound can be processed to create a stereo sound effect, as well as 'surround sound' mode, which offers a pretty decent imitation of a full surround sound setup.

Sound bars are a convenient option that do offer a great level of sound. But for some, even this isn't enough, in which case a full surround sound system is the way to go.

Surround sound

Sometimes called a home cinema speaker system, surround sound audio setups are certainly trickier than a sound bar.

They usually come in a 5.1 arrangement, which works with the now largely standardised Dolby Digital multi-channel format. This format is encoded into formats like Blu-ray, so that the speaker system knows which speaker to direct the sound channels to in order to create a cinematic experience.

While surround sound does present installation issues due to the wires that run to each of the three front speakers, two rear speakers and subwoofer (in a standard 5.1 arrangement), there are ways around this through the use of wireless technology.

However, even if you end up choosing a wired format, the sound quality of a surround sound system is generally thought to make the extra hassle more than worth it. Although sound bars can electronically replicate the surround sound sensation, they're still a long way off the real thing.

Other sound system options

Surround sound and sound bars are two of the most popular options for creating the best home cinema audio setup. But there are other options on the market, including wall speakers and ceiling speakers which are worth exploring.

Finally, take some time to consider which Audio Visual Receiver – or AV Receiver – you choose as this will be at the heart of any setup. This clever device will bring together a Sky Box, Blu-ray system, Playstation 4 or any number of similar home entertainment devices. With these all connected through the AV Receiver, you can then connect it to your projector to unite your top quality audio and visual devices with any device of your choosing.

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