Home theater systems are getting bigger and better. It’s not enough to just have a big screen TV anymore. If you want a full cinematic experience, you need a theater system with amazing visuals and immersive audio. Adding a sound bar to your system could be the next step in completing a home theater setup. Integrated TV speakers are not made to blow you away. The built-in speakers give you the bare minimum in sound, but movies and TV shows are getting more elaborate. Directors try to stimulate all the senses when putting together a film. To truly experience how a movie should feel, you will need more than the included TV speakers.
Sound bars are easier to install than traditional surround sound systems, which have multiple speakers to set up. Surround sound systems can be overwhelming for smaller rooms. A sound bar can mimic surround sound for a more affordable price. Sound bars can sound just as good as good as surround sound systems and can even be more aesthetically pleasing as well. Our top sound bar reviews were of the Yamaha YSP-1400, Polk SurroundBar 5000 and the Yamaha YAS-103. For more information check out our articles on sound bars.
Adding a sound bar will be a great improvement to traditional TV speakers. You want a speaker that has great sound and fills up a small room. You also want a sound bar that fits with your system visually. Here are the factors that we took into consideration when we did our sound bar reviews.
Sound bars use various tricks to simulate surround sound. Most sound bars shoot beams of sound off your walls and ceilings that bounce back at you from the back or side of your home theater room. This method only works in small rooms since your walls essentially become part of the speaker.
A few sound bars use what is known as head-related transfer functions (HRTFs) to create the illusion of surround sound. These sound bars use digital filtering to reshape sound waves to alter how your brain perceives sound directionality. This will, for example, lead you to believe that a sound is coming from behind you even when it's not. HRTF sound bars don't rely so much on the surfaces of your room, so it’s ideal for larger spaces.
The number of speakers, channels, subwoofer wattage and other specifications work together to give you an idea of what a speaker will sound like. For example, more channels means a sound bar has more ways to simulate surround sound. But specs can't tell you the whole story. They can't describe how rich or balanced a speaker system sounds. We do our best to illustrate how a speaker sounds, since that is more important than a list of specs.
Sound bars are advantageous to multiple speakers because there is less clutter and wires. The very best sound bars are ergonomic and fit with your home theater system. Most major manufacturer’s build TVs and sound bars—not only does the equipment play well with each other, but they are designed to visually work together.
Some sound bars don’t have LED TV counterparts. The model of these bars may not mesh with your setup. Some bars are thicker or wider, this may cause your bar to block your TV’s remote signal. If the bar does not have a remote sensor pass through or IR repeater, this could be problematic. Besides, you don’t want a sound bar that is too big or too small for your TV, no matter how good it sounds, if it is an eyesore, you will not like it.
Most sound bars can connect to an HDTV with an optical cable, usually provided with the sound bar. Some come with stereo jacks so you can connect your MP3 player to the bar. HDMI-in ports can be used to connect the bar to your TV for sound, and HDMI-out ports on sound bars can be used as passthroughs for video – the audio in the signal is handled by the sound bar, while it passes the video signal on to the TV.
To cut down on even more wires, many sound bars employ wireless technology. If a sound bar has a subwoofer, it is most likely wireless. Sound bars can be infused with Bluetooth technology as well, allowing you to connect multiple devices to your sound bar wirelessly.
Help & Support
Sound bars are fairly easy to install – most require you to just connect one cable. New technology can be a confusing thing, though, and if something goes wrong, you’ll need expert help. Big-name manufacturers usually have dedicated 24/7 help, whether it is by email, over the phone or through live online chat. Most sound bars are low maintenance and can last years, and most manufacturers offer at least a one-year warranty for parts and labor.
Sound bars can be an essential part to your home theater experience – pumping up the volume so you can feel the explosions, experience the music score and hear movies the way they were meant to be heard. If you’re not ready to commit to a full surround sound system, a sound bar is the next best thing.