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Home cinema

Home theatre systems

When buying a new home theatre system, most of the money ends up in the television end of things. And while screen size and picture quality are of course critical, the right home audio system is equally (and some would say more) important. In fact, many experts and buying guides recommend spending most of your budget on sound and speakers, especially if you have a good-sized screen already in place. Like investing in any technology there are a number of questions to ask yourself – is the system for movies, or both movies and music? Is surround sound a priority for you? Do you have a preference for a wired or wireless home sound system? Upgrading your TV sound can be as simple as plugging in a sound bar, which is a great option for those on a budget. Soundbars can often offer much better sound quality than a bottom of the range surround system, plus they are super easy to install. However, you can also branch out to high-end speakers or full surround sound for that home cinema experience. A general tip though – always consider the size of your room. For smaller spaces, a soundbar will probably suffice, while larger rooms will tend to require a multi speaker home theatre system. And, if you can, shop for home theatre products that have built-in WiFi or Bluetooth – this means you can connect wirelessly if you want to.

Soundbar vs surround sound

A soundbar is a slim, rectangular-shaped device that holds several individual speakers placed side by side – it can be mounted on a wall or placed in front of your television. Best of all, they connect to your TV with a single cable so you don’t need to worry about loads of trailing wires and cords. Soundbars offer improved audio at a much lower cost, as they effectively emulate a full-featured surround sound system. A much-asked question is whether soundbars connect with all TVs? Most soundbars support common cable formats, the primary options being HDMI, Optical and RCA – and this really should cover the majority of modern entertainment devices in your home. But it’s always good to double check, you may need a specific cable type if you want to enjoy the highest audio quality available. And if you want to go wireless, there are some Bluetooth soundbars available. Meanwhile surround sound enables you to experience sound coming from multiple directions. This sort of speaker system has been an integral part of any home cinema set up since the mid 1990s. The control centre of a surround sound system is the AV (or audio-visual) receiver, and this then connects with your speakers. When buying this component, make sure that your receiver has enough connections for your existing audio and video sources in your home theatre set up. When it comes to speakers, you can start small with a 2.1 channel set up (two speakers and a subwoofer) and then move through the options until you get to a 7.1 channel (three speakers at the front, two speakers at the side, two speakers behind the viewer and a subwoofer). It’s up to you!

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