One of the big surprises for many people who buy a new HDTV or Ultra HDTV is that the crystal clear picture with vibrant colors isn’t supported very well by the audio components in the set. In fact, the sharp images on the video side of the equation can make the disconnection between the pictures on the screen and the relatively modest audio outputs seem even greater. Rest assured, you didn’t miss anything while researching the best TV to buy, low quality audio is a result of the limitations posed by the narrow construct of today’s flat screen products.
To bring the quality of the audio up to par with the on-screen imagery of your new TV, you have three options:
- Installing a soundbar – A soundbar is a single enclosure containing three components that would also be part of a surround sound system; the front left, center channel, and front right speakers. Some systems also include a subwoofer to broadcast low frequency audio. The soundbar category actually includes several different shapes; straight, curved, and pedestal, with the optimal choice depending on the decorative preference of the owner as well as any restrictions on space resulting from being enclosed in an entertainment unit. If an entertainment unit precludes the use of either a straight or curved soundbar, the best and only choice will be a pedestal style that fits in the unit. A straight soundbar can be wall-mounted or placed on a tabletop while curved bars are a popular and decorative choice with curved HDTVs.
- 1 surround sound – These systems are made up of 5 speakers and a subwoofer (as represented by the .1 in the name) A 5.1 surround sound system will have three separate speakers across the front of the viewing area with the center channel speaker located above or below the screen and a speaker on each side. For optimal surround sound, the left and right side speakers should be located in line with the back row of the viewing area and angled slightly forward.
- 1 surround sound – These systems start with the components of a 5.1 configuration and then add two speakers, which are located to the rear of the viewing area. For an optimal sound experience in with a 7.1 system, the left and right surround speakers should be positioned at the midpoint of the viewing area. Increasing the number of speakers to which audio is mapped increases sound detail and deepens the level of immersion for the audience.
If you’re starting with a soundbar with the intention of adding full surround sound at a later date, check to see if the side and rear speakers can be integrated with the soundbar. This can either save a couple of bucks or allow for the purchase of upgraded surround speakers down the road.
, Standard TV & Appliances