What’s the best set-up for powering your home theater sound?
One area that people find challenging when setting up their home theater is the audio component. There’s a lot of choices out there. Let’s start with the basics between a sound bar or speakers,
Compact and affordable: Sound bars
A sound bar is intended for a flat-screen TV – these TVs are notorious for their bad sound. The sound bar sits below the screen and connects to the TV sound output. It’s basically a plug and play set-up making it a favorite. However, it really takes the one channel to amplify it in a left, center and right direction. Sound bars are generally more affordable and easier to set up. Since they are self-contained, they don’t have a lot of wires or cords so don’t take up a lot of space. While they do sound a lot better than the TV speakers, they are not going to give you the full surround-sound experience and don’t really do well in a large room. You also can’t upgrade any components since they are self-contained. They do have limited sound quality so even if you go bigger and more expensive, it doesn’t change the basic structure of the sound bar. Expect to pay about $200-300 for a good sound bar.
Best sound: AV Receiver
If you have spent the time and money in a home theater, then you are probably going to want a surround-sound experience. The basic setup for home theater audio is a pair of stereo speakers and a receiver or integrated amp. If you get a multichannel receiver then you can hook up five to six speakers spread around the room with a rear speaker (also called the subwoofer) to create that cinema surround-sound experience. This is more expensive and does take up more space. There is also the whole wire thing to deal with and how that effects the esthetics of your home theater design. But you are able to mix and match components from different manufacturers so it’s easy to upgrade. This means you can build your system slowly and add elements as you get more comfortable with the technology. Expect to pay anywhere from $400 to $1500 for your set up.
Some people have been experimenting with wireless speakers and have found them to be a good stopgap between soundbars and surround systems. There are better and more affordable powered speakers coming out on the market this year.
Another popular option are headphones with Bluetooth options. There is a wide variety of options on the market, so it does take some research to find the best pair for your set-up.