Home cinema or soundbar – which is right for me?

Give your TV’s built-in speakers a serious upgrade for the summer of football with either home cinema speakers or a soundbar…

Do you want to improve your TV’s built-in speakers before the summer of football gets under way? Modern TVs are increasingly slim with less room for speakers, so there’s a clear case for beefing up their sound.

Football matches (and Friday night movies) will feel much more immersive and atmospheric with either a home cinema system or a soundbar - but which is right for you?

Family on the sofa

Home cinema system 

If you want true surround sound then it has to be a home cinema system. Speakers are positioned around the room to place you in the middle of the action. The most common option is a 5.1 system that has 5 speakers and a subwoofer for improving bass.

When watching football you’ll feel like you’re in the stadium – with the roar of the crowd, and the sound of the ball being struck coming from different directions.

You’ll get the best results from movies, TV shows, or sports events recorded or broadcast in Dolby Digital - which separates sound into different channels that are directed to each speaker. Look for the Dolby Digital logo in the TV guide or on the Blu-ray case.

How home cinema works:

  • Stereo speakers (2): sit to the left and right of your TV for accurate sound effects and action in stereo
  • Centre speaker (1): sits between the left and right speakers and is dedicated to dialogue

  • Rear speakers (2): are positioned behind the sofa at either side for atmospheric, suspenseful sound
  • Subwoofer (1): delivers deep bass sounds – and can be placed anywhere

Some home cinema systems even have Bluetooth so you can stream music wirelessly from your phone or tablet.

The best bits about home cinema

  • surround sound - feel like you’re in the middle of the action with speakers behind you
  • hear the movie as it sounds in the cinema with Dolby Digital
  • designed to get the best from Blu-ray discs
  • freedom to add more speakers to make it a 7.1 system
  • some systems have wireless speakers


What home cinema set up should I buy?

You can enjoy surround sound straight out of the box with the Sony BDV-E3100. This 5.1 home cinema system has everything you need - amplifier, speakers, cables and even a Blu-ray player.



You can boost your TV’s sound without having separate speakers dotted around the room, using a soundbar. But what is a soundbar?

It’s a slim, oblong bar that contains several speakers placed side-by-side. They give much better sound than your TV speakers, without taking up too much space. Enjoy stereo sound to the left and right of you – hear the roar of the crowd when watching the match. The clever, compact design can usually be wall-mounted below your TV, or placed beside it on a unit or stand. 

Want the best possible sound? Look at models with virtual surround sound, which bounces sound off the walls to create a surround sound effect. Also opt for a model with a separate wireless subwoofer; this creates deep bass sounds.

You can even steam Spotify from your phone or tablet if you opt for a soundbar with Bluetooth.

The best bits about soundbar

  • Clutter-free solution that takes up very little space
  • Simple one-cable set-up from your soundbar to your TV
  • True stereo sound to the left and right of you
  • Separate or built-in subwoofer for added bass
  • Stream music wirelessly from Spotify with Bluetooth


What soundbar should I buy? 

You get great sound and super-simple set up with the Samsung HW-J5650 soundbar. It comes with a separate, wireless subwoofer, and has Bluetooth for streaming music from your phone. Here's our guide on how to connect soundbar a to TV.

See our range of home cinema systems and soundbars, here.