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…
Modern TVs are increasingly slim with less room for speakers, so there’s a clear case for boosting their sound. Start with a soundbar and then add wireless speakers to build a 5:1 home cinema system.
Start with a soundbar
The easiest way to boost your TV’s speakers is by adding a soundbar. What is a soundbar? These slim, oblong bars contains several speakers placed side-by-side. They give much better sound than your TV speakers – delivering stereo sound across the room for more immersive movie nights and the big game atmosphere for football and other sports.
Crucially they take up minimal space, and there are no trailing cables cluttering up your room. 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 that 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 stream Spotify from your phone or tablet if you opt for a soundbar with Bluetooth.
Why not try... Bose SoundTouch 300
Bose is well respected when it comes to home audio, with decades of innovation behind the brand.
Naturally its soundbar, the SoundTouch 300, is an excellent option. Combining wide, detailed sound with chic and compact design – it looks and sounds great.
Another option: Sonos is known for its multi-room speakers but its Playbar soundbar is excellent – with many 5-star reviews to its name
The soundbar that’s not a soundbar
If you want a soundbar but have no intention of wall mounting it, you may want to consider the Sonos PLAYBASE.
This reimagines the Playbar as a flat rectangular speaker that sits beneath your TV on its stand or unit.
Add speakers to create 5:1 home cinema
If you want true surround sound then add some additional speakers to your soundbar to create proper home cinema.
Hear the crowd all around you – and the roar of the car engines or thwack of the ball, as though you’re there in the stadium or track.
The most common option is a 5.1 system that has 5 speakers and a subwoofer for improving bass. You can now build 5:1 home cinema around your Bose or Sonos soundbar.
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
How to turn your soundbar into home cinema
The soundbar acts as the left and right stereo speakers in a 5:1 home cinema system. You then need to add rear speakers and a wireless subwoofer.
With Bose you can create a network of connected speakers around your home controlled through an app on your smartphone. The SoundTouch 300 is compatible with these wireless speakers.
Take the Virtually Invisible speakers. Small (under 10cm tall) but loud, these can be hooked up to your soundbar to create the rear right and left channels in a 5:1 home cinema set up.
For deep, room-shaking bass add the Bose Acoustimass 300. Setting up is super-easy too – they connect wirelessly to your soundbar in a few simple steps using the Bose app.
Another option? Sonos is a pioneer of connected audio. Take your Playbar or Playbase and add a pair of small Play:1 speakers and a Sub subwoofer.