What home cinema set up is right for me?
Top-flight football and A-list movies demand the best sound quality. Your TV’s built-in speakers simply won’t cut the mustard. Upgrade with our guide to home cinema…
Slimmer TVs mean smaller speakers
The roar of the football crowd when a last-minute goal is smashed home. The stomp of a Tyrannosaurs Rex in the nineties classic Jurassic Park. The subtle beats and bleeps of a sci-fi movie set in outer space.
Sound is often just as important as the picture. To do it justice you need speakers capable of big, bassy and beautifully detailed sound.
But as TVs have become slimmer and more streamlined, the speakers inside them have gotten smaller. Smaller speakers have less oomph.
Give your TV the audio to match its sharp screen with a home cinema system.
What is a home cinema system?
A home cinema system is a set of speakers placed around your room to give you proper surround sound.
Cinematic sound with 5:1 Dolby Digital
For the authentic cinema experience it’s got to be 5.1. This has 5 speakers and 1 subwoofer – providing multi-layered surround sound.
5.1 home cinema is built for Dolby Digital Sound. The global standard for surround sound, these guys have been making you leap from your cinema seat for decades with sound effects from bombastic to subtle.
How does it work?
Movies watched through 5.1 systems sure sound sublime. Here’s how the magic happens. Sound is separated into channels, to send different parts of audio to each speaker. It’s all rather technical underneath the hood but these systems are super-simple to set up.
Where does each speaker go in a 5.1?
- Stereo speakers (2): placed to the left and right of the TV at the front – gives accurate sound effects
- Centre speaker (1): placed between the stereo speakers – gives clearer dialogue
- Rear speakers (2): placed behind you to create surround sound and put you in the middle of the action
- Subwoofer (1): delivers deep bass sounds – and can be placed anywhere
How to do it?
5.1 with an all-in-one
An all-in-one system is an easy way to get started.They include everything you need - amplifier, speakers, cablesand installation instructions.
5.1 with a sound bar and smart sound multi-room
Another easy option is to buy a sound bar that can connect wirelessly to smart sound multi-room speakers.
The sound bar is a slim rectangular box that sits beneath your TV and does the job of the stereo speakers in a 5.1 system.
The multi-room speakers can meanwhile be used as left and right rear speakers for surround sound. Add a wireless subwoofer for added bass. Because they’re wireless, there are no trailing cables to worry about.
Adding a new speaker is easy. Simply load up the app on your phone or tablet and tap your way through.
Bose, Sonos and Samsung sound bars can all be set up in this way, as they’re compatible with their own wireless speakers.
This is how it works with Bose:
- Mount the SoundTouch 300 sound bar beneath your TV
- Place 2 Virtually Invisible 300 speakers behind the sofa
- Addthe Acoustimass wireless subwoofer for bass
Blu-ray and home cinema – the perfect partnership
So we’ve covered the sound. But don’t forget the picture – it needs to look as good as the sound sounds (or something like that).
Blu-ray has always been the best way to watch movies on your TV. Original Blu-ray players were designed to get the best from the 2 million pixels packed into your HD TV.
When 4K TV rocked up with its 8 million pixels, Blu-ray kind of lost its mojo. Thankfully it’s back in the game with Ultra HD Blu-ray players and discs built for the 4 times sharper 4K TVs.
As well as 4 times the detail, they offer improved contrast and colour from HDR - a cutting-edge video technology that 4K Blu-ray unlocks. Ultra HD Blu-ray: Everything you need to know
Experience UHD Blu-ray in stunning colour with the Panasonic DMP-UB400 Blu-ray player