Sep 10, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Sound Bar v. Surround Sound

One of the first questions we ask when meeting a prospective home theater customer is, “why do you want surround sound”?  And one of the most common reasons today is the fact that the latest ultra-thin flat screen tvs provide an excellent picture  — but inadequate sound.

If improving the sound of your tv watching experience is the primary reason for investing in surround sound, we often suggest starting off with a pair of front speakers hooked into a  receiver.  Or even simply a “sound bar”.

Why? Just imagine an actual movie theater:  usually the ideal seating for listening to the several speakers is somewhere in the back center, but not right up against the back wall.  The theater has carpet (even though it’s probably easier to clean popcorn and soda off of linoleum).  The walls typically have some sort of fabric, and occasionally acoustic features.   Sound waves are absorbed more by soft surfaces.  Hard surfaces cause sound waves to bounce and echo.

Turning a large game room or bonus room into a home theater room is often a perfect solution for those weekend movie nights.   A carpeted room, with heavy, black-out drapes over any windows, and seating in the back third of the room.  This is where home surround sound is best.


But often we see the main tv location in a family room that opens, let’s say, into a kitchen, and has several windows with vinyl shutters, and hardwood or tile floor.  In this case, surround sound is not ideal.  It can still work, but the end result often falls short of the home theater room described above.
If your main purpose is to improve the quality of sound on that new 60” flat screen, try a couple of front speakers with a stereo receiver, or a sound bar.  We are certainly willing to sell you a full home theater system.  But a properly designed home theater installation takes into consideration the parameters of the room as well as your planned use of the room.



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