4 Different ways to get surround sound in your home.
1.) The Soundbar
This is probably the fastest and easiest way to add a surround sound-ish system to your home. Why do I say surround sound-ish? Well because a sound bar does not actually have side or rear speakers, so it is surround-ish. While some units like the Yamaha DSP series attempt to create the sound of additional speakers; they cannot be completely convincing. Other units like the B&W Panorama are designed to provide very good sound quality but really only posses a Left, Center, Right type of configuration; there is no real attempt made to sound like there are side or rear speakers. Most of these types of solutions do have or provide a sub woofer output so you can add bass and get a fuller sound. These types of units are for situations where adding side or rear speakers are either very undesirable or impossible. A sound bar will give you much better sound than what is built into your television, and give you added volume but it is definitely not real Surround Sound system.
2.) The Home-Theater-In-A-Box
The HTIB is supposed to be a step up from the Sound Bar approach as it will typically have side or rear speakers included. There is a very big however included in this sentence. Most HTIB systems are really designed to be very inexpensive or to ultimately be given away with TV’s. So what does this really mean? It means that although there are more speakers in a HTIB the quality of the speakers and electronics is generally pretty poor, resulting in your taking the time to run wires to the back of your room and still ending up with a pretty disappointing outcome. In fact I would go so far as to say that as a rule I would probably recommend a good sound bar over a typical HTIB. Yes I am sure there are some good HTIB systems out there at some price points, but if you think that is the case please read on.
3.) A Receiver based Home Theater System
Ok, now it is getting interesting. At this point you are starting to look at some good stuff. Please keep in mind that a system based around an A/V Receiver and speaker package from Ask the Advisors could easily sell for $649.00 or so, and that includes products from companies like Klipsch and Yamaha. So this is not all about money. In fact you may spend the same or less here than you could on a Sound Bar or an HTIB. The big advantages here include a few things, like getting to pick speakers you like the sound of that are made by speaker manufacturers. Picking an A/V Receiver that has the features you want or need for your home. Not having to buy everything from one company, because believe it or not most companies do not do everything well. Big receiver companies are rarely good speaker companies, most TV manufacturers should not try to make and sell speakers at all, etc., etc. You see here we are doing the product decisions a-la-cart. You do not have to take what is in the box, you get to decide what is important to you and with our help design the system you want. I will also go so far as to say that this approach dollar for dollar will give you the best sound for your money. These systems are also easy to upgrade and add additional components to; which many HTIB systems are not. So if you are looking for the best bang for the buck and we can run wires for the sides and/or rear speakers this is a better way to go.
4.) A Separates based system
This is the Holy Grail of A/V Systems. Here we are going to choose a Pre-Amp Processor, a separate Amp or Amplifiers, and the Speakers and Sub Woofer to make our room really sing. This type of system has the very best sound and picture, the most flexibility and the most upgradeability of all the types discussed here. Here we are going to look at brands like B&W, Klipsch, Snell and Aerial Acoustics speakers, not to mention sub woofers from all of the previously mentioned companies but also from Velodyne and JL Audio, Rotel, Classe, McIntosh, Marantz and Integra Electronics, and more than likely an RTI Home Theater Master Remote Control to make it all easy to use. This is also going to be the most expensive of the 4 approaches, but if the ultimate in Sound and Image quality is your goal this is the place to be. Needless to say we at Ask the Advisors also carry a wide range of products in this category, and have the people to help you decipher the differences and choose the system that will full fill your desire.
Hopefully this little primer on the 4 main approaches to A/V System nirvana is helpful. Of course we are always happy to answer questions and play equipment for you at the shop. So come on in, get a demonstration of whichever products you are interested in and then go home set it all up and enjoy, or have us do the install and then enjoy.
Ask Ron About Surround Sound