Home theater systems offer more than just visual entertainment: they also immerse audiences into stories with immersive audio that brings movies to life.
Speakers built into your television are great for casual use, but a dedicated surround sound system will deliver an even richer audio experience. There’s plenty to consider and the full setup may require moving some furniture around; but don’t expect it to cost an arm and a leg!
7.1 Surround Sound
Home theater surround sound systems should deliver an engaging audio experience for home cinema audiences, which is why it is crucial to consider your audio setup when purchasing a new television or receiver.
One of the most widely-used surround sound setups is 5.1, which uses five speakers to simulate noise coming from all directions – like what movie theaters use.
7.1 setups include two additional rear speakers to provide a more realistic audio experience, at an increased cost compared to its more affordable 5.1 counterpart. They offer deeper, fuller sounds.
Klipsch offers one of the finest home theater packages on the market; their RP-8000F model being an outstanding example. This package contains two floorstanding speakers from Klipsch as well as an AV receiver for optimal 7.1 surround sound experience at home; even Dolby Atmos systems cannot compare!
Dolby Atmos allows your home theater to create an immersive three-dimensional soundscape. Unlike stereo and 5.1 surround, Dolby Atmos adds height channels that recreate sounds coming from above you – these ceiling speakers can also be found on JBL soundbars with support for Dolby Atmos!
Dolby Atmos creates an amazing experience, vastly surpassing that of its predecessor 7.1 surround sound. For optimal results, seven ear-level speakers and four overhead are recommended; however, Dolby Atmos works equally well regardless of speaker configurations used.
Since 2012, numerous films have been released with Dolby Atmos sound technology and more is currently being made this way. You’ll find Dolby Atmos content on Ultra HD 4K Blu-rays as well as Netflix (with Premium subscription), Disney+ and BT Sport Ultimate services.
Many AV receivers and surround sound processors that support Dolby Atmos come equipped with built-in room calibration software. This program utilizes a measurement microphone to analyze how well your speakers fit within their designated home theater environment by emitting test tones or pink noise and recording their results with the microphone, producing a frequency response graph which highlights any peaking or dipping caused by speaker positioning or other factors within your theater space.
Calibration software then uses this information to correct anomalies, striving for an even and balanced frequency response with a flat profile. This is especially important when mounting speakers on ceilings which often result in higher-than-intended frequency response values.
Some of the most popular calibration systems offer presets and multiple profiles to allow you to easily tailor them to suit your personal listening preferences. Others, such as SoundID Reference and IK Multimedia’s ARC System 3, work with third-party measurement microphones for additional customization options.
A sound bar is a single enclosure containing speakers that eliminates the need for surround speakers. A good soundbar makes spoken dialogue easier to comprehend, adding depth and clarity to music videos and movies. Some models even come equipped with subwoofers for deeper bass sounds; other models support Dolby Atmos with upfiring speakers that create the sense of height.
The ideal soundbars are slim, elegant and straightforward to set up. Many models are specifically tailored to fit under a flatscreen TV screen and usually connect wirelessly and work with existing remote controls; some even boast smart features like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant built-in.
The Sonos Arc is currently the best soundbar on the market, boasting Dolby Atmos compatibility, an advanced music ecosystem, and built-in voice assistant support. Pair it with a Sonos Sub for cinematic movie-watching without taking up space with extra speakers; its sleek angular design fits neatly beneath any TV for a clean minimalist aesthetic.