Home-cinemas have become increasingly popular since Blu-ray entered the market. The majority of Blu-ray disks are programmed with 5:1 digital audio, which when paired with 5:1 sound systems gives you the best possible sound quality – as close as you will get to cinema sound in your own home.
Most typical arrangements will include a DVD or Blu-ray player as part of the package, unless you are buying each component separately. They will also tend to include a receiver, a subwoofer (for bass) and additional speakers which can be placed around the room for a surround sound effect.
There are three types of speaker-systems that are typically used to form a home-cinema experience. These are:
These systems encapsulate the speakers, amplification and sound decoding technology in one neat unit, which is usually placed under or next to the TV. With these systems, the DVD or Blu-ray player does not usually come as part of the package – it would be bought separately. With minimal wiring to tidy away, these home systems are a simple and often cost-effective solution to improve your sound.
The clue is in the name – 2:1 systems use 2 speakers and a subwoofer to create a surround sound experience. They are a great option if you are looking for immersive sound, but only have a small living room or viewing space at home. Some 2:1 systems come with a Blu-ray player, but not all – this varies from model to model.
The next level up from a 2:1 is a 5:1, which typically includes 6 speakers in addition to a subwoofer. If you’re serious about getting a really top quality experience, then opting for 5:1 systems is worth your while, as all the best sound formats use 5:1 channels. You have more speakers to play with, which means you can position them strategically around the room to get the best effect. Most include a Blu-ray player, but not all.
Rather than going for a full sound-system, some simply choose to amplify the sound of their TV by choosing a soundbar. These long, slim boxes are unobtrusive and offer high quality sound that is designed to mimic a surround sound experience. They are usually placed near or underneath the TV and are a great option for those with limited space or budget.
What features are important to you? Will you opt for an all-in-one-system or a fully built-out 5:1 or 9:1-system? Let us know why in the comments below.