SURROUND SOUND SYSTEMS
The integration of surround sound systems into our home entertainment has become hugely desirable, with that all engulfing cinema style sound available in your own living room .
The era of large screen televisions and high definition content has resulted in the standard stereo speakers on the TV simply not being able to do any justice to the high quality image being presented.
A dedicated surround sound system will transform how you experience your films, games, and streaming services audio, and is arguably as important an upgrade to your entertainment system as the television itself.
BEST SOUND SYSTEM FOR TV
Since TVs became flat, the space for what traditionally were fairly large speakers has vanished, and along with it any hope of a really decent audio performance from the TV on its own.
Many will opt for a soundbar, which is a great way to add on more volume in a simple unit, and these are often supplied with a subwoofer too for the low end bass. They come in a large selection of specifications, from budget stereo only models to the higher end digital multi speaker surround designs.
All in one systems remain popular, with an amplifier unit and small surround speakers. These units usually incorporate a Bluray player or Smart TV functions and can be a great option for smaller living rooms and bedrooms on a budget.
For true surround sound though, the experience of a multi channel receiver and hifi type speakers simply cannot be compared, and for many will be the only route to take in order to be truly satisfied with the performance.
SURROUND SOUND AUDIO
5.1 Channel ?, 7.1? Dolby Atmos ?! What does it all mean
It’s quite simple really, with the numbers referring to speaker channels in a standard room placement layout.
A standard surround sound layout assumes a square shaped room with television central to the front wall. The main vocal channel is always labelled as 1, and must be located as near to the eyeline of the screen as possible for best results.
Surround channels 2 and 3 will be the front left and front right speakers, which are considered the main audio channels, and can often be seen as floor standing speakers in more enthusiastic home cinema setups.
Surround channels 4 and 5 are rear left and rear right speakers for effects, and that makes up a 5 channel system, with the number following the decimal point denoting the amount of subwoofer units present. So a classic 5.1 system is 3 front speakers, 2 rear speakers, and a sub bass speaker.
The latest version of the multi channel audio format is Dolby Atmos, which adds in both depth channels and height channels to the processing. This can be presented in 7 channel, or even 9 or 11 channel in professional installations, and often with dual subwoofers.
INSTALLATION SURROUND SOUND SYSTEMS
Using a separate home cinema amplifier and home cinema speakers does not limit your use of a larger smart home audio system, as it can easily be integrated with use of a smart hub adapter such as the TIBO Bond.
The TIBO Bond connects to the line input of the amplifier and allows it to become part of the wider app controlled WiFi network, so you can stream all your albums and playlists through the app to your system, making use of its higher power and subwoofer.
Standard audio from both music and television will playback in standard stereo, though all home cinema amplifiers include simulated surround modes which allow you to use all the speakers in the system even from a 2 channel stereo source.
SURROUND SOUND SPEAKERS
The choice of speakers for a home cinema installation depends greatly on several factors, with budget obviously, but often more importantly the desired performance levels, and the aesthetic appearance overall.
Ceiling speakers can be perfect for surround sound applications, with their discreet mounting and wide sound spread great for larger rooms. Surround channel audio doesn’t require lots of volume either, so ceiling speakers offer a great compromise of stealth versus overall quality.
Q Acoustics range of in-wall speakers are the midway between a ceiling speaker and a bookshelf speaker unit, offering hi-fi quality audio reproduction from stylish speakers that fit flush into the wall. They are the ideal performance option for a professional home cinema sound experience, allowing excellent room placement and uncluttered looks.
Also from industry leaders Q Acoustics, their large range of bookshelf speakers, floorstand speakers and hifi subwoofers are available in pre-packaged 5.1 surround systems, or as individual units for creating unique or larger audio systems in the home.
SURROUND SYSTEM PERFORMANCE
For a system that’s put in place for those casual movie nights, and will spend most its time just making the TV sound louder, a surround sound system can be installed on a fairly tight budget.
A ceiling speaker installation, with the addition of a subwoofer can be more than enough for some requirements, giving the surround effect when called for, but just remaining invisible the rest of the time.
These types of ‘TV through the stereo’ setups can even be operated from a standard amplifier should you not want the full on effects side of things, though this can be upgraded later as long as the installed speakers are wired correctly to allow it.
For the full Dolby experience though, you will need to to follow the required minions of speaker numbers and placements, and have an amplifier or receiver capable of the audio decoding and channel distribution, such as those from Denon or Yamaha for example.
The volume capabilities of the system will depend both on the amplifier and the speakers you select, as will of course the overall sound quality, both with movies and normal music.