There are many choices when choosing the best sound system for your home’s entertainment system. After you’ve chosen your big screen TV you’ll need to decide on how to best deliver the sound to your living room. Your first choice is sound bar versus centre channel speakers.
A sound bar is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a long rectangular box that houses all the components of the best speaker system. Generally, it sits right in front of your television screen.
Centre channel speakers are a surround sound system, and consist of many individual speakers placed around the room. The speakers connect to a centre channel that is generally placed behind the projection screen to give the allusion that that’s where the sound is coming from.
There are pros and cons of buying each type of speaker system. If you’re purchasing for a bar or restaurant you run, the rules may be a bit different. We’ll assist you in choosing the best speakers for your home theatre set-up. This guide will assist you in opening up your mind to different types of speakers. Each also requires a slightly different installation. And you’ll also be interested in learning about how the sound quality can differ for each type of system.
Benefits of a Sound Bar
There are some great benefits to purchasing a sound bar that you should note before making your choice.
The first is that installation is super easy and doesn’t require the services of a technician. You’ll find that the connectivity is also simple. The plugs snap into each component and you’re done. There are minimal wires to install, as you only have to connect a sound bar, and perhaps a subwoofer, rather than 4 or 5 speakers that have to be wired around a room.
Sleek, Modern Design
Today’s sound bars have a sleek design that works with the modern design of a living room. The sound bar can be installed below a TV screen on the wall, or simply sit in front of the screen on an entertainment unit.
A sound bar is also a good solution for the smaller apartment or a smaller living room that doesn’t have a lot of space.
Pretty Good Sound
The sound bar can also provide excellent virtual sound. This sound can mimic the surround sound experience without have several speakers scattered throughout the room. Many people who have small apartment living rooms are pleased with a sound bar speaker.
Sound bars are also a lot better than stereo speakers at anchoring dialogue to the centre of the screen. Unless you have your viewers sitting at the right spot for regular speakers, the dialogue may be all over the room.
People who watch a lot of drama movies may prefer to purchase a sound bar, as it will create a more uniform sound experience around the room.
And purchasing a sound bar is still going to be way better than only listening to sound through your tiny television speakers. It will make the sound from your TV stronger and clearer. If this is your goal, rather than having a complete surround sound experience, then you’ll be happy with the sound bar.
A good sound bar is going to cost from $200 and up. Most people who have a large flat screen TV are willing to spend some cash to buy the best speakers for their entertainment system, but may balk at the $400 price tag of 5.1 channel home theatre speakers.
Cons of a Sound Bar
There are some cons to using a sound bar rather than centre channel speakers. These may affect your decision to buy one or the other.
Bass Levels Will Suffer
A sound bar can’t recreate the bass levels as well as your traditional types of speakers. For this reason, many sound bar systems also come with a separate subwoofer.
If you’re watching dramas with a lot of dialogue you won’t miss the bass levels. But if you watch a lot of action adventure films, or musicals, you may wish to look at regular stereo speakers instead.
If you know you’re going to miss those bass levels, you may still need to purchase a separate subwoofer with a sound bar. This can increase your costs. Some of the Klipsch systems include a subwoofer with their speaker systems to make the purchase simpler for you.
Not the Best Choice for Larger Spaces
You’ll also need to take care in placing your sound bar and subwoofer. There may be specific sweet spots created around the room, making one seat more desirable than another. This means that you won’t get a complete surround sound system in your larger room. The sound bar may not work adequately for larger living rooms or recreation rooms.
A sound bar may be great for a single person in a smaller space, but not for a larger family in a bigger recreation room who will also be enjoying the speaker system.
A sound bar cannot be placed on the ground like speakers, or you’ll lose most of the sound. Your two choices are either wall-mounted, or on the entertainment stand in front of the TV. Some people may have neither of these spots available, so they may have to ditch their old furniture and buy a new entertainment unit so they can adequately set up a sound bar for the TV.
Benefits of Centre Channel Speakers
Your second purchase option for your home theatre system are centre channel speakers. These are for people who prefer the traditional style of speaker and enjoy doing the installation. There are benefits to installing centre channel speakers in your home.
Better Sound Experience
Buying centre channel speakers will give you a complete and full range surround sound experience, just like you can experience in a large theatre. Not only do you get to choose from five different types of speakers but you may also place the additional speakers in different locations, which will provide the most optimal acoustics.
For listeners who enjoy a lot of bass, you’ll get the maximum bass out of centre channel speakers. This may also be the best setup for the audiophile who wants only the best home theatre system presentation, and has also gone to the expense of purchasing a big screen TV and several comfortable arm chairs for their entertainment room.
For the Audiophile
Many people enjoy audio/video as a hobby. They enjoy shopping around and putting together a home theatre package. These people take their time with installation, and may even build their own home theatre system furniture. They’ll ensure that there are no wires showing, and that every seat in the room has the best sound experience. These types of people will shun the simplicity of a sound bar which is simply not good enough for them.
The Social Aspect
People who go to the expense of setting up a home theatre system with centre channel speakers are the ones who are more social. If you’re the type of person who enjoys watching the game with a large group, you’ll enjoy showing off your home theatre system to your friends.
If your sound bar breaks, you’re going to be left without a good source of sound, but if one of your speaker breaks on your centre channel speaker set, you’ll still have several others to use until you can get the broken one fixed. You can also replace one speaker at a time if you wish to upgrade. You’ll have the adaptability in upgrading and maintaining your speaker system.
Cons of Centre Channel Speakers
Centre channel speakers may not be for everyone. Here are some of the cons of buying this setup.
More Complex Installation
The time it takes to install centre channel speakers can be much longer than your simple plug-and-play sound bar. For people who aren’t technically-oriented, or people with mobility issues, they’re not going to want to spend time or effort on trying to get the system set up properly.
Besides the lengthier installation time it’s more expensive to not only buy centre channel speakers, but to install these types of speakers. Many people choose to hire a technician to install these types of speakers. There can be considerable costs associated with this as there is an hourly fee charged. You’ll also be at the mercy of their schedule and will have to wait for your speakers to be installed.
Suitable for Bigger Rooms
If you decide to buy the centre channel speakers you’re going to need to run wires from the receiver to each of the individual speakers. Not only do the speakers take up more space, but you’re going to have to find space for those wires, and a reliable way of tying them down so they don’t get tripped over, or look unsightly.
Many people conisder that bigger speakers means that they’ll be better. But while they may provide the looks to impress your friends, they can be deceiving too. Large speakers provide that loud eardrum pounding sound, which is great for a large room. However, a smaller sound bar or smaller speakers are still capable of providing good sound too.
Centre speakers may also be a poor choice for badly insulated apartment buildings. You run the risk of annoying your landlord and neighbours.
There can be greater costs associated with buying centre channel speakers. This is because there are five plus speakers required, which means more materials used to manufacture them. People who want a better surround sound experience will also be tempted to purchase the best speakers they can afford, and are more likely to spend hundreds of dollars, rather than the budget-conscious person who is happy with a $200 sound bar.
How to Choose Your Brand New Speakers
Whether you decide on a sound bar or centre channel speakers, there are some other considerations to take into mind before your purchase. You’ll need to consider performance standards. Your four main considerations are going to be: sensitivity, frequency response, power handling, and impedance.
The sensitivity is based on a speaker’s ability to convert the wattage or power, into decibels, or volume. Surprisingly, to get the higher sensitivity, the speaker needs less power to deliver great sound. You’ll want to check the sensitivity rating of a potential purchase.
The frequency response is based on the range of frequencies the average human ear can hear. Usually it lies from 20 to 20,000 hertz (Hz). It’s certainly possible to feel more than hear the lower frequencies, such as below 35 Hz. These come from the subwoofer. Check the frequency response range on any speakers you are checking out.
The power is in watts and is based on how much it can deliver before the speakers are toast. The higher the handling, the louder the speakers will be.
Impedance is the electrical resistance against the current flowing from the outputs. This will fluctuate as your speakers deliver sounds at varying frequencies. 8 ohms is normal, though you’ll see some as low as 4 ohms. Ensure that your receiver matches up for compatibility.
In the end, it will be up to your ears to choose the best speaker system. Listen to a few different types in your local electronics store and don’t be afraid to shop around. Always do your homework first before choosing the best speaker system. Review the specs and the performance standards for each system you are considering. Consider whether the pros and cons of the sound bar or centre channel speakers will work for or against your intentions of your home’s entertainment system. Now that you understand speaker features you’ll be able to make an informed decision for your room.
Whether you choose a sound bar or centre channel speakers, it really does come down to personal preference, as it’s you who will be listening to your home theatre system every day.