Home Theater Speaker Options Explained

Not everyone in the market for a speaker upgrade knows exactly what they want or even what they need. The fact is the speaker market can be a little confusing and just because you know you want surround sound, you may not know what your options are and what is available to you.

What is a Soundbar?

Klipsch HD Theater SB 3 Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer

Pictured above: The Klipsch HD Theater SB 3 Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer

The sound bar is pretty much exactly as described. An elongated “bar” that produces sound by an array of various speakers located within the bar. A soundbar is a powered speaker, meaning it has a built in amplifier and needs to be plugged into the wall. It can be as basic as a tweeter on both ends which constitute a left and a right stereo channel. Or it can be complex with multiple speakers, eight, ten or even a dozen or more all of which work in unison to produce a symphony to the ears. They can be stereo only as previously mentioned or simulated surround sound. Add on a powered subwoofer speaker and you have a surround system but without the messy installation and speakers all over your room (pissed off wife alert!) That’s right, just a couple of quick connections to your tv and your ready to rock!

Key Benefits of the Soundbar

  • Easy to install
  • Cheaper than full systems
  • Smaller footprint

Surround Sound Systems

LG Home Theater Surround Sound System

Pictured above: The LG BH9430PW 1460W 3D Blu-Ray Theater System

While the soundbar is great for almost anyone and so simple to get started with, some audiophiles just need the full blown surround sound system. Even a cheap surround sound system can bring unbridled joy to any movie buff and make even the most boring tv achieve another level.
Surround sound speaker placement involves separate speakers for the center, left, right, left surround and right surround. From there, various manufacturers have expanded to a center surround, left and right surround arrays and additional front left and right channels. This is where the 5.1 or 6.1 or whatever .1 (meaning the surround sound subwoofer) come from.

Key Benefits of Surround Sound Systems

  • More immersive experience
  • Provides that movie theater “pop”
  • Can expand parts of the system anytime
    • Ability to add in wall surround sound speakers
    • Ability to add ceiling surround sound speakers

While a “surround sound system in a box” is a great way to get your feet wet and won’t set you back all that much money at some point you may want to put your own customer system together. This entails purchasing a few different pieces:

  • Home theater receiver – the heart and soul of the system
  • Bluray player – offers the best movie sound quality in our opinion
  • Speakers – center, left, right and surround speakers as well as a powered subwoofer.

If your still on the fence as to which way to go and put off a bit by the task of wiring all of these speakers to your receiver, there is also one other aspect worth mentioning. Also available in the surround sound category are wireless packages. Yep, just as it sounds, you can get the dream system you long for without the wiring headache. It’s a good alternative for the audiophile who wants that movie theater experience but wiring is out of the question for whatever reason. We do recommend the wired packages though if you can swing it since there will be a slight downtick in quality with the non wired counterparts.

If you want the absolute best quality sound, have a decent budget and don’t mind the installation then most definitely shoot for a surround sound system.  If you aren’t quite ready to break the bank and want something that is simple to install and almost unnoticeable, you need a soundbar.  No matter which one you choose though, it will definitely be a huge upgrade to your current blah tv speakers and add a whole new dimension to your movie viewing experience!

Click Here For The Best Rated Soundbars 2013!