In the home cinema world there are two main sound options: the soundbar or a surround sound system (usually 5.1, i.e. 6 speakers). If you're trying to put together the best home cinema in your living room, which of these two options should you choose? Keep reading to find out more. Why Soundbars Have Become So Popular Traditional surround sound speakers are composed of a number of elements, including speakers designed to be placed behind you. In order to do so, you'll usually need to run wires across your living room, or pay more money for a wireless set of speakers. This isn't ideal in many living rooms, depending on the layout of your room and how much effort you want to put into the setup. Soundbars have been developed as a way to deal with this problem. They are composed of a long, slim bar that can simply be placed above or below your television screen. All elements of the surround sound speaker system are housed within the bar itself (though you'll need a separate subwoofer for bass tones). The Difference Between Real And Virtual Surround Sound The key difference between soundbars and surround sound speakers is the fact that the former creates "virtual" surround sound through clever engineering. All of the required speakers are housed within the one slim bar, and are projected at different angles so they bounce around the room. This makes it appear as though the sounds are coming from different angles, even if they all originate directly in front of you. Soundbars also make use of clever audio delays and volume controls to fool our brains into thinking we're hearing sounds from certain locations. Surround sound speakers, on the other hand, are literally placed all around us. We hear the sound coming from behind us because we've placed the speaker directly behind us. Although some soundbars can mimic this very successfully, they work best in square rooms with a standard TV-to-couch positioning (where the couch isn't far from the back wall). Surround sound speakers, on the other hand, can be placed exactly where you want them, making for a better overall experience. Which Should You Choose For The Best Home Cinema Setup? For some, the best home cinema setup means top quality sound, in which case you should opt for true surround sound rather than a soundbar. That said, for most of us there are usually other factors at play. Perhaps you don't want to fiddle around with cabling, or you want the ease of use of a soundbar? If this is the case, then a good quality soundbar will most definitely sound a lot more immersive than your standard TV speakers.
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