Why do we go to a movie theater? We want entertainment with the full experience. You can get the biggest TV available, but chances are the speakers will not be as big as the screen. You're not willing to settle for a singularly lop-sided experience. So to get the most of your home theater, you will need to have movie theater-like surround sound.
For the optimum set-up, you have several choices, primarily surround sound or a sound bar. What are the differences?
The Surround Sound Experience
Surround sound is enriching the depth of sound reproduction by using multiple speakers that surround a listener. Pretty much like you would find in a movie theater. A home surround sound system will provide better audio than both a sound bar or your TV’s original speakers. The logic behind it is that when you are able to separate the origin of the sound (as most surround systems do), you are able to place the speakers in the most ideal place in the room for ideal acoustics. Since each speaker is its own sound compartment, it can be turned to face the direction that best optimizes the sound.
Think about an episode of The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon is trying to find the one seat in the movie theater that offers him an acoustic sweet spot. You can create that sweet spot right in your own media room if you arrange your speakers properly. More space between the speakers can potentially give you a feeling of being right there in the movie you’re watching. Whether that’s a good thing or not may depend on the movie. With surround sound, the audio goes directly from the speakers to the audience. So there is little need to be concerned with the size of the room or the absorption of the walls. Part of our professional installation process involves setting up a custom sweet-spot seating area through audio calibration.
Using a Sound Bar
A sound bar is a type of speaker that projects audio from a wide enclosure. This is usually mounted above or below a screen. Surround sound uses its many speakers to bring the sound in to the center of the room, or wherever you have it directed. A sound bar comes directly from the area of the television. The sound bar is a step up from the original speakers in your TV because it provides better quality along a greater distance.
Quality sound bars now have their speakers aligned in such a way that the sound is aimed at different points throughout the room. It's basically allowing it to bounce off the walls. In the right-sized room with smooth walls, the reflection of sound should give a similar sound to surround sound. Sound bars work best in small spaces. The sound waves travel to the wall first, and what’s not absorbed by the wall travels then to the audience.
In general, it is safe to say that a person choosing a sound bar is looking to upgrade the quality of the sound from the TV. If a person wants a truly better audio experience, they would probably invest in surround sound.
What to Expect with Surround Sound Equipment
You have decided that surround sound is the way to go for your media room. Now you still have several choices, which vary in affordability. Also, before making any appointments for installation, check to make sure your home isn’t already pre-wired. Many new homes or recent remodels include wiring for media rooms. You can look for blank plates, similar to light switches or plugs but without the openings, on the ceiling or walls. If you’re not sure, we can check for you. Then, you can choose from a variety of equipment options. Here are a few examples:
- Compact Subwoofer Speaker
A subwoofer is a vital component with the surround sound experience. Combine one with the rest of your speakers, and the bass you hear will become bass you feel. Try it with a movie like Jurassic Park and you will experience the movie on another level. Listen to music with it and you will truly feel the music as it beats in your chest.
- Multi-Piece Sound System
To really get the sound quality of a theater and not miss any sound detail that’s being played, you will want to look for a system that has multiple in-wall or in-ceiling speakers. Several configurations are possible, with the most popular being 5.1—4 speakers, center, subwoofer, and receiver—or 7.2 – 6 speakers, center, 2 subwoofers, and receiver. The best systems will have THX-certified, Dolby sound quality.
- Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 and Beyond
Of course, you pay for what you get. To get the most theater-like experience (or possibly even better than the theater!) you will likely be paying more. However, you reap the benefits in voice and tone clarity, deeper bass, and more precise sound reproduction, along with stronger, more efficient construction. Systems such as these produce sound that completely fills the room.
Where is that remote?
All systems discussed above come with remotes that are either wired to the hardware or wireless. With all the other remotes that go with your A/V equipment, you’re probably thinking, “Oh great. Another remote to get lost in the couch cushions.” However, one benefit you get from installing with Grand Slam is that we can consolidate all your systems into one remote … and that remote is on your phone. That’s right, no more getting lost in a pile of magazines. (Have we given you enough ideas yet where to look for your current lost remote?) Your audio system remote can be accessed by an app on the device that you always have with you.
No matter what sound system you choose to go with, you’re going to want to make sure you have an experienced professional planning it with you and installing it. At Grand Slam, we have 20 years of experience in servicing audio visual needs. Whatever you are looking to do in your home, we’ve probably already done it somewhere else. And if you aren’t sure what you would like to do, we can offer our advice from experiences we have seen and constructed before.
Other Smart Home Features for Your Media Room
While you are getting your sound system installed, you may also consider other aspects of your new media room to keep you up to date on the latest technology has to offer.
- Wanting to control the lights with a touch of your finger on the same app you are using for your TV and sound? We can do that.
- Don’t want to get up during the movie to adjust the thermostat, now that it feels ten degrees colder since your partner stole the blanket? You can do that from the app, too.
- Wondering what the kids are up to upstairs while you are watching Netflix downstairs? We can install CCTV around the house so you can be on top of everything. And yes, that can be accessed on the app as well.
- Not sure if it’s worth getting up to go get the door when the doorbell rings. You can see if it’s your friend or just a package being dropped off if you get our video doorbell installed. And if it’s your friend, you can let them on by controlling the wireless lock on the door through the app too.
Maybe it’s time to start watching movies like they were meant to be seen, in the comfort of your home, without a hundred other people making too much noise around you. Get the same quality of sound with a surround sound system planned and installed by the experts at Grand Slam A/V and Security. You may never go back to the theater again.