What Are Your Options for Better Sound in Your TV Rooms?
Let’s face the facts: You’re not going to get great sound out of your TV speakers. Manufacturers have been improving picture quality on TVs for years. We used to have old tube TVs, then flat screens came out, 720P, 1080P High Definition, 4K and now you’re even seeing 8K TVs. So why aren’t they focusing on the actual speakers and sound on the TV? What options are available if you did want to get better sound in the rooms you watch TV? What does 5.1 or Atmos mean? Let’s break it all down and see what’s best for you.
Let’s face it, speakers built into TVs suck!! How many times have you tried turning up the volume on your TV and the volume at 40 sounds similar to 90 or even the full 100. It sounds like the speaker is in a tin can and generally it’s a very common complaint that we hear from people. So the question is, why do all the manufacturers like Sony, Samsung, LG etc. keep improving the picture quality on TVs but don’t seem to be focusing at all on the sound quality? There could be multiple reasons such as:
- TVs keep getting thinner so it’s difficult to install better quality speakers
- The speakers in these TVs are very small
- You can’t really showcase that in advertising because it’s not something you see
- They make their own soundbars and speakers they want you to buy as addons
- They know many people might have their own solution for sound so the speakers are useless to them anyway.
What Options are available to you?
What options are available for you to get better sound in the rooms you love to watch TV the most? We’ve listed a few here.
You can start small and get yourself a soundbar. A sound bar is a speaker that is typically underneath your TV. It can be sitting on a stand or it might have the option to have it mounted on the wall (most do). We typically don’t recommend sound bars made from the TV manufacturers because they’re usually not that impressive either, unless you go for their more premium models. If you’re going to choose a sound bar, you should look into the better options available out there. Sonos, Paradigm, Bluesound, Bose, Klipsch to name a few make some great options that we recommend to our clients.
The way to choose is to ask yourself first, “Why do I want a sound bar?” Is it just to get better sound while watching TV or do you also want to be able to play music from it when the TV is not being used? If you’re just using it for better sound from your TV, then you don’t need to worry about some of the extra features that are advertised. We really like the Sonos Beam sound bar. It is small, sounds great, allows you to connect to your favorite music service, you can play music from your phone and even has voice services like Google Home and Amazon Alexa built in. They only downfall is that is comes with no other accessories. You can, however, purchase a wireless subwoofer and even surround speakers and have the full home theater experience if you’d like, and these options sound great. They sound great but there are other options that are higher quality sound. If you’re looking for something that is a nice soundbar and already includes a wireless subwoofer then Klipsch is a great option to look at.
You might have heard terms such as surround sound, 5.1, Dolby Digital, DTS or Atmos. Unless you’re generally into AV there’s a good chance you don’t even understand what those terms mean. Let me break down those commonly used terms.
Surround sound- Typically means that there are speakers all around the room. Surround speakers are the speakers that are either to the side of you or behind you. You would also have at least 3 speakers around your TV or projector at the front of the room.
5.1- This is a surround sound mode. The 5 means five speakers in the room and the .1 is the subwoofer. You might hear terms such as 7.1 or 5.2, the 7 means seven speakers and in the 5.2, the .2 means there are 2 subwoofers. Rule of thumb is this (Amount of speakers in the room) 5.1 (Amount of subwoofer)
Dolby Digital and DTS- These are different surround modes that your favorite movies are typically mixed in. Both Dolby Digital and DTS are different companies but they use the same formats (5.1, 7.1 etc) depending on the studio and who made the movie depends on which one they use. All receivers typically can understand both sound modes.
Atmos or DTS-X- This is one of the newest surround sound modes created by Dolby and has been one of the biggest innovations to sound in a long time. Atmos adds additional speakers and is mixed completely differently so it sounds more realistic. With Atmos you might hear terms such as 5.1.2 or 7.2.4 and what this means is once again, the amount of speakers and their positioning or purpose. 5.1.2 means 5 speakers (same as before). 1 subwoofer and Atmosphere speakers. Best way to achieve Atmos is to add speakers into your ceiling. You can either have 2 that are slightly in front of your seating area or 4 which is 2 in the front and 2 behind the seating
Which option is best for you?
We know that there are options, so which one is best for you? It all depends on your room and what you’re looking to achieve. If you are just looking for better sound with whatever you’re watching on TV, then a soundbar is a great option to look into. If you want more of a Theater feel and experience then maybe some form of surround sound is the better option, but you need to analyze your room to see what’s even possible. This is where we can come in. We get many calls from where the potential client isn’t even sure what to do because they don’t know what is realistically possible. We service the Greater Toronto Area including Mississauga, Oakville, Toronto, Brampton, Milton, Burlington, Hamilton, and more. It’s always best if you’re about to start some form of renovation as we don’t want you to see any wiring either and would love to hide it inside the walls, but we understand that’s not always possible. Here’s a few things to think about;
- Types of speakers - are you looking for traditional tower speakers? Do you have the room and floor space?
- Would you prefer smaller speakers or thin low profile speakers?
- Do you even want to look at the speakers? Maybe good quality in-wall or in-ceiling speakers are the better option.
- Where will the equipment be located? You will need to have the AV Receiver somewhere as that’s what the speakers are connected to. Same with your Cable or Satellite box and media players and video game systems.
- Do you want your equipment located directly underneath the TV, off to the side in a corner of the room or even completely hidden away and out of sight such as a mechanical room?
Start doing some research as early as possible. Sticker shock is very common as most people have no idea how much a full system can cost especially when you want something better than just “entry level”. Don’t make the planning and budgeting of your AV an afterthought. Include it in every stage of your planning, and contact us if you need some help.