Soundbars enhance your TV experience

In many homes, summer time is movie time. Here’s how you can make your television deliver better sound.

More and more people are buying soundbars, easier to install than home theatre systems.

Surround-sound movie viewing has come home. Movie enthusiasts are setting up home theatre systems for a fulfilling entertainment experience.

A home theatre set-up can be inexpensive, unless you are looking for audiophile sound.

You can buy a set of 5.1 home theatre speakers for as little as Rs 3,000-4,000. 

But then, setting up a dedicated home theatre room requires planning and a lot of equipment. You could end up spending lakhs on it. 

Some people don’t like the idea of having speakers all over the room. A solution for them is the soundbar. 

A soundbar is a narrow rectangular, horizontally placed, loudspeaker and has two or three speaker drivers. Equipped with a built-in amplifier, it comes with various power output specifications.

Soundbars with amps are called active. Those without in-built amplifiers are called passive soundbars and require an external amplifier.

Needless to say, active soundbars are more convenient as the amplifier and speaker come in one compact package.

A general rule is to buy a more powerful soundbar for a bigger room.

Manufacturer websites and retailers can recommend the optimal amplifier power for your room. 

Old CRT television sets were big and had enough space for good quality speakers that fired directly.

Quite often, today’s LED TVs don’t have the best of speakers. With TV bezels becoming smaller and smaller, the internal speakers have to be placed on the sides or at the bottom.

This does not always give the best sound as the speakers are firing away from the viewers. Soundbars come in helpful in such a situation. They can be connected to the TV set via Bluetooth, HDMI, optical or even a 3.5 mm audio cable. 

As soundbars have small speakers, the bass (low-frequency sounds) may not be that great. In order to compensate for that, audio manufacturers have begun to pair them with subwoofers.

While the main soundbar takes care of the middle and high frequency music reproduction, the subwoofer takes care of the low frequencies, which is where the thunderous sound is. 

Such soundbars often have three speakers to represent the left, centre and right channel speakers, like in a regular home theatre system. 

To take advantages both from the soundbar and the stereo system, some manufacturers produce soundbar hybrids with left, centre, and right speakers and rear left and rear right speakers that are connected wirelessly.

Digital technology has made its way into almost every gadget we use in our daily lives.

Slightly more advanced soundbars have digital signal processing (DSP) that can give the feeling of surround sound in a room.

This sounds good, but cannot really replicate the sound of a dedicated home theatre speaker system. 

Soundbars come for as little as Rs 1,000. Those from reputed brands begin at Rs 4,500 on e-commerce websites and go up to Rs 80,000. 
 

Here are some soundbars you could audition

Yamaha YAS-108

This model has two woofers, two dome tweeters as well as two built-in subwoofers. The output power is 120W for the woofers and tweeters and 60W for the subwoofer. Connectivity is through HDMI, optical, 3.5 mm audio and Bluetooth. There is also a subwoofer out port. The price is around Rs 18,000.

Mi Soundbar

This inexpensive unit from Mi features two woofers, two dome tweeters and four passive radiators.

Apart from Bluetooth connectivity, this soundbar has optical, S/PDIF, RCA and 3.5mm audio input options.
This costs Rs 4,999 on the Mi website.

JBL Bar Studio

This has a power output of 30W and has two woofers and two tweeters. Connectivity can be through 3.5mm audio jack, optical, Bluetooth, USB or HDMI. It is priced at Rs 7,999 on the JBL website.

Bose Soundbar 700

This premium soundbar has connectivity options in USB, HDMI output with Audio Return Channel (ARC), Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC), Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) and optical TOSlink. It has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity and also Alexa, the voice-interactive digital assistant, built in. The set is supplied with a remote control. The price is Rs 79,000 online.

Samsung HW-K350

This is a 2.1 soundbar, and that means a separate subwoofer is supplied. The total power is 150W. Connectivity options include USB, Bluetooth, optical and 3.5 mm stereo jack. There is also a remote control. The price is about Rs 11,000 online.

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