Q: I want to get better sound with my TV. What are my options?
A: There are several different types of TV sound systems available, ranging from a single-speaker sound bar to full multi-speaker surround sound systems. Any one of these options can turn your room into a great listening space. Ask us for ways to get better sound with your TV to determine which option makes the most sense for you.
Q: I want to get the most detailed, realistic surround sound I can. What are my best options?
A: If you're looking for top-notch surround sound, you'll definitely want a multi-speaker system. Pre-matched surround sound systems are one way to go. These generally include a DVD player, two to five speakers, and a subwoofer, and are a good choice if you have a very limited amount of space. But for the best performance, you'll want to build a custom surround sound system out of separate components that you buy individually. Assembling a system yourself typically allows you to select a more powerful receiver and better-quality speakers. While it may take more time, effort, and know-how to select separate gear, we've found that a lot of folks enjoy the added power and performance of a custom-built system.
Q: I've heard that some single-speaker "sound bars" can create surround sound. How is that possible without rear speakers?
A: While some sound bars only deliver stereo sound, others create virtual surround sound. Now, they can't give you the same precise, enveloping sound you'd get from a system with five or more speakers. But they can offer more engaging audio than your TV speakers and give you a more complete sound experience. Most sound bars with virtual surround sound use special processing that controls timing and volume to make sound effects seem like they're coming from different directions.
Q: How do I know which speakers to choose for my surround sound system?
A: There are many choices when it comes to home theater speakers, and you'll want to be sure that your speakers work well together and with your receiver. Consider purchasing speakers that are voice-matched, which means the speakers produce similar tonal quality and share the same harmonic characteristics. The best way to accomplish this is to choose speakers from the same "family" of speakers, by the same brand. Also, make sure that your receiver has enough power for the speakers you'll be using. The sensitivity of your speakers will help you determine whether a receiver is a good match — lower sensitivity ratings indicate power-hungry speakers that will require more "juice" from your receiver to produce the same volume as speakers with higher sensitivity ratings.
Q: I'm putting together my own home theater system. How should I budget my money and what should I look for?
A: Putting together a home theater system can be tricky if you don't know where to begin. There are several components that go into a home theater system. By planning what you'll need in advance, you won't have to put less into your speakers because you ran out of money or forgot to pick up the little things, like cables, and then run over budget. As a broad rule of thumb, plan on spending more on your audio system (receivers, speaker, and cables) then you did on your HDTV.
Q: I've noticed that some surround sound systems come with "wireless rear speakers." How can speakers be wireless?
A: Surround sound systems with wireless rear speakers use wireless transmitters and receivers to send signals from your home theater receiver to the rear speakers. This means you won't have to run cables from the front of your room to the back of the room. You will, however, have to power the speakers and pass audio signals to them. That's typically accomplished using a small amplifier placed near your rear speakers. The small amp plugs into a wall outlet and then connects to the left and right rear speakers with speaker wire. So the rear speakers aren't completely "wireless," but they're still a great solution if you're looking to run fewer wires around your room to keep your system looking neat.
Q: I've heard that I can play music from my iPod®, satellite radio, and computer on my home audio system. How can I do that
A: Home audio systems provide more than just great sound for your favorite movies, TV shows, and video games. They can also play music from many of today's popular sources. Here's a quick breakdown of the kinds of musical extras you can attach to some home theater receivers and systems. Satellite radio is one of the fastest growing forms of listening entertainment out there — you can add it to a compatible system by purchasing a tuner, antenna, and a subscription to the service of your choice. iPod® integration has also become more common. Add a compatible dock and you'll be able to listen to your iPod's music through your audio system. You can access music from your PC using a network-enabled receiver, an Xbox 360 or PS3, or by adding a wireless music player, which connects to your receiver's A/V inputs.
Q: How will I get the best audio performance from my system?
A: Use the best audio connections you can. Your home audio system or components might come with some stereo/RCA cables. In some cases, this may be the only connection available to you. But if you want to get full surround sound, you'll need to use digital audio cables, either optical, coaxial, or HDMI. These cables send the digital signal directly from your DVD player to the receiver, ensuring high-quality sound that will let you experience movies the way the director intended.