For most people, the best home theater systems provide an excellent balance of good quality sound and easy installation. The way many modern sound bars get the sound from your TV is via an HDMI ARC connection. HDMI ARC allows the TV to send the audio down the HDMI cable into your sound bar.
If you have an older TV, you might not have an HDMI ARC connector. HDMI, yes, but maybe not the ARC version , which is newer. IN this case, you might need a system that has an optical connection which is more common on older TVs. The main advantage of an all-in-one system is that you will be getting an amplifier and speakers designed to work well together.
You don’t need to worry about matching the speakers with the amplifier. And, you don’t need to be concerned with many of the technical details which confuse many people.
A complete package will usually include all the extras required to get it all up and running. Like speaker wire, for example. However, you may want to double-check this, as some may not.
Most sound bar speakers are about 40 inches or longer, and can be mounted on the wall or placed on a shelf above or below a TV. Some models, often from the same brand as your TV, are designed to fit between the TV’s legs. For larger TVs, consider a wider model for a wider stereo image (the spatial location of the sound). For smaller TVs, consider one that’s no wider than the screen.
Sound bars can have anywhere from two to five or more speakers in the main enclosure. Some have drivers that angle outward toward the sides of the room to create a broader sound environment. Models that support Dolby Atmos or DTS:X 3D audio typically also have up firing speakers to create a sense of height. Many sound bars come with a wireless subwoofer that you can put almost anywhere in a room, even out of sight. If you’ll be placing the sound bar on the TV stand, make sure there’s enough room in front of the set, and check to see that the sound bar isn’t so tall that it will block the remote control’s line of sight to the TV. If you’re using the sound bar only for listening to your TV, you can go for a low-priced, no-frills model that has at least decent sound quality. It will be a step up from almost any TV’s built-in sound. But if you want to use the sound bar for music as well as TV, we recommend a model with very good or excellent sound quality. Many sound bars offer multichannel audio, but a few newer models now also support Dolby Atmos and/or DTS:X, the two newest surround-sound formats. Both are “object based” audio technologies, where sound engineers are able to place sounds almost anywhere in a listener’s environment during the recording and mixing process.
Both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X try to map sound effects, or “objects,” in a three-dimensional space. Dolby Atmos, which was initially developed for movie theaters, does this by adding the element of height to a surround-sound setup. In sound bars, this is achieved by using up firing speakers that bounce sound off the ceiling toward your listening position. This can create overhead sound effects, such as a plane flying above you and then disappearing in the distance. Several sound bars come with rear speakers to create a true surround-sound experience. Often these speakers connect via wires to a wireless subwoofer or amplifier, so they aren’t completely wireless, but they don’t require wires running from the sound bar to the back of a room. Most, but not all, subwoofers are powered, with their own built-in amps; these models must be plugged into an electrical outlet. A powered subwoofer often provides more control over bass.