TV sound enhancement - what to buy

man lying on sofa watching tv...

Television technology has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, with super HD, curved screens and 3D available for avid viewers. The question is whether that fabulous picture quality is matched by the sound. If you're in the market for a little sound enhancement to round off your in-home viewing experience, here are some of the options available.

Sound bars
If you're tight for space and can do without the hassle of hiding metres of cabling around your living room, a sound bar offers a space-saving solution that will still give your TV that extra boost of audible quality. Small and sleek, and able to fit with your wall-mounted flatscreen TV, many offer built-in amplification, which means all you'll need is a couple of cables and a subwoofer to add bass. Some higher-end models even include a subwoofer, making it even easier to set up. Though you won't feel quite like you're at the cinema, the tech folks behind the more expensive options have done their best to create a three-dimensional sound field.

Stereo speakers
Stereo speakers provide a step up from a sound bar, but are equally useful for those who are limited when it comes to space. They also offer a degree of flexibility, since you can choose floor-standing, wall-mounted or bookshelf speakers and place them where you'll get the best feeling of surround sound. You can also add a subwoofer for more depth at a later date if you so wish. In terms of wiring, at least you'll only have a limited number to think about, and if the speakers are placed close to the TV you won't need to worry too much about hiding the cabling.

Surround sound packages
Great for medium-sized living rooms, many of the major names in TV tech now offer surround sound packages, which typically provide five compact speakers, including a subwoofer, and a control centre, often with a built-in DVD or Blu-ray player. The latest offerings also include added extras such as iPod docks, speaker add-ons and movie streaming.

The compact speakers and control centre mean you can enjoy a real surround sound experience even in a smallish room, and though there are obviously more wires to contend with than the previous two options, these package sound systems are easy to set up, and some models come with wireless connectivity for rear speakers.

Build your own surround sound
For a true home cinema experience, a system built from separate components is the way to go. By building your own system, you can choose between five and seven separate speakers that can vary in size depending on the space available, add a subwoofer, and really fill a large room with that cinematic wraparound sound.

The latest home cinema receivers offer a range of capabilities too, allowing you to connect games consoles, Blu-ray or DVD, and enjoy the same great sound quality. Add to that the potential to expand your system as and when you want to, pick the very best cabling, and creative audio solutions such as in-wall speakers or multi-room listening, and you've got a powerful addition to your home.

However, bear in mind that packaged surround sound systems come with pre-matched speakers, and if you go down the DIY route, you'll need to buy speakers from the same family to ensure that they are voice matched. If in doubt, seek out a knowledgeable sales assistant who can advise you on the ins and outs.

Have you recently invested in TV sound enhancement? What system did you go for and why? Leave your comments below...
Home Theater Sound System Tips