Upgrade your sound
Why you need a soundbar
If you’ve been thinking of giving your home cinema sound an upgrade, here are five reasons why a soundbar could be for you
Soundbars are one of the biggest growing sectors in home cinema right now, and for good reason. With TVs getting slimmer every year, their built-in speakers are becoming more and more squeezed when it comes to delivering the powerful explosions, crystal clear dialogue and overall wider soundfield we crave when we’re watching our favourite movies and TV shows.
Not everyone has room for an extravagant 5.1 surround sound system in their lounge, and I’m certainly someone that falls into that category. The awkwardly-sized front room in my ‘cosy’ London suburb flat just wasn’t made for a multi-speaker home cinema set up, and so a soundbar makes perfect sense for me. Pop it on your TV stand and it’ll nestle nicely underneath your TV, or alternatively, most will also allow you to mount them on the wall for ultimate space saving.
A soundbar is quick and easy to get set up, so you’ll spend less time with your head in a manual and more time enjoying the improved sound quality it’ll bring to your telly watching. Most offer a plug and play design, so you simply hook it up to your TV and Blu-ray player via a standard HDMI connection and you’re good to go. However, some, like LG’s NB4530A (See full review here), also offer a Bluetooth connection for beaming sound from compatible TVs to the soundbar, completely wire-free.
Speaking of wires, I’m sure I’m not alone in my pet hate of them making my living room look messy, so a soundbar works well at keeping my wire-based rage under control. In most cases, just one HDMI connection per source (TV, Blu-ray player, console etc) will get you an instant sound upgrade, and these wires can then be hidden behind the TV – out of sight and out of mind. Some, like LG’s NB4530A soundbar, will even come with a wireless subwoofer in the box, connecting via Bluetooth for some added wire-free oomph to the low end.
As much as we might like to, we don’t all have thousands to spend on our home cinema set up – I certainly don’t. While 5.1 surround sound systems are certainly coming down in price, they’re still a pricey option when you consider all the other kit you’ll need to get them up and running and sounding their best. However, a soundbar is a one-box solution that requires a single outlay and no other kit to get you started. In fact, the majority of soundbar sales fall around the £100-£300 mark, so it’s not a purchase that has to break the bank.
It’s more than just TV
While soundbars do a great job at boosting the sound of your TV, their use doesn’t just stop there – they can also work wonders on your music collection too. Most will have a 3.5mm input for connecting smartphones or MP3 players, plus there’ll usually be a USB port for hooking up music-packed flash drives too. If, like the LG NB4530A, you pick a soundbar with Bluetooth built in, you’ll also be able to stream music wirelessly from any Bluetooth device. Convenient, plus it saves you money on a separate speaker dock in the process. Bargain.
So there you have it. Flexible, practical, affordable and great room-filling 2.1 sound – there’s plenty of reasons why your home cinema system deserves a soundbar. So many in fact, the only real question left to ask is ‘why not’…
Verity Burns is multimedia editor of What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision magazine
Upgrading your home entertainment system couldn’t be easier with LG’s range of soundbars. Find out more here
whathifi.com has compiled a list of its favourite soundbars of 2013. See what it thought here.