What are soundbars? These new devices to enhance your TV’s audio are great, but sometimes they hide insidious flaws only an expert eye will notice. For example, they may block your TV’s remote sensor, come without their own remote control, or even disguising a normal, traditional wide stereo as a sensational “virtual surround”. Here you will find seven tips to get the most out of your soundbar.
Connect Your Sound Bar Properly
Sound bars generally connect to the TV through two different channels; that is to say HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface, a proprietary audio/video interface) and RCA (Radio Corporation of America connector). The second one is sort of a “backup option”, that you should only use if the first one is unavailable for some reason. Whenever possible, you should always disregard the RCA connection and prefer the HDMI one, that is better because it provides a way superior sound quality.
Place Your Soundbar The Right Way
You may think that the brand of your soundbar and its technical features do all the work in providing the TV sound you are looking for, but this is not true. The place where you choose to put your sound bar also plays a big role in regards to the resulting sound. If your soundbar comes with a subwoofer, then you have to take their peculiar traits into consideration when arranging them. Subwoofers emit an omnidirectional sound and need to be, in a certain sense, alone and away from furniture and thick walls, while sound bars should be close to the TV (mounted on the wall or simply sitting on furniture).
Select the Best Settings
First of all, when your sound bar is connected and ready to go, try playing a very nuanced song or a detailed video to test your soundbar’s settings. If you were successful in selecting each correct setting, then you should hear every detail of your high-quality audio sample. On the contrary, if you can’t hear everything you think you should, you definitely have to adjust the settings until you solve this problem. Maybe you will spend countless minutes equalizing settings and hearing audio samples, but your effort will be completely paid back by the perfect audio your soundbar will reproduce from that day on!
Choose the Right Room
It may look like a silly advice, but you have to think thoroughly about where to place your TV and soundbar room-wise. If you have a large house with many rooms and the possibility of putting a cutting-edge TV and sound bar in any of them, then you should find the one with the biggest open-space or at least the one with the least echo effect. This will really enhance the quality of the audio reproduced through your sound bar, making your purchase a sensible one and finally giving you the immersive experience you were expecting.
Active or Passive?
Active soundbars house speakers, amplification, and signal processing in a single box and their main feature is the ease of use (combined with simple, minimalist looks). These sound bars sometimes even come with subwoofers, for the nerdiest TV users out there. Passive soundbars, on the contrary, do not come with any digital signal processing or inputs and they need to be connected to an external amplifier or AV receiver like old traditional speakers did. The only benefit of this choice, whose setup process forces you to know home theater principles is its great flexibility in reproducing audio formats and experimenting with crossover settings.
Count Your Channels
Technology shops are selling two-channel three-channel, five-channel or even seven-channel soundbars each different from the other in price and functions. Two-channel bars are basically just an alternative to TV speakers, while at least in three-channel sound bars there are dedicated left, center and right channels (and they also allow the connection of separate surround speakers). Five- and seven-channel soundbars set another audio standard altogether, being specifically designed to reproduce multi-channel soundtracks with no quality loss.
Think About Getting a Subwoofer
Although not strictly necessary, a subwoofer is surely the right choice if you want to get the most out of your sound bar. That alone, in fact, completely misses lower midrange and bass frequencies, while a subwoofer generates them with no problem. It is no wonder that even active soundbars that typically require no subwoofer are now equipped with one as you buy them in order to help you achieve the expected outcome from the point of view of the sound.