What is a Home Theater Sound Bar?
A home theater sound bar is the affordable upgrade when you want to get better sound from the TV, but do not want to invest in a full surround system. A sound bar has several speakers with different sound output characteristics put in one thin module. This module also carries the necessary electric boosters to power the speakers such that there is no extra amplifiers are needed. Modern home theater sound bars come with separate subwoofers and connect wirelessly.
A sound bar is less powered and has fewer features than a component system. As such a sound bar will still sound better than ordinary TV speakers. It does not have the full range of sound that one would want for a movie or gaming experience.
A Sound bar is also suitable where space is limited. A typical sound bar is approximately 40 inches which means it can fit on a shelf above or below the TV. The general rule of thumb is that for medium and smaller TVs, (below 54 inches) pick a soundbar that is no wider than the TV screen.
Modern sound bars have different connection methods for a wider range of input:
Wired audio input – There is usually an analogue RCA (red/white) input for older devices like CD/DVD players. There will be at least one digital audio input that is either coaxial or digital.
HDMI – This input connection is increasingly being featured for richer signal input. Such as, from Blu ray and Ultra HD players that come with 3k or 4k video capacity. This also connects to gaming systems.
Wireless – This includes Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity. This eliminates tangles of wires.
Streaming – Equipped with wireless connectivity, some home theater sound bars will stream shows from Netflix, Hulu or Amazon.
How to pick a sound bar
Where will you be placing the sound bar? if it is on the same stand as the TV, ensure that you have enough space, wide enough to hold both items. Also take care not to have a sound bar that is too wide as to block the beam of the remote control.
For normal TV programming, a 2.1 bar is adequate, i.e. it has 2 speakers and a sub-woofer. For a richer sound range, go for a sound bar with a separate sub-woofer and rear speakers.
The basic purpose of a home theater sound bar is to give slightly better sound than the TV speakers. For this, you should spend less than $200. If you are spending more than this, it would be better to consider buying a full surround system.