What’s the easiest way to upgrade a TV’s built-in audio? How can you connect your home theatre audio system to your Wi-Fi network so you can stream your favourite playlists from your phone? And, if you’re upgrading to a new home audio system, should you make the jump from basic home audio to technology like Dolby Atmos?
There are a lot of decisions you’ll need to make when you’re setting up or upgrading your home theatre. You’ll have to make decisions about your TV type and size, whether you’ll use a TV mount or a stand, and how you’ll handle your home audio requirements. When you’re choosing new or you’re upgrading home theatre audio components, there are even more decisions to make.
Upgrade your home theatre audio with a sound bar
A flat panel TV will provide you with brilliant colour, contrast, and vivid realism, all without taking up a lot of real estate on your wall. The only downside to the latest flat panel TV technology is that, because of the design, the speakers need to be placed on the back of the TV. While these new TVs do provide great audio and have technology built in to enhance output, you may be someone who likes a lot of bass or you want a full surround sound experience in your home theatre.
One of the easiest ways to boost your TV’s audio is to add a sound bar. A sound bar is a single speaker that’s as long or almost as long as your TV. It’s placed or mounted under your TV and provides at least 2 channels of audio. You can find sound bars with additional speakers and a subwoofer to provide you with up to 11 channels of audio.
Some sound bars connect wirelessly to your TV while others plugin via HDMI to your TV’s HDMI or HDMI eARC port. Once plugged in your sound bar will handle all of the audio from your TV, and once you listen you’ll hear a very noticeable difference in your TV’s audio quality. With left, right, and center speakers built into the sound bar, audio will feel as though it’s projecting from all corners of your TV.
The latest sound bars have new features to make them more immersive than ever. You’ll find sound bars that beam audio around the room so you’ll hear your favourite soundtracks from the ceiling and on both sides of your couch. Many new models are auto-calibrated so they work perfectly in your every room, and you can also find some sound bars that offer calibration in a few simple steps you can perform yourself. There are also sound bars you can control via voice assistant, so you can just say “OK Google” to control volume or switch to a different sound preset.
Connect your home theatre audio to your home network
If you want to stream your favourite Spotify playlists or listen to an eBook on your home theatre speakers, you’ll need to connect your speakers to your home network. Some home audio components already have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth built-in, but there is an easy solution if you have older wired speakers connected to your TV, they don’t have Wi-Fi built-in, and you don’t want to upgrade right now.
An Apple TV or Chromecast device is a simple way to connect home theatre audio to your home network. You can plug in either device to an HDMI port on your TV and it will let you stream audio and video from your phone via AirPlay or through Chromecast mirroring.
You can choose Apple TV in 1080p and 4K if you’d like to stream 4K video as well as audio. Chromecast is available in a few formats including audio-only if you’d only like to stream audio.
Before you shop, check your existing devices for home audio connectivity
There’s one step to take before you purchase a streaming device to connect your speakers to your home network. You’ll want to double-check your existing gaming consoles, sound bars, or TV to see if you can stream via AirPlay or mirror. If you have a smart TV, the functions for AirPlay and mirroring should be built-in or available in an app you’ll download from your TV’s app store. Gaming consoles also offer apps you can use for mirroring or streaming audio.
Should I upgrade my home theatre sound system for Dolby Atmos?
Dolby Atmos surround sound has been around for a while, but it’s an audio format that’s always evolving. Dolby Atmos will give you the full theatre sound experience right in your living room. Every soundtrack you listen to will sound exactly like the creator intended it to sound.
Dolby Atmos programs sound based on the objects you’re currently watching, and it can place up to 118 simultaneous sound objects at one time. Audio creators love it because they can put audio objects in different spots in the sound field instead of just assigning them to an individual channel. If you’re watching an action movie with car chases and helicopters flying overhead, you won’t hear audio from just the right, left, and center of your home audio speakers – you’ll feel as though you’re in the center of a 3D soundstage with helicopters flying over you, guns shooting behind you, and cars racing past you.
Dolby Atmos is available in many types of home audio speakers and sound bars. Once you upgrade you’ll see the Dolby Atmos stamp on everything from streaming videos on Netflix to your favourite soundtracks on Spotify. Having it built into your home audio brings home that immersive movie theatre feel you may have been missing.
Is it time to upgrade your home theatre audio?
There is a lot of choice in home theatre audio, but as you can see it’s fairly easy to add a sound bar, connect your existing speakers to your home network, or upgrade to a Dolby Atmos system. With each upgrade, you’ll love your home theatre even more than you did before.