how to upgrade your home theatre audio

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 to enhance movie viewing, there are even more decisions.

Home theatre audio essentials for movie viewing

There are a few audio essentials you need to set up a home theatre. Your first decision will be whether you’d like to add a sound bar as the main audio component or if you’d rather have a receiver and speakers.

Upgrade your home theatre audio with a sound bar

sound bar beam technology

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 when watching movies at home.

Why choose a sound bar?

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 or optical out. Once plugged in your sound bar will handle all of the audio from your TV, and 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.

How many channels should your sound bar have?

7 channel sound bar


Just like receivers, sound bars can offer different numbers of channels. The most common type of sound bar has 3 or 5 channels. A 3 channel sound bar has a left speaker, right speaker, and one center speaker. These speakers are built into the sound bar. A 5 channel sound bar has the 3 main speakers as well as 2 additional speakers to amplify audio.

If you choose a 7 or 9-channel sound bar system that supports Dolby Atmos, your sound bar will have up-firing speakers that project audio toward your ceiling to create a surround sound effect.

Receiver with speakers or home theatre system

If you’d like a complete surround sound system at home but you don’t want a sound bar, you can choose a receiver and home theatre speaker individually or opt for a home theatre system.

Receiver and home theatre speakers

home theatre audio essentials

A receiver and home theatre speakers can be selected individually or as part of a home theatre system. The receiver will act as the hub of your surround sound system, and all of your speakers will plug via wires or connect wirelessly to the receiver.

When you select your receiver and home speakers individually you can decide what type of speakers you’ll add. If you choose a home theatre system, your receiver and speakers will be part of the package. You can take a look at the receiver buying guide for the different types of receivers and the features you’ll find on them. You can also look at the home speaker buying guide and the home theatre systems buying guide for more on those topics.

The receiver you choose needs to support the number of speakers you’d like to add. If you’d like the most immersive audio possible, you’ll want to choose a Dolby Atmos home theatre setup.

Should I upgrade my home theatre sound system for Dolby Atmos?

dolby atmos upgrade home theatre

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. To. experience it at home you’ll need a 7 or more channel receiver as well as compatible speakers including left and right bookshelf or tower speakers, a center speaker, subwoofer, and wall or ceiling speakers.

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.

Home theatre upgrades

4K projector

Once you have a sound bar or receiver and speakers, there is no limit to how you can upgrade your home theatre for the best movie-watching experience. Here are a few ideas for upgrades you can choose.

Upgrade your video quality

If you have a new receiver and speakers connected to your TV but you haven’t upgraded your TV or projector, you may want to take a look for a new TV. You’ll get the best possible picture quality if you choose a 4K TV that’s OLED, QLED, or QD-OLED. You can also choose a 4K projector that’s bright enough for movie-viewing day or night.

Add smart lights

Smart lights create a movie theatre atmosphere that’s fun and immersive. You can add smart bulbs, lamps, or light bars that can switch colours with a tap on your phone. Some TVs will now sync with your home theatre lights and flash along with the movie.

Create a movie atmosphere

One of the best upgrades to a home theatre is comfortable seating. Home theatre seating is available in individual chairs, loveseats, and full couches. You can choose comfortable reclining seating with USB plugs, cup holders, and more.

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, receiver and speakers, or upgrade your home theatre with new seating and smart lights. With each upgrade, you’ll love your home theatre even more than you did before.

You can find everything you need for your home theatre at Best Buy.

Shelly Wutke
Editor TV & Home Theatre
I'm a Vancouver freelancer and tech enthusiast. When I'm not writing you'll find me on my farm with my alpacas, chickens, and honeybees. Visit my website Survivemag