You’ve probably heard about how TV technology is evolving; TVs are becoming impossibly thin. It’s actually possible to buy a TV that’s really only a few millimeters thick today; think of LG’s W-series, also known as Wallpaper TVs, but Samsung has also launched its ‘Frame’ TV plus its pinky finger-thin Q8C QLED TV too. (A pretty amazing TV, read my review of it here.)
Thin TVs – Where are the speakers?
With ultra thin TVs, you’re getting a super thin screen, but there’s a problem; no place for manufacturers to put speakers and their associated audio drivers. There are a few ways to solve the problem; Sony is experimenting with building sound into the screen itself, creating wall of sound. Other options include eliminating speakers from TVs altogether, putting them instead into in a separate standalone sound or audio bar.
You need a sound bar or speakers for quality audio
Either way, today’s ultra thin TVs need a separate audio system for quality sound; it’s not a sales tactic to sell sound bars to people, it’s fact of life. Physics means you can’t put big powerful speakers into a flat surface… yet.
While some ultra thin TVs come with a special separate sound bar, many don’t. So what are the options for good quality sound? You can choose to connect your TV to a full home theatre system, hook up to a sound bar, or select a multiroom audio system like Sonos or Bose. Let’s explore the options.
Thin TV Option #1: Hook into a full home theatre
A full home theatre system has long been the choice of audiophiles everywhere. With an amplifier or a tuner, a variety of speakers, plus a subwoofer and potentially other accessories, there are many parts to a full home theatre set up.
Depending on the level and depth of surround sound you’re looking for you can choose a several different configurations of speakers. Dolby pioneered the use of multiple speakers in a surround sound configuration; from 2.0 to Dolby 5.1 to today’s Dolby Atmos systems which include overhead sound, you can have any number of configurations in your home theatre system.
(What exactly do those 2.0 and 5.1 numbers mean? Read Jeff Wilson’s excellent explanation here.)
Confused? ‘Home theatre in a box’ options are great
You can also choose between an ‘a la carte’ set up where you pick your components, or a ‘home theatre in a box’ where everything is packaged in a kit for you. Onkyo makes a variety of these packaged kits like this one, which includes a receiver, 5 speakers, and 1 subwoofer to give you a 5.1 surround sound set up.
When it comes to building your own system, the sky’s the limit when it comes to options and price. Choose from brands including Denon, Sony, Polk and Pioneer, just to name a few. Check out just some of the options here.
Thin TV Option #2: Select a sound bar
Sound bars are hugely popular, primarily because they can be inexpensive and they’re easy to install and operate, but they up the ante big time when it comes to sound quality from your TV.
Sound bars can come as standalone units, or packaged with a subwoofer for more powerful bass. It’s quite easy to wall mount a sound bar under your TV, but where do you put the sub? Manufacturers like Sony are making them flat and wireless, so you can slide and hide them right under the sofa, with the added bonus being you’ll get all that rumbling reverb right under the spot you’re sitting, enhancing your TV and movie experience.
Sony’s HT-MT300 is one of those options. Check it out or read David’s review of the sound bar and sub pair.
Thin TV Option #3:Choosing multiroom audio/portable speakers
Increasingly popular are multiroom audio systems. While they’re often made up of speakers for music listening, more brands are also introducing sound bar options too.
What is Multiroom Audio?
Multiroom speaker systems are made by several companies, and you can find a good variety of sizes and strengths of speaker. There’s compact sizes all the way up to large and booming. The systems are expandable, and configurable so you can buy several speakers all at once, or build the system as your budget allows.
Multiroom audio is extraordinarily versatile. You can have many speakers on one system, and you can play the same thing on all of them, or mix it up room by room.
Multiroom audio is most often set up and controlled via an app. Gone are the days of fiddling with wires and connections. Instead, you can have an entire home system up and running in minutes, and have the whole network of speakers connected quickly and controlled easily.
Sonos is one of the leaders in this category. You can choose one or several of their compact and portable speakers, and round it out with a sound bar, the Sonos PlayBar, or the company’s new and powerful PlayBase, a large flat sound platform that can fill the room with sound. Sonos also makes the SUB, a subwoofer for your home theatre set up.
There are plenty of options for your home theatre system to adapt to the newest thinnest TVs on the market today. You choices are practically unlimited meaning there’s a set up that works for every size, space, decor and budget.