Sound bar systems were developed for those who want to enjoy the full surround sound experience without the classical hassle offered by 5 or 7 speakers and a subwoofer. Best soundbars under $100 can offer the same sound quality with a single piece of equipment and an optional subwoofer. In most cases, the sound bar itself will be located somewhere near your flat screen TV, perhaps mounted on the wall. The illusion of surround sound is offered through various technologies, such as bouncing the sound off the walls. Other technologies can offer complete surround audio by changing the orientation of each driver and cancelling out certain noises. The process can be quite complicated, but the result is the same: you will enjoy watching HD movies without having to buy a large audio system.
The need for a sound bar appeared recently, when people realized that a flat screen TV can offer high quality video, but it can’t deliver proper sound. No matter how much you are going to pay for your TV set, the built-in speakers will never perform properly. Instead of trying to make room for a large 5.1 channel audio system and setting up cables all over your room, you can simply get a great sound bar which offers the same sound quality, without taking so much space.
There are two main types of sound bar from which you can choose: passive and active ones. A passive system has to be connected to an amplifier or receiver and an active one simply has to be plugged in and it will be ready to go.
Passive sound bars won’t offer amplification, which might turn out to be a serious problem. You will have to add a second device to your sound system, which will only complicate the appearance of your equipment. The surround sound offered by these systems is not complete, but it is better than that of 2.1 channel systems or than that of the build in speakers of your flat screen TV. Some of the best passive sound bars out there will impress you with what they have to offer, but you need to know what you’re looking for. These systems are cheaper than active sound bars and the right one can offer you a great surround sound experience. It all depends on the size of your room, the type of technology used for delivering sound and the amount you are willing to spend on your future audio system.
Active sound bars are the most popular ones available. You won’t need to connect a receiver or an amplifier and the sound offered by such a unit will go through signal processing. This means that the result will be closer to the real surround sound effect you usually get from a 5.1 channel system. Some of these products will even include a DVD console, an iPod dock or FM radio.
The whole idea behind sound bars relies on the mechanism of the human ear. We identify the location from where a sound comes through various methods, such as noticing the time delay between sounds. A proper sound bar will use the right technology for tricking the human ear into thinking that sound is coming from behind you, creating a full 360 surround sound effect. The main problem which sound bar manufacturers face is offering a wide sound stage. If you sit right in front of your system, the sound will most likely be perfect. However, if you change your location, your ears will start perceiving different sounds and the effect will be ruined. Luckily, all sound bar systems have a way of dealing with this problem.
Some producers have focused their research on offering surround sound by bouncing the sound off the walls of your room. A calibration test is required first because all rooms are different and the result has to be perfect. If you have large wall openings, the effect won’t be satisfying and there are a few other factors which can temper with the result, such as large pieces of furniture or the placement of your sound bar.
What You Should Know Before Buying a Sound Bar
The easiest way to make a decision is to figure out what you need. If you want a simple set up, you should go for an active sound bar. You simply have to plug it in and connect it to your TV. After that, you will only notice a couple of cables at most and the system is ready to go. The sound offered by active sound bars is usually better than that of passive ones, but this is not always the case. The presence of a subwoofer is always a plus and if the system doesn’t offer one, you should check to see if you can get a separate one. You will be surprised to see how much of a difference can a simple subwoofer make.
Stereo or Surround?
You should figure out if you need surround sound or stereo from your audio system. The difference in price between these two options is significant. If you don’t plan on watching HD movies and you are just buying a sound bar because you want to listen to music, you should go for a cheaper model. Even if the price is lower, the quality of stereo sound can be impressive.
Surround sound will certainly make the difference if you are watching movies or playing video games. There is nothing like the experience of hearing the action happening around you and each movie will seem different after you hear it on the right speakers. Even a medium range sound bar which offers the illusion of surround sound will be satisfying to a certain extent.
Room Size and Shape
The size of the room in which the sound bar will be located is quite important. Some of the more powerful sound bars will cost much more than regular ones and you don’t need to buy one unless you have a really large room. You should find a system which can offer you intense sound, but you shouldn’t get one which is too strong or too weak for your room. When you are still getting informed, you should take a look at the technology used by each sound bar. If your room is not a rectangular, you should avoid systems which offer surround sound by bouncing the sound off the walls because you won’t like the result. Luckily, you can always get a system which uses some other technology for making the sound come from behind you.