Reviewing Sound Bars: An Alternative to TV Home Theater Systems

WHEN it comes to great television sound, thin is definitely not in.

While the ever-decreasing depths of flat-panel, high-definition TVs are great for aesthetics, those same sets’ internal speakers are becoming anemic. Audio from most modern midprice televisions sounds thin and tremulous, unable to keep pace with the visual excitement of a high-definition basketball game or an epic adventure film.

The best way to create great sound is to use external speakers, placing them in front and behind the viewer, similar to a setup in a movie theater. A typical home theater system includes five speakers and a subwoofer, collectively known as 5.1 audio. But for those who do not want that headache, sound bars may be the answer.

Designed as a single horizontal unit, sound bars can significantly improve a television’s audio, allowing listeners to hear music and effects that would be inaudible without them.

Sound bars can approximate the more immersive effect of true multispeaker surround systems. They can be used on their own, and many can also work with an external subwoofer — a speaker that can enhance low frequencies, like explosions and bass notes — to add a more realistic experience.

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