Home theatre systems have been around for ages and they’ve evolved over time. What used take hours and loads of effort to set up now comes in one neat little package. I’m talking about Sound Bars. A Sound Bar is a single speaker which comes with a subwoofer and they are usually long, slim and include an inbuilt DVD or Blu-ray player. This set up is basically an all in one package that's designed to save you a little bit of money and quite a bit of space. They're built to looks good and deliver on sound quality that could stand up to some regular home theater set ups.
A pretty sweet looking soundbar, this
Before I start raving about how I love soundbars, here’s what they are and how they work. It’s actually very simple. A soundbar works by playing with psychoacoustics (how we perceive sound) to give us the effect of surround sound. So even though you have all the speakers in one box (apart from the subwoofer), which is placed at the front, you still get the benefit of surround sound. Each manufacturer usually has their own way of making these work and some of them are truly brilliant.
Over the years, I’ve had quite a few home theatre systems at my home, and my family even has a separate room just for watching TV and movies in. Whenever we’ve moved from one house to another or changed the arrangement of furniture in the house, I’ve always been given the task of dismantling and putting together all the electronic equipment. Now, I have to admit that I’m a little lazy, so this isn’t always much fun. Now it’s been a while since my family has moved to another home, and I’ve finally convinced my mother to get a soundbar and chuck out the old home theatre system. This is not just because I’m lazy, but also because it is so much more convenient.
The main reason I would go in for a soundbar is to save the space, the hassle of setting up as well as the price. I am also not a very neat person, so the thought of less clutter also makes me lean towards buying a sound bar instead of a normal home theatre system. And since most of them also emulate surround sound, that takes care of movie watching needs as well. All I have to do is take it out of the box, set it on the shelf that sits under my TV and I’m good to go. There’s barely anything to set up; just the power cable and the link from the subwoofer to the main unit which holds the speaker as well as the Blu-ray or DVD player.
A lot of people may argue that a soundbar will never compare to a full blown home theatre system, and they are right. It will never be able to replicate what physical surround sound speakers can. But it does come very close to doing it, and with half the number of speakers.
The Philips HTS9140 soundbar
These days, soundbars are getting even more elaborate. One particular soundbar I was really impressed with was the Philips HTS9140 which I reviewed a few months back. It is definitely one of the best I’ve tested so far, although it is a little expensive at Rs. 69,990. It has some great features such as online connectivity via Wi-Fi, an integrated Blu-ray player and USB port that allows you to connect even hard drives. It also has some other features that I could do without, such as the 3D playback and Wi-Fi connectivity, but it sounds really good when it comes to watching movies. It really does feel like there are speakers behind me.
I really do think that soundbars are the future of home entertainment when it comes to sound. Sure, there'll be a lot of you who probably don't agree with what I have to say, as a regular home theatre system can provide a lot more power and can be customised to please audiophiles. But if you want a simple, hassles-free setup, a soundbar is definitely what is needed.