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Do I need a sound system for my TV?

By Mike Atherton 18 Jan 2018
Do I need a sound system for my TV?

With the main focus of many TV manufacturers being to improve picture quality, and make their TVs thinner and lighter, improving the audio quality has featured a little lower on the list of priorities for some. That's not to say that TV's don't offer good sound quality, many of them do, but a dedicated sound system will really help you get the most out of your TV. 

The world of TV sound systems can get very confusing with manufacturers offering a seemingly endless choice of setups and speaker combinations. But the great thing about this is that no matter what you're looking for, you'll find something to suit you.  

So first thing's first, let's get some of the jargon out of the way.

What do the numbers mean?

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Understanding the difference between 2.1 and 5.1 surround-sound is really useful when you're looking for a new sound system - and there are hundreds of variations, with some systems offering upwards of 10.2 setups. 

To put it simply, the number represents how many speakers you get. The first number tells you how many 'satellite' speakers you get, and the second number represents the subwoofer. So a 5.1 system comes with two front speakers, two rear speakers, and a single centre speaker, plus one subwoofer.  

Why do I need lots of speakers?

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With surround-sound systems, each speaker does a different job, and when combined with all the other speakers, gives you that immersive cinema-sound experience. Here's what all those speakers do. 

Subwoofer

This is the workhorse of any surround-sound system and is responsible for giving you those deep bass notes and ground shaking rumbles – great when watching action movies or cranking the music up to eleven. 

Centre speaker

The centre speaker needs to do quite a lot compared to all the others, it's able to produce a range of notes and effects because this is where most of the sound will come from. It's also the speaker that you'll want the movie dialogue to come from – it just wouldn't work if you were watching a movie but the character's voice was coming from behind you. 

Satellite speakers

These are the speakers that add the 'surround' to surround-sound. In a 5.1 system, you get four satellite speakers (two front, and two back). Their job is to manage the sound around the room to make you feel like you're in the thick of the action - great for watching movies, sport, and live music to really make you feel like you're involved in everything that's going on.

What are the different types of sound systems?

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With soundbars starting at around £50, you don't need to spend a fortune to get that cinema-sound experience. But if you're looking for the punch you get from a fully immersive surround-sound system, it'll probably cost a bit more - but it still doesn't need to break the bank, with full 5.1 surround-sound systems starting at around £180. 

Sound systems come in a few different shapes and sizes, here are the most common setups. 

Soundbars

This is sometimes the simplest and the cheapest option if you're just looking for something that packs more of a punch than your standard TV speakers. Many soundbars come with extra features too, like Bluetooth, making it really easy to connect your smartphone and turn your soundbar into an entertainment system. 

Most soundbars come with additional subwoofers to give you that extra bass, and some also come with a couple of extra satellite speakers. 

Take a look at our full range of soundbars.

Home cinema systems 

If you watch a lot of movies or live sport, a full home cinema system is often the best choice because you get everything you're going to need for that full cinematic experience. 

These fully kitted out systems start at around £200, which considering you often get a blu-ray player, 5 speakers and a subwoofer, is very reasonable. 

Take a look at our full range of home cinema systems

Hopefully, that’s everything you need to know about TV sound systems, but if you'd like help with anything else, you can contact one of our Team Knowhow experts here.

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