A television alone is not enough to have a real cinema experience at home! In addition to the television, you also need a Blu-ray player, AVR and decent speakers. If you’re planning to set up a home cinema, we’ll give you expert advice on how to get started. We assume that you already own a television or beamer. If this is not the case, our purchase advisor will give you suggestions according to your wishes and requirements.
Checklist for the best sound
When it comes to good cinema sound in your own four walls, you should carefully consider all of these options:
- Ready-to-use home cinema system or a custom-made sound system?
- The “sweet spot”: The place in the room where the sound waves of all existing speakers arrive simultaneously.
- You need an AV receiver?
- Virtual surround sound or real surround sound?Dolby Atmos?how many subwoofers are required?
Virtual surround sound
if you only use one large speaker, such as a soundbar, then you don’t need to calibrate the sweet spot. Qualitative Soundbars und Soundbases schaffen es, die erzeugten Schallwellen so von den Wänden und der Decke abprallen zu lassen, als würde der Sound wirklich von allen Seiten kommen. Das nennt man Virtual Surround-Sound.
True Surround Sound
Authentic surround sound, on the other hand, can only be produced with a large number of speakers. For example with a 5.1 system.
The right angle also plays a role in sound. If you use multiple speakers in a surround system, the speakers should be placed so that all sound waves travel the same path. The point at which this is achieved is called the sweet spot. The sound is best enjoyed here. The ideal situation is when you manage to place the sweet spot on your couch or cinema chair.
We have prepared various solutions that include the playback devices and sound systems, i.e. what a television alone cannot provide or cannot provide satisfactorily. Of course, the cabling is also included, but for a first orientation we have left it at the peripherals. The results are surround systems that are designed for different budgets and requirements.
Affordable home cinema sound: The cheapest all-in-one solution
If you want to convert a rather small living room into a home cinema and have a cheaper TV, for example a Samsung RU7179 or an LG SM8500, you will find the perfect complement for better sound.
Not everyone who wants to enjoy their own home cinema can afford to invest thousands and thousands of dollars in the proper sound devices. For those on a low budget, we recommend this 5.1 Blu-ray home cinema system from LG. First of all, the price may be right for many, but it must be mentioned that in the course of this a few sacrifices have to be made.
This does not include a UHD Blu-ray player, but an ordinary Full HD Blu-ray player. However, if you have a 4K TV, you will have to rely on the upscaling of the built-in processor. This way an artificial 4K resolution can be created – but you have to do without native 4K for Blu-rays. If you’re more of a streaming fan, you have a good chance: You can still stream your favourite content in 4K via Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.
The package also includes four satellite speakers, a centre speaker and a subwoofer. Together, all five loudspeakers deliver a rated output of 500 watts. If you want to transform your small to medium-sized living room into a budget-friendly home cinema and can do without native 4K quality Blu-rays, you can get a reasonably priced complete package here. Those who don’t want to miss UHD Blu-rays and have even higher demands on sound should read on.
Better sound and more possibilities in home cinema
If you own a decent mid-range TV, such as a Samsung Q70R or a Philips 7304, you’ll probably want a slightly better sound to go with the already good picture.
Our second home theater setup consists of two components that must be purchased separately. It is possible that one of them is already present and the purchase is unnecessary. The advantage of this modular solution is that individual devices can be exchanged as desired. In our opinion, however, our presented concept has the most advantages.
More than a UHD Blu-ray player
With an Xbox One S as the entertainment center of your home theater, you have several advantages in one device. This console offers more than just games:
- Play UHD Blu-rays
- 4K streaming on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video
- Play video games in 4K resolution (a little bonus)
If you are a passionate gamer, the operation of the system will be easy: The Xbox One Controller acts as a remote control for streaming, Blu-rays and video games. Volume and picture, however, must be controlled with the remote control of the TV. So the picture is taken care of – now the sound is still missing.
Good sound for little money
The VIZIO SB3821-C6 2.1 Sound Bar is a great fit with the Xbox One S. She has a soundperformance of maximum 100 dB and delivers clean sound with an harmonic distortion under 1%. The soundbar and subwoofer have a wireless connection, so you can place your subwoofer everywhere in the room. The VIZIO 2.1 soundbar is also Dolby Digital, DTS TruSurround and DTS TruVolume compatible, which ensure a depth and quality to your sound, that goes well with the 4K images that the Xbox One S provides.
|Playback device||Xbox One S||$210|
|Soundbar||VIZIO 2.1 Sound Bar, with subwoofer||$149.99|
Medium price set with Dolby Atmos
If the previous solutions don’t meet your needs, this setup might be something for you. At this level, you can give your living room a big boost in terms of video and sound quality – but you can also move into a room that you’ve created yourself, for example the hobby cellar. Get ready for a solution for audiophiles. This setup can enhance the outstanding picture quality of high-end televisions like the Sony AG9 or LG C9 with impressive sound.
The entertainment station for your home cinema
In this case, we chose the Xbox One X as the entertainment center. This may seem a bit arbitrary on the surface, but not everyone knows that the Xbox One X 4K UHD Blu-rays can also play. It is also capable of Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. Native Dolby Cinema content can be played without any problems, while ordinary audio tracks can be upmixed. In addition – not to forget – you can also play video games in 4K HDR resolution with the Xbox One X. With good picture and fantastic sound, it’s really fun and an added bonus.
Alternative: High-End Panasonic UHD Player
If you’re looking for even better picture and sound quality, then you should take a look at the Panasonic DP-UB820-K. This high-quality universal disc player can get even more out of all Blu-rays, DVDs and even CDs. The quality from the Xbox can’t be compared to this. The UHD player from Panasonic supports all imaginable formats, from HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision to HLG. It also has 4K Direct chroma upscaling, an HDMI low clock jitter function, as well as an HCX processor, which guarantees precise chroma and HDR processing when playing 4K content. Here you get high-end audio and video playback quality.
The speaker set for your home cinema with Dolby Atmos
For the mid-priced home cinema solution, we have selected a top-of-the-line speaker set from Nakamichi. The Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2.4 set has four two way surround speakers. Each of them is constructed with a tweeter that reproduces high frequencies with great clarity. Also a full-range driver that delivers powerful and clean surround effects. The Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2.4 set is Dolby Atmos, dtsX, Dolgy Digital Plus and Dolby True HD compatible. It also can handle Dolby Vision and HDR in 4K. For the price that you pay here, you get great quality and high-end features.
The speakers of the Nakamichi 9.2.4 set are designed to work perfectly for any room size or shape. You can attach them as dipoles to disperse expanded surround effects or detach them to have 4 seperate speakers that you can position in a 360° angle. The only deficit in this speaker set is that you have to buy a seperate AV-Receiver, because it’s not included in the package.
The AV receiver for perfect sound
The AV receiver acts as the interface between audio and video as well as the central control centre for the entire home cinema system. This is where all the cables come together: HDMI from Xbox One X or Panasonic DP-UB820-K and TV as well as all speaker cables of the individual boxes. With the Denon AVR-S750H receiver, the range of functions is virtually unlimited: Dolby Atmos for video games, Netflix streaming and 4K Blu-rays, Bluetooth streaming via Spotify, Amazon Music etc. – everything is possible. Even external audio devices can be connected to the AVR with the right cable.
All home cinema setups in the overview
The sets differ clearly in sound. Which set is best for you depends of course not only on your requirements and budget but also very much on the room in which the system is to be set up. If you have questions about the solutions or alternatives, please contact us directly!
Of course, every set must be set up and calibrated correctly to deliver the best surround sound.
|Cheapest setup||Cheapest set with Dolby Atmos||Middle-range set with Dolby Atmos|
|Expandable?||5.2.2 oder 7.2|
|Dolby Atmos, DTS:X|
|AV-Receiver||Onkyo HT-R494||Onkyo TX-NR696|
|Subwoofer||Sony Subwoofer||Onkyo Subwoofer||Teufel T10|
FAQ – Technical terms in home cinema
If you want to build a home cinema and are a beginner in this hobby, you understandably have many questions at the beginning. We have collected the most important questions and are happy to answer them for you.
What does 5.1.2 mean?
Behind these three numbers, which may be very confusing for beginners, hide channel designations in surround systems. The first number stands for the number of surround channels, the second for the number of bass channels and the last for the number of treble channels. A 7.2.4 system houses six satellite speakers plus a centre speaker, two subwoofers and four ceiling speakers.
Why is sound so important?
Moviegoers who have just come from a screening are usually thrilled by the fantastic film – but only subconsciously realize that the sound was just as inspiring. If you want to see a film in the quality the director wanted, you should pay as much attention to the sound as you do to the picture. An action movie is only really fun when you feel the bass of the explosions and the blood starts to boil. To achieve this, almost every sound system has a subwoofer – both sound bars and surround sound systems.
For larger rooms, however, we recommend using several subwoofers. Two should already be enough. If the room is smaller than 50 to 60 square meters, one subwoofer will also be sufficient. If you are thinking about purchasing two subwoofers, please check first whether it is possible to connect two devices to your AV receiver!
What do the different speakers do?
A 5.1.2 sound system consists of eight speakers: Two front speakers, two rear speakers, a center speaker, a subwoofer and two ceiling speakers. The front speakers are placed to the left and right of the TV, creating a perfect stereo triangle. The rear speakers, usually smaller than the front speakers, are placed laterally behind the viewers. The centre speaker is placed directly in front of the TV and usually reproduces dialogues that should actually come directly from the picture. This is even possible with a television like the Sony OLED AG9. A subwoofer takes over the bass and sub-bass frequencies. The ceiling loudspeaker is responsible for sound that occurs above the head, such as airplanes or rain.
What are Dolby Atmos and DTS:X?
Both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are object-based, dynamic surround formats that follow the same principle. Dolby Atmos is the proprietary technology of Dolby Laboratories, while DTS:X is the competing format of DTS Inc. Here, the audio sources are always stored with a space vector so that they can be flexibly moved from the right direction in any multi-channel setup. Then an individual signal is assigned to each speaker, resulting in true 3D sound. With Dolby Atmos, a helicopter flying over the scene sounds as if a machine is really gliding over you. Or rain landing on a solar sail above your head. The possibilities with Atmos are manifold.
Which sound formats play a role in home cinema?
Dynamic audio formats are the trend in home cinema. More precisely, these are Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro 3D. Not only formats but also codecs play a role here. Dolby Atmos, for example, distinguishes between compressed and uncompressed. Recompressed Dolby Atmos is only possible via HDMI eARC, in which case the Dolby TrueHD codec is used. Compressed Atmos on the other hand uses the Dolby Digital Plus Codec. With the latter, the high frequency channels must be compressed, as they are “transmitted” along with the tracks of the normal surround channels.
Where can I listen to Dolby Atmos and DTS:X?
Content with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X is not only present on UHD Blu-rays. The formats known from the cinema are also supported by Netflix and Amazon Prime, and more and more video games.
What is THX?
The name THX is based on a US image and sound company founded by George Lucas in 1983. This company issues certifications for individual products that meet certain requirements. A THX-certified home theater system recreates the sound as the sound engineer originally designed it.
Which cables should I use for video and audio transmission?
To operate a home cinema system, you should use suitable HDMI cables for all video signals. Audio signals should be transmitted via speaker cable and/or cinch.
What is HDR?
HDR (High Dynamic Range) is the term used to describe increased dynamic & contrast range. The color depth of HDR is 10 bits, which corresponds to a dynamic range of 200,000:1. There are different (and sometimes competing) formats for HDR content. HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) is used in the broadcast sector. HDR10 is the most widely used static HDR format. The dynamic format HDR10+ is a collaboration between Samsung and Amazon Video. It may be used license-free. The competing format is Dolby Vision, which allows up to 12 bit colour depth and allows 8K at 120 Hz. A license fee is due for use. With the dynamic HDR formats, the tone-mapping curve can be adjusted scene by scene.
What is upscaling and upmixing?
Upscaling comes from the video area and upmixing from the audio area. With upscaling we are dealing with the artificial enhancement of lower resolution content. Using image processors built into 4K TVs, lower resolution content can be upscaled to UHD. Upscaling can create artifacts that should not be noticeable with good upscaling. With the right Blu-ray player and the right TV it will be difficult to tell the difference between Blu-rays and Ultra-HD Blu-rays.
Want to learn more about resolution? Feel free to visit our service article in the knowledge section with a focus on 4K resolution.
Upmixing pursues a similar goal, but in the audio field. Audio tracks that are not Atmos-enabled can be output as Atmos-enabled using an artificial extension.
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