Setting up a TV Soundbar is very straightforward, but as with any hi-tech audio setup there is a lot to consider if you want to get the most out of your investment. (Sure, you can just sling it in and hope for the best, but lets face it, you want your new system to ROCK!)
All Soundbars have slightly different setup requirements so do make sure to read the manual that comes with yours when you buy it. The following article should provide you sufficient general information to help you make an informed buying choice and to make sure that your room is suitable for a Soundbar.
Before we get into the details lets have a quick refresher on how a Soundbar actually works. A soundbar is full of small speakers which beam the sound at different angles. The number of speakers depends on whether your have a 2.1, 5.1 or 7.1 system and the make and model that you have. The effect is finished off by all the high-tech trickery like SRS WOW,DTS, Dolby etc.
If you imagine those sounds coming out of the Soundbar at fixed angles you soon realise that you need to make sure that they all intersect at the same place – you!
You now need to make sure that all the lines have an uninterrupted path and that the length of each type of line is about the same. That’s not as complicated as it sounds. Again take a look at the diagram and is fairly obvious.
Some Soundbars do have onboard calibration systems. This means they can throw out a sound and then configure itself based on what it receives from the onboard microphone. These systems are fantastic. Other systems allow you to manually control the output which again is a huge advantage. However, even if you have a system with these fantasic tuning features you will improve sound quality by trying to follow these guidelines;
The distance between the Soundbar and you should be greater than 6ft. (1.8m)
Install the unit in the centre of the left and right wall
Listening position should be in front of the unit
Items of furniture should not block the travel of sound (picture those lines on the diagram
Listening position should not be too close to the walls
Walls should be solid enough to reflect sound beams
Measure the width of your TV stand and make sure the Soundbar will fit without obstructions
When you get your Soundbar read the manual carefully to get advice specific to your model before commencing the setup process!
Having figured out the positioning the next thing to do is to figure out how to cable everthing together. There are (of course) lots of different ways of doing this!
Obviously we can’t be very specific because the options vary so much, but what we are going to do is layout the broad wiring approaches that you’re likely to see and explain some of the differences in cable types. When you wire up your own Soundbar make sure to read and understand the manual thoroughly!
Entry Level Soundbars
The most basic of Soundbars have a simple 3.5mm stereo jack input. You just connect the headphone output from your TV to the input on the Soundbar; maybe adjust some volume/tone settings on the Soundbar and you’re done. All your gadgets (Wii, Xbox etc) plug into the TV like normal.
The great advantage with this is the simplicity and the fact that normally you don’t need another remote control – you continue to use your TV remote as normal.
You won’t get the best sound from such a system but it will still be brilliant compared to the TV on its own!
In the mid range things get more interesting and Soundbars in this category typically have multiple input options and possibly HDMI.
Devices all connected to TV
If you Soundbar doesn’t have many inputs (For instance no HDMI) then you may choose to have all your gadgets (Wii, Xbox etc) plugged into the TV and then the sound out from the TV going into the Soundbar. Typically in this scenario you will want to use an optical connection.
Some Soundbars in the Mid-Range will come with an HDMI input and an output. This means you can connect HDMI devices (Such as a BluRay player) directly to the Soundbar. Video signal will then be passed through to the TV. If the HDMI on the Soundbar and the TV is ARC compliant then you won’t need any more cabling between the Soundbar and the TV as the single HDMI cable will not only pass video signal to the TV but sound from the TV back to the Soundbar also.
HDMI (Non ARC)
If your TV or Soundbar don’t support ARC then normally you will use an additional optical cable from the TV optical out port back to the Soundbar.
Some Soundbars in the Mid-Range come with a separate subwoofer. In this case they are normally connected with either with a direct cable or wireless.
Top of range Soundbars
Top of the range Soundbars like the awesome Yamaha YSP2200BL typically have all the connection options of the midrange but more of them! The YSP-2200 for instance has RCA, Optical, coaxial, IPod Doc adapter and three HDMI inputs!
In this instance you may be able to connect All your gadgets (Wii, Xbox, BluRay player) directly to the Soundbar.
So there you have it! If you have any more questions about connecting a Soundbar then feel free to send them in via the Contact Form.