Nine steps to the ideal surround sound set-up
The lowdown on creating the ultimate home cinema pad.
You've got the flatscreen, you've got the games console and you've got the popcorn maker fired up and ready to go. After all that, it would be a sin to settle for your telly's tinny inbuilt speakers. Follow our nine steps below and transform your pedestrian sitting room into an audiophile's paradise.
1/Choose speakers that suit your space.
A full 7.1 system will be a wasted extravagance in a small space. Conversely, if you have lots of room a 2.1 system may not be powerful enough.
2/Don’t forget cables
Not all systems come with speaker cable, and you’ll need to buy quite a few metres of it. Expensive gold-plated cables aren’t necessary as such, but if you feel like splashing out, be our guest.
3/…Or the amplifier
Again, not every speaker system has its own amplification. The B&W MT-25 and most other 5.1 or 7.1 packages need to be hooked up to a home cinema amp or receiver.
Got a set-top box, Blu-ray player and console? Make sure your audio set-up has enough inputs to accommodate all your gear, or you’ll spend your evenings swapping cables.
5/ Only invest in the features you need
Solutions like the Sony BDV-E300 offer more than surround sound. It includes a Blu-ray player, DLNA streaming and radio, which you might already get from your existing kit. Don’t be fooled into paying extra for what you already have.
6/Pick a speaker to suit your TV size
Soundbars are generally designed for TVs measuring in excess of 40 inches, so if your gogglebox is smaller consider another option - the Teufel Motiv 3, perhaps.
7/Try before you buy
When choosing a system don’t be afraid to take some favourite tracks or movies to play in the shop before you part with your money. That way you’ll be able to hear straight away if anything is awry.
You could also opt for an integrated solution, where speakers are installed in your ceilings and walls. Have it done professionally by a Cedia accredited company and expect to pay at least £3,000.
Avoid clicker overload by investing in a universal remote. The Theatre Master 900I learning remote (£400, www.cedia.co.uk), gives complete control of your AV set-up, consoles and other boxes.