By Leslie Meredith

If all we needed to create the drama of the movie theater at home was a dark room and a bag of Orville Redenbacher Movie Style popcorn, we’d all claim to have a home theater. Even adding a big screen TV, 42” or larger, won’t satisfy. What’s missing? Sound.

George Lucas, the founder of Skywalker Sound and winner of 17 Academy Awards for Best Sound and Best Sound Editing said, “Sound is 50 percent of the movie-going experience.” Audiences are entertained and moved by what they hear as much as the images they see on the screen. Lucas’ theory for the big screen experience is just as useful at home.

Any home theater sound system, from the least expensive sound bar to the most expensive 7.1 surround sound system, will sound better than TV speakers, even those that claim “virtual surround sound.” And surround sound isn’t just for movies. Most HD content from local stations – sports, news, reality shows and other regular programming - is broadcast in surround sound.


You can add a surround sound system with multiple speakers, connections and wires running around the room, or try a more economical and easier option: the sound bar. It’s one component with built-in technology to simulate the sound of multiple speakers in multiple locations by integrating speakers, a receiver and a woofer in one sleek package. In contrast to boxy speakers, the slim sound bar can be mounted on a wall or placed in a media center. Sound bars from big names like Sony, Sharp and Yamaha are available starting at under $300 – some for as little as $100, far less than a 5.1 surround sound system. Installation is light years easier than the home theater system -one connection to the TV and that’s it.

Like any electronic gear, sound bar features vary. You’ll want to consider the number of integrated speakers and other components. Remember, more is not always merrier. The Yamaha YSP-900 Digital Sound Projector features a single-speaker system and incorporates Yamaha’s IntelliBeam technology. This means each component of the speaker is positioned to emit more realistic surround sound than a competitor’s 20+ speaker sound bar. Some sound bars come with a calibration tool to program the unit’s setting to the dimensions of your room. Like multi-speaker systems, you can still plug in an MP3 player for music only.

A sound bar is a simple and inexpensive way to significantly improve your entertainment experience. Because a sound bar relies on sound waves bouncing off the room’s walls at different angles to simulate surround sound, a sound bar works well in smaller rooms like bedrooms as well as in larger ones like family rooms. Just think, you can have a “home theater” in any room of your house. Microwave the popcorn, turn off the lights and enjoy Star Wars the way George Lucas intended.

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