So my spending escapades haven’t stopped with a super sweet projector and screen….it now has trickled into a little thing called audio. I guess I had to take my own advice and invest in what would finally satisfy me from both the audio and video sides of home theater.
I had a pretty great sounding soundbar that incorporated Dolby Atmos technology but I still felt like I was missing the immersion and experience I was looking for. Don’t get me wrong, Atmos is a fantastic technology that really adds another beautiful and powerful component to movie soundtracks. The two problems I had are these: the audio output/fidelity from a soundbar is restricted by its compact size and because Atmos is new there is very little content that an Atmos system can take advantage of. (If you’re curious, Dolby Atmos is layered on top of Dolby True-HD and has 7.1 channels of lossless audio so you’re not being downgraded to Dolby Digital 5.1 if you don’t have an Atmos capable audio system or blu-ray player). Back to my problems, in order to have great sounding audio you need a large speaker to push out high performance sounds. By their nature soundbars have small drivers/speakers so they can’t pump out serious sound like a dedicated sound system can. I don’t just mean loud sounds I also mean more accurate, precise sounding audio. Movie soundtracks are really supposed to hit you with emotional weight and almost physical punches. These weights are minimally present on a soundbar/subwoofer combo and they don’t really hit home without a proper setup.
That’s where high-end audio comes in to save the day! Enter Klipsch, Polk, Pioneer, and Denon to name a few. As shown in the picture above, this system is a serious space and money investment. The floorstanding speakers are 42 inches high and the subwoofer weighs 41 pounds! The system I purchased is the Reference Premier HD Wireless. Setup is a breeze because this is a totally wireless setup outside of the power cables for each speaker component, unlike some systems which require additional cables to travel from the wireless sub to the rear satellite speakers like the one pictured below.
I opted for a 7.2 channel system which is incredibly impressive. I have 2 of the floorstanding speakers, a center channel, 4 bookshelf/surround speakers, and 2 subs. The most enveloping part of this system is how much the low notes drive themselves right towards and immediately pull you into the movie. I went for two subwoofers because after much research, I learned that having 2 subs is almost always better than just one big one for more even bass coverage and also a tighter, grippier response. The two subs are also able to share the bass load so that they aren’t being driven to their maximum, which further increases headroom (additional available power) and clean sound without distortion. Dialogue is also crisp and clear which is usually the hardest thing for a sound system to do well because of the complexity of the sounds that fall in that audio range. As cool as Atmos technology is, having really good audio components is just as good as having the height audio channel mixed in.
Verdict: large, heavy, great sounding audio components will never be outdone by a lightweight soundbar/subwoofer combo. I look forward to enjoying this home cinema setup for years to come!