My best advice is when you splash out on a new large screen TV to enjoy your TV and movies on a panoramic 50” plasma or LCD consider the sound. Will the tiny built in speakers really provide the cinematic experience you enjoy at the cinema? The simple answer is NO! You need to invest in a proper surround sound system and I suggest you spend at least as much as you paid for your TV on the system, if not even more. It is hard to appreciate how much a proper surround system can make to your TV and film viewing until you have experienced it, so try to get a demonstration in your local Hi-Fi or AV dealer to really hear the benefit. I do not recommend the one box solutions available in the large electrical retailers as they generally have very poor speakers which will not do justice to your system.

It is best to consider buying a separate system consisting of a Surround sound receiver and either 5.1 speaker package or separate speakers, made up of front R & L, centre, surround rear R & L and a powered sub-woofer. Ideally spend a minimum of £250 to £300 on the AV Receiver and £600 on the 5.1 speaker package. Alternately, your TV sound can be improved by the addition of a sounder (or sound-base) but don't expect the sound to be as good as a separate system with quality speakers. That said there are some reasonable solutions from the likes of Sonos, Yamaha and others. An item like the Yamaha YSP-2700 Digital Sound Projector Sound-bar includes a wireless subwoofer, making placement simpler, and can recreate 7.1 sound by bouncing sounds off the room walls. It also supports multi-room playback (MusicCast) so is very flexible.

Yamaha YSP-2700
Yamaha YSP-2700 Digital Sound Projector

I would suggest looking at a Yamaha RX-V683 (allows expansion to Dolby Atmos speakers) and the Monitor Audio Vector AV or MASS 5.1 speaker package as a starting point. You could opt a 5.1 only receiver but this will limit your future upgrade to support the additional speakers needed for the new sound formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Most new AV receivers have network support for playing internet radio and streaming from a local PC and some also support multi-room audio, such as the Yamaha MusicCast system. Look for models with Apple AirPlay support if you have iPads and iPhones.

Yamaha RX-V683
Yamaha RX-V683

If you are serious about your music then looking for a package such as the Monitor Audio Bronze range, although a serious investment, will repay you with wonderful sound. The Bronze AV 6 package is a good choice and can be found at a good price when bundled with an AV receiver. For example, the Yamaha RX-A1060 AV Receiver with Monitor Audio Bronze 6 Floor-standing 5.1 Speaker Package can be found for under £2,000.

Monitor Audio Bronze Series Speakers
Monitor Audio Bronze speaker range

Lifestyle speakers are not always considered to be the best sounding, as often their style and size will mean absolute sound quality is reduced. However, speakers such as the Monitor Audio MASS or the even better Radius series speakers are really quite good for most small size UK rooms. The Radius R270 floor standing speakers do deliver a sound well above their size and if finances allow can be paired with a subwoofer from higher up the Monitor Audio range to good effect.

Monitor Audio MASS 5.1 speakers
Monitor Audio MASS 5.1 with optional stands (or they can be wall mounted)

When purchasing Hi-Fi and other audio equipment having a listen is very important, so where possible always get a demonstration of anything you intend to purchase, especially speakers. I always try to buy from a local retailer, as often they will provide better service and sometimes match internet prices; just ask! If not then Richersounds can be found in most towns and cities and can provide demos. For online look at Peter Tyson and Sevenoaks but as always Google is your friend when trying to locate the best prices.

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