Let’s say that you really don’t care that much about movies. Like at all. And you think that surround sound is just a bunch of loud noise and racket and that if you could wrap up all the bass into a big ball, you’d laugh a pleasant little laugh while you chucked it straight into an incinerator. All you really want to do is hear your Weather Channel forecast on the 8’s and your Matlock dialog. But lately you’ve noticed that that isn’t getting any easier. The answer?
A home theater system.
Seriously. And here’s three reasons why:
1) TV sound sucks.
With three exceptions, when you are buying a TV, you’re buying it for the picture, not the sound. (Exception 1: Certain Bang & Olufsen TVs. These things have some real audio. Of course, paying for this is going to feel like passing a money kidney stone. Exception 2: The Mitsubishi Unisen models. These are one of the rare sets actually built with improved audio in mind. Paired with a subwoofer, they have some amazing TV audio. Exception 3: The Bose Video Wave. Again, a TV built around better sound. Granted, an incredibly, mega, super overpriced TV with way underperforming video specs and a fair audio system with a bizarre, proprietary remote control that could all be purchased cheaper — and way better — by going a la carte with different brands, but a decent sounding TV nonetheless.) So, barring those three things, TV = sucky sound.
2) Modern TVs have even suckier sound.
It’s true! As TVs have gotten thinner and thinner, the speakers and amplifiers have had to get smaller and smaller. Now many sets actually have speakers in the back of the TV firing sound away from you and often straight into a wall! It’s true! And in case it needed saying, that ain’t a good thing!
3) Audio is mixed for surround.
This is especially true for movies, be also for almost all big TV shows (think primetime) and network/ESPN sporting events (think crowd noise). When all of these multi-channel elements are mixed back into two-channels, the levels can often be weird, meaning that these noises that should be ambient sounds behind you or off to the side can drown out the dialog.