05.Setting up a sound bar
Setting up a sound bar
Neither of these technologies is very effective in large, open-plan rooms, although the HRTF products may cope a little better. Beam formers are best suited to reasonably symmetrical rooms with hard floors and walls. Regardless of the room type, we found the sweet spot - the point where you get the best sense of sounds coming from different directions - was small for all models. Move away from this position, and sounds can become weird.
The Yamaha YSP-4000 and YSP-600 have automated calibration which involves placing a microphone in the listening position and running a short set-up procedure. During our test set-up these models had trouble coping with rooms where the doors positioned behind the unit were open; both placed to the left some of the sound that should have appeared to come from the right. However, once the set-up was done with the doors closed, opening the door didn't appear to cause a problem.
Both Denon models produce sound that is biased to the right. We couldn't find a way of compensating for this (and Denon couldn't help either). Most of the others on test only needed the room size or listening distance to be entered using the remote control and front panel display.
Positioning the sound bars is quite straightforward, but you should make sure you have enough space in front of or below your screen. If you use a subwoofer, make sure there's enough cable length to allow you to put it in the best position in the room. The Denon DHT-FS3 and Yamaha YAS-71 have proprietary cable connections, which means you can't buy a separate longer cable in your local electronics store to give you more latitude when positioning the subwoofer. The Samsung has a wireless subwoofer connection, so you don't have to worry about wires at all.
See our video guide to setting up a home theatre system.