Improve Your Big-Screen Audio

Sales of flat-screen TVs took off over the holidays. But the sound on that great-looking TV you bought probably doesn't match the picture in quality.

Consumer Reports has some easy-and not so expensive-solutions for upgrading your TV sound system.

In the store, the pictures on the LCD and plasma TVs look terrific.

But Consumer Reports finds there's a drawback with the VERY thin TVs.

"As TVs get thinner and thinner, there's less space for high-quality speakers. And TVs can't reproduce the true surround sound that's found on DVD and Blu-ray movies." said Jim Willcox of Consumer Reports.

The solution-add a separate sound system.

"If you don't want to spend too much money or time on set up, consider getting a home-theater-in-a-box system. These are prepackaged systems that generally come with everything you'll need: a receiver, two to seven speakers, a subwoofer, and generally color-coded cable that'll help you connect everything." said Willcox.

Consumer Reports tested 22 systems.

Some include a Blu-ray player or a DVD player.

Testers also used a listening room.

They also use this test signal to measure frequency response, which is an indication of how well a system can reproduce sound.

Consumer Reports found this Yamaha delivers very good audio.

While it doesn't have a disc player, it's a budget-friendly option at $330.

If you're in the market for a Blu-ray player, Consumer Reports recommends the Sony BDV-E300 for $500.

"This system offers very good sound and its Blu-ray player has excellent picture quality with both DVDs and Blu-ray discs." said Willcox.

With both of these systems, the sound you hear comes closer to matching the great video you're watching.

If dealing with equipment and cables doesn't appeal to you, consider a sound bar.

It has several speakers and an amplifier in a single enclosure that you can put near your TV or even mount on a wall.

Consumer Reports recommends a $300 system from Vizio, model number VSB210Ws.


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