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  • Writer's pictureTerri Gilmore

Is it just me or are “background” music and effects on TV louder than the dialogue?

It’s definitely not just you – Many people can hardly make out what characters are saying over the meddling strains of so-called background noise. What’s with the racket? According to Los Angeles-based sound editor Noah Blough, background effects for shows are mixed in soundstages using top-of-the-line 5.1 Dolby surround sound. “Everything is balanced, tuned and sounds great whey they’re done with it,” says Blough. Trouble is, most folks don’t have surround-sound setups in their living rooms, so by the time the tracks make it across your airwaves, they’ve been squashed through traditional right/left “stereo” sound format, and “suddenly they don’t sound so good anymore. Plus, everyone’s TV is a little different,” says Blough. Making matters worse, there are some overzealous sound editors who’ll crank up the volume to showcase a tune or add gravitas to a moment, losing sight of the main event. “They’re so familiar with the episode – they already know what’s going on,” says Blough. “So, when they mix in the sound, they tend to forget that the audience actually needs to hear what’s going on.”

So, what is the solution?

Home Theater in a Box (HTIB) – For those who want to set up a home theater on a budget, a “home theater in a box” is a popular option. These sets cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000, and include the basic items needed to set up a home theater, such as a DVD/CD player (or sometimes a VCR) and five or six compact speakers which can be placed unobtrusively throughout the room.

The home theater in a box and is intended to be hooked up to existing equipment, such as a television, and is usually easy to assemble. It is usually much less expensive to purchase a home theater in a box than it would be to buy all the items separately.

The main disadvantage to these sets is that the speakers are usually not of the highest quality, and the equipment often does not have enough power to fill a large room with sound. However, you can always upgrade you home theater in a box with additional speakers, a satellite speaker or subwoofers.

The home theater in a box may still be the best option for people who are looking for an inexpensive, low cost way to set up a home theater.

5 Best Soundbars Under $200

1. Polk Audio Signa S2 Ultra-Slim Universal TV Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer $169

2. VIZIO SB3821-C6 38-Inch 2.1 Channel Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer $159.88

3. Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar Sound System with Universal Remote Control $199

4. VIZIO SB2821-D6 28-Inch 2.1 Channel Sound bar $129.99

5. Yamaha YAS-108 Sound Bar with Built-in Subwoofers & Bluetooth $165.21

Prices quoted from on 1/14/20 are subject to change

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