Over the last year, the importance of quality home entertainment has increased. To better understand the impact 2020 has had on entertainment, Dolby conducted a consumer study with Wakefield Research, which revealed that Indian consumers are prioritizing and seeking better experiences possibly driven by long hours spent at home. Indian consumers are spending more on quality to better connect with content—and to connect with each other.
There was a clear shift in consumer preference for premium content experiences. Consumers are willing to invest in premium quality content and in devices and are being able to have an enhanced audio and visual experience. The study reveals that 94% of consumers in India are willing to pay more for a premium subscription for enhanced video & audio quality, whereas 96% of them will upgrade their entertainment equipment in the span of the next 6 months.
There is a variety of equipment available in the market, depending upon one’s budget, area, and technology upgrade. Many of us hear “home theatre” and think of soundproof rooms, cushioned seats, and a large screen. However, building a home theatre does not need to break a bank.
Whether you want to upgrade the audio in your living room or invest in a full home cinema set-up, here are our recommendations to ensure you get a seamless entertainment experience.
Where you plan to set up your system can dictate what you will need. If you have a fairly large room, invest in a home theatre system but for a smaller room, you could go with a soundbar with a sub-woofer.
If you are doing up a big room and want surround sound with a theatre experience, go for a 5.1 or 7.1 channel surround sound system. This has 5 or 7 separate speakers, including a centre speaker, and an audio-video receiver or home theatre. For an immersive experience, get a Dolby Atmos-enabled sound system.
Large speakers can overwhelm a small room. Hence, when setting up a home entertainment system in a smaller space, consider getting a Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbar.
Another important aspect is to buy a home theatre system that has a Dolby Vision compatible logo. This will pass High Dynamic Range Dolby Vision video through the home theatre to the television and will enable you to enjoy the HDR content.
Allocate the right budget
When you plan the home entertainment system, it is important to understand how to divide your budget. Don’t neglect the speakers. They are a critical component in experiencing great sounding audio. While planning the setup, allocate the bulk of your budget (up to 80%) on speakers and about 20% on the amplifier. Don’t spend large amounts of money on unnecessary features or a very expensive amplifier.
A common misconception is that all home theatre devices which deliver a cinematic experience are expensive. Today, an Indian consumer can find living room audio devices with next-generation object-based immersive audio technology like Dolby Atmos, at various price points that suit the needs of the price and quality conscious Indian consumer.
Choose the right supporting equipment
Video accounts for a major part of the cinema experience. The right television can enhance your entertainment manifold. It is recommended to go with 4K (or UHD) televisions that support Dolby Vision HDR and are Dolby Atmos enabled. Another important consideration is the eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) feature found in most new smart televisions. This enables you to transmit the original full-resolution audio signal back through the HDMI cable to your home theatre or soundbar and reproduce immersive audio without compromise. The home theatre should always be connected to the ARC/ eARC port of the television.
If there is no eARC port available on the television, it may be better to connect your media streaming device (TV stick) directly with the home theatre system for enhanced audio output.
Everything In the Right Place
Nowadays, most home theatre systems and soundbars are easy to plug and play. However, one needs to consider the positioning of the speakers while setting it up. For optimal effect, place your Dolby Atmos enabled speakers at the height of your ears when seated, with no obstructions between you and the speakers.
A soundbar should be placed beneath the television screen. Some Dolby Atmos enabled soundbars have speakers which point upwards and reflect sound off the roof for an enhanced immersive experience. If you have one of these, take care that these speakers don’t get obstructed by the TV. Keep the soundbar below and slightly ahead of the TV.
The Final Touches
The most crucial part after installing a home theatre system is the final alignment of the system. 90% of home theatres have an auto-alignment feature. A small microphone is usually provided, which should be placed at the listening position while running the auto-alignment process. This usually results in optimum quality output. Make sure to keep the listening environment completely silent during the alignment process to guarantee the best results.
To get the best immersive experience, it is recommended that you stream content in Dolby. Stream your favourite content from Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video or any other streaming service in the unmatched combination of Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. People often assume that setting up a home theatre is an overwhelming task, but the key is to get the basics right. Plan it right and enjoy an immersive cinema-like experience in your home
About the Author
Pankaj Kedia is Managing Director for Emerging Markets at Dolby Laboratories and has been with the company since 2009. In his current role, he has developed and executed strategy for growing Dolby’s business across the Emerging Markets region. He has also helped in driving the adoption of Dolby’s technology across the Consumer Entertainment ecosystem. Prior to this, he has worked with Autodesk as their Business and Regional Manager for 11 years. He has an experience of over 25 years in digital entertainment and technology.