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Modern projectors bring Hollywood into your living room thanks to high resolution, rich colors and a wide choice of streaming options. However, when it comes to sound, they usually sound like the open channel next door. There are many ways to optimize the sound.

What sound options does your projector offer?

First of all, it is important to know which sound options your projector theoretically supports. The Samsung Freestyle and Xgimi Halo+ projectors we tested are excellent examples of how far apart the options for connecting external output devices can be.

Samsung’s mini projector The Freestyle offers two options for outputting external sound. One option is to connect your own speakers, soundbars, headphones and the like via Bluetooth. You can pair many popular Bluetooth audio devices with the projector in no time. Think of Apple AirPods and the HomePod, the Samsung Galaxy Buds or surround systems from brand manufacturers.

Option 1: You connect the projector and headphones or speakers via Bluetooth. (Using Samsung material)

The second option relies on an external player such as a BluRay player or game console. With an intermediate amplifier, you can route the sound to external speakers or headphones while the projector outputs the video signal.

In both cases, different surround formats are possible to experience a real home cinema feeling.

Option 2: >An external player forwards its signal to the amplifier, which forwards the audio signal to various output devices. (Using Samsung material)

Other projectors such as the Xgimi Halo+ still offer the connection of wired speakers and headphones via a 3.5 mm jack. Here, however, only a stereo signal comes to your ears.

Both transfer options have their pros and cons. Bluetooth connections are quick to set up and eliminate cable clutter. However, many playback devices rely on a battery – when it’s dead, so is the listening pleasure.

Wired transmissions are less prone to interference but require you to route and secure the cables properly. HiFi friends rely on this.

Which cables do you need?

If you want to use cable transmission, you need the right cable. for the road from the player to the receiver or playback device you need an HDMI cable (standard, mini or micro it doesn’t matter) or an optical cable to pass the surround sound.

Both standards are of the same quality and it takes a little less work to use just one HDMI cable, because it carries the video signal in addition to the sound.

The signal that the receiver sends to the individual boxes is either via a cable or via the Bluetooth connection. Sometimes the manufacturers rely on simple copper cables that you have to cut, sometimes on ready-made strips for signal transfer. The data sheet and the scope of delivery provide you with information about this. Check out the manufacturer’s product websites.

Dolby formats as a surround standard

If you want a full cinematic experience, surround sound is the way to go. There are different standards, each with its advantages and disadvantages. A synonym for all-round sound is Dolby, but the American company offers different formats and also has competition. A small selection of current surround sound standards:

  • Dolby Digital (aka AC-3) is the most common surround format on DVD and BluRay, and many TV stations and streaming services use it. The most common is Dolby Digital 5.1 with five normal speakers and a subwoofer for the low frequencies. Dolby also offers its digital format as a 7.1 mix and as a stereo signal. While Dolby Digital is widely used, it has one major drawback: the audio tracks are compressed to fit on a single disc or narrow stream. So some sound details are definitely lost. HiFi aficionados will sniff at this, but the quality is usually high enough for the average user.
  • Dolby TrueHD eliminates this shortcoming and provides a lossless codec to reproduce every nuance of sound. However, the format can only be found on BluRays.
  • Dolby Pro Logic II can be found on many DVDs containing older material. There is no real surround format behind the name, but a process that mixes a virtual 5.1 sound from a stereo signal. A further development of this is Dolby Pro Logic IIxwhich in turn upscales a 5.1 audio stream to 6.1 or 7.1 surround sound.
  • Dolby Atmos is an object-based surround sound that has been available in the home since 2014. This means that the sound engineers can position sounds in a 3D field, so that, for example, a piece of string does not only come from a certain direction, but sounds as if it were in space. A full-fledged Atmos setup has at least two extra front speakers that are attached to the top to move objects vertically in terms of sound.

DTS as a challenger

The big Dolby challenger is called DTS. Whether a manufacturer prefers Dolby or this manufacturer probably depends on licensing costs and the available source material, which the sound engineers must mix accordingly.

  • That DTS surroundformat, such as Dolby Digital, is a lossy audio format, albeit with a higher resolution. DTS outputs a stereo or 5.1 signal.
  • DTS Neo:6 is the equivalent of Dolby Pro Logic and mixes a surround sound into 5.1 or 6.1 of a stereo signal.
  • DTS HD provides lossless surround sound, but is only available on BluRay discs.

DTS offers other formats that mimic their Dolby counterparts in many ways. From the number of speakers to different audio codecs to the vertical sound alignment, DTS has almost everything that Dolby offers.

Match sound formats

It is important to know that the two competitors are not compatible with each other. However, there are projectors, receivers and speakers like headphones that support both worlds be able to. On the software side, it is mainly the apps that determine which format is available on the ears.

The Disney+ streaming service, launched in 2020, will only offer Dolby Atmos support since the end of July 2022, but not for all content. Netflix, Amazon Prime and Co. also struggle with the fact that not all movies and series support all sound formats.

They come from the hardware supported audio formats can be viewed in the datasheet.

In the Euronics shop you will also find information about supported audio formats under the technical details. (With material from Samsung and Euronics)

If you want to get everything in line, before you buy, check where the projector, sound system and apps have the largest possible intersection of sound format. However, in our opinion, there is no all-round carefree package. But what are the best sound options?

Headphones – wired or via Bluetooth

Headphones have the charm of getting the sound right into your ears. Virtually all headphones can handle true stereo audio with one diaphragm on the left and one diaphragm on the right.

A woman is wearing headphones.
Headphones are a cheap and good option to experience better sound. Usually only for one person. (Photo: Pexels)

There are also a handful of headphones that provide true surround sound through software tricks or additional speakers. Again, it should be noted that the supported audio formats depend on the respective headphone model and projector and on the medium (Bluray, DVD or Stream).

Studying the datasheet is therefore a must to align the peripherals with the rest of the setup. However, a major disadvantage remains that usually only one person can enjoy better sounds in this way. Few projectors support sound output to multiple audio devices.

Soundbars – the space-saving premium solution

Soundbars combine the finest membranes for high, mid and low tones in an elongated housing. Every reputable TV and audio manufacturer offers a selection of these compact, sonorous speakers.

Since soundbars usually do without additional sound bodies, they generate real surround sound with software tricks. Skillfully mixing the individual sound channels, whether actually coming from the side or behind, gives the impression of a full 360-degree soundscape.

It falls apart when you turn your head away from the screen. However, if you are fascinated by watching series and movies, soundbars are a cheap and good quality compromise to improve the projector sound.

An example of this is the Denon Home Sound Bar 550 for about 500 euros, which my colleague Frank Müller will present to you in detail.

Surround sound systems with and without receiver

The top class of home cinema are true all-round sound systems. A few models don’t require a bulky receiver, but usually this amplifier is the heart of the immersive world of sound.

The price range goes from cheap to insanely expensive and runs past the hardware features and software compatibility. Entry level devices come with inexpensive speakers whose sound is adequate and usually offer only a small selection of supported audio formats.

Audiophiles swear by true surround sound systems like this one. (Photo: Pixabay)

More expensive systems increase the number of speakers, relying on high-quality components and loads of software to cover a wide variety of audio formats.

Surround systems would therefore be almost ideal and without negative points. But they don’t get away without a little quirk. Installing them requires space and a technical understanding of where each speaker should ideally be placed.

This takes a lot of time and may need one or two fixes until everything is perfect for home theater. However, if the setup is right, they are qualitatively superior to headphones and soundbars.

You should pay attention to this before you buy!

Putting together a home theater setup takes some research. That’s why it’s best to start from the back and see what sound formats your favorite BluRay discs or streaming services offer. From there, the chain leads to a compatible receiver and projector that brings media and sound system together.

But as you can see, there are a few options for optimizing projector sound with external peripherals. There is no one perfect solution for everything. What exactly is ideal for you is determined by the hardware and apps. But it also depends a bit on your own preferences. If you want to isolate yourself, headphones are preferable. Sound bars provide the fast, simple surround solution, while dedicated surround systems refine the home theater after a complex installation.

At EURONICS you will find the right hi-fi and audio components for your projector.

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