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I'm a longtime apartment dweller in a dense city, so home theater space is hard to come by. I have to decide what I can comfortably add to a living room already packed with PC and console hardware. For too long, that has meant saying "no" to good surround sound.

But surround-friendly soundbars now make good sound possible in a smaller package, without needing to run wires through walls or drop some speakers in the ceiling. Some systems claim to do it all, complete with creative speaker placement and virtualized surround-sound tricks. Others use wireless pieces, including subwoofers and satellite speakers. In a particularly recent development, some soundbars even offer compatibility with the "spatial surround" standards of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The latter development, especially on game consoles, has jumpstarted my interest in finding a powerful system that balances performance needs and space demands.

We don't review a lot of home audio at Ars, but a recent test opportunity with the $1,900 Klipsch Cinema 1200 let me try one of the new higher-end "spatial surround" soundbars. (This impressions article is the first of a spatial audio two-parter, with a longer look at Apple Music's growing Dolby Atmos music library to come.)

In addition to years of audio coverage while at Ars, I previously worked as a full-time music critic (which, yes, included careful earplug use during concerts, so I haven't destroyed my ability to discern various frequencies just yet), and I care about accurate sound reproduction for film, music, and games in my home. After spending significant testing time with the Klipsch Cinema 1200, I hope this look at the system is useful in your own search for an ideal home audio solution.

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Verdict: Impressive, if overpriced and weirdly limited

  • The sound bar, as installed in the author's home. Apologies for the dust. Sam Machkovech
  • How do you feel about massive walls of fabric on the front of your speakers?
  • Personally, I'm not a huge fan. Prime example here: you can see crud collecting in the fabric after a month's use.
  • Power, HDMI plugs. Connect the eARC cable to your TV's eARC port if it supports the standard. Then use the remote's "HDMI1" and "HDMI2" buttons to select whatever devices you plug into those in the sound bar.
  • Ports for LAN, wired subwoofer, and more.
  • One of the satellite speakers.
  • You can't connect this to anything else. Notice the "L / R" slider, which lets you easily redefine which of your speakers goes on which side of your room.
  • Massive subwoofer next to my couch and an, ahem, undusted spot. Sorry about that.
  • Closer look at how morning sun in my apartment catches the black oak finish.
  • Rear of subwoofer. Connect an additional subwoofer to this one if you want.

Klipsch Cinema 1200 Surround Sound System

(Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.) I'll start at the end: when I finally plugged the four-piece Klipsch Cinema 1200 system into my television via HDMI eARC—no receiver required—I found myself immensely impressed by its set-it-and-forget-it capabilities. Everything from straightforward stereo to Dolby Atmos sounded quite good in my modest living room.

But $1,900 is a lot for an all-in-one set. And Klipsch doesn't offer enough options, tweaks, and customization paths to make this a slam-dunk home-theater recommendation at that price.

The set is built around a beefy 54-inch-wide sound bar, which includes five integrated speakers—three forward-facing and two upward-projecting. Those are joined by a pair of 9-inch satellite speakers, which also include one upward-projecting speaker each, and a massive 20.5-inch-tall subwoofer whose top measures 15.75×15.75 inches. If you like the idea of a small coffee table that rumbles immensely, this handsomely modeled black-oak-lined block might be your jam.

Each of the four pieces must plug into a power outlet using included five-foot cables (no power bricks), and the sound bar communicates with the rest of the set's pieces via wireless 2.4 GHz signals. It's all pre-synced out of the box. Once everything is powered on, the system is meant to be plugged directly into a television via HDMI, with support for up to HDMI 2.1.

Should you wish to replace the included subwoofer or add a second subwoofer, those are options. As of press time, the set doesn't include similar compatibility for replacing or adding wireless satellites.

Source : https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/10/klipschs-1900-cinema-1200-close-but-not-quite-for-set-and-forget-atmos/

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