With all the fuss that's been made about 3D TV recently, you'd think it's the last word in immersive home entertainment. But surround sound has been available in homes since the early '80s, and we think it's by far the best way to make yourself feel like you're actually at the event you're watching. With this year's World Cup being a high-definition affair, it's only sensible to have a surround-sound system that can make the most of that 5.1-channel audio.
If a full, six-speaker surround-sound system isn't suitable for your living room, then don't worry. Less complicated systems are available that will increase your viewing pleasure, without filling your home with speakers.
The most complex system in this round-up is represented by the Onkyo TX-SR607, a DIY set-up. You buy the AV receiver, then add your own choice of 5.1-channel speaker systems -- or 7.1-channel, if you're feeling flush and love Blu-ray movies. A system like this is probably going to cost you between £1,500 and £2,500 to put together, so it's mainly for dedicated AV enthusiasts. But it will deliver sound like you've never heard before, and it's worth every penny. We've matched the TX-SR607 with a Klipsch 5.1-channel speaker system. It's truly stunning.
Also from Onkyo comes a much cheaper and much more scalable offering. We've picked the HTX-22HD, but there's an updated version available now, the HTX-22HDX, which is likely to be well worth considering. The HTX-22HD is a 2.1-channel system that's upgradeable. If you find yourself falling in love with it and want to add rear effects speakers, it's just a matter of buying a set and plugging them in. We also like this system because it's compatible with Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD, which means it's ready for Blu-ray.
Samsung and many other companies -- LG and Panasonic included-- have 5.1-channel home-cinema-in-a-box offerings. These offer a complete set of surround-sound speakers and generally include either a DVD or Blu-ray player. The Samsung HT-BD1252 has a Blu-ray drive, six speakers and optical digital inputs for a TV and satellite receiver. It's a great all-in-one system that keeps the hassle out of getting engrossing audio.
Finally, the LG HB354BS is a Blu-ray player with 2.1-channel audio. There's no potential to upgrade this system to 5.1 channels at a later date, but it's a great option for adding vastly improved sound and picture quality to a second TV, or for people who want the most compact but flexible set-up possible. It provides you with an iPod dock too, and all manner of sound modes to create the best audio experience.
Whichever system you choose, remember that audio is half the experience, and nothing will make you feel more immersed in your viewing than a good surround-sound system.