At last! True family-friendly home cinema

The problem with most decent-sounding home cinema systems is that they're about as family-friendly as a weekend at The Shining motel. Hoping to solve that conundrum is Q Acoustics whose latest QAV speaker package promises to sound good, yet melt into the background when it's not being used. How?

For a start the speakers use a new NXT driver design called Balanced Mode Radiator. This marries a traditional speaker style piston to an NXT flat panel, giving it much needed low-end oomph to its otherwise over-trebly sound. The BMR is used in the system's ingenious 'soundbar' (more on this in a moment) at the front of a room, and again in inoffensive black or white satellites that serve as rear effects speakers.

The neat thing about the satellites is that they're wedge-shaped so they can be easily hidden in a corner where your walls meet the ceiling, or even at skirting board level so you don't suffer from trailing cables.

Bass duties are filled by a wall-mounted 100W subwoofer that really looks like a radiator or small air-conditioning unit. It's available in black or white.

Speakers that move, and move you

But the soundbar is the cleverest of them all. Three BMR-equipped speakers are mounted on a rack that bolts to the back of your plasma or LCD TV, and server as the front left, centre and right channels in a 5.1-channel surround sound setup.

Each BMR can then be adjusted to suit the width of your TV - so if you have a 37-inch set you move the speakers closer together; if it's up to 50-inch in size you move them further apart. The rack or bracket can even be adjusted forward to back so it aligns perfectly wih the front of your TV. Finally a stockingette cover slips over all three speakers, so the 'soundbar' looks like it actually belongs to the set, rather than as an add-on to it. Genius.

UK distributor Armour Home Electronics tells us that the Q Acoustics QAV system will go on sale in November, priced at £600 for a 5.1-channel system. Speakers can also be bought individually, enabling you to just pick extra bits as needed.