The Basics Of Surround Sound Speakers
Unless you are an audiophile, even for the technology-minded among us, the huge range of surround sound speakers and their features can cause confusion. There are so many options available that, before purchasing a set, it is important to carefully consider what equipment you may be using the speakers with so that you can choose the correct speakers for your needs and set up your home theater system just right.
This means that before you even go out to the mall, you should read up on the different brands on the Internet. You may firstly need to decide whether you want 5.1 surround; if your budget will stretch to 7.1; and what frequency range you need. Speakers at the high end of the range can get expensive, so make sure you do not buy a model with features you don’t need.
If you have a small budget, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to choose a quality set of speakers. If this is the case, however, you will probably want to choose a set with 5 speakers (rather than 7 or more). After this, you should read reviews on different brands and try to choose one – it is important not to mix speakers from different producers and always purchase surround sound devices in a set to ensure that the audio quality and levels remain constant throughout the room.
Generally, the set will contain:
- A central speaker: If you are watching a movie, this is what you hear most of the dialog through and it should be placed as close (or preferably below or above) to the TV as possible.
- * A sub-woofer: This is very important for producing bass and it really enhances the ambiance of the film. Try to place this close to the center of the room, near to the TV.
- The front speakers: There will be at least a left front and right front speaker. They provide a stereo sound so that different parts of music can be played at different sides of the room to improve the audio of special effects etc. If you like, you can combine a better pair of stereo floor speakers with a cheaper set of rear speakers to get a surround effect without sacrificing the quality of the important front speakers.
The actual surround speakers’ placement is important to enhance the overall audio quality. A good set of surround sound speakers can really improve your movie-watching experience and, after you are used to them, you will wonder how people watch movies without them.
Good Surround Sound Speaker Placement
The way you setup and place your speakers in any surround sound system is crucial to the overall effect. Having said that, there are a few simple considerations that will make surround sound speaker placement easy.
Speaker placement will depend on the type of sound system you have bought. There are two main systems available today, 5.1 surround sound and 7.1 surround sound. A 5.1 surround sound system will actually have six speakers. They are: front right, front left, front centre, back right and left and finally a sub woofer (the .1). The subwoofer is is a special speaker that handles the bass and low frequency sound effects.
Many guides and installation manuals can get quite technical in their setup instructions. They always deal with the ideal circumstances but remember you must apply the principles to a real, working room. The principles are important but do not get hung up on the details.
The main point to remember is that surround sound is always targeted to one specific spot in the room. This is your ideal seating spot. Of course you can sit anywhere in the room, it just means that this one spot is the best for listening. Think of this spot as the target, and you will be aiming the speakers at this target.
Try to have the front right and left, and the back right and left speakers set off the ground, close to the ear height. The front centre speaker deliverers most of the dialogue from the audio and should be set directly in front of the screen for best results. The rear speakers should be located slightly behind your sitting area if possible. The front and back surround speakers should be equally spaced from your sitting spot. The position of the subwoofer is not crucial as its sound is non-directional, so place the subwoofer in a convenient spot.
Stick to these main principles as closely as is practical for your room, but do not stress over the minor details. Experiment a little to find out what works best in your room.
How To Combine Subwoofers With Stereo Loudspeakers
If you are dissatisfied with the bass performance of your home stereo loudspeakers, you should evaluate all aspects of the room and the system before you actually even consider buying a subwoofer. In this world of gadgets and constant exposure to magazines telling us what we need, it is hard to stay objective.
First of all, are your speakers properly positioned? Make sure your listening position forms a triangle with your front speakers. Your speakers should be toed in and point at you. Next, you could try to push the speakers closer to the wall or move them to a completely different location if that’s an option. But if none of this works and you still desire more bass, it is time to check whether good home subwoofers can help your audio system sound better.
Subwoofers are rectangular boxes with a single-speaker and some electronics called active crossovers along with an audio amplifier. You can use the settings on the back panel of the subwoofer to adjust at what particular frequency you need support. I suggest picking a range below 70 Hz. Then you need to set the volume of the bass speaker. But how do you termine whether all these settings are actually correct? That is a good question. The answer is that unless you are purchasing a very expensive model in the upper 3 or 4 digit price category that comes with some measuring equipment, you need to subjectively determine the right settings. As a rule of thumb you can assume that if it sounds good to you then it is good. Test some bass-heavy material to make sure the rumbling sounds won’t disturb your enjoyment. Also check for vibrations that can be extremely annoying. The ideal subwoofer settings are found if you can feel more bass but you don’t notice the subwoofer box at all. Some AV receivers are equipped with auto-adjustment tools for subwoofers along with a microphone. You should make use of these invaluable tools. If you buy from a reputable dealer, they will usually help you with the setup as well.