High quality sound is at the heart of every memorable movie. Imagine watching Jaws, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones without the brilliant music of John Williams; or the Rocky movies without Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”. One of the biggest reasons those movies are so memorable is because of the amazing music that accompanies them. This is one of the biggest reasons people go to the theater to watch movies like Jurassic Park, Lord of the Rings, and more. Movie theaters invest a lot of time and money into creating a quality sound experience for their customers.
What most people don’t know is that you can experience movie theater sound quality from the comfort of your own home. Technology available in speakers and other sound system equipment can take your home movie viewing experience to a whole new level.
Components of a Sound System
Trying to imagine everything that goes into a good sound system can be overwhelming. Researching and learning about all the different parts can be complicated and time consuming. Fortunately, we’ve come up with a list of some of the essentials you’ll need to get the most out of your home theater sound system.
The most notable (and visible) piece of your home theater sound system will be your speakers. Buying quality speakers is an exciting first step to setting up your theater surround sound system. Research the quality of your speakers before purchasing them. Buying cheap speakers will give you cheap sound, but you also don’t want to blow your entire budget on speakers that are overly expensive. Instead, find a middle ground of quality speakers at a price you can afford. It’s also important that you find speakers that fit the shape and type of your room. Try different types of speakers before you buy any.
After you’ve purchased the speakers you want, take time to match the timbre of the speakers. This means that each speaker produces the same quality of sound. Speakers with different timbre will produce an altered or unnatural sound quality. Matching speaker brand is the easiest way to make ensure that the sound quality is the same across all your speakers.
Once you’ve purchased your speakers, you’ll know how much power you’ll need to have in a receiver. Receivers have a few essential functions:
- They act as a preamplifier that controls and switches what audio and video sources are selected. This also allows for incoming stereo or surround sound signals to be processed and distributed to the correct amplifier channels and subwoofer output. It can also route video signals from source components, like a DVD player, directly to the TV.
- They contain a radio tuner for AM/FM and Internet or XM/Sirius Satellite radio.
- Receivers also act as a multi-channel amplifier that sends surround sound signals and power to the speakers.
The next thing on your list should be a subwoofer, or woofer. Subwoofers are special speakers that reproduce bass and sub-bass frequencies in movies and music. Again, the type and size of your room will play a part in what kind of subwoofer is right for you.
While these source components aren’t a direct part of the sound system in your home theater, they are a necessary part of your home theater. Your home theater’s source components are up to you, but many people choose to bring in DVD or Blu-ray players, Turntables, and more. Make sure these are quality pieces and that they interface easily and smoothly with the other components of your home theater sound system.
Once you’ve got all the pieces of your home sound system you want, it’s important to know that where you put everything matters. What type of room will you be placing them in? Does your theater have carpeted or hardwood floors? Carpeted floors are generally better for theaters because they keep the sound from reflecting (echoing) off the floor.
Most speaker systems require at least five speakers, with the subwoofer optional (5.1 surround sound). Traditionally, three are placed up front and two are used for surround sound. The center channel speaker should be placed above or below the TV/projector, and as close to the viewing screen as possible. Left and right speakers should be placed away from the center channel. The optimal angle between you and the speakers should be between 20-30 degrees, and the speakers should be about 40 inches off the floor. Place the subwoofer near the right surround sound speaker, which should be placed in line with or just behind your viewing position.
Now that understand the parts and pieces of a home theater system you can start budgeting and saving for one. When you’re ready to purchase everything, you’ll understand a little better what to get and why each piece is important.
If you’ve still got questions about how to set up your home theater sound system, give us a call. We’re here to help you design and enjoy your personalized home theater experience.