Setting Up Speakers In Your Home Theater

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The main thing you want to accomplish in a home theater is to create a place where it feels like you are watching a movie in a real movie theater. There are different ways to accomplish that, depending largely on how much money you have to spend on it, and what features are most important to you. A good home theater, however, should have a multiple speaker surround sound system driven by an audio - video receiver, and a variety of high-quality audio sources, among other things.

All your audio components are routed through your audio/video receiver, which typically serves as your control center. It decodes the surround-sound information and routes the sound to your speakers. Your audio/video receiver should have enough inputs and outputs to handle all the equipment you will use it with, as well as optional inputs in case you want to add a future device like a satellite radio module or an iPod.

One of the most important components of your home theater system is your speakers. It is only sensible to listen to speakers before you buy them. Good speakers should have a neutral tonal balance (i.e. they don't exaggerate or suppress any particular tonal frequencies but instead faithfully reproduce the originally intended sound), and a full range of sound (i.e. they don't lose information at the extreme frequencies but instead cover all, or nearly all, of the audio spectrum). They should have clarity, transparency, and detail of sounds (i.e. they provide small delicate details but their sound does not have an unnatural, hard edge); they should be dynamic (i.e. they should handle loud moments well but also catch the finer points of your audio), and should provide believable three dimensional soundscapes that place musicians in specific locations. Your subwoofer should produce a bass sound that is clear, powerful, and deeply extended, and should also blend seamlessly with the rest of your speaker system. You want to choose speakers that can handle the power generated by you’re A/V receiver and that look attractive, or at least blend in, in your living room.

There are several choices as to how you set up your speakers. Should your speakers be in the wall, on the wall, or freestanding? Considerations include asking yourself how important is it that your speakers be unobtrusive (if considering in-the-wall speakers), or complement the appearance of your flat-panel display (if considering on-the-wall speakers), and what concessions you would have to make to fit freestanding speakers in your room and do they outweigh the sound benefits of freestanding speakers.

How should you configure your speakers. There are several kinds of surround sound systems to choose from. There is Dolby Surround 4.0 with front left, front right, center and mono surround channels. There is Dolby Digital 5.1, typically the base format now, with front left and right, center, left and right surround, and low frequency effects channels. Dolby Digital EX is a 6.1 system but can be reproduced with 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1 speaker systems. 6.1 systems have three surround sound speakers, one is directly behind the seating area, which is not practical if the seats are against the back wall. With 7.1 speakers systems, you have 2 back surround speakers behind the speaking area and this usually does sound better.

There are many choices and considerations when considering how you will create a home theater that feels like you are watching a movie in a real theater. How you choose, set up and configure your speakers is one of the most important aspects of your home theater system.

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