When building a home theater, what most people are concerned with is the screen. This is understandable seeing how big screen is what identifies theaters and even acts as synonymous for motion pictures. Still, spending all your money on a 4K, ultra HD screen and then buying speakers within the change you have left is a great mistake. In most genres like horrors or adventures, ambience is key and it can only be faithfully captured with the right sound. This is why investing in a quality surround sound system is very important.
The Number of Speakers
The first thing you will notice when you decide to buy a sound system is how many speakers it has. Most commonly, you can either go with 2.1, 5.1, or even 7.1. Naturally, the more speakers your system has, the better ambience it helps create. The reason for this is quite simple – having a 7.1 system doesn’t mean you have seven speakers you can just put wherever you like. Every single one of them has its designated place, so some go to the front, others to the sides while the last two would go behind your back. This way, while watching the movie, you can hear different noises coming from different sides, depending on the orientation of the movie characters. It goes without saying that the price grows with the number of speakers, which is why most people usually settle for 5.1 as a compromise.
The Room is as Important
In a conversation with experts behind Universal Home Theaters, we’ve learned that the layout and the nature of the room can be as important as the system itself. For example, buying 7.1 system for a room not bigger than a closet would be really too much. On the other hand, size is not the only feature of a room you should worry about; the walls are important, as well. The smoothness or the roughness of the walls may affect the way sound behaves in this environment. This is why it’s usually worth setting apart some time and resources to make the room more acoustic. Finally, if you’re not alone, but like tuning up the volume, sound-proofing the room might be a good choice.
So far, we mostly talked about things even a layman can understand. For example, it doesn’t take a sound expert to count the number of speakers or recognize if the wall of the room is smooth. On the other hand, the quality of speakers also depends on a bit more specific features like the sound quality and loudness.
While most people express loudness in Watts, they are a unit of power. Luckily, they’re not completely wrong since Watts can be translated into Decibels quite accurately. For reasonably sensitive speakers that can handle between 85 and 110 dB, 2 Watts are exactly 93 dB. Every time the amount of power doubles, the loudness gets increased by 3 dB. This is why 4 W are 96 dB, while 8 W are roughly 99 dB. Different speakers, may, however, have different calculations.
Naturally, there is so much more to think about when choosing your quality surround system, but unless you have a PhD in Acoustics, it is unlikely that you will ever be 100 percent certain of your choice. On the other hand, for a layman, stats mean nothing compared to the overall impression. When it comes to this, you will know how close to the target you hit after your first movie session. According to numerous reviews, Saving Private Ryan, Jurassic Park and the first installment of Pirates of the Caribbean are perfect for testing your new surround system. Enjoy!
Dan Radak is a marketing professional with ten years of experience. He is currently working with a number of companies in the field of digital marketing, closely collaborating with a couple of e-commerce companies. He is also a coauthor on several technology websites and regular contributor to Technivorz.