Home Theater Speaker Systems
To replicate the theater experience at home, people purchase giant screens and the newest DVD players, creating a feast for the eyes. However, it is important not to neglect sound and feel, senses stimulated by a quality sound system. Sounds can approach a viewer from all directions, and the rumble of explosions can be felt in the ground. Systems providing these features are generally referred to as Home Theater Systems.
Standard Home Theater Speaker System Configuration
A typical home theater system includes six speakers attached to an amplifier:
- Three speakers set near the television
- One center channel
- Two side channels set behind the viewer, one on each side.
An optional speaker is the subwoofer, which creates low frequency vibrations, allowing the viewer to not only hear, but also feel the events unfolding on the screen. A system such as this is referred to as a 5.1 system, with the 5 referring to the five speakers, and the .1 referring to the subwoofer. A 6.1 system adds a rear center channel, while a 7.1 system adds two additional rear speakers.
See the following for information on Surround Sound Systems.
A newer benefit of some systems is wireless speakers. In general, wires were run from the receiver to each speaker, which could prove to be quite a challenge. Wireless speakers merely need to be placed in their location and plugged into a power source, making installation easier. However, some audiophiles complain that wireless speakers have diminished sound quality.
Sound quality can also vary based on audio format. The most common standard for sound is Dolby Digital 5.1. DTS is a competing format with more sound information per second, and so is thought to have a higher quality. Higher quality formats include:
- Dolby Digital EX
- DTS – EX Matrix
- DTS- ES 6.1 Discrete.
Of these, only DTS – ES 6.1 Discrete has a specific rear center channel encoded. If higher sound formats are important, it is important to be sure that both the DVD player and home theater system support these higher formats.
Formats will take yet another step forward with the upcoming release of HD-DVD and Blu-Ray high definition DVDs. Dolby – HD and DTS – HD, used with the new DVD standard, will feature even better sound, but will also require new equipment to maximize quality.
As in all things, the quality of home theater systems varies greatly. Oddly enough, inexpensive systems include more, generally with a DVD player in addition to the speakers. However, the quality of sound generated by these systems is vastly inferior to that of a dedicated surround sound receiver.