Getting the Best Home Audio Sound

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Getting the Best Home Audio Sound

Every year, fans around the world endure rising ticket prices and turn out by the millions to see blockbuster films in movie theatres. Luckily, movie theatre sound is something that home entertainment enthusiasts can recreate in their own living rooms.

The first step in the process is understanding the basics of surround sound, including the proper placement of the speakers and the function of each individual component. Those that invest in high-priced systems but fail to take the time to properly arrange the equipment cannot get the most sound for their money. In addition, buyers should understand the important role of the receiver. If the receiver has been purchased separately, the buyer should make sure they buy one that supports their speaker system’s format.

Whether one is looking to create a home audio sound system with seven speakers and a ceiling speaker or a more modest, budget-friendly configuration, a shopper finds all that they need to get the best home audio sound, on eBay..

Surround Sound Systems

The best home audio systems all feature quality surround sound systems.. Surround sound systems distribute sound effects and character dialogue to multiple speakers, each of which is placed at strategic locations around a room. The type of system, and the amount of speakers that are included, is up to the consumer, and is usually dictated by their budget. Prices vary widely depending on the make and model of each system. For example, a state-of-the-art Bose home cinema system can cost upwards of a few thousand pounds sterling. A budget-friendly Philips 5.1 channel system can be found for just a hundred pounds sterling. As the reader can accurately assume, the sound quality of these two systems varies dramatically. In the end, the buyer must stay true to their budget and find the system that is the best fit for their wallet and also the intended space in the home. In order to maximise the sound quality from a surround sound system, buyers should learn about ideal speaker placement, the function of each component in the system, and consider pre-wiring the sound system in a new home.

Surround Sound Speaker Placement

The following chart outlines the best placement for each of the speakers in a 7.1 channel speaker system.. This chart is relevant for those pre-wiring and installing a system as well as those who are simply arranging speakers around the room.

Speaker

Ideal Location

Centre

Centred with the TV and viewing position, right above or below the viewing screen; should be as close to ear level as possible; 2 to 3 metres from the viewer

Left and Right

Equidistant from the TV and the viewer; should be placed at ear level and angled slightly toward the viewer

Side Surround Speakers

Directly to the sides of the viewing position; placed just above ear level to maximise ambience

Left and Right Rear Speakers

Behind the seating position and level with the left and right front speakers

Subwoofer

Bass is omnidirectional, so the angle is unimportant; should not be placed in a corner of the room as this leads to muddy, heavy bass notes

Homeowners and flat dwellers that have smaller living rooms can adjust their placement accordingly, but should always try to maintain proper angles to get the best sound out of their speakers. The sound emitted from every speaker should converge on the viewer, such that they are completely immersed in the audio.

Functions of Different Surround Sound Speakers

Each piece of the surround sound system has a role to play in creating true movie theatre quality audio. The following chart outlines the function of each speaker in a 7.1 surround system. Buyers interested in maximising sound quality should be familiar with the specific functions of different surround sound speakers.

Speaker

Function

Centre

Projects the majority of the movie audio including the soundtrack and character dialogue

Left and Right

Creates the soundstage for the movie soundtrack and projects the special sound effects; reproduces some of the sounds from the centre speaker to help the viewer follow the action across the screen

Side Surround Speakers

Provides ambient noises to immerse the viewer in the action on the screen; gives a lifelike quality to the sounds

Left and Right Rear Speakers

Amplifies the effects of the side surround speakers and intensifies the localisation of sound effects in the movie or TV show

Subwoofer

Delivers very low frequency sounds to intensify the impact of loud noises; impact is especially pronounced during action scenes

Some surround sound systems also include speakers for the ceiling. These deliver sound effects like the sound of a helicopter or plane flying overhead. Understanding the function of each piece of the system can help the viewer set up their room and tailor it to specific movies, shows, or concerts.

The Role of the Receiver

The receiver is the command centre of the surround sound system. This unit receives input from various devices, such as the DVD player,, TV, or satellite dish, interprets them and delivers each to the appropriate output device, such as the speakers themselves. Most surround sound systems come with a receiver, but buyers can also purchase them separately and hook them up to speakers of their own. The key to making the right purchase is knowing what surround sound format the receiver supports. There are three main types of formats on the market: Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic, and Digital Theatre System, or DTS. As more speakers are added to the sound system, the buyer must become more attuned to the differences in format. For example, a Dolby Pro Logic receiver can support a 7.1 speaker system, but a DTS system cannot. The format is usually clearly printed on the box, but those interested in purchasing a used receiver should consult with a professional in order to determine if it suits their home theatre needs.

Pre-Wiring Surround Sound

Those that want movie theatre quality sound in their own home, and have the disposable income to make it happen, should consider pre-wiring their surround sound. The first step in this process is identifying the central hub that serves to house the receiver and audio visual equipment. Ideally, all of this hardware is hidden within a TV cabinet or entertainment system display. Then, wires should be run from the hub to each speaker location. The amount of speakers included in the setup depends on the surround sound system. Most home theatres feature 7.1 surround systems, which include a subwoofer and seven channel speakers.

Speaker Bars

The big advantage of speaker bars over complete surround sound systems is their simplicity. Their thin design takes up very little space in the living room, there are no messy wires to hook up, and most models do not require a separate receiver. Although it is impossible to get true surround sound audio with just one speaker, sound bars do a decent job of imitating these systems by utilising Digital Signal Processing, or DSP. This technology allows the speaker bar to tweak the timing and volume of certain sounds to give the listener the impression that the sound effects are coming from different directions. Other sound bars simply bounce audio waves off a rear wall to achieve the same effect, and this also gives the listener a feeling of being surrounded by the action. While these speakers are perfectly suitable for home video entertainment, they tend to struggle with music. The presence of a subwoofer helps improve the sound quality, and those interested in buying a sound bar sound should definitely consider making this extra investment.

Using eBay to Build a Home Audio System

eBay is an expansive retail website with thousands of sellers and a wide variety of products. There are new and used items on eBay, and buyers can often find sellers that have simply removed the packaging but never actually used the speakers. Those looking to use eBay and get the most out of their shopping experience should learn how to search and filter results as well as evaluate sellers before making a purchase.

Search and Filter Results

Because of the wide variety of electronic products on eBay, a general search for ‘home cinema systems&’ or ‘surround sound&’ yields hundreds or thousands of results. In order to increase efficiency, eBay allows users to sort results using handy category filters. A buyer can simply check the boxes next to specific filters in order to eliminate any results that do not fit the parameters they desire, such as those related to condition, brand, or seller location. eBay also has a convenient price feature. This allows users to enter a budget and narrow the results to products that fit their price point.

Evaluate Sellers

The final step in the buying process is researching sellers and evaluating their level of customer care. eBay helps to facilitate this process by assigning every merchant a rating based on the quality of their merchandise, the timeliness of their deliveries, and the feedback that other buyers have left on their profile. In general, buyers are encouraged to target sellers that have earned Top-Rated Seller status.

Conclusion

Nothing attracts friends and family to the living room quite like a spectacular home audio system. Those that invest in quality merchandise and understand the basics of surround sound technology can recreate the feel of a movie theatre right in their own homes. Those looking to get the best out of their home audio sound should learn the basics of surround sound systems, including speaker placement and the roles of each individual component.

Those that have just purchased a new home or are building an addition should consider pre-wiring and installing a home audio system within the walls. While this is a time consuming and expensive endeavour, it pays to not have to worry about speakers and wires cluttering up the room. Alternatively, a buyer looking for a simple, cost effective solution can invest in a speaker bar to create the same type of effect as a large surround system. Regardless of the method, a buyer that research the market and make a budget-friendly decision to use eBay can reap the rewards of an outstanding sound system right in the comfort of their own home.

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