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How to Achieve Surround Sound using Floor Standing Speakers

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How to Achieve Surround Sound using Floor Standing Speakers
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How to Achieve Surround Sound using Floor Standing Speakers

Surround sound enhances films, television programmes, and music, enveloping the listener in rich, detailed sound. Home cinema systems use a variety of arrangements to create surround sound, including just two speakers, a sound bar plus a subwoofer, and advanced set-ups with five or seven speakers plus a subwoofer. When creating a surround sound system buyers can choose from three styles of speaker: floorstanding, bookshelf, and satellite. Floor standing speakers are the premier choice for audiophiles, offering unrivalled power and performance. Buyers need to take into account a variety of factors when assembling their surround sound system using floor standing speakers, including how surround sound works, the speakers that are required, their features, and placement in a room. Other factors to consider include the frequency response, drivers, sensitivity, and impedance of the speakers. Floor standing speakers for surround sound systems can be bought from electronics retailers and department stores, as well as online at eBay..

How Surround Sound Works

Surround sound is multi-channel audio where a receiver or processor separates the audio information in a single recording, such as a film on Blu-ray, into multiple parts. It then sends the parts along separate paths, or channels, to speakers set around a room. Each speaker produces only the information for a given channel. As a result, surround sound can create the feeling of movement in a film. For example, the sound of a plane flying overhead may start at the back of the room and move through speakers to the front of the room. Surround sound systems vary greatly in their features and even in the number of speakers used. They take their names from the number of channels in a system. For example, a 5.1 channel system has five primary channels plus a dedicated channel for bass, or low frequency effects. The bass channel is labeled as "0.1" because it has a limited range compared with the other channels.

Types of Surround Sound Speakers

The speakers in any surround sound system vary in their form and function. One of the most critical components of a surround sound system is the centre channel speaker.. It sits at the front of the room, above or below the television, and handles the majority of the dialogue and soundtrack. Front left and right speakers, sometimes called mains, are placed either side of the television and handle most of the major sound effects. A surround sound system also incorporates at least two rear surround speakers, which are placed behind or to the sides of the listeners. The rear surround speakers handle the remaining sound, including anything that creates a directional effect. In a 5.1 channel system, there are just two surround speakers at the rear, but a 7.1 channel system uses two surrounds at the rear and two more, on the left and right. Surround sound systems also incorporate a subwoofer, which handles the low frequency effects (LFE).

Floor Standing Speakers in Surround Sound Systems

Buyers have three styles of speakers to choose from to create a surround sound system. Floor-standing speakers are the largest of the three. They are freestanding and often up to 1.2 metres tall. Bookshelf speakers are smaller and designed to sit on a shelf or pedestal. Bookshelf speakers can be up to 50 centimetres tall. The smallest style is the satellite speaker, which is no more than 25 centimetres tall. A speaker's abilities correspond to its size, with floor standing speakers having the greatest amount of power and highest quality sound. So, most audiophiles choose floor standing speakers as the front left and right speakers for high quality sound systems. Some systems may use floor standing speakers for surround speakers at the rear, but it is also common to use bookshelf speakers for this role when space is limited.

Additional Speakers in Surround Sound Systems

Rear surround speakers do not need to be as powerful as the front speakers or even the centre channel speaker, because they do not carry as much of the workload. The centre channel speaker should mirror the size of the main speakers, so large floor standing speakers should also be paired with a large centre speaker.

Subwoofers in Surround Sound Systems

Some floor standing speakers have built-in drivers to handle bass, which can eliminate the need for a separate subwoofer.. However, buyers who prefer to add the subwoofer should look for a powered subwoofer, which relies on its own power rather than drawing from the receiver and other speakers. In general, a larger subwoofer means more power, but some smaller subwoofers can reach high levels of performance, so buyers should research individual products before making a choice.

Factors to Consider When Buying Floor Standing Speakers

Although floor standing speakers offer the best performance, they can still vary significantly according to the model. Before making a purchase, buyers should research potential products, including reading reviews from other shoppers. Also important is checking the technical specifications, such as frequency response, the number and types of drivers, sensitivity, and impedance.

Frequency Response for Floor Standing Speakers

Frequency response measures the range of sounds that a speaker can produce in Hertz (Hz). The human hearing range starts at about 20 Hz and extends to 20,000 Hz. The lowest end of the spectrum is bass, and the highest range is the treble. Floor standing speakers should be able to cover the entire human hearing range, and may even extend beyond it.

Drivers for Floor Standing Speakers

Drivers produce the sound in speakers. They are dome or cone shaped devices that move air backwards and forwards to create sound. Large drivers produce deeper sounds, while small drivers are for high pitches. Large floor standing speakers can incorporate two, three, or four drivers, whereas a satellite speaker typically has only one driver. Different speakers have different size drivers that enable them to accurately reproduce specific sounds as outlined in the table below.

Driver

Function

Frequency Range (Hz)

Driver Size (cm)

Woofer

Bass

20 to 500

12 to 38

Mid range

Vocals

500 to 5,000

7.5 to 12

Tweeter

Treble

5,000 to 20,000

1 to 7.5

Buyers should note that the range classifications can vary significantly based on the manufacturer. Any speaker with a range lower than 20,000 Hz has poorer audio quality than a speaker with a higher range. However, some buyers may prefer to leave bass production to a subwoofer, so a speaker with a clipped lower, or bass, range may be acceptable.

Sensitivity for Floor Standing Speakers

Sensitivity is essentially a measure of how effectively a speaker can translate power into volume in decibels (dB). Speakers with a higher sensitivity can reach higher volumes with lower power inputs. For example, a speaker with a 91 dB sensitivity needs only 25 watts of power to produce the same volume as a speaker with an 88 dB sensitivity using 50 watts of power.

Impedance for Floor Standing Speakers

Impedance is the measure of how much resistance a speaker has in Ohms. A lower impedance means a speaker can handle a greater amount of power at a time. A speaker with a low impedance, such as 4 Ohms, combined with a high sensitivity, can reach high volumes easily. However, the impedance of the speakers should match that of the receiver in a home cinema system, because a mismatch may distort the sound quality and even damage the components.

Voice Matching for Floor Standing Speakers

A special factor to consider when pairing rear surround speakers with front speakers is voice matching, which means that the speakers create a similar tone. Speakers vary in terms of the tone that they create, which can be affected by the shape of the drivers and the materials used. The easiest way to voice match is simply to choose speakers from the same brand, and where possible, the same family of products.

Placement of Speakers in a Surround Sound System

Placement is a critical factor to achieving true surround sound. So, buyers need to consider what kind of system they want to purchase and the size of their room. A 5.1 channel system means they need to make room for six speakers, while a 7.1 channel system needs space for eight. Buyers should remember that floor standing speakers require more room than bookshelf or satellite speakers, which can be mounted on a wall or even set into the wall or ceiling.. For rooms where space is at a premium, buyers may opt for floor standing speakers only as the front left and right channels, rather than for both the fronts and rear surrounds.

Placement of the Screen in a Surround Sound System

When placing speakers around the room, first consider the location of the television or projector screen, because this influences the placement of all the other speakers except the subwoofer. The centre channel speaker should be aligned directly with the centre of the screen, either above or below it, and as close to the listener's ear level as possible. The subwoofer can be placed nearly anywhere in the room, provided there is space for it. In addition, the screen should have space on either side for the front speakers, or mains. The mains should be placed an equal distance from the screen, ideally about 1 metre from the edge. They should also be an equal distance away from listeners, close to ear level. However, be careful not to place them too close to a wall: there should be a gap of about 30 centimetres.

Buying Floor Standing Speakers on eBay

For the best surround sound using floor standing speakers, you should create the system yourself, rather than buying a packaged home cinema system. You can start by entering a search term in the box on the homepage,, such as "floor standing speakers&". If you already know precisely what you want, then you can also be more specific, such as specifying a brand, like "Sony floor-standing speakers&". You can filter your results by a variety of factors, such as price so that you can stay within your budget.

Tips for Shopping on eBay

Just as you should research products before buying, you should also research sellers on eBay. Start by checking their feedback history. Feedback allows you to see what previous buyers have said about their experiences. You can also browse listings posted by Top-rated sellers, who have earned recognition from eBay for their excellent customer service.

Using eBay's advanced search feature can help you to narrow down what you are looking for more precisely by choosing a product category and delivery options, and specifying how keywords are used. Some sellers may offer free postage and packaging. You can also specify what items are displayed in results based on the location of the seller. Choosing a local seller is convenient because you may be able to arrange to collect your floor standing speakers in person.

Conclusion

Floor standing speakers are an ideal solution for surround sound systems. Their large size means that they can produce high quality sound and handle greater power than their smaller counterparts. Although they are often used only as the front speakers in a surround sound system, floor standing speakers can be used as rear surrounds in a 5.1 channel system. Buyers should consider a variety of factors when choosing their speakers, including the frequency response, sensitivity, and impedance, as these influence audio performance.

Also important are the centre channel and rear surround speakers that the floor standing speakers are combined with. The centre channel speaker should be large enough to match the main speakers in scale, and the entire set should be voice matched to ensure a harmonious sound. Finally, buyers need to consider where the speakers are placed in the room. To achieve the best surround sound effect, the speakers should be set at precise positions relative to the listener and the screen. eBay sellers offer a selection of floor standing speakers for buyers who wish to achieve surround sound.

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