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Setting Up Surround Sound

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For many people, the movie-watching experience is an important one. Immersing yourself in a good film can be a great way to forget about the worries of the day and spend time with people you care about.

Modern technology has brought people closer to replicating the thrill of watching a movie in the theater right in their own homes. Thanks to the advent of hi-definition televisions, the picture in your living room pops like never before. But that is only half the experience: surround sound systems, when installed and set up properly, will take watching movies to another level.

What System to Purchase

Depending on a few factors, the right sound system to purchase will vary. The first thing to take into account is the size of your room. There are 7.1 channel (speaker) systems on the market, for instance, that might not be worth the money if you cannot place them in a way to get the full effect of the sound field (i.e., if you have a small room). In this case, you'd want to stick with 5.1 and save the money and setup hassle.

Another important factor is your preferences. What sounds good to other people may not sound as good to your ears. That's why it is so important (especially since you will be spending some money on this) to test out systems before you purchase anything.

TIP: Since you will be hooking up numerous pieces of equipment in one room, be sure to use surge protectors and try to keep all of the elements of your system on one circuit.

Speaker Placement

Playing around with different speaker configurations will give you the best results. There is no one placement that is optimal for all spaces, but there are some rules of thumb:
  • Place the center speaker above or below your television. It should be at about head level with someone who is watching TV.

  • Try and place the left and right front speakers on the same level as the center speaker, equidistant from the TV.

  • Try to place the speakers where there is no sound blockage. Imagine the sound field from each speaker as a cone emanating out from it. Look for any objects that are in the field, and move them.

  • Wireless speakers allow for more flexibility with placement.

  • Surround (rear) speakers are placed to either side of the viewers, or behind them, angled toward them.

  • The subwoofer can be put on either side of the TV. The bass power can be increased by moving it closer to the wall, or decreased by moving it farther from the wall.
A good sound system can be a wonderful addition to your home movie-viewing experience. The right speakers and setup could completely change your ideas about what "just staying in and renting a movie" means. Just be prepared to have a lot of people wanting to come over to your place!

Adam Mandelbaum  Posted by Adam Mandelbaum on January 7, 2013

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