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What Surround Sound System Should I Buy



Choosing what home theater speakers to buy is typically a really difficult decision. There are tons of different options available at varying price points. One will most certainly ask, what home theater speakers should I buy? I know this because I did at one point in time.




what surround sound system should i buy


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So what home theater speakers should you buy? Choosing the right speakers for your home theater is dependant upon a few things. Here are some things to consider when making your next speaker purchase.


Determining the type of speakers you should use is very dependent on a few things. A lot of this decision is personal preference and how you want things to look and sound. But different types of speakers are used for different types of rooms.


They are typically used as the front left, front right, surround left, and/or surround right speakers. Depending on the quality and brand, these speakers can produce an impressive amount of sound or be slightly disappointing.


Floor-standing and tower speakers are exactly as they sound. They are tall speakers, built at the optimal listening height, and are placed directly on the ground. They usually contain multiple different sized drivers inside to cover a wide frequency range! These speaker drivers can range anywhere from 1 to 10 inches in diameter. Floor-standing and tower speakers are built in a variety of sizes. Some contain smaller drivers and are very thin, while others contain larger drivers and are very wide.


Floor-standing and tower speakers are typically used as the front left and front right speakers. They can be used as surround left and surround right speakers as well, but that can be difficult for some setups with multiple rows of seats.


Wall mounted speakers are very similar, to bookshelf speakers, except they are slightly smaller and made to be mounted on a wall. Not all bookshelf speakers are naturally wall mountable, but wall mounted speakers most certainly are! These speakers are used in the same locations as bookshelf speakers, except I would recommend using them as rear surrounds and not front. Additionally, the smaller speakers can be used as height channel speakers. These are mounted to the ceiling or high up on a wall about the front channel speakers.


We have used these in many home theater setups where we put the speakers behind an acoustically transparent projector screen. This allows you to completely hide the speakers and makes it feel as if the sound is coming from the projector screen itself! Check out my article on acoustically transparent screens and how they work.


Center channel speakers are very important to a home theater surround sound system. It produces almost all of the dialogue and a lot of the soundtrack in movies. Therefore it is extremely important in any great surround sound setup. A center channel speaker typically includes a variety of different sized drivers to cover a large frequency range.


This speaker should be around the same size as your other two front speakers. If you are using bookshelf speakers, then the center channel should be on the smaller side. If you have two larger tower speakers, then this one should be around the same size, maybe a little smaller. If the center channel mismatches the other front channel speakers, you could run into issues where the sound is inconsistent across the front of the room.


A subwoofer is an almost necessary addition to a surround sound setup. The subwoofer handles the very low or bass frequencies in a sound system with driver sizes including 8, 10, 12, or 15 inches in diameter. These subwoofer drivers are much larger than all of the other speakers. The larger size is necessary to produce the very low-frequency sounds. Subwoofers have a great impact to a surround sound setup and should always be included.


Generally, I suggest sticking to a single brand when purchasing speakers for a complete system. The subwoofer can be a different brand, but the other 5+ speakers should be the same brand. This ensures that they have similar dynamic ranges and sensitivity ratings. If these specs are different for all of your speakers, then it could cause additional headache when configuring your system.


As mentioned earlier, these are more low profile than tower or floor-standing speakers, but they still pack quite a punch! Any of these recommended bookshelf options would work great as front left and right channel speakers. They would also work well as a full surround setup! Matching the front and rear channels (minus the center channel) adds a nice evenness to the listening experience.


I typically only recommend using wall mounted speakers for your rear surround channels and not as your front channels. This is because they are smaller than bookshelf speakers which means their drivers will be smaller. This leads to less volume and power coming from the front (which is the most important area).


The Klipsch R-5502-W II is an outstanding low profile in-wall speaker! This speaker is very versatile and can be used a left, right, or center channel home theater speaker. It is built to be mounted vertically or horizontally to fit different needs. This unit comes with a magnetic cover that can be painted to match the color of the wall. It can definitley output an impressive amount of sound for being an in-wall unit.


Remember, the center channel speaker produces almost all of the dialogue as well as much of the background music in movies. Therefore, this speaker is very important and should be one of the bigger investments for a surround sound system.


As mentioned, subwoofers produce most of the bass and very low-end frequencies in surround sound systems (although, as we wrote about in our guide, there are significant differences in how subwoofers are built and encased). This makes them an essential part of any great sound system. Subwoofers can get quite large, so make sure you have enough room for it. Most people place them in the front of a room to make the connection easy. Others like to place them near the back of a room or close to the main seating area. This provides more of that deep bass rumble that makes the listening experience much more immersive.


Thanks for pointing out that before getting home theater speakers you should determine your budget and decide what type of system you want to use. My husband and I are trying to set-up a home theater in our basement because we think it would be a great place to relax and hang out with friends once it's done. Since we don't know that much about speakers, we'll have to talk to a professional that could help us choose the best ones for our situation.


Obviously, a good TV or projector and screen are principal to the experience. But if you think of a home theater system like a Broadway play, then the TV = the stage, and the sound = everything else, from story and actors to music and pageantry. The real magic behind home theater systems is audio, and audio is what you need to get right to create a real home theater system at your house.


Your favorite shows and movies can come from any number of devices in addition to your set-top box. Blu-ray players and 4K media players give you a gorgeous viewing experience and extremely rich home theater sound, and the same is true with devices like Apple TV and Roku, which connect to the Internet and stream content from an ever-growing list of providers (e.g., Netflix, HBO GO, Hulu). Also, unlike some older TVs, devices like Apple TV and Roku automatically update themselves whenever new apps, games, and/or shows become available.


That depends. Again, more is always better when it comes to sound, and there are literally dozens of speaker combinations that can create true home theater sound. The traditional home theater includes 5 speakers: a center speaker, a left and a right speaker, two rear left and right speakers, and, of course, a subwoofer. A typical setup looks like this:


The center speaker, which is where most dialog comes from, should be centered just below the TV. (Though some in-wall center speakers live above the TV.) The left speaker goes to the left, and the right to the right. The two rear speakers are placed or installed at the rear of the room, behind the viewing audience. Typically, the left and right forward speakers are bigger than the left and right rear speakers.


Caveat: The two front left and right speakers are the most important. They provide the bulk of the "punch" that comes from music and sound effects. Also, it's important, but not crucial, that all of the speakers match tonally. Going with the same manufacturer and series usually covers this.


A few years back, the sound gurus at Dolby figured out a way to make what some call 3D surround sound" via a new technology called Dolby Atmos ("Atmos" as in Atmosphere.) What Dolby Atmos really does is create a layer of sound that not only hovers above the audience, it hovers in different areas above the audience. And it does it so well, you can actually pinpoint specific sounds in specific places in the air.


Before you even start, consider how loud or how dead your room is. Try clapping your hands. If you hear a hint of an echo, the room is probably too loud as a result of hard walls, wood or tile floors, lots of window glass, etc. Conversely, if you hardly hear the clap, your room may be too dead (lots of soft/cushy furniture, thick carpets, angled walls, tapestries, and anything that may break up sound). Ideally, your room should be as acoustically neutral as possible. To get there, we recommend a few discreetly placed acoustic panels and/or the addition of sound-absorbing materials in the right spots. (This is our specialty. Please call with any questions.)


Make sure you have the minimum wattage recommended for your specific speakers, at the very least. We humans can clearly hear volume changes of three decibels, which requires a doubling of power. Meaning: say you currently have 70 watts per channel, but you want a significant increase in sound level. To do it, you'd need 140 watts per channel. 041b061a72


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