Do you consider yourself a movie buff and an audiophile?
If so, you might wonder whether a home cinema system meets both of these needs.
Surround sound revolutionized the sonic experience for movie watching. It can deliver the same immersion for music!
In this article, I’ll explain how speakers function and what requirements a home theater must meet for quality music listening.
How Loudspeakers Work In and Out Of Home Cinemas
A loudspeaker needs two separate types of signals to work.
The first allows your speaker to access the music you select. This music takes the form of electrical impulses or the audio signal as we know it.
Next, your speaker needs to convert the electrical impulses it received into a distinguishable sound you can hear. To do this, the speaker needs an amplifier connection powered by battery or home AC power.
Home Cinema Speaker Requirements
In a traditional wired setup, the audio signal and necessary power pass through a wire connection from an amplifier.
In a wireless home cinema setup, you will need both a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter transmits the audio signal. The receiver receives this signal.
While deemed “wireless” the speaker still needs a physical connection to preamp outputs on a receiver. Or, in the case of your home cinema, a built-in or plug-in wireless transmitter sends music into a speaker or secondary amplifier with a built-in receiver.
But, alas, you still need power!
In a wireless setup, your speaker needs to be physically attached to a power source and amplifier. The amplifier may built-in to the speaker or attached by a wire.
Battery powered amplifiers attached to your speaker by wire limit the output of power over time.
As you can see, the process of creating sound requires quality equipment. There are a lot of home cinema products out there. Often, a lack of transmission standards hampers home theater systems.
How can you know which products to trust?
The Wireless Speaker and Audio Association (WiSA) formed in 2011. WiSA developed standards for home audio products. This results in viable products for you, the consumer.
Still wondering how your system fares when it comes to music? Let’s dive in!
You know the technical aspects of how speakers create sound. Let’s talk about the best way to experience that sound.
Surround Sound or Stereo?
When it comes to watching movies you trust in surround sound.
But do you know the difference between surround sound and stereo sound?
Surround sound envelops you in a sound-field. This sound field extends in front of you, to your sides, behind you, and even above you.
If you’re looking for an immersive sound experience, look no further.
What does surround sound look like?
A typical surround sound setup uses five speakers:
- Three installed along your front wall (the wall with your television)
- One or two speakers on your side or rear walls
Stereo sound creates a sound-field akin to a performance stage in front of you. Stereo recreates sound anywhere within boundaries of the imaginary stage.
The setup requires a front left and a front right speaker.
For the die-hard audiophile, optimizing your stereo setup means sitting in the center of both speakers. Here, you can hear elements of music as the sound engineer intended them.
Sitting in any other spot skews the sound toward the closest speaker. Consider this like sitting at a drive-in theater. The speaker hangs from your car window, hundreds of feet from the screen.
This can result in off-putting sound.
Professionals record music in stereo sound. However, this does not mean you should count surround sound out. Where stereo can produce skewed sound quality, surround sound offers even distribution.
Your home theater can play music well. The key to ensuring this? Know your performance standards.
Comparing audio systems sometimes proves more difficult than we first thought. Consider the following factors while making your decision.
Sensitivity refers to the speakers’ ability to convert power into volumes. We measure power in watts. We measure volume in decibels.
The higher the speaker’s sensitivity, the less power the speaker needs to deliver quality sound. This means higher the speaker’s sensitivity, the clearer and louder the sound your hear.
Producing higher volume with fewer power results in speaker longevity.
2) Frequency Response
Humans can hear frequencies ranging between 20 and 20,000 Hertz or Hz. You will feel lower frequencies (frequencies below 35 Hz) more than you will hear them. Subwoofers produce these lower frequencies.
Pay close attention to the frequency response rate of any audio product. This will dictate the kind of sound experience each speaker offers.
3) Power Handling
Do you know how much power a speaker can handle before undergoing damage? Power handling tells you this in watts.
Impedance refers to the amount of electrical resistance presented against the alternative current flowing from a speaker’s outputs.
Your speaker produces sounds at many frequencies. Impedance varies because of this.
A product’s manufacturer will detail an impedance figure. 8 ohms remains a normal figure.
Make sure your receiver matches the load from your speaker.
You Can Play Quality Music On A Home Cinema System
A home cinema makes listening to music an immersive experience.
The question of whether it can produce quality audio output comes down to specs and preference.
When shopping around, you should review the specs of each individual product. Consider the sensitivity, frequency response rate, power handling and impedance.
This may take some time but will prove worth it in the end.
The best system for your personal audio playback depends on your preferences as well.
But do you want a wireless setup? How much equipment are you willing to welcome into your space?
You can experience quality music with a home cinema system. Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to build the listening experience of your dreams!