How to Get the Best Sound from Your Home Theater Installation
How Speakers, Components, and Acoustics Impact Home Cinema Sound
To many people, the first thing they think about in a home theater is the screen – the bigger, the better. While home theaters need a big screen to deliver a cinematic impact, the sound is equally important. Imagine a couple of opposites – a thundering movie soundtrack on a full surround system watched on a small 32-inch TV or a 120-inch epic screen paired with a Bluetooth portable speaker. Does either of those combinations sound satisfying?
For a great movie experience in your home in Naples, FL, and surrounding areas, you need big picture and big sound. Let’s take a closer look at three important factors that affect the sound quality in your home theater installation.
Speakers are a critical choice for a home theater. One way to narrow down the options is to decide if you want to listen to music in your home theater setup. Why? A great home theater speaker isn’t always the best music speaker. A great music speaker typically makes for an excellent home theater speaker too, but neither of these observations should be taken as absolute. Some speakers are superb at elucidating nuance and detail in music, yet they might lack the extra oomph of dynamics you feel in powerful movie soundtracks. Some speakers excel at the dynamic range of movie soundtracks, yet they might miss some of the details in music. It's worth listening to speakers in person to determine what you like.
Your home theater can have freestanding speakers, architectural speakers (built-in), or both. Other options are to hide the front speaker array (left, center, and right) behind an acoustically transparent projector screen. Depending on your room, these may be freestanding or architectural speakers. The choices are manifold, but for best results, it’s a good idea to source the full speaker set from the same brand, as the voicing will be similar, and you’ll avoid subtle sonic differences across brands that use different materials and designs.
Plus, don't forget subwoofers. They’re critical in delivering the bass and low-frequency effects in the most impactful Hollywood soundtracks. While some rooms may only need one subwoofer, most well-designed home theaters employ two or more for fuller, more even bass response. Subwoofers can also be built into walls for a sleeker theater design.
Most home theaters employ an AV receiver or an AV processor and separate amplifiers for sound processing and amplification. An AV receiver is a one-box solution, and they range in size and power from modest to quite powerful. The largest theaters typically employ separate components like a processor and amplifiers.
Receivers and processors are the nerve center of a theater, handling multiple audio and video sources and often including built-in music streaming capabilities. They also decode the many surround sound formats available today, from standard Dolby Digital to Dolby Atmos and DTS:X that add three-dimensional sound to your theater with realistic height and overhead effects. Separate amplifiers are recommended for large, difficult-to-drive speakers and large rooms that require significant power to achieve the right sound levels with demanding soundtracks.
Acoustic Tuning and Treatment
No matter how good your speakers and components are, the sound won't be perfect out of the box. Depending on your theater's size, layout, and décor, you need to adjust the way your space handles sound. The first step is system calibration, where the speaker levels and equalization are calibrated for the room with software and manual tuning. The other piece is acoustic treatment, where sound absorptive and other materials may be used to ensure your room sounds correct – not overly harsh with high frequencies, and where the bass is tight and powerful instead of muddy and loose.
The best way to get the cinematic sound you want from your home theater is to hire a pro like AVL Pro. We design, configure, and install custom home theaters in Naples and surrounding areas in Southwest Florida. Get in touch with us here, or use the chat box below to connect with us quickly. We look forward to working with you.