A while back, we posted about televisions and hopefully answered some questions about getting that big just right-sized TV…but that’s only half the picture…well, half the movie. It’s no good having a great picture when the sound is sub-par, so let’s look at getting the sound as good as that TV you got, along with some other sound and music devices.
When recorded music was first introduced, and for a good time afterwards, there was a device (like a phonograph or a radio) and a speaker. The sound came out, you heard it, that was pretty much all there was to it. Go forward a few years (around 1930) and stereophonic (or ‘stereo’) sound is introduced, and used mostly in theaters for feature films. It never really hits big into the consumer market until home phonograph use in the mid 1950s, followed shortly after by quadrophonic in the mid-sixties which was not as popular and didn’t really take hold. Flash forward about forty years and we’re got surround sound which allows sounds to come four directions instead of the two that stereo sound followed. This gives a more cinematic experience, and can give the illusion of being in the middle of the movie or music that’s playing.
Most flat-screen TVs have the wonderful quality of, well, being flat. That’s a good thing when it comes to the picture, but not a very good thing when it comes to the sound coming from the TV itself. Most manufacturers will have just a tiny little space to try to fit speakers into for their TVs, and it is near-impossible to get good sound from small speakers in a tiny space. The best solution to this usually is adding a sound system. Think about it…you didn’t buy that TV when you saw it in our store because of the sound coming out of it…it was the picture, and manufacturers know this, so it’s rare to ever find a TV that has a built-in sound system where quality of the sound matches the quality of the picture. Adding a surround sound system is a great investment, and is indeed, one of the best ways to enhance (and really put the ‘theater’ in) your home theater.
Surround sound is usually notated as a number, such as 5.1 or 7.1 or even 4.1. What these numbers refer to is the number and type of speakers in the surround sound system. The first number is the total of satellite speakers in the system, where most of the sound comes from…for instance, in a 5.1 system, there are five satellite speakers, two in the front at each side (left and right), two to the rear at each side, and a center channel at the front to help ‘fill out’ the sound. The number after the decimal point (the 1 in a 5.1) refers to the subwoofer which is a large, usually powered speaker that produces the lower frequency and low tones, and will really give your sound system it’s rumble. Since it is very difficult for the human ear to tell the direction these lower tones and frequencies are coming from, the placement of the subwoofer is an aesthetic choice…just put it out of the way where it won’t get tripped over and you can still hear that rumble.
…next post, we’ll talk about sound and music, but on a more personal level! Check back and read about, and be sure to check out our store’s inventory and online listings for your next sound system to complete that home theater.