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Home Theater Installations

Understanding sound is important for placement of home theater speakers. Audible frequencies of sound range between 20 Hz to 20 Khz but most people can only hear sounds 100 Hz and above up to 10 Khz or 12 Khz. One speaker cannot handle that range of frequencies which is why all home theater systems have at least a central sub-woofer and two satellite speaker for treble and mid-range. Wavelength of lower frequencies can be around 17 metres and at higher frequencies the wavelength is 17 mm. Higher power is needed to reproduce bass. This is as much a mechanical requirement as is the logarithmic response of the human ear. Directionality of ear also varies. For low frequencies, directionality is less critical than it is for higher frequencies.

The wavelength and power requirements are just two factors influencing speaker design and use of discrete components. Construction of the cabinet and placement also play a role in sound quality as well as the spatial resolution and reproduction. Wavelengths, room dimensions, material of walls and floors and objects in the room can also influence sound quality and then there are factors such as standing waves. A 5 speaker surround system requires expert placement, possibly the services of audio engineers to install home theater speakers to give a truly immersive experience.

Majority of people usually place the sub-woofer unit of the home theater system underneath their TV and place the satellite speakers by the side. They get sound but it is not the best quality. Here are tips that help to obtain better results from home theater sound system:

  • The bass or sub-woofer unit is the one that requires careful placement in order to spread sound evenly and to avoid “standing waves”. It must not be placed on the floor or too close to the floor because reflections would result in sound coloration. Placing sub-woofer units on a solid stand at a height of about 1 foot from the floor and at some distance from the rear wall is recommended. At the same time, ensure that the wall facing the speaker has some openings like doors and windows to avoid the build up of standing waves.
  • Always arrange home theater system so that it faces the longer side of the room for better reproduction of bass. A carpet on the floor and curtains along the wall and insulated (sound) ceiling will give better clarity and avoid “boominess”.
  • Now take the other two speaker for midrange and high frequencies. These two speakers can be left by the side of the large screen TV. For better results it is advisable to mount these on stands in the corner and above sitting height, angled inwards. Ideally, for stereo sound, these two speakers form part of a “triangle. At the apex of the triangle is the seating and listening area. This sitting area should not be along the opposite wall facing the TV and speakers but it should be somewhere near the middle of the room or two-thirds alongside.
  • If the unit has five speakers, position the rear speakers behind and above the seat to face downward for a truly surround sound effect.