10 Tips For A Better Sounding Home Theater System

10 Tips For A Better Sounding Home Theater System

Anthony Nguyen
May 20, 2008

So you've done all your research and put together one of the greatest home theater systems made by man, but you can't help to feel like there's something missing, something you've mistakenly bottlenecked despite your elaborate efforts. Here's a quick checklist we found on Cnet.com that may help you greatly improve the sound of your home theater.

1. Navigate the speaker-setup menus:
All receivers have a setup menu, and its vital that you explore it. Simply selecting speaker sizes and doing proper manual measurements for speaker listening distances can vastly improve sound from your system.

2. Buy a sound-level meter:
Though they vary in price, from somewhat inexpensive to over-the-top, sound level meters will allow you to accurately level match the sound coming from your speakers, ensuring is synchonized for the listener in the middle.

3. Ensure that speaker cables are connected correctly:
All those wires, we know how it can be. Running DVD test software such as Sound & Vision: Home Theater Tune-Up and The Avia Guide to Home Theatre can help adjust your home theater into its optimal state.

4. Tweak subwoofer-level and crossover controls:
Subwoofers can't be calibrated by just test tones and meters seen above. If your sub's bass is boomy, thick, or uneven, first try lowering its level (volume) control. Next, if you have smaller satellites, set the crossover to be around midpoint or higher. With bigger speakers, set the sub's crossover at or near the bottom of its range. Finally, moving the sub out of the corner and closer to one of the front speakers may produce smoother, flatter bass.

5. Purchase speaker stands or brackets:
Get speakers out of bookcases or from the tops of cabinets and place them on floor stands or wall brackets to radically improve their sound quality.

6. Optimise speaker placement:
A rule of thumb: it's important to place the front speakers with their tweeters as close as possible to ear level. The left/right speakers should be equidistant from the 'cash seat' or primary listening position. This is where the sound hits and where you want it to be.

7. Tame uncooperative acoustics if possible:
Rooms with wood or tile floors and lots of windows or mirrors always sound overly bright and zippy. Adding a rug or window drapes will dim down the harshness.

8. Upgrade speaker/interconnect cables:
Even the most expensive speaker systems include those skinny, low-end wires. Try upgrading to higher-end cables to make a noteworthy improvement to your sound.

9. Add a separate power amplifier:
Bigger rooms call for more power. Check to see if your current receiver to see if it has a set of preamp-out jacks for the left, the right, the center, the left-surround, and the right-surround channels. If your receiver is so equipped, you can plug in a 100-200W amp to your receiver and try not to blow out your windows.

10. Buy matched speakers:
Matching speakers mean a more cohesive sound. If you can, do it. If you can't, try to swap it to the same manufacturer at least.

Photo courtesy of Kadath. Original story found at Cnet.com.

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