How To: Improve Your Home Theater System Sound

Okay, so you've vested enough dough into your 5.1 home theater sound system to pay off the rest of your car payments, but all of those hard-earned dollars might be going to waste if your system isn't calibrated correctly. Check out these calibration tips and maybe - just maybe - you'll finally be able to convince someone other than yourself that your investment has been worth every penny...

From Electronic House, we present to you 5 steps that will help you calibrate your A/V receiver to optimize your listening experience for your home theater speakers:


  1. Start by opening the menu of the preamplifier/processor or A/V receiver and find the audio menu. This is where the speaker/and or audio functions should be located. Choose the speaker size option and select large or small for the left and right speakers. This choice is based on the size and frequency range of a system’s speakers. If you own full-range or near full-range speakers, choose “large.” If the center and rear channels are smaller, choose “small” for those channels.

  2. Next, determine the speakers’ distances from the main seating position. Installers call this the “money seat,” and it’s where the primary user often sits. Input these distances into the receiver or pre/pro. This enables the receiver or pre/pro to calculate the arrival times of sound to the money seat, in order to produce a synchronized soundfield.

  3. The next step is to set the system’s crossover frequency. This determines how the system will divide the sound spectrum from low-end bass, to midrange to high frequency or treble. THX’s specification is 80Hz, which means that all frequencies 80Hz and lower will be sent to the LFE (low-frequency effects) channel, which is reproduced by the system’s subwoofer.

  4. If possible, use the test tones that are incorporated in the receiver or preamplifier/processor when finishing the sound output leveling process. “For the average user, we do not recommend using an external calibration disc for calibrating audio channels, especially the LFE channel,” Mansfield warns.

  5. Once the calibration is complete, it’s a good idea to write the settings down and to go through the process again to be sure everything is correct.

There are a lot more variables that may further optimize your calibration over at the full article over here, especially when setting up the LFE (aka subwoofer) levels for calibration.

Do you have a preferred method for calibration? Share it in the comments below!

(Image: Peter Olofsson via our Unplggd Flickr Group)

(Via Electronic House)