There is a common fallacy around about audio – good sound is good sound. Music and movies have very different requirements. This is why the first step in selecting a home theater surround sound system is to determine your own preferences and then steer the performance strengths based on what you will be listening to most.
Music vs. Movies
You may wonder how different movie and music sound can really be. However, when you consider each one, you will likely see the obvious differences. For example, modern films utilize unlimited soft-to-loud dynamic range, the dialog is mixed to the center channel, the surround effects may be point-sourced or ambient and the demands of deep-bass can often be extreme. Also, virtually every film that has been released in the past two decades features a multichannel soundtrack.
Music, on the other hand, is dynamically compressed and the deep-bass effects are virtually nonexistent. For home theaters, the prime responsibility of the subwoofer is to supply the room-shaking, low-frequency effects. For music, however, the sub needs to provide a pitch-accurate, controlled bass that has been perfectly integrated with the speakers you have selected.
While determining what you want the best sound for – music or movies – you may be faced with the quandary of using your home theater for dual purposes. This means you have to decide what you are going to do more – watch movies or listen to music.
Consider the Size of the Room
Prior to selecting between electronics or speakers for driving your system, be sure to look at the room. If it is big (700 square feet or larger) and you want that feel-the-sound-in-your-bones effect with music and movies, you should think about purchasing full-range, full-size speakers and audio separates that feature a powerful amplifier, rather than a receiver. If you are serious about your movie experience, then considering the room size is a must.
However, if you have a smaller room around 12 by 18 feet and you don’t need to “feel the sound,” then a small subwoofer/satellite system and receiver should be plenty for your music and home theater system. Volume capacity and room size go hand in hand and need to be linked to the system’s price/performance ratio.
Optimizing the Space for Movies or Music
If you are going to be mainly using the home theater for movies, you should think about putting more money into your center-channel speaker. Choose one that is timbre matched (has a distinct tone quality) to the other speakers in the area and find the best possible subwoofer.
If music is your passion, then put most of your speaker budget into the right and left front speakers. If you only watch movies occasionally but listen to music all the time, then consider adding a set of full-range tower speakers.
There is no question the entire process can be a bit confusing. If that is how you feel, contact the professionals from Teague Electric. They can help you design the perfect home theater/audio system based on your preferences and needs.