Does Your Home Theater Setup Sound The Way It Should?
Expert Calibration Is The Key
The home theater experience is as much about the sound as it is about the picture. If you’re watching an action flick, you want to almost feel the crash of cars, or want to duck as bullets fly overhead. Recent movies like “Gravity” feature sound to great effect, like the low bass background rumble from machinery running in the space station. Older classics like “Saving Private Ryan” display the frightening full fury of war as shells explode and machine guns spray on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
Your home theater setup may have a traditional 5.1 surround sound speaker system or a full Dolby Atmos complement with 11 speakers, but one thing is certain: An expertly calibrated system can make even a modest setup sound better than a more expensive one.
How? Read on to learn more about the importance of sound system calibration for your Eden Prairie media room or theater.
SEE MORE: The Ins And Outs Of Home Theater Setups
One of the most important aspects of calibration is getting the bass right. If you’ve invested in high-quality subwoofers in your theater or media room, you want great bass that rumbles when it needs to – like the very deep sound of a bomb exploding – but you also want that bass to be taut and balanced. You don’t necessarily want everything to shake on every low bass note.
Bass control involves setting the subwoofer (or subwoofers) at the right level and positioning them appropriately to avoid muddiness from being too close to walls or other objects that could affect the low-frequency sounds. Subwoofer low-frequency sounds can create standing waves and resonances in a room. Room correction software (more on that later) – built into most modern receivers and multichannel processors helps measure these resonances and adjusts for them.
One more note about bass. Crossover points, which affect the amount of low-frequency sound that is routed to your front speakers versus the subwoofers, are also vital to get correct. Again, automated calibration can set this, but some amount of experimenting may be involved depending on your speaker mix. Some calibration software doesn’t do a good job of detecting the bass capabilities of speakers. Some home theater setups employ full range speakers for surround sound, but most employ full range in the front channels and other types for surround and height effects. Setting crossover points correctly is critical to obtaining a smooth bass response from all the system’s speakers.
Another key aspect of calibrating is setting the sound level for each speaker. The idea is to deliver the sounds from multiple speakers to the listener’s ears at the same time. In the past, this was all done manually with sound pressure meters, but now room calibration software can do this too. However, manual fine tuning is the best way to get optimal sound quality.
Why is this important? First, many movie soundtracks sometimes drown out dialog with music or effects from other channels, so correctly setting the center channel level is vital for dialog clarity. Also, speaker distances from the listener affect the time sounds reach ears, so ensuring that those are correct, in conjunction with sound levels, will make surround effects sound realistic and not artificial.
Almost every modern home theater receiver or processor has some room correction software algorithms built-in. Some do basic setup, and some can get very sophisticated in their analysis and fine-tuning capability. Our home theater partner Anthem has some of the best room correction software – called ARC - in the business, based on proprietary digital signal processing. It can read a room’s audio characteristics with incredible accuracy, something that in the past would take a technician thousands of dollars of expensive equipment to do manually. However, we supplement that capability with our years of expertise in home theater setup to extract the best sound out of your theater.
Are you ready for the best sounding movies and shows ever? Let us optimize your system. Call us at (612) 353-5087 or fill out our online contact form.