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Understanding Your Home Theater Sound System

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/24/2006 | Music
Your big screen TV is the central part of your home theater, after all if you have a great big picture what more could you need, right?

Actually, the sound system is just as important and when you've spent a bundle on the video portion of your home theater it only makes sense to know a bit about the audio so you can get great sound to match.

The two basic parts of your audio system consist of a receiver and speakers. If this sounds like your stereo setup, that's because it is with the exception that your home theater sound system receiver can support more channels thus handling more speakers.

When you are watching a movie or sports event, you want the sound to match the quality of the picture. This is why most speaker systems that are built into the TV are not sufficient -you want the sound to be all around you and be free from electronic "noise". If you want to turn up the volume and not hear any static, you'll need a high powered receiver. A good home theater system should have at least 30 watts per channel - but the more the better if you want top quality sound.

You also want your receiver to have many different types of ports to support everything you want to plug into them. At the least, you will want ports for the speakers, S-Video and High Definition Multimedia Interface ports.

You can really go hog wild with the speakers that you buy for your home theater. Some setups have 7 channels that can support multiple speakers! While you don't have to have that many to get good home theater sound, you do need to have at least 3 speakers.

Most good home systems would have 5 speakers - a center channel speaker and 2 front channel speakers (one left and one right) and 2 surround sound speakers. In some cases a sub woofer would be added as a 6th speaker to enhance the low bass that makes those action packed movies so realistic.

The front channel speakers placed on the left and right are where you hear the sound effects and background sound. The center speaker will carry most of the dialog. Of course, the sounds are not distributed in such a cut and dried manner, but for the most part this is where the particular audio pieces of any movie will come from.

The surround speakers are what give you surround sound. They usually sit behind or to the side of the audience so when you are designing your home theater room, be sure to take this into consideration. In fact, you want to be sure all your speakers are placed in a manner so that every seat in the house benefits from the placement of the speakers.