If you’re wanting better sound quality from your entertainment system, chances are you need to add a home theater system. The truth is that even the best high-def TVs are seriously lacking when it comes to speaker capability since they’ve become so slim over time. At the end of the day, they simply can’t deliver the clarity of voice in the softest whisper, or those deep, explosive lows that’ll bring your favorite action movies to life. The same goes for the full-range sound effects that only surround sound speakers can deliver.
Before deciding on which home theater speaker system is right for you, here are four things to consider:
It used to be that when you were in the market for a “home theater system” that only meant one thing, however, now there are a variety of different options available. A good system will include a pair of floorstanding speakers or bookshelf speakers, a center channel speaker, two rear surround sound speakers and a subwoofer. This system set up is also known as a 5.1 system (five speakers and one subwoofer). As you’d expect, higher quality systems typically include more speakers. 7.1 systems add an additional pair of speakers behind the listener. Now, however, you can also look at Dolby Atmos systems. Dolby Atmos adds additional speakers that can fire upwards from your left and right channel speakers, or potentially downwards from the ceiling. These extra speakers can create audio effects that don’t simply sound like they’re coming from a general part of the room, but at actual single point in space, creating some of the most three-dimensional experiences available. Often, these systems can be purchased as a single package, with everything you need, making the buying decision easy. This way you get speakers that are designed to complement each other. Going the pre-packaged route is also easier to install and usually more cost effective than buying pieces individually. The good news is that many of the best in the box setups are crafted with furniture aesthetics in mind, so your system won’t be an eyesore. If you need help choosing speakers, check out the Klipsch Reference Speaker Selector.
While a pre-packaged setup is ideal for some, others may prefer to build their own system from the ground up. (We’re looking at you, audiophiles.) It may be a bit more involved, but taking a do-it-yourself approach comes with some perks. For starters, you can tailor your system to meet your individual needs. This can be for performance reasons, one hardcore movie buff may be more choosy about their center channel speaker, for example. But another music lover might just be looking to customize their entertainment center with a pair of killer floorstanding speakers. It could also be because individual needs don’t always fit package systems. Every listening room is different and they each will force people to make different accommodations. Perhaps big tower speakers work up front, but you don’t have a place to put surround speakers in the back of the room. Maybe in-wall or in-ceiling speakers will be needed in that case. Building your own system a la carte gives you the freedom to mix and match products as you see fit. It’s not as difficult as it might seem, simply look at the different options for each type of speaker one at a time and figure out which is best for your application. That way, you’re picking between three or four options and not picking five out of 50 options.
Before choosing your home theater speaker system, take a minute to assess your living room. In order to optimize your new system’s sound quality, it’s important to understand how to physically lay it all out. The center channel speaker should be placed right below or above your TV screen and positioned to face listeners. If you choose to position it on a stand, rest the speaker’s edge on the end of the stand. This will help prevent dialogue from sounding wonky. The floorstanding/bookshelf speakers should then be positioned on either side of the TV (at least six feet apart). Just be sure to keep them at an equal distance from the screen for the best sound delivery. As for the surround speakers, place these guys slightly above and behind the viewing position – about three feet above the listeners’ heads should do it. They should also be placed equidistant from the listening positon on each side. Understand how you’re going to run the speaker wire. While running it in the wall is best, you may not have the ability to do that yourself, or the money to pay somebody else to do it. Figure out how you’ll run the wire so it isn’t in the way. If running speaker wire is a problem, there are wireless speaker options as well. Things are a little more flexible when it comes to the subwoofer. While corners make for an easy location, the reflectivity of walls means it isn’t always the best location from a performance standpoint, feel free to give it a try along a wall or next to a front speaker. If you haven’t already, check out our Klipsch WA-2 Kit that makes your subwoofer wireless, allowing more flexibility to find the perfect spot for your subwoofer.
A sound bar, while not as powerful as a full-out surround sound system, still represents a step up from your TV’s default speakers. For the electronically challenged, a sound bar’s super simple installation is enough of a draw. What’s more is that they actually do produce pretty killer sound in a compact, single-speaker device (which is perfect for small spaces, by the way). For one thing, the right sound bar can deliver strong virtual sound. What’s that, you ask? It basically simulates surround sound. A benefit to this system is that it’s sleek, not bulky and comes with minimal wires. If you snag one with Bluetooth connectivity, it’ll also seamlessly play your favorite music right from your smartphone, tablet or computer. Despite it’s crowd-pleasing features, some may prefer to add a subwoofer to their soundbar to add low bass frequencies. Plus, a sound bar’s easy plug and play function does not limit the system to your living room’s home theater setup. You can easily move it to the bedroom, kitchen or covered porch. Check out our Klipsch R-10B and R-20B models.
Tell us how you plan to or have set up your home theater speaker system in the comments section below. We’d love to see some pics too!
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