Designing a home theater involves more than just choosing the best speakers and screens available and plugging them in. Sound quality, specifically, can be affected in a lot of ways depending on the room you’re in, the speakers you’re using, and where you place them. A big mistake we see in home theater designs is that people don’t take the time to calibrate their speakers properly.
What you’ll end up with is muffled, unbalanced sound that can quickly ruin any movie-watching experience. That’s why it’s so important to work with a certified dealer that will know the perfect settings to get you crisp, robust, and smooth sound in your Greely, CO home theater.
It All Starts With Speaker Placement
The majority of your calibration has to do with getting speakers to adjust to both the location of the viewer and other speakers in the room. Where should you be placing them in your theater? Although this will change depending on your number of speakers, there are a few best practices.
Start by placing the center channel directly below or behind your screen. Since this channel deals primarily with dialogue, you want it as close to the screen as possible. Left and right speakers should be as distant from each other as the TV is to you to create an equilateral triangle.
The last step is setting up your surround sound speakers and in-ceiling speakers. Their placement will depend on the number of speakers you have.
Calibrating Each of Your Speakers
Having automatic calibration software can speed up many of our home theater designs, but we find that manual calibration is still the best way to go. Your calibration will begin with speaker distance.
We’ll measure the distance between each speaker and the central viewing area and input it into your AV receiver. The receiver will then adjust the channels accordingly to make sure all sound signals are reaching you at the same time.
Even at same distances, some speakers may be naturally stronger than others, so we also calibrate for volume level. We use a decibel meter and test signals – often called pink signals — to ensure all speakers sound the same. The goal is to get each speaker tone to reach the same decibel level. What level that should be will depend on your theater size and personal preferences.
Adjust Your Subwoofer Settings
A subwoofer helps you better hear the low bass sounds in your movie soundtracks. There are a few adjustments you’ll need to make to introduce one into your surround sound setup. If nothing else, you need to focus on getting the ideal crossover.
The crossover has to do with where your AV receiver sends bass signals. If your speakers stop producing bass at a pretty high frequency, you’ll want your subwoofers to take care of all bass signals.
If you have high-performance speakers, you may want them to take on a lot more of the bass duties-especially if you plan on using your home theater for 2-channel applications as well.
The other issue with your subwoofer is that it has a delayed response. Just because a subwoofer and speaker are the same distance from you, that doesn’t mean the signal will reach you at the same time. So your placement needs to account for this.
Since subwoofers don’t typically work with pink signals, your tone calibration will likely have to be gauged by ear.
How do You Know Your Calibration Worked?
While we use a lot of tools and numbers for calibration, the final test should be something a lot more practical. We’ll sit down with the client and play one of their favorite movies, at a scene they know well.
You’ll be surprised to see how even an untrained ear can quickly pick up when something sounds wrong. If it does, we’ll retrace our steps and make adjustments until it sounds just right.
We’ve simplified these steps to their barest form, but in real life – calibration can turn your home theater installation into an intricate math problem. One that you won’t want to deal with on your own.
Instead, reach out to the home theater experts at Encore Site and Sound. We’ll take care of the wires, numbers and more, and you can focus on the result: an unbelievable viewing experience. Just call us at 970-217-7018 or fill out our online contact form.