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Speaker tone and how it can effect what you hear

When it comes to speakers, the first question people always think to ask is “what size is the speaker.” Although that is certainly an important aspect of speakers, today we are focusing instead on “how does it sound?” You can look at specs on paper, but if you have ever tested two similar speakers you have undoubtedly come to the realization that they can actually sound quite different from one another. Since this article is not a review of an actual speaker, nor is it a comparison of two or more speakers, we will instead focus on what you can expect to generally hear out of a speaker based upon it’s size and location.

Speakers playing loud and with little bass are great for 7.1 sides due to rapid sound placement really standing out. These are also great for sitting up high for the rear center and for sitting up high for the front left and right “effects” speakers. They are also good for recreating “live” sound effects from concert videos and music that was recorded live. The purpose of “effects” speakers is to make it sound more lively to create that “you are there” feeling. Typically these will be small or smaller speakers than what is used in the rest of the your home theatre. For instance, try testing this out with speakers that use only 6.5″ to 8″ woofers. I cannot recommend super small speakers as rear speakers unless the room is small or you are just starting out and plan to upgrade later.

Now try them again only this time using 3″ to 5 1/4″ woofers in the same location and at the same height. How did they sound? Odds are the larger speakers had more mid bass tone to them, needed more power to drive them so the volume was turned up higher and they were not as quick (possibly) at recreating quick moving sound effects. If using the smaller speakers they were not as rich in tone quality and therefore did not sound any near as good and left you with the feeling that something was missing from the sound you should be hearing, but not sure what it would be (until turning up the volume some with larger speakers). Not to knock the smaller speakers for they do have their advantages too! 1) They are most likely wall mountable which saves space, they cost less money, they required less volume to drive them and therefore did not need a high current receiver which also costs more money. Also, if you move frequently packing them up and moving them is much easier. Right now as I write this I am getting to move from one apartment to another and have started packing. I disconnected my massive speakers (8’s, 10’s and 12’s) and for now am running only a 7.2 channel system mostly comprised of satellite speakers (2″ maybe?) with 6 1/2’s for the main speakers and full size center with dual 4″s in it. Listening to this I can tell you that lots of sound is missing, however what little sound that is still there does move around quickly.

Tip: – Experiment with the height and angle and size of speakers. Keep in mind no two rooms are exactly the same.

Tip: – Make sure your receiver is powerful enough to properly drive your speakers. Check the ohms and wattage on the speakers to. A “High current” receiver is always better than one that is not “high current.” If it is not a “high current” receiver an Equalizer (EQ) can help immensely. If however, you are running satellite speakers there is no reason for an EQ or a “high current” receiver since you will not notice a difference and even if you do it will not be enough to be beneficial.

When considering the size of speakers you are after, first think of the tone quality you want to hear. Tone is a matter of personal preference so keep in mind there is no right or wrong answer. For me personally, I have always liked good mid base with accurate natural sounding highs. Based on this I prefer medium to large sized speakers. Others prefer super loud and clear, or as I refer to as overly clear, unnatural and tinny sounding speakers. Note: This is pronounced as “tin-e” and is not a typo in my spelling. For them a smaller speaker might just be what they are looking for. Keep in mind the sound you are after and hope to re-create is whatever is the closest match to what you want it to sound like within your budget. The sound you are after is not necessarily what I or someone else wants and that is ok since it’s your home theatre to enjoy however you so choose.

Curious to see what different speakers are available? Check out the Premium Audio online store to learn more.

What is your tone preference? Premium Audio would like to know!

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Why a 15.2 channel surround sound can be so cool!


     If you have not already heard, I designed a 15.2 channel surround sound setup and successfully tested it. This article will discuss a reason why you just might want to set it up in your living room too. Please read on to learn more….

    First off let me say this, creating this setup was fun! For most people this will seem truly uneccessary and for most people I would agree that they do not need this setup. Let me say that again…for most people I would agree that they do not need this setup. So why, you may ask, would I write about something that I don’t think you will need? Shouldn’t I be trying to sell you something? I am writing this article to open your minds to the almost limitless possibilities out there, not only for home theater, but for anything you choose to do even if it has never been done or seems impossible.

Most living rooms do not have room for this setup. Being the home theater nut that I am I chose not to let reason get in my way of creating this! I put this in an area that is really only about 15′ x 12′ at best (the rest of the room is divided off with furniture for a home office and dining area). To make matters worse I didn’t use satellite speakers, I used large old school speakers that take up lots of floor space. I took some speakers I had laying around and just starting wiring it up and then spending my time sound testing over and over and over again with both music and movies trying to get that perfect sound for my living room.

My speakers ranged in size from a pair of 5 1/4″ speakers all the way up to dual 12’s. Other speakers included 10’s, 12’s, 8’s, and 6 1/2’s. This is without a doubt not the traditional surround sound setup. For one thing everyone always says to “use matching speakers.” I discuss many points in my book, “Customize Your Home Theater 5.1 channel to 15.2 and everything in between”, including this subject on matching speakers and what I think of this concept.

My setup, unfortunately, or fortunately, (depending on your take on the 15.2 channel surround sound setup I came up with), calls for additional speakers strategically placed in the room to make sure you still hear the sound effects by basically creating walls of sound. The room I worked with was a “L” shaped great room with a partially vaulted ceiling, carpet and lots of open space leading to the adjacent kitchen. This is definitely not the environment you would want to choose for your surround sound.

In the end it actually ended up being rather cool, especially with action movies where sound truly surrounds you like never before. For example during one recent film a helicopter was to go from right rear to left rear then back to right rear and finally back to the left rear again (if using a 5.1 channel setup or two additional speakers if using a 7.1 channel setup).  In my setup it didn’t play thru just two speakers, or even four. Instead it played thru eight (8) speakers which really made the helicopter circle around you instead of just along both sides of you and back.

The standard 5.1 channel setup is supposed to “surround” you with sound. 7.1 is in my opinion a significant improvement. However, if you setup a 7.1 channel setup like they advise you when you scour the internet for proper speaker placement and set it up I do not think you will be overly impressed. I tested this too while writing my book and found a better placement of the speakers. With my setup it is much better. Even still, a 7.1 or 7.2 (if you use two subwoofers) does not truly “surround you” like they want you to believe. If you really want to have “surround sound” you should setup a 15.2 channel setup, maybe not with the giant speakers I used that take up too much floor space, but you should set it up. In 15.2 you sit in the middle of a circle of speakers. Now that’s what I call “surround sound.” Another reason for this setup is just so you can say and prove to your friends that you really have such a setup. Seeing and most importantly, hearing this setup will turn them into believers. Be prepared for your nearby friends, family and neighbors to suddenly start inviting themselves over just to watch a movie.

Let us know your take on 15.2. Do you like it? Do you plan to set it up in your home?