3 mistakes when choosing speakers
Home theatre system or home cinema is a home entertainment AV system with the goal to recreate a movie theatre experience. Often, this is achieved by using consumer-based audio-visual equipment that is set up in a dedicated room. home theatre system guide
Since the 2010’s, Blu-ray disc medium became a common home media standard. By 2016, 4K Blu-ray was introduced with most streaming services offering a range of high definition content during this time, so 4K TV’s and computers were rapidly declining in price. This prompted the standard for modern day home theatre visual system, which typically includes either a video projector with screen, flat screen TV’s bigger than 50″, or even microLED panels like Samsungs’ The Wall for a full movie theatre-like experience.
Now, it’s not enough to just have great visuals. While many DSP systems existed, audiophiles and home theatre enthusiasts often seek the studio standard for lossless surround sound, with five or seven native discrete channels.
In this guide, we will break down some key questions that you will need to consider before building your home theatre system.
In a simple linear home theater setup, the sound of a movie is reproduced by a number of speakers. A center channel, one or two speakers on the left and right of the listening area and two speakers at the back that can reproduce special effects such as directional sounds or ambient sounds coming from behind. In addition to these speakers, some users choose to add more speakers around the room to further enhance their soundstage. This is often times where planning properly for speaker placement is critical to achieving good sound from high quality speakers. Given that exact speaker placement can vary depending on the shape of your room, I have outlined 3 tips that should help you plan in this guide
But before we do that, here are some of our past articles with other insights that you might look for:
- For folks who are designing their ultimate luxury home cinema, read: Designing an Entertainment System around MicroLED Displays.
- For folks who are looking for AV system to match their interior design, read: Let’s Start Matching Your Speakers To Your Interior Design.
- For folks who want a smooth sailing experience choosing their speakers, read: 3 Mistakes People Make when Choosing Their Speakers.
How Big is Your Space?
Before you make any important decisions like what speakers you should get, the first and foremost thing you need to do is to understand your room size.
This is important because
1- you want to make sure your audio & visual coverage is directly proportional to your room size, and
2- you need to decide the maximum number of speakers you can install in your room.
Let’s break down these two points.
Firstly, how big is your space? A large, open living room with a high ceiling will need different AV equipment than a small- or medium-sized room. You won’t want an AV system that is too overpowering for your small room. On the other hand, if your system is too small, you will also be dissatisfied not living up to the full home theatre experience.
So, measure up. Decide what visual system goes best with your room – is a flat-screen TV just as sufficient, or would you go the distance with a video projector system?
Then, if you have not already, you need to decide next if your home theatre speaker system can fit a 5.1-channel or 7.2-channel surround system.
What’s a surround system? Read on for our next question! home theatre system guide
How Many Speakers Do You Need?
In short, “surround sound” is typically defined as sound reproduction with multiple audio channels from speakers that surround the listener. The biggest and first application of surround sound was in movie theatres. Having additional one or more channels from loudspeakers behind or to the side of the listener creates the sensation of sound coming from any horizontal direction around the listener.
If you’re used to having a simple left and right channels from speakers in your home, that is a 2.0-channel speaker system.
The most common surround sound spec is the 5.1-channel system, which calls for 6 speakers. Those 5 speakers are namely, Centre (C), Left (L), Right (R), Left Surround (LS), Right Surround (RS), while the number after the point (.) stands for the number of subwoofers.
Being able to understand what each speaker does will help you immensely to choose the best options for your room. Here’s a quick breakdown of the roles played by each speaker:
- A centre channel sits below or above your visual system. This channel is often considered the most important speaker in your home theatre system, as it delivers most of the dialogue and over 50% of a movie’s soundtrack.
- A pair of left and right front speakers reproduce the movie’s musical score and handle the bulk of the special effects. Besides that, sound moves between the front speakers to draw you more into the story.
- Two or more surround speakers go either beside or behind your seating area. These speakers immerse you in the movie with ambient sounds like rustling leaves or raindrops. They also deliver spectacular directional effects.
- Lastly, you need a subwoofer (or two) to go with your home theatre system. Movie soundtracks and sound effects have a dedicated channel of deep bass. Think of window-rattling punch when you hear a bombing sound effect. A quick rule of thumb with subs is their size corresponding with your room. If you have a large room, consider a sub with a 12″ or larger woofer. A small room only warrants a compact subwoofer.
The difference between a 5.1-channel system and a 7.1-channel system is the placement of the additional speakers. With 5.1, you get the option to place the additional speakers beside or behind you. A 7.1-channel system uses both rear and side surround speakers. If you have a large room and/or multiple seating locations, consider a 7.1-channel system for your home theatre system.
To set up a 5.1-channel or 7.1-channel system, you will need an AV receiver. An AV receiver acts as a connection hub for your audio & visual sources. It uses video processing and decodes surround sound to produce the best sounding movies.
Then you need to find out what sort of inputs/outputs you need. For audio, we recommend looking for an AV receiver with RCA or optical digital connections. So look for one that has at least seven channels. This will give you the option to upgrade or add more speakers if you’re planning to start out small, like a 3.1-channel system.
Mounted or Floor-standing?
So as you have your room size and you have a better idea on how big your home theatre system is going to be, now is the best time to decide if you want your speakers mounted on the wall or have them on the floor standing.
Whenever our clients come to us for a consultation, our number 1 recommendation is K-array‘s speaker system. While K-array is a designer of professional audio, Nextrend System has clients who are audiophiles and can’t get enough of the solutions K-array can bring for a residential setup. K-array sound solutions boast sleek design, reliable connectivity, and easy setup and management. Check out this example of a luxury cinema showroom in Monaco that’s designed for a residential application.
For smaller rooms, we recommend starting out with the Vyper line, KV 25 or KV52, and a compact subwoofer like the Rumble KU26.
The speakers are not only sleek in style, but they are practically invisible because of their slim look and compact size. You can also colour-customise it according to your interior design with any RAL code of your choice. For aesthetic reasons, we recommend mounting your front and surround speakers and keep your subwoofer fleshed into your wall to keep a low visual impact, so you can enjoy your movies to the fullest.
Pairing them with K-array’s very own DSP + power amplifier — the KA24, you will enjoy beautiful surround sound that transmits all the nuances of your favourite movie sounds that it can deliver.
Looking for stealthy surround sound, instead?
If you want a low-footprint system, consider in-wall or in-ceiling speakers, like our Amina Invisible Speakers.
Read about Amina Invisible Speakers here. home theatre system guide
A little something for you!
Information Overload? Come talk to us instead.
The bottom line is, there can be a lot going into planning a home theatre system. In our years of consulting and conducting demos for our clients, these are the top three questions we ask on the regular, so we turned it into an ultimate guide for you.
We hope you find our questions and guide helpful. We’d love to hear more from you should you have questions related to this blog or our service.
You can email us at [email protected] with your enquiries or WhatsApp us at 012 325 6513 for an immediate response!
Alternatively, you can also book a demo session at the office with us. Our showroom/office is in Ampang. Directions are easily accessible on our contact page here. home theatre system guide