Four AV Tips for the Fourth of July
We at Audioholics hope you and your family are having a great mid-week holiday vacation. If your employer didn't give you the day off, well then be sure to cover his office in saran wrap or encase his favorite desk accessory in jell-o. In the spirit of the Fourth of July we wanted to offer up four tips to getting better performance out of your current home theater. Employ these tips and you're all but guaranteed to have better sound in your room.
Tip #1: Move That Subwoofer
One of the easiest things to do to improve your low-end frequency response is move your sub around. Follow the directions in our Crawling for Bass article and be sure to move the sub out of the exact corner of a room if possible. While it does give you a ton more bass energy, it does so at the expense of exciting the nulls and peaks in the room, meaning that while you may be getting some serious bass at 60Hz, you may be missing it entirely at 40Hz.
Tip #2: Experiment with Toeing in and Positioning Your Speakers
Many people bring home their speakers, set them up and never touch them again. We recommend listening to some reference music that has a wide soundstage and then making sure your speakers reproduce that wide listening area in your living room. This may involve adjusting the toe-in (how much your speakers "point" towards the center listening seat) and also the positioning. We recommend a "Golden Triangle" to start, so that the distance between the speakers is the same distance from you to the speakers. Make sure to try and keep your main speakers at least 1 foot away from the rear and side walls if possible as that will accentuate bass frequencies and affect the intended response of the speaker. From there you can experiment further. We have some additional tips on loudspeaker placement that are very helpful.
Tip #3: Set Those Levels
Maybe you set the levels on your home theater system a year ago. Maybe you weren't in possession of an SPL meter and just did them by ear. Maybe you used an automatic setup program and never thought you'd need to worry about doing it manually. Well, check your levels. If you added furniture, your speakers moved or you added a new component (like a different subwoofer) it's possible that the sound in your room has changed considerably without you realizing it. It's always good to periodically check your levels in all 6+ speakers to ensure you are correctly getting the right level to each. Be advised that the subwoofer is almost always best set to taste (the tones are rarely accurate for level setting), and it does help you purchase a calibration DVD (like AVIA or Digital Video Essentials) to test the integration of your sub with your mail speakers (using a sweep tone that is not set too high in volume).
Tip #4: Tweak and Test That Automatic Room EQ
Lots of new AV receivers come with automatic room correction. Most people think this is really nifty and use the EQ modes that are recommended. In our experience, however, only a small few of these systems have improved sound in the rooms we've set up (and we've tried over half a dozen rooms and most of the available technologies.) You may want to turn the EQ on and off (after verifying your levels and doing the tweaks mentioned above) to see if the automatic EQ system is truly making your room sound better - or just artificially boosting and cutting some frequencies that change the sound. Also pay attention to various seating positions. While it may improve the central seat, does it destroy the audio to the adjacent listening positions? If you like the results - keep them - but if not, then feel free to disengage the EQ portion of the automatic setup.
Now, with those few tweaks you should be off to a good start in making your home theater sound at least a little bit better - or at least confirm that your current configuration is the best possible for your room.
As for the rest of your day - enjoy it, and don't forget what the Fourth of July is all about.
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Recent Forum Posts:
Wow. The big enchilada with all the chiclets!
And what, pray tell, O' Swami of the Site, side firing towers are you listening to these days?
Frankly, the side firing option just seemed optimal for me- I was hurting for space on my HT main wall, and these saved me that two feet of space that a couple of subs take up. Plus, it makes sense to have two subs equidistant, rather than one sub off center somewhere.
Watching all the marching bands reminded me of what I strive for in my audio system-the live you are there sound. The drums especially were really something.
Bless America! Happy Fourth!
As to the tweaks……any thoughts on my side firing subs that are built into my front towers!?