With all the options available for surround sound today, it is difficult to purchase a speaker setup without doing some research. Especially if you are setting up a room devoted to gaming or theater, where sound is essential to enjoyment, surround sound requires some careful considerations.
Size of the Room
A large room with small speakers will have echoes, and the room will sound hollow. A small room with large speakers will offer sound distortion. It is easy to think that bigger is better when it comes to speakers, but actually, there is a good size for every room. In a small room, speakers will only sit about 6 to 8 feet away from the listener. In this setting, small speakers and sound bars are appropriate options. Sound bars don’t create true surround sound, but they do create virtual surround sound, which satisfies the average listener. In an average-sized room, medium-sized speakers can be placed behind the listener to create true surround sound. Lastly, large sub woofers and speakers can be installed if the speakers are going to sit over 12 feet away from the listener.
Cost is a big factor in speaker purchases, and simply buying a big speaker does not mean it’s going to sound better. In fact, higher-end speakers are able to produce better sound from smaller speakers. The average homeowner spends less than $1500 on surround sound and can pay as little as a couple hundred dollars. If an electrician is required for wiring or installation, prices average and additional $500.
Wired vs. Bluetooth
Surround sound does not have to involve the mess of wires and cables that it used to. Many speakers, such as subwoofers, which are placed further away from the source than other speakers, can be connected through Bluetooth. Especially for self-installed systems, this creates a finished look without having to have speakers installed in the walls or ceilings.
Integrated or not?
Many sound systems are installed in the ceilings and walls, and they become permanent and disguised elements of the home producing brilliant sound but not becoming clunky eyesores. When installing integrated systems, it can be tempting to install multi room systems. In these cases, the same music can be played throughout the home, or separate rooms can have individual music or sound. These systems can become expensive as additional rooms are added, but the convenience and clarity of sound is a benefit to this option.
The expansion of technology has added many features to home speaker systems, and they are not all covered here. However, some other features of modern day sound systems are multiple remotes that can control the sound from individual rooms, customized speaker covers, and camouflaged wall speakers that are installed behind trim on the walls.
5 Tips for Choosing a Sound System
Learn the lingo with online searches. Also, this will give you an idea of sound system advancements and trends. The ultimate goal of online research is to give you a greater understanding of what’s available to get ideas of what you want. There is nothing worse than installing a sound system and then realizing that there was something better you would have opted for if you had known.
Speak to a professional
Go to the retail stores, but you have to be careful when talking to these “professionals,” as they sometimes don’t know what they are talking about. This is where being perceptive is key. Best Buy may have very knowledgeable personnel, or they may have a new employee with very little experience. Likewise, a specialty store may have varying levels of knowledge and expertise. Don’t buy a system right after speaking to a “professional.” They may be trying to sell something that is becoming outdated or accidentally steer you in the wrong direction. However, they may show you the latest technology and make good recommendations.
Find an electrician (for integrated systems)
If you are going integrated, good for you! It is the optimal way to install sound systems, but you have to find an electrician that has experience. It is not a complex job from an electrical perspective, but experienced electricians will have sound advice and recommendations for your project.
Talk to your friends
Lastly, talk to you audiophile friends who will definitely let you know what they think about sound. Talking to people you trust puts a final polish on your decision, and it may make you have to repeat some of the previous steps to make sure you are covering all your bases.
Evaluate your budget
Money is often the deciding factor in sound, but if you are serious about getting good sound, don’t undercut your budget. Also, don’t spend so much that you don’t notice the additional quality sound. Your sound system should be able to be appreciated but also not break the bank.
What if you don’t research your options?
Any big box store will allow you to stuff a soundbar in your shopping cart and check out. You’ll get okay sound without spending a lot of money. However, if you want a truly impressive sound experience, it can be accomplished by following the recommendations above.