Perhaps the most essential component of any home theater system is the speakers. The sound portion of the home theater experience is what creates a movie like environment for film enthusiasts.
There are some basic types of speakers that are in all home theater packages. The front left and front right speakers, the center channel speaker, the surround speakers and the subwoofers are the components of most home theater sound systems. There are many brands of speakers to choose from in these categories but the most important thing to remember is that the speakers must work well together to create the best sound experience. For this reason, it might be best to purchase a home theater speaker kit or at least stick to one manufacturer for all of your speakers. "Voice matching" is the term used to express the desired effect of the speakers working together. It is important that all of the speakers in your system have compatible "voices" to get the best sound quality.
The front left and front right speakers provide a wide range of the sound effects and interact with the screen image to create a more realistic movie experience. The front left and front right speakers are responsible for the movie score and reproducing off stage effects. There are a wide variety of styles available for front left and front right speakers, including floor-standing speakers, bookshelf speakers and satellite speakers. Floor-standing tower speakers are the most efficient and provide the richest sound; however, they are space consuming. For small spaces, satellite speakers combined with a sub-woofer may be your best option.
Many interested in home theater may overlook the center channel speaker, but these speakers do a majority of the work. In addition to providing over half of the soundtrack, the center channel speaker also provides the dialogue. The speaker normally sits on or below your television. For those with wall mounted flat screen televisions, there are wall mountable center channel speakers to adapt to your home theater set up. These speakers are available in a variety of sizes. In order to find the perfect center channel speaker for you, consider the size of your front left and front right speakers. It is also important that these speakers be voice matched to each other for optimum sound quality.
Surround speakers are responsible for the ambient sounds in films, such as the sound of rain, wind or crunching leaves. These sounds are what make the film watching experience more complete and realistic. They draw you into the world of the film. The most common set up for surround speakers is a 5.1-channel surround system. This set up comes with a single pair of surround speakers. Many home theater enthusiasts later upgrade their systems to two or more pairs of surround speakers to enrich the sound experience. Richer surround sound can also be achieved with 6.1 or 7.1-channel surround systems.
The final component of the home theater sound system is a subwoofer. Most Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks come with a deep bass track that is only heard through a subwoofer. These low frequency effects (or LFE) provide the "big" feeling achieved in movie theaters.
For an interesting twist on the subwoofer, many home theater enthusiasts have installed ButtKickers in their seating. A ButtKicker is a small linear motor that responds to an audio signal sent by an amplifier. It is similar in function to a loudspeaker. Instead of transferring sound through the air like a loudspeaker, the ButtKicker attaches to home theater seats and sends low frequency sound into the movie enthusiasts’ bodies.
The ButtKicker functions on the scientific principle that we use two senses to perceive sound. We hear sound, but we also feel low frequency sound. Normally it would take big speakers, such as those in a movie theater or at a concert, for people to feel low frequency sounds. What we are responding to at concerts and the Cineplex is actually the pressure of the sound on our bodies.
The ButtKicker reproduces that feeling in a much more efficient way that is conducive to home use. By mounting the ButtKicker LFEs directly under your home theater seating, you achieve the same effect experienced in the movie theater
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