After you’ve read our blog post on the surround sound setup, you’ll learn:
- What components you’ll need for the best surround setup
- How to set up surround sound for the ideal audio experience
- Where you can turn for help with your surround sound setup
You’ve just set up your brand new, 8K HDTV. The visuals are crisp, with whiter whites and blacker blacks than you’ve ever seen on a television screen. Everything’s perfect until you start to turn up the volume of the TV’s built-in speakers. Then you turn it up some more. And a little more. Even at maximum volume, the sound is tinny, wimpy, and nowhere near impressive.
This is a problem that newbies to the home theater world encounter all the time. No matter how beautiful the picture is, a TV’s built-in speakers are not nearly powerful enough to create the full sensory experience you desire.
Luckily, building a sound system doesn’t have to be difficult. With a few high-quality components, you can be well on your way to living the surround sound lifestyle. And, even if you’re not sure how exactly to set up your audio experience, you can always rely on the experts at BTZ Audio Video to provide the best surround sound setup for your home.
Surround Sound Home Theater Experience
Before we launch into the nitty-gritty, we should probably define what surround sound is and why it adds to the home theater experience. A surround sound system uses multiple speakers and audio channels to create a complete 360-degree audio experience. When the system is properly installed and tuned, it’ll feel like you’re in the middle of the action, with sounds coming at you from all directions.
This differs greatly from a stereo system in which two speakers on both ends of the TV (or built-in the TV) emit sound from only one direction. You won’t feel as immersed in the audio experience with a stereo system as you would with surround sound. Even if you have a high-quality soundbar, the sound quality may be good, but you’ll still feel like you’re watching plain, ol’ TV instead of truly living the director-intended experience.
Surround systems come in multiple configurations. While stereo is often referred to as 2.1 (as in, two speakers and one subwoofer), surround sound systems can come in 5.1, 7.1, or 9.1 set-ups. While it’s true that the more speakers you have, the more immersive the sound will be, not everyone has the required space for such a configuration. So, most people opt for the 5.1 set-up.
Surround Sound Computer Speakers
Of course, each speaker isn’t necessarily playing the same sounds. You can even hear this in stereo setups, where the left channel may be emitting different sounds than the right one. So, the very first step in any how to set up surround sound guide should be a list of the components you’ll need:
- Left and right speakers (either bookshelf speakers or floor standing ones)
- Central channel speaker
- Surround speakers
- Elevation or in-ceiling speakers (if you’re going for a 9.1 set-up or want to take advantage of Dolby Atmos)
- A/V receiver
Each of these plays a proper role in providing the immersive audio and visual experience. The A/V receiver, though listed last here, is perhaps the most essential component as it directs sounds to the correct speakers.
The central speaker typically handles dialogue or actions occurring directly in front of you on the screen. Music and sound effects are often played through the left and right speakers while the surround speakers handle moving sounds (such as an airplane rushing by you) or other ambient noise. Your subwoofer will emit low-frequency sounds, such as explosions or other audio that requires deep bass.
There’s also the Dolby Atmos set-up for those looking to take the audio experience to the next level. These speakers are elevated or installed directly into the ceiling to provide a full sphere of sound. These types of set-ups are also listed differently, typically with a second decimal in the configuration (such as 5.1.2.).
As technology progresses, you may want to consider wireless surround sound speaker configurations. These systems are an excellent option for those who don’t want to do any drilling or want a sleek, wireless set-up. However, wireless technology can often lead to lagging audio. There are ways to fix this with newer televisions, but it will always be tough to beat the fidelity of a wired system.
How to Setup Surround Sound
Beyond the larger equipment, you’ll also need specific wires and cables to maximize the audio performance of your surround sound system. First and foremost, you’ll need HDMI cables that help connect the source of the sound (such as your Blu-ray player or video game console) to the output. HDMI cords are standard today, so you should be able to find inexpensive options both online or in-stores. If you have a 4K video set-up, you must get HDMI cords specifically rated for 4K video.
You’ll also need speaker connections to help get the sound from the central receiver to each speaker. Again, you want to make sure you’re purchasing high-quality components, or you may find that the sound quality is lacking. There are guides online that can walk you through how to connect speaker wire, as it isn’t always intuitive, and a bad connection can lead to audio latency or other sound-related concerns.
Optimal Surround Sound Setup
No two rooms are the same. Even if the specific dimensions are similar, furniture and other things in the room can affect the acoustics. That’s why it’s not enough just to set up a surround sound system; you must also optimize it for the room in which the system sits. This is perhaps the most painstaking process of the surround sound set-up, as you may need to try multiple configurations to finally get the best sound for your home theater.
However, there are basic guidelines that will make it easier to set up surround sound. First, you’ll need to look around the room your home theater sits in and identify potential sound traps or reflective surfaces. Hardwood, for instance, will bounce sound around and could create an echo-like effect. Rugs or thick curtains can help mitigate this and keep the audio from moving around the room.
Additionally, remove anything that stands between you and a speaker. Lamps, plants, and furniture can make it difficult to hear what the speaker is emitting. This, of course, ruins the audio experience.
Placing the speakers in the right place is also essential. The central speaker should be directly in front of you, with the left speaker to the left and the right speaker to the right. The surround speakers should be behind you and off to the side to help create a full 360-degrees of sound.
BTZ Audio Video is Here to Help
If you’re struggling with finding the right equipment, the right set-up, or just prefer to have the experts take over, BTZ Audio Video is here to help. Our team of audio and video technicians can help design and install the right surround system for your needs. By sourcing the components and installation from one team of experts, you’ll save money and reduce frustration, all while giving a boost to your home theater experience.
Call us today at 972-234-9292 to add immersive, high-quality sound to your home theater.
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