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Tips & Tricks

Improve your Surround Sound System using 5 Matches

First, a disclaimer. The following article presents the ideal or best case situation. As such we are aware that nobody has a room or equipment that follows these guidelines. However, the Dolby Digital Specification really does stipulate identical speakers placed within the room to achieve a certain minimum quality of sound reproduction. The important wording here is minimum quality level. The Dolby recommendations will get you a very good system if all the specifications are followed.

You and I know that these specs cannot be followed in your room. There is not enough room for identical speakers in all locations. The shape of the room is inalterable merely to improve the sound. You may even have furniture that must be placed in the room as your designer planned.

Every real life room has a unique set of circumstances that have to be addressed and balanced to create the optimal sound field. Our experience with hundreds of varied listening environments enables us to position and adjust any speaker system to sound its best in your room.

So with all that in mind, I present the easy way to an exceptional surround sound speaker system by using 5 matches.

Match the Speakers

Do this. Buy identical speakers for all positions in the system. Not just the same brand. The same speakers.

Match the Heights

Position every speaker in the same orientation and at the same height above the floor. The high frequency driver (tweeter) should be slightly above ear level when you are seated in the preferred listening position.

Match the Distances

Move each speaker to be the same distance from the center chair (the center of the room), so that they form a circle around you. Space them evenly around the room. The distance from the left front speaker to the center speaker is the same as the distance between the left front speaker and the left surround speaker, and so on. That’s better than using the delay settings in your processor.

Match the Levels

Use a Sound Pressure Level Meter and adjust every speaker to the same volume. Use 75dB as the reference level. Hold the meter at ear level and with the microphone at a 45 degree angle above the floor.

Match the Subwoofer to the Room

Experiment with subwoofer position to get the most even low frequency response throughout the room. One shortcut is to place the subwoofer on your preferred listening chair as if it were you sitting in the chair. Play a bass heavy recording and take a walk around the room. Listen for the bass response as you move about the room. Where the bass sound “best” to you is the location to put the subwoofer.