Easy & Affordable Tips For A Better Surround Sound

130PDP5040 LIFESTYLE MT J Easy & Affordable Tips For A Better Surround Sound

A/V Receiver? Check.  5 speakers? Check.  Subwoofer? Check.  These are the main components for a surround system.  You might be happy with the way your system sounds right now, but here are some helpful products that will give you a better sound system: speaker wires and calibration disks.  More after the jump!

I’ll start with the easiest and cheapest solution, speaker wires.  Most home theater owners settle for wires that comes with the speakers.  The wires are usually really thin and may disrupt the sound output.  The gauges on these wires are usually 18 or 20.  The larger the gauge, the thinner the wire.  The thinner the wire, the less clear the sound gets.  I suggest getting a 14 or 12 gauge wires.  About a year ago,  I switched my default wires with the 14 gauge and the difference was noticeable.  Now I could hear cars whizzing by the rear speakers more clearly, it had better clarity.  Monoprice.com, has the 14 gauge, 100 ft wires for less than $18, $9 for the 50 ft.  If you’re not sure how much wire you need, just go for the 100 feet.  It’s better to be safer than sorry when you run out of wires.   You’ll also need a wire cutter that’ll run you about $6 at Wal-Mart.  It’ll probably take you about 1 hour to reconnect the wires but trust me, it’s well worth it.

Next step is leveling the speakers.  We want the speakers leveled because the default settings for receivers are usually screwed up.  Most of the time, the rears and subwoofers are too loud.  And sometimes, the speaker placement will mess up the volume balance because they’re not evenly distributed.  If they’re too loud that means you can’t really hear the dialogue and keep adjusting the volume according to the scene(talking, explosions).  Most of my friends have this problem.  

630551982X.01.LZZZZZZZ Easy & Affordable Tips For A Better Surround Sound
Avia Calibration Disk

The solution to the sound level is a calibration disk.  Among other things (also calibrates video), calibration disks will tell you the decibel level  for each speaker based on  test tones.There are two main calibration disks: one from Avia and the other from DVE.  I prefer Avia because it’s easier to navigate.  Calibration disks can be purchased at Best Buy or Fry’s for about $20.  But if you have Netflix or Blockbuster.com, I suggest you just rent it because you probably won’t use it after its initial test.  I borrowed mine from Netflix. 

207 10 digital sound level meter Easy & Affordable Tips For A Better Surround Sound
Digital Sound Meter From Radio Shack

In order for the calibration disk to work properly, you’ll need a sound meter for the test tones.  Sound meters come in two versions: analog and digital.  Analog is more accurate while digital is easier to read.  I have the digital sound since I was a newbie back then and bought it at Radio Shack for $50.  What you do is you play the test tones with the sound meter pointing to the roof, not directly at the speakers.  You make a note of each sound level for each speaker and adjust accordingly.  Also make sure the whole room is quiet, so close the windows if you have to.  For the subwoofer, I set mine about 10 decibel higher than the speakers.  If it’s leveled to the speaker, it’s too low and I can’t feel the bass.  Testing the disk will probably take about 10 minutes max, but more expensive than replacing the wires.  I suggest you do both, so you can enjoy your movies and video games even more!

Here’s a recap of what you need –
Replacing wires:
12 or 14 gauge wires which can be bought anywhere but I suggest monoprice for its low price and great service. 
Wire Cutter, you can also buy anywhere.

Calibrating sound:
Calibration disk – get it an electronic store or rent it through an Netflix or Blockbuster.com.
Sound Meter – $50 at Radio Shack.

pixel Easy & Affordable Tips For A Better Surround Sound

More fun articles: