Sunday, February 26, 2006
Now, re-creating the movie theater experience at home is easier than ever. Sound quality and TV screen size are perhaps the two most important factors in replicating that experience. For ultimate home viewing, you‚Äôll need a big-screen TV, a minimum of four speakers, gear to split up the surround-sound signal and transmit it to the speakers, and a VCR or DVD player that utilizes surround sound.
Getting the full surround-sound experience is a matter of arranging the speakers properly. Two or three speakers should be in front of the viewer, and two or three should be on the sides or behind the viewer. Another speaker should be placed either above or below the screen.
The surround-sound signal should be split into multiple channels. This ensures that different sound comes from different speakers. An audio/video receiver and amplifier are required for the splitting of sound. This receiver is the heart of the home theater experience. It picks up signals from your VCR, DVD player or satellite dish, reads the signals and transmits them to your TV and speakers.
An audio/video receiver and amplifier system can be put together from separate components. The necessary components include audio/video inputs for devices like a DVD player or a VCR; a preamplifier; a surround-sound decoder; power amplifiers for separate sound channels, and outputs for the TV and speakers. The system can also be purchased as a total package. Different audio/video receiver models are available, and they provide different surround-sound formats. When choosing a receiver, keep in mind that there are five possible formats of home theater surround-sound:
Dolby Surround Sound: The simplest format, which requires only three speakers.
Dolby Pro Logic: A slightly more advanced format calling for five speakers. Most cable and digital satellite broadcasts use this option.
Dolby Digital: Providing a fuller sound, Dolby Digitalis utilized by digital satellite broadcasters. This format makes use of two separate rear speakers and a subwoofer channel that provides low-frequency sound. Dolbly Digital is communicated as a digital signal, which means it provides an especially rich sound.
Dolby Digital Ex: This capability is similar to Dolby Digital. It does include an extra channel, for a speaker set up just behind the viewer.
Different receivers have the capability of operating in different formats. The most affordable receivers only support Dolby Pro Logic, while receivers that come equipped with Dolby Digital decoders are more expensive. For the optimal surround-sound experience, keep in mind that Dolby Digital is the way to go.