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Surround Sound

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Why Surround Sound?

If you are one of the many people around the world who hasn't yet switched to
surround sound or a home theater system of some sort you may be wondering what
the big fuss is all about. Can it really make that much of a difference to
watching the television? The answer to that is that unless you have
difficulties with your hearing, surround sound can make a marked impact on your
overall movie viewing, computer gaming, and music listening experience. There is
nothing like being in the center of the action and surround sound puts you in
just that spot.

You can hear the sounds the victim hears in your favorite crime drama from the
same direction from which she hears those same sounds. You are literally in the
middle of the action right along with her. Your heart will beat right along with
subwoofer as anticipation builds (courtesy once again of the surround sound
system) in your favorite suspense thriller. It's almost indescribably the way
in which surround sound enriches the movie watching experience for even the
most casual of movie watchers.

I will be the first to admit that I'm notorious for knitting or reading while
watching television or movies and only looking up when something captures my
attention-generally something I heard or a flash on the screen. This means that
sound actually makes me pay attention to what is going on in the movies that I
am listening to. I have noticed a marked difference in my interest in movies
and television shows since adding surround sound to our home theater system.
More and more often I am noticing that scarves and such take twice as long to
accomplish and I blame it entirely on the superior sound that is part and
parcel to our surround sound system.

You may not be someone who watches all that much television or even that goes
to the movies all that often. If computer games happen to be your thing then
you are going to love what surround sound can do for you. In case you've
forgotten that little bit about it placing you in the center of the action,
this works wonders in game and provides important hints to you as to what is
going on around you. You can hear the bad guys (or merely the other side) as
they attempt to sneak up on you and know where they are coming from. You can
hear the hoof beats in the distance or hear the fires burning in barrels off to
your left. You can hear the starships flying by as if you were right next to
them in the middle of it all. It's truly an amazing boost to game reality and
to the fun of gaming.

For music lovers, you can feel as though you were sitting right in front of the
orchestra or on the front row at a concert for your favorite band. If you are
playing music that is recorded live you will really enjoy the feeling of being
in the middle of the crowd without the smoke and other fumes that might
otherwise detract from your good time. Whether your first love is video,
movies, games, or music surround sound has a way to make each of those
experiences even more enjoyable in the comfort of your home.

Surround Sound Basics

The importance of surround sound is often overlooked when it comes to building
and creating home theater systems. You should never underestimate that power
that sound holds over all of our television, movie, and sporting event watching
experiences. Movie sound tracks are often used in order to create drama,
heighten suspense, and even to enhance moods or themes within the movie.
Surround sound is for more than mere movies and television however. This great
type of sound also serves to bring great depth to our favorite music

Surround sound gets its name from the fact that you are literally surrounded
with the sound. This is a vast improvement over the typical two speaker systems
in the days of old (oddly enough not all that long ago). Surround sound works to
imitate the ambient noises that we often hear during the course of the day. This
is often done for the purpose of art imitating life. By hearing the roll of
thunder from every side rather than merely the left or the right we are
experiencing the real beauty of surround sound and enjoying the more realistic
effects it lends itself to.

When you are looking into surround sound systems for your home or home theater
you will come across some terminology that may seem foreign and unfamiliar.
Surround Sound 5.1 indicates a system that uses five speakers and one subwoofer
in order to deliver the sounds. This sound is often referred to as Dolby
Digital. A new term that has been cropping up more and more often in movie
circles is THX. This is known as surround sound 6.1, which involves the use of
6 speakers and a subwoofer. The center speaker in this system should be located
in the center behind the listener in order to add yet another layer to the
sound. Surround sound 7.1 adds yet another speaker to the mix in order to
create an even more authentic sound. The more speakers in your surround sound
system, the more realistic the sound will be and the better able you will be as
an audience member to find your place within the action.

In order to get surround sound you need more than a set of speakers. You will
first need a receiver in order to 'receive' and process the information and
send the digital signals and sounds in the direction they should go. If you are
building a home theater you will want to make a good receiver a key investment
in your overall system. This is an important component as sound is vital to a
true 'movie going' experience, which is what a good home theater is meant to
imitate.

A good receiver is essential not only for a good home theater but also any
surround sound system that you wish to install (many people use these
exclusively for gaming as well and they are quite effective for this particular
purpose). When it comes to gaming, surround sound can identify your location in
the action of the game. This works much like it does when watching movies. The
more speakers you have in your system the better able you will be to identify
from which direction actions, sounds, and such are being made. In games this
can provide important clues that those with lesser sound systems will miss out
on. Talk about an edge?

While the main purpose of surround sound is to simply enhance the entertainment
experience I can think of very few better things to invest in when it comes to
either a home theater or the ultimate gaming computer. Do your homework on the
systems that are available and remember that good quality speakers are
essential in carrying out the sound properly and you should plan to make a
sizeable investment in both the speakers and the receiver or other sound
components (if you decide to go that route for even better quality sound).
Whatever you are using it for be sure that you play around with the sounds to
find the best level for your personal enjoyment of your surround sound system.

Pieces Parts Components and Sound

If you are in the market for a surround sound system I'm sure you are trying to
learn as much as possible about options before you reach the buying stage. One
thing to keep in mind is that there are many options and most of them will come
down to a matter of taste when all is said and done. There is no right or wrong
component or process when it comes to buying a surround sound system only what
does and doesn't work for you and the space you have available.

You will find throughout the process that there are many parts, pieces, and
components that you may purchase for your surround sound system and even more
prices for those individual items. Ultimately the decision comes down to how
much of a sound snob you are. Seriously. I must admit that my personal
preference is for the most possible sound saturation and the most realistic
possible sound as possible. For this reason I am more interested in buying the
components as individuals rather than a simple AV receiver. This does not mean
that an AV receiver wouldn't be perfectly adequate (especially in relation to
the size of my rather small media room) but that I prefer the added control
over the sound that individual components provides.

Unfortunately, I cannot tell you which will work best for your situation as
your tastes and requirements will also play heavily on which decision is best
for you as will your budget. Some people do not place nearly as much emphasis
on sound as I do and most people have budget constraints that make individual
components seem like a bit of overkill. However, if you spend, as much time as
I do submersing yourself in experiences that require sound, then you will find
that the investment in these components may be well worth every penny. You will
pay a few though and should understand that now.

If you want to build a fabulous surround sound system you will need to start
with the preamp or processor. This will be the heart of your sound system and
works as a surround processor, AM/FM radio, amplifier, and preamp in one. This
piece of equipment receives the signals and then sends them on their merry way.
Amazingly enough the information always seems to find its way where it should
go-assuming of course that everything is plugged into its proper channel.

The tuner allows you to receive and process AM/FM radio signals, XM or
Satellite Radio, and some High Definition signals as well. The amplifier adds
power to the sound or as its name implies, amplifies it. This allows the sound
to 'reach' across the room so that everyone in the room is touched by it.

These components each achieve functions individually that a good quality AV
receiver can accomplish. The difference is always in degrees and depth. The AV
receiver allows some of the functionality of each but doesn't quite match the
control and nuances that can be achieved with any one of the pieces
individually. The average consumer doesn't need that sizeable of an investment
in equipment, money, time, or space in order to achieve excellent theater
quality sound in their home theater system and that is the important thing to
remember.

If you are hoping to imitate a 'theater' experience in an average size room,
chances are you will never need anything more than a decent AV receiver and an
excellent set of speakers. The more speakers you have in your surround sound
system, the better the quality of the sound will be. However, better quality
speakers will trump marginal quality equipment any day while marginal quality
speakers can still ruin the sound of even the best quality AV equipment. The
best advice I can give you when purchasing equipment for your surround sound
system is to make sure you put your money in your speakers and sort the rest
out afterwards.

Common Surround Sound Formats

In case you hadn't figured it out by now, surround sound is named as it is
because the sound literally surrounds the listener. While there have recently
been significant leaps and bounds in this technology there was a huge gap in
time between the introduction of this technology and the significant
improvements we have seen in recent years. This is especially true when the
evolution of sound technology is compared to how fast the world of video has
evolved over the last three decades.

There are many different formats on the market today. This can be confusing for
many consumers though the good news is that most devices that interpret the
formats do so automatically. In other words, you won't need a PhD in
terminology in order to enjoy the latest blockbuster hit to come out on DVD
with your surround sound system. You will however need a good AV receiver and
even better speakers in order to get the maximum enjoyment from your home
theater and surround sound system.

If you are simply curious or like to know a little about a lot, then you just
might find some of the following explanations for common surround sound formats
to be useful. Dolby Digital AC-3 is by far the most commonly seen surround sound
format. It is a 5.1 channel format (this means five speakers plus one
subwoofer). This is what most DVDs will include and some programs that are
found on digital cable or satellite channels will have this type of surround
sound as well. You can use Dolby Digital for older mediums that do not include
surround sound in their format, as surround isn't required in order to use the
system.

Pro Logic is a system used by Dolby in order to translate or decode the signals
from other mediums such as old videocassette tapes or television broadcasts.
This is becoming widely known for its ability to take two speaker sounds and
turn them into shockingly realistic surround imitations.

DTS is the largest competitor for Dolby when it comes to sound. DTS is this
company's answer to Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. This is mostly seen only
on DVDs.

DTS-ES is the above-mentioned company's answer to Dolby's 6.1 surround system
(this is 6 speakers plus 1 subwoofer). Of course DTS is also going to have
their own answer to Pro Logic and that answer would be DTS NEO:6, which is said
to produce great imitations of surround sound from existing 2 channel mediums
very much like Pro Logic.

You may be wondering why we went through all of this information and the
primary reason is so that you know there is a difference and you purchase
equipment and DVDs that are compatible with one another. Failure to do so could
result in a sound that is less than desirable. Most systems will at the very
least support both Dolby Digital and DTS, however, you should make sure that
you are aware of the format your system requires from the start in order to
make the proper decisions when purchasing.

Much like anything in life the proper formats and surround sound system comes
down to a matter of choice. The more speakers (such as you would find in the
6.1 or 7.1 surround systems) will present a great quality of sound than fewer,
however poor quality speakers can completely ruin the beauty of the sound of
your surround sound system. Your speakers should be your single largest
investment when it comes to building your ideal surround sound system.

There are many things that go into creating not only the perfect surround sound
system for your home but also the perfect surround sound set up. Do not get so
caught up in researching these systems online that you neglect to walk into
your local stores and actually hear the sound systems you are considering for
purchase. There is noting like hearing the quality of the sound to help you
make your final selection.

Surround Sound Speakers

When you are building a home theater or surround sound system for your home
there are many things that must be considered in order to create the best
possible system and solution for the space you have in which to create it. We
live in a world where floor space and real estate are premiums and we only give
them up begrudgingly. It is very true that the best speakers on the market (even
today) are generally stand speakers and they occupy a tremendous amount of prime
real estate within your media room or home theater.

For this reason we are seeing technological emphasis placed on improving
speaker design and making them smaller more now than at any other time in the
history of speakers. This is good news for you as a consumer since it means
that there is both emerging technology in these smaller speakers and that you
will see lower price in the race to create the best small speakers on the
market. For many consumers this offers a win-win situation that is too tempting
to pass when shopping. It is important however that you remember to see, or in
this case hear, for yourself the quality of these smaller speakers before you
make the rather sizeable investment that a good set of surround sound speakers
will require.

The good news for those of you are experiencing a little bit of sticker shock
over the price tag is that speakers should be the largest investment you make
in your total surround sound system by far. They are the most vital components
to the overall sound and your entire investment will be wasted in your other
equipment if you do not have superior quality speakers in your system.

While the number of speakers will increase the quality and depth of the sound
and the overall surround experience, good quality is more important than
greater numbers, you can always add more speakers to your collection later. I
do urge you to purchase the entire set together if possible however, if you can
only purchase 6 (remember there's a subwoofer involved as well) rather than 8 at
first, then I recommend that you do that rather than going with inferior quality
in order to get two more speakers.

If you do not purchase your speakers as a complete set you need to make sure
that the speakers you purchase later are compatible with the speakers in your
surround sound system. In most cases this isn't a problem if you purchase the
same brand and style however if there has been a significant passage of time or
shift in technology it could prove problematic.

A typical set of speakers for a 5.1 channel surround sound system will include
two channel speakers (front left and right), one front center channel speaker,
two rear channel speakers (rear left and right) and a subwoofer. A 6.1 channel
surround sound system adds one more speaker in the center rear and moves the
rear left and right speakers of a 5.1 system to the side left and right
respectively. A 7.1 channel surround sound system will add an additional rear
speaker and have one on each side rather than one in the center.

The sound is the most important feature of any surround sound system and there
are many things that go into creating the perfect sound. When it comes to home
theaters and surround sound systems the only way to know for sure that you will
be getting what you want for your space is to listen to the sound. You may find
that what sounded like sound nirvana in the sound room doesn't ring so true in
your living room. Make sure that the store or website from which you are
purchasing has a liberal return policy on components and speakers-especially
speakers as they are the most costly components of your surround sound system
and the most expensive to replace.

Proper Surround Sound Setup

If you are in the market for a brand new surround sound system I'm pretty sure
you've been a little baffled by all the options, bells, whistles, gadgets,
gizmos, and price tags on the market today. Trust me, you are not alone. One of
the most baffling things to many potential surround sound system consumers is
where on earth should you put all the speakers. I intend to answer that
question and a few more over the course of the next few paragraphs and hope
that you will read along.

The first thing you need to understand is that there are several different
types of surround sound systems. The industry standard and most common is the
5.1 channel surround sound system. This set up calls for the use of five
speakers plus one subwoofer in addition to the receiver. The five speakers are
the front speakers which include a left, right, and center speaker and the left
and right surround speakers that are located to the left and right from the
rear. You should also have a subwoofer located behind you in order to create
the 'bass notes' of sound. The next two types of surround sound systems include
the 6.1 channel and 7.1 channel system. The primary differences in these are the
addition of one additional speaker for each.

You will be glad to know that most receivers will accommodate the 8 total
speakers of a 7.1 channel surround sound system but you may want to check in
order to be certain you can upgrade if you chose to buy a 5.1 channel system
for the time being. The addition of speakers when you upgrade change the layout
of the speakers in your home. The more speakers you have, the greater sound you
will enjoy, however, the better the quality of your speakers, the better
quality your sound will have. In other words don't go with lower quality
speakers in the beginning in order to have more speakers, as you will be
shooting the quality of sound you can experience in the foot. It is better to
buy fewer speakers in the beginning and add to your system over time in order
to receive better quality.

When it comes to the placement of the additional speakers if you upgrade to a
6.1 channel surround sound system you will move the speakers currently in the
left and right rear to the left and right side and place the new speaker in the
center back. If you then upgrade to the 7.1 channel surround sound system you
will move the speaker that is in the center to the rear left and place the new
speaker to the rear right. This allows you to be literally surrounded by the
sound in order to maximize your listening experience.

Of course this is only a recommendation and it is entirely up to you what will
work best within your home and according to your tastes and wants in a surround
sound system. Not everyone hears music or sound the same and the experience for
each will vary greatly from one person to the next. For this reasons it is also
a good idea to be sure you have listened to the system in a store before
deciding on one and bringing it home. This is a wise decision regardless. I
also recommend taking more than one CD or DVD for the listening process in
order to make sure the quality is consistent through different mediums.

While the setup of your system is very important to the sound experience it is
quite difficult provided you follow the directions (you didn't forget to read
those did you?). Whether this is your first home theater or surround sound
system or one of many upgrades you've made along the way I'm sure you will
agree that the sound is far superior to the two speaker systems of days not
that long ago.

Bringing Theater Quality Sound Home

If you are one of the many people around the world who loves the sound quality
of watching movies in theaters but hates the hassles (crying babies, people
talking, cell phones ringing, etc) of actually going then I hope you are
seriously contemplating the value that a home theater or surround sound system
could bring to your movie enjoyment. In fact, a good surround sound system
cannot only improve your overall enjoyment of blockbuster hits but also your
favorite music and video games as well. Surround sound is far more than a tool
for watching movies at home, it is an entirely new way to look at and listen to
your television in general.

You do not have to begin your home theater or surround sound experience with a
top of the line piece of equipment. It is quite possible to start small with a
surround sound system and build a better system as you go. In fact, I seriously
recommend that people invest heavily in speakers from the beginning and
sacrifice the number of speakers in favor of better quality speakers. In
addition to this there are many box kits out there that are designed for almost
any budget on the market. You can find box kits for everything from basic
surround sound systems to home theater in a box. If you are seriously
considering the enjoyment this can bring into your home there is no time like
the present to start checking out your options.

I never recommend simply walking into the store and purchasing the first kit
you find though you are certainly welcome to do just that. I feel that you
might walk away from the experience a little jaded however and highly suggest
that you go to a local retail center that has sound rooms set up in order to
listen to the many options that are currently on the market and compare the
sound and the quality of the sound within those items in your price range. I
suggest that you start on the low side and work your way up rather than
starting at the high end and working your way down.

When you find the quality of sound you are most comfortable with, this is the
system I recommend you go home and research. Compare prices online to see if
you can find any major values and bargains. The Internet is usually full of
good deals for consumers that are willing to sort through many companies that
market online. While the Internet is the land of opportunity for some, I also
recommend that you take the lowest price you find online to your local retail
store and see if they can match it or throw in a few perks to sweeten the deal.
You could find some interesting deals by doing this and it costs nothing to try
and could save you money in the long run.

The point is to get the best system your money can buy (without sending you to
the 'poor house' in the process). Once you have decided on the system you want
all bets are off when it comes to finding the best price. We live in a consumer
driven marketplace and as a consumer you do have control over where your money
is spent and whether or not you are willing to pay the price of spending your
money elsewhere.

You know the quality you expect, as you've listened and compared in the stores,
and you know the price that you are willing to pay for that quality. Most
consumers are learning this fact and willing to make concessions in order to
compete with those companies that operate online. See what your local retailers
can offer you and if they can't match what you've found online you should be
willing to go with the online service. This is a great way for you as a
consumer to know what you are getting and feel as though you've gotten a good
deal in the process. More importantly you get to bring the theatrical
experience you love so much into your very own living room. Now the only kids
crying over your movie will be your own.

Budget Friendly Surround Sound

A good home theater and surround sound system for your movie enjoying pleasure
is a rather large investment for the common movie buff-at least if you are
purchasing a really high quality system for your home theater or media room.
This isn't to say that you cannot find decent surround sound systems for small
spaces that come with much lower price tags than you will ordinarily find on
the market. In fact, there are many ways in which you can buy a decent surround
sound system for a small room even if you are limited by budget constraints.

Second Hand Systems

Buying second hand from Ebay carries some degree of risk but a reputable seller
is often a good place to start. There are some people who simply can't stand to
have technology that is 6 months or even 6 days for some matters, old. Their
loss is your gain as you can score a really nice surround sound system,
speakers included at amazingly low prices if the bidding works in your favor
and you know a little about brands and quality. Pawnshops and electronics
consignment stores are other good places to find bargains on this particular
sort of equipment.

Buy Boxed Sets

I'm typically opposed to box sets when it comes to electronics as there have
been many instances in the past where these were merely a method of pawning off
inferior goods on an unsuspecting public. However, big names such as Bose have
gone over to the dark side so to speak and are beginning to offer box sets of
surround sound speakers at surprisingly and amazingly reasonable price tags.
There are cheaper brands than Bose, don't get me wrong, I use them as an
indication of the wide variety and standards you will find in surround sound
speaker systems that come in box sets today. The good news is that you can get
really good prices on speaker systems such as this if you are willing to shop
around.

Compare Prices

It really does pay in this day and age to do just that. Even if you have a
favorite retailer chances are that you could get a better price through them by
doing a simple search online and looking for a lower advertised price. If not,
it might be worth your while to go with the Internet provider this time and
save your money for DVDs and music with which to enjoy your new surround sound
system. I also recommend seeing what local competition has to offer; you'll be
amazed at some of the wonderful bargains you can find by walking into a store
on any given day. I know that stores like Circuit City have great bargains on
featured items during the week in order to boost sales. You never know when one
of those items might be an outstanding surround sound systems or a phenomenal
set of speakers.

Wait it out

If you have your heart set on one surround sound system and nothing else will
do, then it may be in your best interest to wait until the price drops. In
electronics terms that often means waiting about 6 months or until the next
consumer expo event (this is when all the new technology is introduced, which
makes all the existing technology drop its prices in order to seem more
appealing). Both of these options may seem unappealing but can mean very real
and very significant savings on your part if you are willing to wait in order
to get what you really want. Not only does this give you time for the prices to
decrease but also for the size of your savings to increase.

While shopping on a budget isn't always the preferred method it is very
possible to get a decent home theater or surround sound system for your home
even if you are working within the limits of a seriously impaired budget.

Surround Sound for Meager Budgets

Buying a surround sound system or home theater on a budget doesn't have to be
mission impossible. In fact, it is quite easy to work with almost any budget
when purchasing these systems in today's marketplace. The thing you have to
remember is that you do most often get what you pay for and the higher quality
systems are going to cost more money. It is often difficult once you've
experienced the difference in sound quality of the higher end surround sound
systems to make the decision to purchase one that fits within lower budget
requirements but you can get sound quality for a lower price and stay on budget
if you shop very carefully.

The first thing you need to do is set priorities. If you are looking for a
surround system, then focus on that rather than flitting back and forth between
home theaters and surround sound systems. You will do much better economically
and quality wise to go with a surround sound system rather than a home theater
in a box sort of kit in the same price range and the only major difference is
that a home theater kit in a box often comes with a DVD player. The sacrifice
usually lies in the speaker when you purchase a kit such as this for your home.
You can not only save money by purchasing the surround sound system as a stand
alone system you can get better quality in both the sound system and the
DVD/DVR if you purchase them separately rather than together.

You can find speakers and components for surround systems in all kinds of price
ranges. You want to make sure that if you are purchasing a box set for your
surround sound system that it has all the parts and components you will need in
order to get theater quality sound. These sets and systems can be found at
amazing prices in large retail chains around the country. If you are willing to
wait for sales you can even get better prices on them.

Set a budget before you begin shopping however and do not allow yourself to be
talked into something that is outside your budget. There will always be
temptations to spend more when it comes to electronics. That bigger screen, the
larger subwoofer, the better amplifier-there's always one more temptation to get
your dollars. The thing you must be prepared for is not only to try to get the
best quality and greatest functionality for the least amount of money but also
to stay within a certain budget limit in order to accomplish your goal. If you
overspend now, it will result in delays for upgrades or additions later on.

Another thing you can do in order to stay within budget is to purchase a 5.1
surround sound system with 6 speakers (5 plus the subwoofer) that can expand to
a 7.1 speakers with the addition of speakers over time. This allows you to
expand and improve your system in time but gives you a good starting point,
provided that you have good quality speakers. There really isn't enough that
can be said about the budget friendliness of a system that can be upgraded and
expanded over time. If you get a nice base system it is possible that you will
be able to change the speakers over time as your budget becomes more flexible
and electronics friendly (you will need to check and make sure as to matters of
compatibility however).

Despite the high price of many surround sound and home theater systems, it is
quite possible to own a system of your very own and greatly enhance your home
television viewing and sound experience greatly without going to debtor's
prison on the process. Take the time to compare prices, learn what you
absolutely need and what you can live without, and start small, then build up
to a better system rather than going into the buying process with an all or
nothing attitude. You just might find that you have a far superior system over
time with half the investment others have made in theirs.

Upgradeable Surround Sound

There are many great and not so great surround sound and home theater systems
on the market today. With so many from which to choose how on earth do you know
what to look for in order to get your money's worth? The answer to that just
might be easier than you have imagined. The thing to remember when it comes to
technology is that it is constantly evolving. This means that it is in your
best interest to find a surround sound or home theater system that is
upgradeable.

In fact, I would say that this alone would be my number one requirement when
purchasing a home theater or surround sound system in today's market. If you
purchase an AV receiver that has room to expand as technology for sound
advances then you have the foundation for building an even better system over
time. If you can find a good deal on an AV receiver that is also THX certified
then you are setting the stage for an outstanding system once you have
everything in place.

While speakers are extremely important you can buy the 5 speakers plus
subwoofer that you will need for a 5.1 channel surround sound system at a
reasonable price and make plans to purchase better speakers in time. You want
to make certain that the speakers you buy are some that you can definitely live
with as you save for even better speakers in the future but buying a set for now
that has a decent quality of sound rather than stretching your budget for those
that are better means that you can save your money and in time buy an even
better set of speakers for your surround sound system or home theater.

The really good news is the speakers you like today that are just out of your
price range will be priced lower this time next year. Of course, there will be
even better speakers on the market by that time. If you save your money over
the course of the next year in a year you can upgrade to a far superior system
even while you've been enjoying the system you currently own the entire time.
Imagine how much more pleasure you will receive from your investment once
you've made an upgrade?

Another great thing to think about when it comes to upgrades is that they are
not an all or nothing proposition. You can upgrade one piece at a time and
never have to go without in order to achieve excellent sound quality that
simply keeps getting better. While I know on one hand that sacrifice is good
for the soul I'm never too thrilled about giving up things that bring me
pleasure in order to get better things later. Doing things this way I get to
have great sound while I'm saving for even better sound in the future. It's
like having your caking and your neighbors cake too!

As you wander through the aisles of your local electronics store and check out
all the options that are available be sure to take the time to look at things
you will wish to make plans for in the future. Be sure that the components you
buy today are in line with the things you'd like to add to your surround sound
system in the future and don't lose sight of the ultimate goal by overspending
on a starter set.

The AV Receiver

The surround sound receiver is an important piece of equipment that is more
commonly referred to as the AV receiver. AV in this particular instance refers
to audio and video. In other words, the receiver receives all this information
and then plays traffic cop directing it where it should go. If you purchase an
all in one sort of AV receiver you will notice that in addition to conducting
traffic this particular tool wears many hats when it comes to effectively
running your home theater or surround sound system.

The receiver functions in the capacity of a switch for all audio and visual
information that comes into your home theater system. This device takes all the
source information and data and literally switches (or translates if you will)
that data into pictures and sound. Without something to operate in this
capacity it would be impossible to have a home theater system as the
information couldn't be properly filtered and translated into the areas in
which it needs to go.

Surround decoding is yet another task that the AV receiver performs with grace.
Surround sound is encoded onto the discs that we play in our theater or sound
equipment. The most common type of encoding is designed for 5.1 channel
surround sound systems such as Dolby Digital or DTS receivers. There are others
that exist but the vast majority of DVDs are designed and encoded for the above
mentioned 5.1 channel systems.

As if these weren't enough the AV receiver also works in the capacity of a
signal processor. Common signals that are processed by the receiver are the
following: THX post-processing, bass management, digital audio decoding, and
simulated soundfields. If at all possible and budget friendly to do so you
should really take the effort to find an AV receiver that is THX certified. The
requirements to meet the minimal certification standards make a system that
meets those standards an excellent investment for your home theater or surround
sound needs.

Amplification is yet another of the many tasks performed regularly by your AV
receiver. This is an important task to your surround sound and the overall
'theatrical' experience of viewing movies on your home theater. You will
probably be wise to check with your retailer about how much amplification you
actually need in your home theater, as there are many mitigating factors that
affect that number. Among some of the mitigating factors are: ceiling height,
square footage of the room, flooring material and other things as well). While
more power is good in most situations there are times when it is simply too
much for your system to handle. This is one reason that many people opt to buy
ready-made box kits for their surround sound and home theater needs.

Last but certainly not least, the AV receiver actually works as a tuner for
AM/FM radio. Don't be too shocked and awed by all the jobs that this one little
device does, just remember this when you see the sticker price and think to
yourself how much more you would pay if you were buying a separate device for
each of these functions. We should all be grateful to the person who invented
this particular contraption and be glad to pay the price we are paying for the
amazing sound that is produced.

Surround Sound Possibilities

In case you are wondering why so many people make the investment in surround
sound equipment, systems, and speakers there are many reasons for many
different people. When it comes to surround sound, just as with many other
things in life there is no one size fits all answer though for the most part
the answer wouldn't be because Mr. Jones has one (well maybe for some it would
but for the most part it has more to do with wanting the system for a specific
reason). There are a few common reasons that people decide to invest in
surround sound and home theater systems and we will explore a few of them over
the course of the next few paragraphs. Perhaps you will find the inspiration to
get a surround sound system of your very own.

I will start with my very own personal reasons. First, when I was growing up my
father was the manager of our local cinema. I spent many nights sleeping in the
office and watching movies from the projector room and those are some of the
fondest memories of my childhood. I will never forget watching The Return of
the Jedi the night before it was released in the projector room with my father
and a few members of the theater staff but there was nothing compared to
watching the movies inside the auditorium. What was different? The sound. There
is not enough that can be said about the quality of sound inside a theater and
in days long past it simply couldn't be imitated at home. However technology
has been evolving over the course of the last ten years that is allowing us to
bring the same quality of sound into our homes for a reasonable price. That is
reason enough for me-to relive fond childhood memories.

Another excellent reason for bringing a surround sound system into your home is
not so much for watching movies or enjoying the big screen as for the enjoyment
of video games. Whether you are playing in the World of Warcraft or one of the
many other wonderful worlds that have been created for online gaming enjoyment
you will find that surround sound is a beneficial tool in keeping your
character alive and intact. These games provide important clues that place you
in the center of action with knowledge of what is going on around you if you
take advantage of the audible clues, hints, and tips that are provided through
ambient surround sounds.

If the reasons above aren't enough to convince you to take a trip over to the
bright side of the entertainment room, then perhaps the enhancements that
surround sound provides to music will do the trick. Imagine hearing your
favorite music with a fuller and richer sound, with the nuances completely
defined and obvious to the ear. There is so much that can be said about the
difference that surround sound makes (more with some types of music than
others) and yet not enough that can be said about it. If you enjoy live
recordings, imagine the ability to become a part of the crowd as the ambient
sounds of being there fill your room. It's truly an amazing effect for music.

As you can see there are many reasons to bring the wonders of surround sound
into your home. I hope this article has shed some light on ways that it could
improve your multimedia enjoyment and possibly given you some ideas for
expanding your current use of your surround sound system.




Surround Sound Gaming Blows the Competition Away

In the worldwide realm of online gaming surround sound is becoming an important
tool for obtaining and maintaining an edge over the competition. Sound provides
important clues to things that are taking place around us, this is no different
in the cyber world and made possible through the use of emerging technologies
and the copious use of surround sound technology and equipment. The good news
for gamers is that you do not have to have a computer room or home office that
is filled with speakers and surround sound equipment. If your computer has a
sound card that is set up for surround sound, there are plenty of headphones on
the market that support this sort of sound setup.

In fact, this is becoming a growing industry in the realm of computer gaming
and simply increasing the quality of sound as computers are more and more often
used as media centers rather than mere portals to the World Wide Web and all
ports of call in between. We are demanding more and more from our personal
computers today than ever before and savvy professionals are consistently
creating software and hardware that meets our growing demands. Video and sound
cards that support real time gaming action and better than real life quality
sound are certainly only a few of the ways in which computer technology is
improving at the speed of light and yet they are often the points where that
evolution is most noticeable.

It's nearly impossible to tell whether or not the rate at which computers are
evolving is the hardware makers trying to keep pace with the software creators
or the other way around. Either way it means more realistic and action
oriented, real-time games are hitting the market without bogging down the
systems or overtaxing the technology that is currently in place, provided of
course that you are upgrading at least every two years in order to keep pace
with emerging technologies.

If you haven't checked out some of the top of the line PCs of today you really
should check out all they can do. Don't go to your local Wal-mart and see the
best of their best, as it is not going to be a good indicator of superior
quality computing. You should instead go with online companies such as
Alienware and check out their top systems. The functionality and speed at which
these systems operate is simply staggering. The lowest end laptop that they
offer can outperform my home PC on any given Sunday and probably with one
processor tied behind its back. Add to this type of functionality the addition
of surround sound and you have a system that is well worth drooling over (not
that I would drool-ever).

Regardless of whether you are easily impressed by technology it is quite
difficult not to be impressed by the rate at which the technology of sound is
improving-particularly when it comes to surround sound systems that are
available for both home theaters and computers in the market of today. Whether
you use your personal computer for gaming or media viewing and manipulation
there is a lot of entertainment that a good sound card (with surround
capabilities) and a nice set of surround sound headphones can add to your
overall sound experience. Check out the options on the market today and compare
them with what is in your computer at the moment. You just may be blown away by
the competition.

Speaker Quality Speaks Volumes

There are many pieces, parts, and components to a home theater system. One of
the most important when it comes to achieving the overall 'movie going'
experience is surround sound. While there are many pieces of equipment for the
average home theater that can be purchased over time, surround sound is
typically one component that needs to be purchased together if possible, at the
very least it is wise to purchase the speakers as a set rather than mixing and
matching quality and sounds.

Just as the surround sound system is one of, if not the most important
components in a good home theater system, the speakers are the most integral
and important component of any decent surround sound system. You can skimp on
some aspects of quality in amplifiers, receivers, and even tuners but if you
skimp on the quality of your speakers it will not matter how much of an
investment you've made in everything else because the sound will be inferior.

People define their movie going experiences differently. For some, it is the
smell of freshly popped popcorn that defines the experience and others find
that the dark colors and the sweet smell of the syrup from the soda fountains
is part of the experience (some things simply can't be imitated easily at
home). There are many however, who find that sound is what sets the theater
apart from home movie viewing and the one thing that keeps them coming back
despite the interruptions provided by other patrons with cell phones, hungry
children, or frequent trips to the restrooms.

The one thing that sets a theater apart for many people is one thing that we
now have the technology to bring into our homes. Even better is the fact that
the price tag on this particular technology is decreasing as competition,
supply, demand, and technological advances increase. There is never too much to
be said about how quickly the newness of electronics expires in order to be
replaced by something newer and better next year. I remember a time when DVD
players were priced well over $300 for the most basic of models. You can
purchase them now for a mere $30 if you can find a decent sale and those models
have more features than the originals. Can you imagine how little surround sound
systems will be selling for an a few short years?

We are already seeing significant price drops in the box systems that are being
sold on the market today. Gone are the days when these systems were merely the
off brands trying to generate some sells by offering a low price and
questionable quality. The boxed surround sound systems of today are carrying
well-known names as their brands and providing some pretty stiff competition to
those who aren't willing to offer the box sets when it comes to price.

That being said, you will want to take the effort to listen to any system you
are considering before you buy it. It takes no small investment of time and
energy in order to set up a surround sound system and while there are no
guarantees that a system will sound the same in your home or apartment as it
sounds in the store having a clue as to any problems before getting it home and
setting it up will save both time and money in the long run. If the speakers you
buy aren't adequate quality for the system you have purchased the sound will
disappointing to say the least. My favorite scene for testing the sound quality
of surround sound systems is the first 10 minutes of the movie Top Gun. Buy the
DVD and take it with you whenever you try out systems for your home. If you
find one set or system that blows you away with the quality of sound you should
seriously consider that for your home theater and surround sound system.

Space Saving Surround Sound Solutions

Space has become the final frontier when dealing with many things on this
planet rather than off. In our homes, space is often a premium, particularly
that oh so valuable floor space that is always inviting something to occupy it.
The good news is that they surround sound systems of today have gone a long way
towards conquering the old dilemma of needing too much prime real estate in
your living room, media room, or home theater. While floor speakers still offer
a superior sound in many cases over the satellite speakers that have
traditionally been on the market technology is evolving and the quality of
these smaller systems is rapidly catching up to the quality of their bulkier
predecessors.

It seems that retailers are growing savvy to a problem that is rapidly becoming
a worldwide problem, especially in the age of modern technology. People have
more stuff and yet we seem to have less space in which to put all that great
stuff. For this reason, there has been a recent trend of making things smaller,
slimmer, stream lined, and most importantly when it comes to surround sound
systems, portable. The invention of wireless speakers for surround sound
systems that can sit on shelves or be hung on the walls is one of the greatest
advances we've seen in sound technology in the last few years.

Even better is the fact that competition is fierce in this particular market
which actually works to keep prices lower than they would be if there weren't
so many companies competing for your business. If space is your biggest
limitation when it comes to purchasing a surround sound system for your home,
you no longer have to put off enjoying the theater quality sound you've desired
for your movie viewing pleasure. You can now have the best of both worlds: sound
and space, and live with the results. The quality of these smaller surround
sound systems is quite good if you take the time to know what you are getting
before you buy.

In addition to the great space saving ability of these smaller systems, you can
also find some real bargains if you opt to purchase a 'home theater in a box' or
surround sound systems as a set rather than individual components. I've always
been one to shy away from the box sets from fear of inferior quality (which has
been true in the past). I'm proud to say that I am now a convert as I have
watched even my favorite brands (and quality that I trust) leap into the box
system market. I have also noticed the much nicer price tag associated with
purchasing systems rather than buying individual components and the savings are
significant.

In other words, these systems are not only saving space but are also saving
money. You can't really argue with that kind of a deal when your limitations
may have been limited to money and space in the past. If you happen to be
worried about power you really shouldn't. Quality is still important in your
speakers, it will always be of monumental importance but you will not need
nearly the amplification in a small room that a larger room or theater would
require. This means that these smaller systems really are ideal for the space
that you have.

When space is your limitation we live in a world where creating more space is
next to impossible now and really will be impossible in the future as the
amount of space we have is finite and the population continues to grow and take
up more of that valuable space. Our best bet is to learn to maximize and utilize
the space we have. Making speakers smaller, more easily portable (by being
wireless), and allowing them to hang on walls or sit on shelves rather than
occupying valuable floor space we are making the most of what we have and are
still able to enjoy some of the good things in life we desire.

Selecting the Right Speakers

When it comes to your surround sound or home theater system, the quality of
your speakers can really make or break the overall experience. Good quality
speakers are one of, if not, the most important components when it comes to
your home theater and surround sound system. You need to take action from the
very beginning in order to make sure that you are not getting substandard
speakers for your entertainment system whether your surround sound system is
going to be used for your television viewing, home theater, music enjoyment, or
to enhance your gaming experience on your personal computer the quality of the
speakers will have a huge impact on how much you enjoy your system.

The problem is that most people do not even know where to begin when it comes
to selecting and purchasing speakers. There are a few guidelines you can follow
when making your decisions about speakers that will help you make better buying
decisions in order to get higher quality speakers (budget allowing of course,
though I recommend putting off the purchase until you can save up enough rather
than purchasing inferior quality because it is within your price range).

There are many different types of speaker systems. Speakers that have received
THX certification are generally your top of the line speakers. They will have
very little distortion and a nice clear sound. If you can get your hands on a
set of these and they fit within your budget constraints I highly recommend
going with speakers that are THX certified. The sound, however should be the
ultimate deciding factor when selecting speakers and quite frankly you will
have to hear the sound for yourself in order to decide which sound you prefer.

Speakers, like anything are always a matter of preference. You can hear many
different speakers and some people find that they all sound alike while others
feel that the amount of distortion in some is simply unbearable and still
others simply blame poor quality music on the sounds they hear in the speakers.
The fact is that there are different determinations for quality and everyone has
their own preferences and things that are important to them when listening to
music and things that they feel can be sacrificed. I happen to be a bit of a
sound snob so sacrifice isn't a word I like to hear when it comes to sound
quality.

There are some things you can do in order to insure that you are getting a good
quality set of speakers for your surround sound system. First, you should listen
and make sure that the high sounds do not seem distorted or as though they were
being made inside a tin can. You should also check that the midrange sounds are
clear and resonant. You should also make sure that the speakers are not trying
to do the job of the subwoofer, it is there for a reason and has a job-other
speakers in the set shouldn't be trying to do it (if they are, it typically
indicates problems with the subwoofer). Blend is important in a set of
speakers. You do not want one speaker overpowering the others. If the music
sounds too shrill or the middle range notes are overpowering, this is probably
not the system for your needs.

It is recommended that you try the sound systems you are considering with
different types of music and mediums (particularly if you will be using your
surround sound system for a home theater or gaming system in addition to
music). I always recommend the first 10 minutes of the movie Top Gun to check
out sound when it comes to home theaters. You should also bring a copy of your
favorite CD (as that is what you will probably listen to most on your system)
and perhaps a few other CDs that show a variety. Listen to how different sounds
are made on the system and choose according to the best overall system in order
to have the most adaptability within your surround sound system.

Professional Installation or Sweat Equity?

One of the biggest debates that arises when purchasing a decent surround sound
system or home theater is whether or not to handle the installation yourself.
For that question the answer is completely relative to the level of complexity
of your system and your understanding of physics and electronics. Many of the
box kits on the market today are simple to install and could be done fairly
quickly (in the course of a couple of hours or an afternoon) even by rank
amateurs such as myself.

If you are purchasing a massive home theater or surround sound system that has
very rigorous requirements in order to guarantee the type of sound you paid
good money to receive it might be in your best interest to make the investment
of a professional installation. It is important to remember that home theater
kits come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges. The fact that you could
easily install a $500-$2,000 kit doesn't mean that a home theater that costs in
excess of $20,000 is as simple of a matter to install (though at that price I
firmly believe it should be self installing). The point is if you've paid that
kind of money for a home theater or surround sound system you want to make sure
that you are absolutely getting your money's worth on the listening end. A
professional installation is one way to make sure of that.

Installation is expensive in some cases as everything that has the word
professional in front of it. One thing you can do in order to curtail that cost
to some degree is shop around and compare prices, you might find one retailer
that is willing to throw in free installation in order to make the sale. If the
cost of professional installation makes up the difference between the lowest
offer elsewhere go for it, you will have saved money and still managed the
professional installation that truly is in your best interest.

Another thing you will want to do is find out whether or not self-installation
might nullify any warranties. There are occasions where this is the case and
you do not want to risk your warranty on a $20,000 surround sound speaker
system in order to save a couple of hundred dollars on installation up front.
There is a lot that can be said over the power of saving money, however, there
are some risks that simply aren't worth it. For me, this is one of those risks.
There is simply too much that could go wrong to operate without a warranty.

While there is some degree of satisfaction that goes along with doing things
for yourself there are times when the process is nothing more than an exercise
in futility. If you must install yourself (and some of us simply can't resist
the urge) then you should take care from the very beginning to closely follow
all instructions for installation and operation in order to get the best
possible results. The problem is that too many of us never bother reading the
instructions until we are stuck and at that point it is sometimes way along in
the process to have to start completely over-trust me, I've been there on this
one.

If you are one of many people around the world who has purchased a box set of
surround sound speakers or a home theater kit you should find that the
installation process is simple and straightforward and shouldn't require
professional expertise in order to accomplish. Consider yourselves lucky in
this and get to work. Pretty soon you will be enjoying theater quality sound
from your surround sound system whether you are listening to music, movies, or
the latest game. Whether you choose professional installation or not I wish you
the best of luck building your new surround sound system and many hours of happy
listening to whatever is on the deck for today.

Playing the Name Game

When it comes to speakers for your surround sound system there happen to be all
kinds of models, makes, and brands on the market. You will find vast variations
in quality and price among the multitudes. With so many from which to choose it
is often difficult to know which brands are reputable, which represent good
quality, and which are merely treading water when it comes to the wave of home
theater and surround sound quality on the market today. We all have budget
constraints however and for that reason some of us find that it is preferable
to have a better quality of sound than merely watching the television or
listening to the flat radio tunes coming from our existing home stereos.

There happen to be some decent brands and makers of speakers in all price
ranges. The quality will be distinctly different in lower price ranges than in
the high end. I have a preference for Bose speakers. I find the sound created
by these speakers is superior to other similar products and am perfectly
willing to pay the price that comes along with this sort of quality. That being
said, I have had the occasion to find some excellent bargains on Bose surround
sound systems in the past quite by accident. If I can find those bargains (some
as low as $500 for the set, which is a bargain when you consider the fact that
some of their sets begin at $2,000) when not actively searching for a bargain,
it is quite possible to get an excellent price when you are seeking just that.

Everyone is different and tastes will vary greatly from one person to another.
There are many other wonderful makers when it comes to surround sound systems
that offer products that are ideal and provide excellent sound quality in small
places. These are great for small budgets that happen to live in small
apartments or have small media rooms in their homes. Logitech has some
excellent surround sound systems that actually sell for less than $100. They
also have systems that sell for considerably more. The best thing you can do is
listen to systems in stores, then compare prices on the Internet for bargains
among the brands you feel are within your budget and your tastes.

Panasonic actually has a good 5.1 channel surround sound home theater that is
very reasonably priced at around $350 (depending on where you are purchasing of
course). It makes for a good basic home theater for the average family and that
is what most of us require. Other great brands of surround sound speakers for
an average sized room will include: JBL, which offers some basic speaker sets;
Yamaha, which offers basic to mid-range quality speaker systems; KLH, which
offers very basic budget friendly surround sound systems, and Athena
Technologies, which has a pretty nice mid range surround sound system on the
market at the moment. This of course is by no means an exhaustive list of
choices on the market but a good place for budget aware shoppers to begin
searching for their perfect surround sound set of speakers.

While I mentioned some specific brand names in this article, it is important
that you do not get caught up in the hype of the 'name game'. There is much
that can be said about having a good name in an industry but consumers often
pay the price that is associated with that name when in the checkout line. I am
a huge fan of Bose and realize that a large part of the sticker price I pay is
for the brand of the name. This does not mean that there aren't some excellent
quality speakers on the market that will cost less and be made by manufacturers
I've never heard of. Check for warranties and take a risk if you like the sound
of a little known speaker company. You could have just discovered the company
that will topple Bose from its comfortable spot at the top of my personal
speaker-buying list.

How much is Too Much?

The question that many consumers or would be consumers of home theater or
surround sound systems must ask themselves is how much should I spend on a home
theater system. The problem with that question is that there isn't an answer
that is appropriate for every potential buyer. While there are many who
honestly and firmly believe that if you are making the investment in your home
and the entertainment value within your home you should really consider how
much time you spend there and how much value a system such as this will
actually add to your perception of the time you spend in your home. I did tell
you that there really isn't a simple answer.

The long and short of it is that you only need to find a system that you
believe will enhance your perceived value of your movie viewing, television
viewing, music listening, or game playing experience. I say start at the low
end of the spectrum and listen to the various systems and devices on the market
until you find one that you feel will be a vast improvement over your current
situation and that should be the system that satisfies you. Do not move up in
price range once you've found a system you like or you will wind up spending
more money than you could have spent and been just as content.

I was once a true believe in the philosophy that everyone should buy the
high-end equipment and that name brands were important. The truth of the matter
is that there is a level of quality that is often paid for but it is noticeable
to me only if I have heard better than what I am hearing. This means that I am
perfectly content with the system I choose as long as I do not encounter
something better. I guess it's kind of like dessert. I'm content with my
chocolate cake until I see someone walking by with chocolate truffle cake with
raspberry sauce and ice cream on the side. It made my chocolate cake look a
little less fulfilling if you know what I mean.

We often experience this problem with electronics. There is always going to be
some fantastic system just beyond our reach. I say make the investments where
it matters (in surround sound systems this would be the speakers) and find
contentment with the knowledge that the sound you are purchasing is a vast
improvement over the sound you had before. On the other hand if only the best
of the best will do for you, you can easily pay well in excess of $50,000 for a
very high end home theater and surround system in your home (plus the price of
installation of course).

There will always be those who are willing to spend more and those who haven't
enough to spare. We live in a world of the haves and have not's the good news
is that even if you aren't one of the few privileged 'haves' there is probably
a decent surround sound system in your price range if you are willing to take
the time to really look for one and make the effort to save your pennies,
nickels, and dimes in order to get one once you've found it. Those things in
life that are really worth having are those that are worth making sacrifices in
order to receive. How much is too much? More than you are willing to pay.

Haste Makes Wastes of Time and Money

It's a jungle out there, especially when it comes to the wonderful world of
electronics and electronics components. The competition is fierce among
industry leaders and there are wide gaps in prices and quality from which to
choose. Even among the private sector there are such variances in price and
quality that it is difficult for most to make truly informed decisions when
purchasing a surround sound system or a home theater.

One of the best things you can do for your search is grab a few sound intensive
movies, a favorite CD or two and head out to your local retail sales center for
electronics. Best Buy may not always be the best place from which to buy but
they generally have a good selection of surround sound systems and home
theaters that you are able to test out and compare with one another. It's
always a good idea to try before you buy and taking an afternoon or a Saturday
to browse through your options is good investment of a day if you ask me.

By listening to the different systems you can get a feel for the features that
you prefer, those you don't care much for one way or another, and those you
would rather do without. This list will be extremely valuable when it comes
time to narrow down the systems you would like to further investigate from
those that simply aren't best suited for your music and sound requirements.
There is nothing wrong with identifying what you want and making efforts to get
it. In fact, it's a savvy decision on your part if you ask me.

Once you have a list of the systems you like and a few reasons why you like
each system it's time to begin comparing prices. The Internet is probably the
best way to do this. You can use prices that compare prices among major
competitors and see what others are charging for these items in comparison with
what your local stores are charging. If you are feeling up to bargaining you can
try to arrange for your local store to match the online price. This works with
some stores and not with others. It's a toss up even with the larger chain
stores as to whether or not they will acknowledge prices received online as a
'competitors' price in order to meet it. It's worth a shot if you prefer the
convenience of shopping locally; otherwise if the best price is online (even
after shipping and insurance) then your best bet is to make the purchase online.

There is no magic formula when it comes to purchasing home theater and surround
sound equipment other than to make sure you are pleased with the quality of the
merchandise. If you listened and made notations about your likes and dislikes,
chances are that you have just purchased a sound system that you like, which
means you should be thrilled with the fantastic sounds coming out of your brand
new speakers for quite a while to come. Taking your time in the beginning in
order to make sure you get the system you really want and will be happy with is
well worth the wait when compared to the price you pay for haste and purchasing
a system with an inferior quality of sound.

Excellent Example of Electronic Evolution

No one had a clue during the early days of television the incredible impact
that this device would have over people and their daily lives nearly a century
later. I can hardly believe the difference between the television offerings of
my childhood and the vast number of quality shows, channels, and information
that is available by simply turning on the television. In addition to that, the
quality of sound that can be achieved through the simple act of adding a
receiver and surround sound speakers to your television is day and night when
comparing before and after.

I do not think for one second anyone could have possibly anticipated the global
impact that televisions have introduced. Add to that the entertainment value and
the fact that we are now using our televisions for much more than simply
watching and you have opened up a whole new world of entertainment. Surround
sound not only works wonders with movies and (some) television shows but is
also an excellent enhancement for video games and even music.

Televisions are also being used for more purposes now than ever before. With
each generation of video game system there are new features added that require
more from the televisions and speaker systems we spend so much of our time
enjoying. From the days when people first gained the ability to check their
email on their television sets, the technology seed has been planted for
greater things to come. Each year new televisions and new surround sound and
home theater systems hit the market with amazing success among consumers. We
all want more sound, better pictures, and more functionality from a piece of
technology that is not yet a century old. It's amazing the progress that has
been made already and the rapid rate at which this technology continues to
evolve.

Surround sound is only one example of the great possibilities that exist in the
entertainment industry, it simply happens that this is one piece of the
technology puzzle that enhances so many other of the things that we enjoy so
much on a daily basis. From gaming to music to movies, all are enhanced by the
technology and premium sound that a good surround sound system with high
quality speakers can provide. When purchasing speakers for your surround sound
system, be sure to make sure that they are THX certified in order to assure
that you are getting top quality speakers for your surround sound system or
home theater.

You will find as you sort through the various surround sound systems in the
market today that there are many options available to you. I hope that you will
take the time to find the one that you like best and keep an open mind when you
bring it into your home. It is important to remember that you may find the
system doesn't sound as good in your home as it did in the store (acoustics are
going to be different). If this is the case with your system, make a note of the
differences that you find troublesome, and return the kit to the store, then ask
for recommendations on systems that might work better in your home. You should
also include things like the size of the room, the types of walls and flooring
you have (all of these things affect the acoustical quality of your room). Most
importantly, make the most of the advances that technology has allowed and enjoy.

DIY Surround Sound

The debate of whether or not to install your own surround sound system has
fallen on deaf ears and you have decided to tackle this delicate task for
yourself. Good for you. The thing is you aren't really too certain about where
to actually begin this delicate procedure. At this point, I'm assuming that you
have purchased either a home theater kit or surround sound system for your home
and are preparing to begin the actual installation process. A good place to
start is by reading the instructions and owners manual that most likely came
with either the kit you purchased or each of the individual components.

The thing to remember with a surround sound system is that nothing will work
without the speakers and they will only work for their intended purpose if they
are positioned properly. However, you need to make sure that the other
components are in place before beginning to work with the speakers. I
recommend, particularly if this is your first system that you go with a simple
AV receiver, if you've already purchased a tuner, amplifier, and all that other
great stuff it is no problem, just a little more involved as far as processes
go. The installation of each of these devices is often as simple as finding a
space for them and plugging everything into the proper slot. The good news is
that most systems have the 'slots' well labeled for just this purpose.

Once you have the receiver hooked up you should begin placing speakers. If you
went with the basic 5.1 channel surround sound system you should have 6
speakers including the subwoofer. This is a good system to begin with and (if
you purchased your AV receiver wisely) will leave room for growth and expansion
in the future. I will begin with instructions for the placement of the 6
speakers for a 5.1 channel system and expand those instructions to include the
others later.

With a basic 5.1 channel surround sound system you will have five speakers and
one subwoofer. The placement of the speaker is important when it comes to
placing the ambient sounds that are found in movies in the proper location in
relation to the action onscreen. Three of the five speakers belong in the
front. One speaker in the center and one each on the front left and right-the
two remaining speakers belong behind you to the left and right (one left rear;
one right rear). While this isn't an overly complicated concept you'd be amazed
at the number of people who have their surround sound systems improperly set up.

With the 6.1 channel system you will move the rear left and right speakers to
the side and place one speaker to the rear and in the center. If you then
upgrade from a 6.1 to a 7.1 channel surround sound system you will move the
speaker that is in the rear to either the left of the right and install the
additional speaker on the opposite side and to the rear.

If you are going to make the investment in a home theater or surround sound
system please take the time to insure that the pieces and parts are properly
located and installed in order to get your money's worth out of the process.
Now it's time to sit back and enjoy your new sound system.

Demystifying Surround Sound Terminology

Just in case you've been reading around and researching the many terms and
topics that concern surround sound and the many surround sound systems on the
market today, I thought it might be a good idea to explain some of the
terminology that is floating around. First of all there are many initials names
and numbers floating around when it comes to surround sound technology and
equipment, it's no wonder that many of us mere mortal consumers are more than a
little confused by it all. Hopefully the information you find below will prove
helpful as you weave through the wired jungles of modern sound technology.

The first and probably most common thing you will see in these circles is Dolby
Digital. While there are many complicated definitions of this term the one that
will matter most to you, as a consumer is that right now it is the leading
format on the market when it comes to processing the digital data that your
system will need to process. There are better brands such as DTS when it comes
to musical sound for this function but the vast majority of television
broadcasts and DVDs are optimized for Dolby.

Speaking of DTS, at the moment they are Dolby's primary competition. While most
items you find on the market such as DVDs are viewable in both DTS and Dolby you
need to make sure that they system you purchase whether Dolby or DTS can read
both formats for those times when your favorite flick just might not be
enhanced for both.

Now perhaps the most confusing of terms when it comes to surround sound systems
would be 5.1. It looks so innocent just sitting there but most people are ready
to pull out their hair when they realize that it really stands for a system
that includes 6 speakers rather than five. The ".1" in the name refers to the
frequency of the subwoofer (or Low Frequency Effects-LFE), which is .1. Despite
the existence of 'better' systems on the market today, most movies are optimized
for this particular set up so this will be of the most value to you with the
current products on the market rather than spending more for systems that the
DVD makes haven't yet caught up with.

DTS ES refers to a format commonly referred to as 6.1. In this format there is
one additional speaker moved to the center rear of the configuration and the
two-rear left and right speakers are moved forward. And THX EX 7.1 is what
happens when you add yet another speaker. There aren't too many films at the
moment that use this particular format some notable exceptions would be the
Star Wars movies. This means that movies haven't really caught up to the
technology of either of these systems but they are on the market and some
people simply must have them. I recommend going with a superior 5.1 channel
surround sound system for the time being and adding speakers when there are
more reasons to do so.

This list is by no means exhaustive but will give you a basic overview of the
information that is relevant to you as you look into the various surround sound
systems on the market today. You shouldn't have to weed through volumes of
confusing terminology in order to find out that the system you are interested
in actually has 6 speakers rather than 5. My hope is that you can go in armed
with basic knowledge that will help you make an informed buying decision.

Cables Wires and Chords Galore

One thing that often gets overlooked during the process of purchasing pieces,
parts, and components for your surround sound system is the importance of
cables to the overall sound of your system. It makes absolutely no idea to buy
top of the line speakers and excellent quality components only to use
substandard el cheapo cables with which to connect them to one another.
Unfortunately we see this every day and it causes problem with the quality of
the sound that leads over time to a total and complete dissatisfaction with the
quality of sound your system provides.

There are other considerations when it comes to cables such as aesthetics,
which will also affect the price when it comes to your system. I strongly
encourage you to seriously consider what level of cabling and wires you can and
cannot live with before you purchase your surround sound or home theater system,
as both tend to be very wire and cable intensive. There are however things you
can do to tame the tangle before it overtakes your home and one of my first
recommendations is to seriously consider the value that going wireless would
add to your system.

Wireless speakers eliminate the need for a good portion of the wires and
cabling that are typically part and parcel of the lot when it comes to good
sound systems. Going wireless for me is far preferable to drilling holes into
the walls and running the wires through and having a rat's next of speaker
wires overhead in my home is simply not an option. Of course everyone has
different priorities when it comes to their surround sound or home theater
systems and some people aren't all the considered about wires and cables. If
you are not one that bothers then that is no problem either.

Unfortunately the wires and cables in a home theater or surround sound system
are not limited to the speakers alone and while going wireless for the speakers
is often financially feasible it's an entirely different ball park to go
wireless for the whole kit and caboodle. For this reason there are all kinds of
nifty tips and tricks for taming a mess of wires and keeping things organized
and tidy behind the scenes. Among my favorites are these new power strips that
allow you to color code and label which cord goes where. These strips are also
great because they offer surge protection for your costly electronic equipment.

In addition to having the power strips labeled and organized you can purchase
PVC piping and run all the cords down one tube in order to reach the power
strip. You can also paint the tube in order to blend in with your wall if you
are concerned about the aesthetics of the tube. I personally like this option
for keeping all the chords in one spot rather than having them run haphazardly
along the back of your other electronic components. It simply looks neater and
more organized and your friends and family will be impressed at your cleverness
for thinking of it.

If you have a certain disdain for over organization or having things too
terribly tidy you can always opt for these Velcro ties that you simple use like
the old sandwich bag ties. They can keep several chords together so that you
aren't constantly having to work around them and yet allows you easy access to
the chords should you find a sudden need for access or get the urge to
rearrange or change settings and situations.

While it doesn't take rocket science to tame the wild tangle of chords that
sometimes invade of entertainment space, it often helps to have a few tricks up
your sleeve when confronting the seemingly endless stream of wires that are part
of the average home theater or surround sound system. Hopefully you will find
that some of these suggestions and tips will be helpful in your home.

Surround Sound for the Little Ones

If you have a family that loves movies and music the best gift you can give
yourself is a second home theater for the little ones. Seriously, how many
times has the Sunday game interfered with or been interrupted to the little
one's needs to watch Disney's latest and greatest flick? I know these meltdowns
occur far too regularly in my household. This is why a second home theater is an
excellent idea. Your children learn important lessons and you get to watch
television on occasion without tantrums and meltdowns.

There are many benefits to you for building a secondary home theater system not
the least of which is spare parts should anything ever happen to yours. I know
in our home I was worried that I would never see the kids once we built a
system for them but the truth is they each have different tastes as well and
sometimes prefer what we are watching over what brother and/or sister are
watching. We also have the knowledge that our television is still bigger than
theirs and there is always that to draw them back into the land of the living
rather than holing up in their basement theater hide away.

Getting back to the benefits, the kids are learning to take turns even
establishing a schedule and sticking to it. They are learning to make
responsible choices and even to work together on occasion and compromise in
favor of watching all of favorite programs that are close to ending but not
quite over. It's great to see them cooperating rather than fighting all the
time. It also allows them a place to take their friends when they come over
that they are responsible for cleaning up and keeps the mess out of our home
theater space (my personal favorite reason for having two home theaters).

For even more benefits when it comes to a second home theater in your home is
that your children learn very quickly what it means to break something such as
the components in their home theater and aren't likely to do so again. It
teaches responsibility on a level that most toys that are lost and broken one
week after Christmas could never get across. They learn to take care of the
equipment, to wipe off the fingerprints, not to throw things at it, and not to
pull it off the shelves and leave it on the floor as they do with their other
toys. This is something that matters to them and I have been amazed at how well
they have taken care of it.

Finally, a home theater system is an awesome tool for discipline. The threat of
not allowing any one or all of them not to watch their home theater with
surround sound or any other television in the household for that matter is a
fate worse than death for them most of the time and enough to get them to walk
on the straight and narrow. The few times this privilege has been revoked have
been quite effective in creating a much more cooperative atmosphere of harmony
at home or at school.

While there are many who believe that a home theater or surround sound system
for the kids is overkill I firmly believe that it is an incredible privilege
and responsibility that prepares them to deal with the world outside as they
grow older. They are already learning about negotiation, cooperation, and
respect.






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