The process of installing multi-channel audio speakers in home theater products is fairly tedious and suppliers have invented new products and technologies like wireless surround sound speakers or surround sound wireless headphones lately to help simplify the installation. I will look at a number of of the newest technologies which were designed to make setting up home theater systems a breeze. I will suggests what to look out for when making your buying decision.
Historically, installing a TV would be speedy because they would already come with built-in stereo speakers. This, on the other hand, has all changed with multi-channel sound. Nowadays external speakers are utilized to create a surround sound effect. The most commonly used 5.1 surround sound format requires setting up a total of 6 loudspeakers. These are one center speaker, two front side speakers, two rear speakers and a subwoofer. The newer 7.1 standard raises this number to 8 by adding two extra side speakers.
Therefore, home theater installations have become pretty complex. Running cables to remote speakers also is often undesirable because of aesthetic reasons. Part manufacturers have created a number of technologies to simplify the setup.
The first approach is also known as virtual surround sound. This approach will take the audio components which would ordinarily be broadcast by the remote loudspeakers. It then utilizes signal processing to those components and inserts special cues and phase delays. After that these components are mixed with the front speaker sound. The signal processing is engineered based on how the human hearing determines the location of a sound. The sound signal is then sent by the front speakers. Because of the signal processing, the viewer is tricked into thinking the audio is coming from virtual remote surround loudspeakers.
The advantage of this technology is that only a small number of speakers are needed and no long speaker wire has to be run all through the viewing environment. The disadvantage though is that each human will process sound differently due to the dissimilar shape of every human ear. The signal processing is based on measurements which are done using a standard human ear model. If the shape of the ear changes, sound will travel differently. Consequently virtual surround will not work equally well for everyone.
An additional option for eliminating long speaker cable runs is to utilize wireless surround sound systems or wireless speakers. A wireless kit includes a transmitter and one or a number of wireless amplifiers. The transmitter connects to the source. The wireless amplifiers connect to the remote loudspeakers. Customarily the transmitter component will have amplified loudspeaker inputs and line-level inputs. This provides flexibility to connect to any type of source. A transmitter volume control helps take full advantage of the dynamic range and avoids clipping of the audio within the transmitter.
Some wireless speaker devices are designed to connect 2 loudspeakers per wireless amplifier. A superior option would come with a wireless amplifier for each remote speaker to get rid of the cable runs between each of the 2 remote speakers. The most sophisticated wireless systems utilize digital transmission to eliminate signal degradation. To ensure that all loudspeakers are in sync in a multi-channel application, make sure that you pick a wireless system that has an audio latency of just a few milliseconds at most. If the latency is larger than 10 ms then there will be an echo effect which will deteriorate the surround sound. Most wireless devices work in the 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz frequency bands. A number of products use the less crowded 5.8 GHz frequency band and consequently have less competition from other wireless gadgets.
A third technology uses side-reflecting speakers. This solution is called sound bars. The audio that would normally be sent by the remote loudspeakers is instead broadcast by speakers at the front. These front loudspeakers send the sound at an angle. Then the audio is reflected by the side and rear walls and appears to be coming from besides or behind the viewer. The result largely depends on the shape of the room and interior design and not work well in a lot of real-world scenarios due to different room shapes and obstacles in the room.
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