How to Build the Perfect Sound System for Your Room

How to Build the Perfect Sound System for Your Room
  • Opening Intro -

    Be it home theatre, hi-fidelity sets, or bluetooth speakers, sound is the classic example of something we never really notice, but absolutely cannot do without.

    Many, however, fail to realise the importance of a nice sound system.

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What’s the fastest adopted gadget in history? No, its not TV, neither is it the cell phone – that title, in fact, goes to the boombox. Quality sound reproduction has always been central to any household, dating back to the age of vinyl. Be it home theater, hi-fidelity sets, or Bluetooth speakers, sound is the classic example of something we never really notice, but absolutely cannot do without. Many, however, fail to realize the importance of a nice sound system. With that said, here are some tips for building a good sound system for your room.

1. Speakers / Transducers

Speakers are, arguably, the most important part of the reproduction chain. The general consensus is that allocating a larger portion of your budget here allows for the most value. When purchasing speakers, it is good to have a few things in mind: your budget, the size of your room, and your sound level and quality requirements.

Now, if your room is small, buying speakers with smaller diameter drivers is recommended. While those towering, imposing speakers might have you drooling over its bass potential, they have a good chance of overpowering your room with bass. Excess bass may be something you like, and if so, go for it! But for those interested in quality reproduction, a flat frequency response is desirable. Likewise, if you have a large room, going with larger bass units is better.

As for sound level, speakers usually have a sensitivity rating, which means how loud it will go for a given wattage. When building a sound system, you should consider your amplifier rating along with the speaker’s sensitivity. Sensitivity usually comes in decibels per watt at one metre. Generally, anything above 85db will be fine for typical receivers, while lower sensitivity speakers will be better off with a power amplifier.

It is also important to take note of the speaker’s impedance. This can be puzzling at first, but what you have to know is this: a lower impedance has higher current demands, and a higher impedance has lower. This means that lower impedances will need a more powerful amplifier. Impedances that are below your receiver or amplifier’s specification may cause overheating and other issues. A common impedance of 8 ohms is what most receivers are built for, so remember to check the rating.

2. Amplifiers/Receivers

An amplifier does what the term suggests – amplifies an audio signal before feeding it to your speakers. A popular choice for amplifiers is usually home A/V receivers. There are many budget-priced models that range from 2-channel to 7 channel, and many have features such as audio streaming.

When getting a receiver, first check out its features set. Avoid buying those with lots of gimmicks that you will not use, since a hefty portion of the price is likely to go there. Features like streaming and Bluetooth may be useful, however. If you do not need modern features, used vintage receivers will offer better sound quality for the price.

Also, check its specifications for the impedance rating and output power. As mentioned earlier, different speakers will have different demands of the amplifier. There are many spl calculators around the internet to estimate the sound levels you will get from your speaker and amplifier combination.

3. Audio Source

The source is whatever produces the audio signal. This can be anything from your phone to CD players. Depending on your receiver, they might have streaming services inbuilt, which can also serve as a source.

CD players and turntables can be connected via the input RCA jacks on your receiver’s back. Most receivers have input switching that allows you to change the source easily. You should check with your receiver’s manual for more information, but usually, the HDMI input is recommended for your TV and DVD audio, while RCA is used for older analogue devices like CD players.

4. Acoustic Treatment

For those who are serious about quality, you may want to consider acoustic treatment for your room. Typically seen in exorbitant hi-fi setups, acoustic treatment can do a lot to improve your musical enjoyment. Be warned, though, the costs can go skyward rather quickly, and the end result is not always aesthetically pleasing.

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A quick and easy way to improve sound quality is to add a carpet. This will deaden the floor slightly to reduce unwanted reflections. If you really want the best, sound panels are a good start to room treatment. These are soft foam panels that absorbs unwanted waves to minimize room reflections that detract from sound quality.

5. Wrapping it up

Now that you have everything needed to assemble your sound system, it’s time to understand how to piece it together. Usually, the signal chain goes like this: source to amplifier/receiver to speakers. Between source and receiver you will need rca interconnects, and between receiver and speakers, speaker cables are required.

Conclusion

The sound system is something that never goes out of style. Despite the headphones and mp3 players that are so popular nowadays, speakers are still needed for social reasons. They are all around a better investment too. Long after your phones have gone obsolete, a quality hi-fi set will still be singing away for years and years.

Little is understood and much is claimed in audio, but you can help in demystifying the commonly misunderstood world of audio today. If you found the information here useful, please share this article with fellow homeowners who are struggling with complex audio terminologies!

References

http://www.ibnlive.com/news/india/speaker-specs-simplified-the-7-things-you-should-check-before-you-buy-a-speaker-711049.html
http://www.thx.com/consumer/home-entertainment/home-theater/thx-home-audio-buyer-guide/
http://www.dolby.com/us/en/guide/home-theater-setup.html

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