Top Tips For Getting The Best Performance Out Of Home Audio Systems
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When you are choosing all the different and interlinking components of your home audio system, it can be a very expensive process. The last thing, therefore, that you want is to have it all set up and then realise that it’s not working as well as you want it to. There can be any number of things causing this, from the quality of the media you are playing to how the system was initially set up.
Before you spend tons of your hard earned cash on buying expensive new audio components or getting a repair man in, it is definitely worth trying out the below tips first, some of which are free, others of which will be a much cheaper option than starting again or hiring someone to fix the audio problem. All are worth checking out anyway, to make sure that you get the very best performance from your home audio system.
The room in which you install your system
When you are setting up your system it is important to do it in a room that has good acoustics. A room with a good listening environment will generally have soft furnishings, such as carpet, curtains, soft cloth furniture and a low ceiling.
If the room you are planning to install your audio system in (or have already installed it in) has a lot of hard surfaces and furnishings, such as a wooden floor, tiles, glass-based furniture and a high ceiling, then this is not an ideal environment. Think about moving the system to another room, otherwise you will never get it to perform to the best of its ability.
Making sure that you have placed your speakers correctly is one of the most important things to do when setting your home audio system up. It may take you some time to get it just right but it is definitely worth doing at the start, before you have everything wired up and plugged in.
If you get the positioning right, you will find that you get none of the horrible heavy and muddy bass sounds that are really quite common when speakers are set up and positioned incorrectly and where they can interfere with the room’s resonant modes.
This means that the sounds coming out of the speakers should not affect the standing waves of a room that naturally intensify or ease bass frequencies. These waves are also dependant on what the room’s dimensions are. Correctly placing your speakers will also reduce the amount of unwanted sound reflections off your room’s walls and furniture surfaces.
Check the quality of your speaker wire
Also very important is to make sure that you have the best possible speaker wire for your budget. Some people may wish to spend thousands on the wire for their speakers but you don’t actually have to spend thousands to get a good sound from your system. You should, however, get the best you can afford as they can really and truly make a huge difference in sound quality.
Above all, try and stick to the following rule of thumb regarding your audio cables and that is to avoid buying speaker wire that is thinner than 12 gauge. You really do need wire that is going to be able to consistently and reliably deliver enough electrical current through to your speakers. Keep in mind that the lower the gauge number, the thicker and better the wire is generally going to be.
How to identify the sweet spot (best listening position)
Once you have everything set up, you are going to want to find the best place in your room to listen, which is known as the ‘sweet spot’. This is the area in your room where the audio system will sound at its absolute best.
You don’t have to guess at where this spot is and it should actually be relatively easy to work out. All you need to do is imagine there is a base of a triangle between your two speakers (assuming you only have two) and then position yourself at the tip of the triangle i.e. the third point. This is a lot easier to measure if your speakers have been evenly spaced out.
Your amp & speaker settings
It is vital that you check all your amplifier settings to make sure that they are suitable for the speakers you have. This includes:
Matching the wattage
You should make sure that the speakers are rated for the specific wattage of your amp. For instance, if your amp has an output of 120 watts, then really it is best if your speakers are rated for 120 watts peak power. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions if you are unsure of your speakers’ wattage.
Matching the impedance
Next it is important to check that your amp is power rated to effectively match the ohms that your speakers impose; otherwise it will not be able to handle your audio system properly. Again, make sure you refer to the manufacturer’s instructions if you are unsure of this.
Checking the sensitivity rating
You will also need to check the sensitivity rating of your speakers; you will usually see this listed as dB followed by a number between 84-100. Depending on your budget, it is best to get speakers with as high as possible sensitivity rating, as this means your speakers will be able to deliver greater volume but with a smaller amount of power from the amp.
James writes for speaker cables company, Mains Cable R Us. When he isn’t blogging about home audio systems, he’s trying to make sweet music of his own on hi battered ukulele…