Setting up multi-channel audio such as a home theater system has always been relatively difficult and vendors recently have developed unique products and technologies including wireless speaker kit products or virtual surround sound to help simplify this process. I will review the newest trends to figure out which products really work. I will also give some advice for choosing the best components.
Historically, installing a TV would be quick because they would already provide built-in stereo speakers. This, on the other hand, has all changed with multi-channel sound. These days external speakers are utilized to create a surround sound effect. In case of 5.1 surround, 6 speakers are used: center, left and right front, left and right rear and a subwoofer. More recent 7.1 systems need a total quantity of 8 speakers by adding 2 additional side speakers. As a result the setup of home theater systems has turn out to be a relatively difficult process. Numerous homes are not pre-wired for surround sound. Also, long speaker cables are often unattractive. A number of technologies have emerged to simplify this process. One option is reducing the number of loudspeakers by making virtual loudspeakers. This technique applies signal processing to the sound and adds phase shifts and cues to the sound that would ordinarily be broadcast by the remote speaker. The signal processing is designed according to how the human hearing determines the location of a sound. The audio signal is then broadcast by the front loudspeakers. Due to the signal processing, the viewer is deceived into thinking the audio is coming from virtual remote surround speakers.
The advantage of this technology is that only a handful of speakers are needed and no long speaker cable has to be run all through the viewing environment. The downside however is that each person will process sound differently as a result of the dissimilar form of every human ear. Because the signal processing is based on a standard human ear model, virtual surround will not work equally well for every person dependant upon how much the viewer differs from the standard model. Wireless surround sound devices are an additional solution for simplifying home speaker installations and normally include a transmitter module which connects to the source and also wireless amplifiers which will connect to the remote speakers. The transmitter will normally have amplified speaker inputs and also line-level inputs and come with a volume control to adjust it to the source audio level. While a number of wireless speaker kits have a wireless amplifier that connects to two speakers, other devices offer individual wireless amplifiers for every speaker. The most sophisticated wireless products use digital transmission to eliminate signal degradation. In multi-channel audio devices, it is essential to select a wireless option with a latency of only several milliseconds. This will ensure that the sound of all speakers is in perfect sync. Otherwise there will be a noticeable echo type result. Most wireless products operate in the 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz frequency bands. Some products use the less crowded 5.8 GHz frequency band and therefore have less competition from other wireless gadgets. Another approach are side-reflecting loudspeakers. These kits are also known as sound bars. There are additional speakers located at the front which broadcast the sound for the remote loudspeakers (look at more info in relation to wireless home theater speakers) from the front at an angle. The sound is then reflected by walls and appears to be coming from besides or behind the viewer. The result heavily depends on the interior, in particular the shape of the room and the decoration. It will work well for square rooms with no obstacles and sound reflecting walls. Then again, realistic scenarios often will differ from this ideal and reduce the result of this option.
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