By Noel Lee
With my many years of experience in the
audio/video industry, I get a lot of questions from people about setting up home
theater systems. One of the most difficult things to set up in a home theater is
the speaker system. First, you have to decide how many you're going to have,
then, which models to buy, where to place them, what kind of cable to hook them
up with and how much cable you'll need. With all the factors that need to be
considered, it's no wonder people are confused.
Location Is Everything
The most common question I get concerns speaker
placement. Their location in relation to your TV screen, component stack and
where you will be sitting is critical to re-creating the movie experience at
home. There is a complex art to arranging speakers, and several different
guidelines to follow. For instance, to achieve realistic imaging, the left and
right front speakers should be placed on either side and equidistant from your
TV screen, facing straight out at the listener.
The gauge and quality of the speaker cable also
determines how far from the screen you can place your speakers. The general rule
is the shorter the cable run, the better - and more powerful - the sound. Over
long runs, the signal is prone to more interference, causing loss and
degradation as it travels through the cable. To guard against loss of sound
quality, I recommend keeping speaker cable lengths as short as possible.
Ideally, left, center and right front speaker
cables should all be the same length, and so should each of the surrounds. This
standardizes the distance that the audio signal has to travel to each, ensuring
full dynamic range and more natural re-creation of depth.
Final words on location: don't place speakers too
close to system equipment - they are prone to acoustic feedback caused by
vibration. Also, keep speaker cables away from line level or AC power cords to
reduce noise and hum. If you plan speaker location carefully before hooking the
whole system up, you'll have a monsterous sounding home theater.
Another question people often ask is what kind of
speaker cable they should use to hook up their home theater system. Here are
guidelines to help you make the right choice:
- Choose a speaker cable with a large gauge (16
or smaller, remember the smaller the gauge the larger the conductor inside)
that can handle the power that today's movies and components require.
- Buy the best cable you can afford. The
performance of your cables should be at least equal to the performance level
of your home theater speakers and components. Allow 10% of your home theater
budget for cables.
- Look for cables with a channel identification
system (e.g. color-coding) that labels channels (left, right, center, right
surround, left surround and subwoofer) and phase (negative, positive). Trust
me, they are essential to organized, error-free hook-up of the many speakers
needed in a home theater.
- Make sure the cables are terminated with 24K
gold plated connectors. They provide the best signal transfer and a reliable
connection that won't come loose. A word of caution: never use bare wire for
your connections. Over time, the copper will oxidize and corrode, making for
poor signal transfer and sound.
Monster Cable's home theater speaker cables meet
all of the above criteria and then some. They feature Time Correct® windings, a
patented technology that allows the higher frequencies to travel on fine copper
strands that are specially wound around thicker strands, which carry low
frequencies, so that both signals reach their destination simultaneously. The
result is dynamic, undistorted sound, and in the case of home theater, higher
Monster Home Theater™ speaker cables also
feature side-by-side construction for easy installation and cable management.
Our three-channel speaker cable set carries the front left, center and right
speaker signals in one easy-to-install cable, as does our two-channel speaker
cable for surrounds (or two front channels).
In addition, Monster Home Theater™ speaker
cables are certified by Lucasfilm's THX division. This means that they meet
stringent THX electrical and mechanical specs to ensure proper system
performance and a more realistic reproduction of movies in the home. They are
also a necessary component in a complete THX home theater system.
Do It Right The First Time
Proper home theater speaker set-up is key for the
best movie and soundtrack reproduction. So why not lay it out right the first
time? By planning your home theater environment, following manufacturer
recommendations for speaker placement, and using the right cables, you'll
maximize your home theater experience and hear your favorite movie soundtracks
the way they were meant to be heard. Sit back and enjoy!