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Surround sound fundamentals
The three all-important front speakers in a surround sound system are the two front speakers plus the centre speaker. The centre – as its name would suggest - takes centre stage in this arrangement since its sound will decisively influence the overall acoustic quality of the system. One important thing to remember is that the centre and front loudspeakers should have a harmonious overall sound, an effect that can be most easily achieved by purchasing them from the same manufacturer.
Existing stereo speakers can be expanded with the addition of a centre speaker and two rear effect speakers. Teufel offers a number of home cinema systems that include full-size floorstanding stereo speakers as well as extension sets that transform stereo speakers into complete home cinema sets.
A tip for setting up your front speakers:
The tweeters on the three front loudspeakers should be positioned so that they radiate their sound at ear height in a sitting position. This criteria can be most easily achieved with floorstanding speakers.
The left and right front speakers
The left and right front speakers should be positioned on either side of the television/display at approximately one meter’s distance from the listening position, just as you would position a pair of stereo speakers. If you plan to project the picture on a screen or wall using a video projector, you can simply place these speakers to the left and right of the wall or screen or even behind the screen if it is acoustically transparent.
The centre speaker
The centre speaker can be placed about 20 cm behind the left and right speakers either directly above or below the television/display. Depending on the speaker and the height at which it’s placed, you may get a better sound by slightly angling the speaker towards the listening position.
If, due to space constraints, you need to place the centre at a level with the left and right speakers, you should activate the time delay function (often called “center delay”) if your decoder offers this option. Many contemporary A/V receivers and amplifiers do not offer this option, but instead will automatically correct any time delays in the sound from the centre and front speakers when the distance between the listening/viewing position and the speakers is entered as part of the Dolby Surround settings.
You can test whether your centre acoustically harmonizes with your front speakers as follows: Set the centre to "normal“ on your A/V Receiver and activate the pink noise generator. The noise from the centre should sound the same as that from the left and right speakers. If your ProLogic Decoder offers a 3 stereo option, you can continue the test with music and speech. Switch between stereo – activating the left the right speakers – and 3 stereo. With 3 stereo, mono sections such as voices or musical sections mixed for the musical centre, should be heard from the centre speaker. Voices and instruments should not sound any differently via the centre as from the left and right front speakers.
Special attention should be given to the low frequencies emitted by the centre speaker to ensure that they are reproduced loudly enough, though be aware that you shouldn’t expect an overwhelming bass sound from this small speaker. Still, even if the ProLogic Decoder is set to “Normal” so that all frequencies under 120 Hz are directed to the left and right speakers and subwoofer, the centre should produce a decent bass tone.
Some final considerations
Older amplifiers tend to under-power the centre channel so you’ll want to pay special attention to the power allocated to this channel as well as the efficiency of the speaker itself. If the efficiency - that is, the ability of the speaker to conjure high volumes from the available power – is too low, the centre sound will often not be able to keep up during especially intense action scenes.
Three identical front speakers
For the reproduction of movie soundtracks, having identical front loudspeakers is an absolute must as any deviation of one loudspeaker from the others will lead to a change in tonal quality. For instance, if one employs a centre speaker with a tone that is less sharp and full than the left and right front speakers, the sound image will not seem realistic or unified as figures move across the sound stage. A speeding car or conversation between two people as they walk across the screen can alter dramatically as the source of sound reproduction changes in response to the on-screen movement.
Why was Teufel so quick to adopt the THX standard and why does it go through the trouble of licensing so many of its home cinema loudspeakers?
Teufel is one of the largest and most consistent producers of THX certified loudspeakers because it understands that this standard perfectly represents the ideal technical parameters of ideal home cinema sound reproduction. Three factors are important to remember when talking about THX as a quality standard:
- THX® is a quality standard that precisely delineates the size of a room that a given loudspeaker can ideally fill with sound, which frequency range a loudspeaker needs to have over, under as well as to the right and left of the loudspeaker axis and how much distortion a loudspeaker may produce – just some of the criteria that ensures that the sound system is a good match for the room size.
- THX certification also ensures that the subwoofer, rear effect speakers, left and right front speakers, amplifier, pre-amplifier, etc. all interact in a way that produces the best overall result. This means that when someone buys a THX certified home cinema set, he or she knows that the subwoofer is a perfect match for the satellite speakers and that there are no spikes or drops in the frequency range, that the amplifier separates the frequency range at the correct point, and that the loudspeakers are tuned to each other in regard to phase. Only an integrated system in which up to ten loudspeakers work together along with an amplifier guarantees an impressive home cinema experience.
- THX guarantees the same balanced tonal mixture that you would enjoy in a cinema in your own home. To achieve this, decorrelation, re-equalization, and the use of dipole rear effect loudspeakers and timbre matching are employed.
Teufel is of the opinion that for home cinema, each of the front speakers should have the same size or – even better – should be completely identical! This is essential for those who don’t want to be jarred out of a enthralling movie by the sensation of a voice changing in tone or volume as it crosses the screen.
Teufel’s home cinema systems therefore use front loudspeakers that are abolutely identical across all channels. In this way, an acoustically neutral reproduction is guaranteed under all conditions.
The THX standard is the only quality standard for cinema and home cinema in the world and is was developed by demanding film professionals and sound technicians in order to ensure that movie soundtracks can be played back as the sound engineers and directors intended. In fact, the perfection of the THX quality standard in guaranteeing the ultimate cinema and home cinema experience explains why no other standard has been deemed necessary to this day.
There’s no question that THX guarantees the absolute best sound experience that is available today. Teufel Audio knows this and has developed an entire range of THX certified home cinema loudspeakers at all price points according the stringent criteria of this quality standard. In this way, everyone can enjoy THX systems developed by our sound engineers from smaller, compact system that fit in any living room to colossal systems fit for the largest home entertainment rooms: We have it all!