5 quick tweaks for better sound from your speaks

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B&W FPM Speakers

B&W FPM Speakers

Does the sound from your speakers echo around the room? Does audio appear to be coming from the wrong speakers? Does the volume switch from unbearably loud to incredibly hard to hear? If so, read on. We’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves that will help you get a better sound experience.

1) Try to put speakers at ear level. Many is the homeowner who installs speakers too high or too low. Install speakers at ear level when seated for that just right sound. If you are using in-ceiling speakers, consider models with adjustable tweeters to angle sound toward the listening area.

2) Test to make sure your set up is correct. Check your receiver’s settings to see if there is a test-tone-generating feature. Most receivers will play static noise through speakers to indicate which channels are the left, right, center, rear left, rear right, subwoofer, etc. This way, you can tell if you have the right audio going to the right speakers. Otherwise, things are gonna sound funky, with the surround-sound information going to the wrong speaker. The effect can be rather disorienting. Imagine a car-chase scene in which the sound is going in the opposite direction as the onscreen action for a worst-case scenario.

3) Get gear with volume-leveling technology. Many audio components (like receivers and some all-in-one speakers) these days have volume-leveling features that even out the sound from content and commercials, which inevitably blare throughout the house, waking up children and sleeping spouses alike. Volume-leveling is worth the price of admission. This technology makes for an even experience, without your finger constantly in need of hovering above the remote control’s volume button. Look for technologies like Dolby Volume.

4) Correct for the room itself. Many people don’t realize that speakers are only as good as the room in which you put them in. That’s why many receivers these days have built-in room correction (aka automated room correction). These use test tones/microphones to measure sound response in the room and dial-in speaker levels to sound better based on your room’s idiosyncrasies. While they won’t completely squelch acoustic anomalies, they sure do help. Look for technologies like Audyssey or ARC.


The Pioneer Elite VSX-60 features advanced Auto MCACC for auto room calibration.

5) Decorate with sound in mind. No matter if you are enjoying your system in a media room or dedicated home theater, a little room treatment goes a long way. For example, a great room with lots of hard, reflective surfaces like hardwood or concrete floors will sound a lot better with a throw rug, drapes, pillows, a soft couch, maybe some bean bags. You know that echo you get when you move out of your home and all the furniture is gone? That’s a result of you removing all the absorptive surfaces. Likewise, a room can be too acoustically “dead” with an overabundance of absorptive materials. Getting the right mix is key, so experiment with different combinations till you find the right one.

These few tweaks may not cure all that ails your audio, but they will go a long way toward getting you a better sound experience from any system, big or small, in any room, small or big.


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