It’s the little things when putting a home theatre together that can often make the biggest difference. Investing in a good AV receiver and the correct speakers and subs are very important to give you the opportunity for great sound. There is something that also needs to be looked at. How your speakers can ‘breathe’ and ‘show’ is a massive factor in great sound.
A speaker works very much like a flash light. If you have ever laid a flashlight down on its side you will notice how the light shines. Yes light flashes forward but it also reflects off the surface its laying on. Sound out of a speaker works very much the same way. When a speaker is sitting on a surface, some of the noise bounces off the surface below and mutes it the same way as a flashlight. If we relate this to watching a movie in your surround sound at home, you can now see why sometimes hearing dialogue is a problem.
The second part of how your speakers are set up is what they are resting on. Most speakers are capable of putting out a reasonable amount of bass (depending on the size of the drivers of course), and this bass helps lots of stuff. You may not know it but bass is important in the centre speaker. Bass and depth are huge when it comes to the depth of dialogue. Your centre speaker also controls a lot of the audio in your front sound stage.
If like most people you put your centre on a stand and then run a calibration you will notice something. Most calibrations will do their best to take bass away from the centre and the sub. The reason for this is the reverberations it is getting off the surface. This can make it so voices sound ‘tinny’ and your sub only really comes alive during an explosion.
I purchased Pyle Audio Acoustic pads back in March and then re calibrated my system. The difference was overwhelming. My centre was able to cross over much lower and put out much cleaner bass and low frequency. This brought dialogue to life in the movies I watch. The same happened for the Subwoofer up front and my front speakers. As they were sitting on an acoustic pad, the speaker was able to more accurately gauge how much base could actually be passed properly without worry of surface vibrations.
There are lots of good options out there for acoustic stand and pads. The Pyle ones I purchased were $50 CAD each on amazon. So each front speaker and the sub got a 15” x 15” pad. For my centre I purchased their 2 pack of Pyle audio pads that were about $35 CAD. The last recommendation I have is move your centre out a bit from the edge of your stand (as I have shown below) to help it open up even more.
I hope this helps all of you out there who have speakers sitting on stands and on the ground. Until next time, Play it loud, play it clear and play it on the biggest surface you can find.