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Ed's AV Handbook
Batting practice for the AV Professional
and primer for the novice

Chapter 8  Page 1

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Home Theater Sound by Design

Sincere proponents of various home theater sound concepts are easy to find.  Some of their views originate from reputable physics and engineering, others sourced in fiction.  I will not debate which audio concept is necessarily better.  Instead, I offer three qualified-options for your specific circumstances: Custom, THX/IMAX, or High Fidelity.

Home Sketch

The Custom Design

Custom is generally a code phrase for "hide the speakers and electronics in cabinets, walls, and ceiling".  The Custom Design acquiesces to the priorities of
an interior design that shuns the aesthetics of speakers and electronics while compromising the audio system's performance. 

However, custom designs of merit still strive to minimize distorting sonic compromises caused by Sheetrock wall resonance, room boundary reflections,
wall or cabinet diffraction, small speakers, and above-ear-level placement.  A custom design can set about this as follows:

- Reduce mid-bass distortion and mid-range harshness caused by the Sheetrock resonance of in-wall/in-ceiling speaker systems with wood braces or a
high-mass sub-baffle at each wall or ceiling speaker location.

- Small in-wall/in-ceiling speaker systems are low-frequency deficient and can cause harsh sound.  Manufacture warmer sound by re-routing the lowest
bass-frequencies to a subwoofer.  Use a receiver 'small speaker' menu setting, filter networks, and or equalizers to alter a small speaker's operating bandwidth.

- Mount the center speaker at the TV location to improve imaging impaired by the above-ear-level placement of the left and right speakers.  The typical dominance of a near-ear-level center channel speaker will psychoacoustically appear to draw the left and right channels to ear level. 

- Salvage sound field imaging forfeited by near field cabinet diffraction.  Move the speaker to the front edge of the cabinet shelf.  Also, attach acoustical absorption on the cabinet walls near the speaker.

- Generate the impression of a more-substantial satisfying sound system with the installation of a large and or second discretely placed subwoofer.

Custom is the design of choice if the appearance of a speaker or electronic component is at odds with your aesthetic goals.  However, employ these steps to minimize the sonic compromises of the custom design.

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Ed's AV Handbook   
Copyright 2007 Txu1-598-288 Revised 2022

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