The Pianoman

Surround Sound -- Home Theatre

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Does anyone here know anything about surround sound?

The speakers in these modern flat TV's are crap. I am currently running separate hi-fi type speakers through an ordinary Aiwa hi-fi type amplifier plugged into the headphone socket on the TV.

I have the chance of a set of Sony 5:1 surround sound speakers for very little money. They come with nothing else. I understand that I need either a surround sound receiver or a suitable DVD/CD player. I have no idea which way to go. If I go the DVD route do I only get surround sound when I watch a DVD? I want the surround sound when I watch telly as well.

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Depends on the machine, but our Pioneer DVD allows us to channel the TV sound through it (stereo only, though). It's also connected by a TOS-link cable to the Sky box, which gives us 5:1 sound on the channels which are broadcast with it (movies, HD, etc).

An alternative is a sound bar, which sits in front of the TV and gives far better sound than the TV's own speakers.

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You will notice a difference.

I imagine much of this stuff can be had cheaply on eBay as people upgrade.

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I had surround sound running through an amp, it sounded good, but the wife complained about the 5 speakers, she said that they looked a mess! we now have a sound bar on a shelf under the tv. Probably should have kept the speakers and got rid of the wife. Got the amp set up in my shed with just 2 speakers, sounds good.

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We have surround sound and with films etc it's great. Though not appropriate for all programmes. Nowadays the speakers can be quite unobtrusive. We always test new sound systems with Top Gun as you actually get the effect of the planes flying through the room.

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My Hi-Fi is surround sound sound(4 x 60 watt speakers)

The amp & graphic equalizer(Technics) are about 30 years old & still sounds good.

Last Christmas I bought(thank you mother) a 42" H.D. 3.D. T.V.

I have fed the sound of the T.V. through the Hi-Fi it works great & it can be LOUD.

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I think that is basically what I have done. The amp I have used must be a similar age to yours - I didn't have it new. I just connected the amp into the tele via the headphone socket and connected the speakers to the amp in the usual manner.

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I used the auxiliary sockets at the back of the amp & the connection is permanent but, just pressing a button I can still listen to CDs.

BTW the graphic equalizer makes a world of difference.

I got rid of the radio & tape deck years ago but retained the record deck.

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You'll need a surround sound amplifier for the speakers, usually five speakers and a bass speaker. Mines SUPPOSED to be 1000 watts, no idea at how they arrive at that figure, my 110watt Marantz hi fi would have the house vibrating at 110 watts, my surround sound doesn't even blow the dust off it's speakers.

I recall Radio Shack got into trouble years back claiming their Hi Fi's were 100 watts when in essence they were only about 25 watts, they were ordered to use the standardized testing to designate output of their Hi Fi's.

These modern flat screen TV's don't use speakers, but use pietzo transducers which do sound very tinny.

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My amp(30 years of age ) is surround sound but I only have four speakers and it sounds fine to me.

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I have five on the top of the entertainment centre, and a bass on the floor, two of the outer speakers should really be placed behind us to give true surround sound. It's only an El Cheapo Chinese made piece of crap. The amplifier does have an AM/FM tuner, equilizer and can be set to various outputs like Church, Studio, Hall etc which gives different sound effects. I have a better quality one that cost me nothing, aged a bit, but haven't tried it out yet, it's a JVC RX-660V

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A soundbar is probably the way to go.

When stereo evolved into surround-sound and finally Dolby 5.1, it meant having a lot of speakers strewn around the room. There's left and right for the original stereo, then they added left rear / right rear (or left surround / right surround) - these two are generally smaller, to render, well, a surround sound. Number five was the centre, mainly for the dialogue so that it sounds like it is emanating from the moving image instead of being spread out. Finally is the .1 - that's the LFE (Low Frequency Effects) or sub-woofer (they made it 0.1 as it only handles about a tenth of the frequency range of the other speakers). That's where the thumping effects come from and that's where it can soak up a lot of watts without being loud (it's more for feeling than hearing). Of course all of these speakers need something to power them and an audio source that's putting out 5.1, so a separate box of tricks or something built into your TV or other device.

There was a market for something neater and fewer cables so along came soundbars. There's a whole range available out there so there's some homework to do. Most are powered, meaning they have the various audio amplifiers built in - compared with 'passive' ones that need a separate amplifier unit. They'll all have some DSP (Digital Signal Processing) that sorts the sounds out to the correct speakers and maybe adds effects to create spread or surround. Sub-woofers by design are not going to fit into a soundbar ('cos they need to be bigger) so some soundbars come with a separate sub-woofer whereas others just have the output for you to connect your own. Another variation is that some have a wireless sub-woofer. This just needs to be near a power point. Inputs to the soundbar might be RCA/phono, HDMI or optical (or combinations of these) so you'd need to check what outputs there are on other devices (TV, digibox, DVD player, etc).

Finally on the matter of watts and power, it used to be manufacturer's practice to state wattage as 'music power' (particularly for Hi-Fi amplifiers) which was misleading as that meant it allowed for distortion (sometime at significant levels). The accepted way to state power output is to qualify the wattage as true RMS (Root Mean Square - it's a bit technical). That creates a level playing field for comparisons.

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We have a sound bar on order. We can have it on a month's trial before deciding to pay for it, from Bose. Conveniently will be here for over Christmas slywink

I'll let you know what we think when it's arrived.

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I'd be interested to know. I have actually set the job up with the speakers that I originally started this thread on. I bought (cheaply) a s/h Philips amp which is very good and powers everything, and have added a CD player under the telly to run from it. Downside is that there's speakers everywhere.

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That's right, you need them to get the "feel" of a Cinema and get the effect of sound all around you.

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Bose??? Way over priced gear, you're paying for a name not the goods.

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#14, yes that's where Tandy/Radio Shack got their knuckes rapped, music power on audio devices, they got fined heavily and told to use RMS or be faced with another huge fine for deceptive practices.

The older Kenwood surround sound amp I've aquired uses RMS rated output and has connections for two woofers, and ten speakers!!!

I might go back to using my Marantz stereo system for watching movies etc.

I have a couple of Kenwood tower speakers that have two 12 inch speakers, two mid range and two high range speakers. The cones on the two 12 inch need new foam cone supports, kits are available for this repair. When repaired I might use these with the Marantz system.

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Bose??? Way over priced gear, you're paying for a name not the goods.

Always happy with their stuff. Never had a problem with it and the sound quality is way better than any other cheaper systems that we have tried, so we would rather pay that bit extra.

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We bought a Bose Wave 3 radio and CD player a few months and we are very happy with the system. It can be hooked up to the TV but we haven't bothered yet. The sound is very good with no distortion at full volume, not that we play it at full volume any more, it was just that when it was new we tested it.

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I'm not arguing about the quality, I agree you only gets what you pay for, but with Bose it's paying for a name, they could well sell their gear for 50% off and still make huge profits.

That's the only thing I have against them.

Grundig used to make the best radios on the market, but way over priced, now they have them made in China, still over priced for Chinese made stuff!!.

Most audio amplifiers have one amplifier stereo chip in them that costs from 20 bucks to 60 bucks depending on power output, the rest of the amplifier has around 60 bucks worth of components in it. Most of the manufacturing process is totally automated just leaving the final assembly , adding the case a human job.

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Bose stuff is massively overrated.  Various consumer electronics brands have performed the trick, over the years, of gaining the accolade of 'best'.  This seems to be most prevalent amongst younger (and more impressionable?) people.  A couple of decades ago it seemed that the only hi-fi brand people would consider was Technics.  No doubt they made some good kit, but not everything they made was great.. or even good.

Possiby the 'worst' example is Bang and Olufsen, who, to many people still represent the aspirational 'Holy Grail' of audio kit.  Nicely made yes.  Very stylish, yes.  Sound quality?  Nothing special and easily beaten by products at much lower cost.  A definite lifestyle product and a triumph of style over substance.

Thing is this often stems from a trade press review which labels one product 'best in class'.  But then somehow that brand name gets seen as best at everything.

Examples:

Pioneer A400 amplifier got rave reviews in the early 90s.  In the right system  (and more importantly, within its price range.. ) it was a good amp.  But it wasn't 'the best amp on the planet ever' and didn't follow that everything Pioneer made was automatically 'the best'

 

Nakamichi were the acknowledged masters of 'high end' cassette decks back then, especially with their CR-7E and 'Dragon' models, retailing for around the £2k mark.  But their amplifiers and other audio components were average at best.

 

Technics 'SL whatever' DJ record deck is fine for the purpose, robust etc., but other record decks far exceed its absolute audio quality.

 

Many people will still recognise names such as Goodmans, Wharfedale etc.  They made fine speakers in their day, but Goodmans is now definitely Chinese owned and just a 'name',  Not sure about Wharfedale..

 

Back in the 1950/60s Garrard made some of the finest record decks ever (301 and 401)  These are still fairly easy to get hold of and can be made to compete with the best modern offerings.  But the 'Garrard' branded plastic tat that was built into assorted stereograms and 'Dansette' clones isn't worth bothering with, unless you are an 'anachronist'.

 

The big international brands (Bose/Panasonic/Sony) etc., still seem to rule the roost, but it is little known outside of 'geeky' circles that the UK still has a very successful and internationally renowned hi-fi/audio industry.

 

Rega, Linn Products, NAIM Audio, Cyrus, Arcam are probably the best known, but I'm using a record deck from Mitchell, a valve phono amp from E.A.R., a tonearm from 'Audiomods' and a stereo integrated amp from LFD.  All British and all world renowned.

Anyone who is really interested in sound/music reproduction should establish what kit they want/need and then visit a few specialists to see what can be done for their budget.

 

Col

 

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