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Home Theater Hacks by Brett McLaughlin

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Hack #24. Amplify the Front Soundstage

Take your sound to the next level by using separate amplifiers for your front soundstage—the right, left, and center channels.

In any good home theater, the dialog (and the ability to hear it clearly) is extremely important. All the surround effects in the world merely enhance the overall experience, but if you can't hear what the actors are saying, all is lost. You quickly will learn that much of the important dialog comes from center stage—the area addressed by a center speaker. The front speakers (left, center, and right) often are referred to as the front soundstage and represent what is happening on the screen. Unfortunately, in the early days of multichannel sound with a center channel, the center speaker often was added as an afterthought, even though it should be able to handle the bulk of the dialog. In fact, because much of the action (and the speaking) travel across the front it is important that all three front speakers either are identical (and also amplified identically) or are at least sonically equivalent. Just adding a small speaker on top of the monitor (or even worse, using the internal speakers of the monitor for the center channel) is not doing your home theater any favors.

A popular solution to ensure consistent and excellent sound quality in this area is to amplify the front soundstage, as shown in Figure 3-2, even if you are using a receiver (which normally provides speaker amplification: see Figure 3-3). It's then possible ...

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