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Home Theater Hacks by Brett McLaughlin

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Hack #37. Get the Right Speakers for the Job

Speakers are the most obvious features of any home theater, and they can turn even a lousy movie into an in-depth, surround sound experience. Learn how to choose the best speakers for your room.

Speakers will stand out in any theater, even if you've got the coolest HD set with all the toys. Ultimately, home theater means surround sound, and it's your speakers that will bear the task of pushing out this sound. So, take some time to understand the technical issues, and then go forth and buy!

Understand Speaker Crossovers

A crossover is probably the most important part of a speaker. A bad crossover design can cause a speaker that uses the best drivers in the world to sound like junk. An extremely well executed crossover network, however, can enable some very inexpensive drivers to sound excellent. The intricacies of crossover design are way over my head (and certainly not all that helpful in a newbie document), but a basic understanding of what a crossover is and what it does can help immensely in understanding home theater and, in particular, subwoofers.

Crossover basics

In a loudspeaker (such as your home stereo speakers) you almost always have more than one driver. In a "two-way" speaker system, you have a tweeter (usually 0.75 inch or 1 inch in diameter) and a woofer (usually 4 to 8 inches in diameter). The tweeter covers the higher-frequency sounds while the mid/woofer covers the lower frequencies.

Tip

The crossover is what makes the tweeter ...

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