There are so many different options available when it comes to speakers and home theater equipment that the process of buying the right ones can often seem overwhelming. All you want to do is listen to that great new album from your favorite band – you don’t have time to concern yourself with things like ohms and sensitivity.
Luckily, the process is not as difficult as you think. So long as you keep a few key things in mind about both the environment your speakers will be placed in, how you’re using them and the relationship to the speakers themselves, you’ll find that the process of making the best decision with your money is a lot more straightforward than you thought.
Consider Your Usage
The number one factor that you’ll want to concern yourself with when you set out to buy a new set of speakers involves how you’ll actually be planning to use them. The type of content that you’re planning on playing can and absolutely should affect your decision, as listening to a great new album and putting your all-time favorite movie on your Blu-ray player are obviously two very different experiences.
If you’re a music buff and just want to make sure that your favorite tunes sound great all day, every day, your primary focus would be on a set of quality “Left” and “Right” stereo speakers (and a receiver to match). If you’re more focused on film and television, you would want to open things up to a 5.1, 7.1 or higher home theater system. Equipment focused solely on music doesn’t tend to concern itself with creating a surround sound environment, whereas this is absolutely something you would want to put a priority on if you’re trying to put together a multi-faceted home entertainment room in your home.
Room Size Matters More Than You Think: Environmental Considerations
Room size is very important in terms of which speakers to buy, as obviously even the highest quality set of “small speakers” in the world isn’t going to be able to provide coverage to an environment as large as an arena. For a small room, you can absolutely get away with a set of “small” speakers. For a large room (usually defined as a room where you’ll be sitting more than 12 or so feet away from the speakers while listening), you’ll need something in the “floor speaker” variety. The same is true of home theater systems – a 5.1 system will likely meet the needs of a small room fine, but a larger room would probably require a 7.1 or larger system.
You’ll also want to think about the larger environment itself. Keep in mind that rooms with a lot of hard surfaces (like wall-to-wall hardwood floors, for example) will reverberate sound in a way that might make the audio sound distorted. Likewise, if there is a lot of space between the speakers and the area that you’ll be sitting in while you enjoy your content, it could make the sound appear more diffused than you’d like.
For the best results, consider the environment when picking out a new set of speakers and then consider it again once you start setting everything up. You may have to rearrange some furniture (to take care of the space issue), throw down a rug or two (to take care of the reverberation issue) and reconsider exactly where your speakers will be placed to complement the environment instead of putting your technology and your room at odds with one another. But the end result will be more than worth it.
Once you’ve taken care of the above considerations, you’ve narrowed down your search considerably. Now, you can use the technical specifications of the options that are left to find the right equipment for the job.
Always concern yourself with impedance, which is measured in ohms. When hooking your speakers up to a receiver, you should always make sure that the impedance of each piece of equipment matches the other. If you buy speakers that have an 8 ohm rating, make sure that your receiver is capable of handling that type of load. If you ignore this idea, you could run into a situation where you need to add an amp into the equation to get your speakers to the volume you want (or worse – you blow them out).
You’ll also want to focus on sensitivity, which is essentially how loud a speaker will play per watt. To keep things simple, remember that speakers with a low sensitivity will require more power to get them to loud volumes. For the best results, try to aim for speakers with a sensitivity rating of around 80 dB per watt. Unless of course you want to rattle the walls and wake the neighbors, in which case a sensitivity rating of 100 dB per watt will suit you well.
At Fluance we offer a full range of audio products that can suit every need. For the movie lover you can opt for the immersiveness of the Signature Series Surround System. If you are focusing on listening to music the Signature Series Bookshelf Speakers or Signature Series Tower Speakers make for a great choice to experience great stereo sound. For those that don’t have the space for larger or multiple speakers in their living space we developed the AB40 Soundbase to offer that same cinematic experience but in a compact form factor that maximizes sound reproduction. At the end of the day you have lots of options so consider your usage and environment for what is the best fit for you.