For a common man, buying speakers mean walking into an electronics shop and after hearing a demonstration, walk out of the store with a pair that is reasonably cheap and looks okay. Few people believe speakers are an important investment and that speaker purchases should go with a wholesome planning. The key to a sound investment in speakers and years of blissful music is to equip oneself with knowledge and spend some time on a little research through audio magazines and internet before the final deal is made. There are many terminologies one might come across during the research – satellite speakers, surround sound, monitor, etc. and it pays to empower oneself with full knowledge because buying speakers after a thorough research can be extremely gratifying. A few things need to be considered here.
How will the speakers be used?
Big-sized speakers don’t always necessarily mean great audio quality. Ask yourself the question why you need the speakers for. How will you use them?
For someone whose primary aim is to listen to music and maybe sometimes connects the speakers to the TV for movies, a pair of good speakers will suffice instead of the surround sound type.
For an avid listener who goes into the finer nuances of the music and who occasionally wants to have a blast all on his own, a good pair of floor-standing speakers or monitors might serve the purpose. And here, the pair need not be large-sized and even a small pair of the floor-standing type with good drivers can give out the full range of music and highly pleasing sounds. The small size means, the footprint is also small and the speakers could be placed in any part of the room.
A pair of in-wall or bookshelf speakers will be good enough for someone who listens to music almost passively. These people usually do not sit down to listen to music for long periods but are happy with music emanating from anywhere in the room. A small subwoofer could be added for that extra bass and low-end sounds.
If you want to jazz up the sound of your TV for movie watching or simply watching TV channels, a good soundbar would help. A soundbar could be enhanced with a subwoofer for that extra boost for listening to music too. But then, a movie buff might be interested in surround sound and a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system would be handy for an amazing sonic experience.
The room acoustics
The importance of the room acoustics in which the speakers would be placed is something one cannot ignore. Much depends on the sonic quality of the room so that we get to listen to high fidelity sound from our stereo system.
The first and foremost thing to consider is the size of the room in which audio system will operate. Remember we do not want a room to be overly alive nor do we want a room that is cramped and stuffy. Besides the size, we may like to consider how open is the room. All these will affect the quality of the sound produced. A small, enclosed room is not exactly meant for large size speakers as they can result in an overloaded sound and can make a listener feel uncomfortable with the big bass sounds. On the other hand, a large, open room is not ideal for small speakers because they cannot load the room with the minimum optimum sound to make music lively.
Speakers in cabinet
Some people fit the speakers in a furniture cabinet according to the room décor. Care should be taken while doing this because, in a relatively enclosed cabinet, a large speaker system with ports can produce unpleasant sounds with a loaded bass. This is because of the resonance and so if at all a cabinet is to be used, make sure that the speakers do not produce extra bass.
Speakers on the floor
When floor-standing speakers are placed, let it be such that the speakers are equidistant from the walls on the sides. The balance is needed so that bass sounds do not get cancelled out because of the nearness of the wall on one of the sides. In such an arrangement, it is better to go for a smaller bookshelf type speakers along with a subwoofer for a great sound.
Perhaps the most important aspect to be considered, a faulty placement of speakers will defeat the very purpose of having good speakers with the capability of producing amazing sounds. Whether, it’s a pair of floor-standing speakers, 5.1 surround type or a full-throated 7.1 system, the placement of the speakers is very important if we are looking at great sounds from the system.
An oft-repeated technical term we find about speakers is “impedance”. Impedance can be seen as the resistance of the speakers against electrical signals (audio) and is measured in ohms. A popular analogy to understand impedance is that of water. Think of water flowing in a pipe. The water is the audio signal and the pipe is the speaker. Lower impedance (lower resistance) means a bigger pipe and more water could flow through it without any problem. The problem will be there when trying to pump big volume of water in a small pipe. Hence, a speaker with lower impedance could handle big amplification and a low power amplifier will have problems in connecting to a low impedance speaker system. A low impedance speaker will need some huge amplification to get the desired sound at great volumes. Similarly, a high power amplifier will put both the speaker and the amplifier at risk when connected to a high impedance speaker. The power-impedance combination is something that can confuse many people. Most home audio speakers are manufactured in the 6-8 ohms range and a hi-fi speaker will probably have a 4 ohms impedance. Just make sure the speakers are correctly paired with amplifiers that can pump up the music to the optimum without unnecessary overload.