Home Audio Speakers Buying Guide - Best Buy Canada

December 06, 2012

Home Audio Speakers Buying Guide

When it comes to your home theatre system, you need more than a remote control to turn up the volume. When you find the right speakers for your home, you’ll experience high-def, true-to-life sound that will change the way you experience entertainment.

While your high-definition television excels when it comes to stunning, realistic images, most HDTVs fall short when it comes to audio speakers. Home audio speakers from brands like Panasonic, LG, Klipsch and more let you enjoy HD sound along with your HD picture for a well-rounded home entertainment experience whether you are gaming or watching your favourite movie.

The Ultimate Surround Sound Experience

If you want a sensational home theatre system, surround sound is your best bet. Ideal for the movie buff or hardcore gamer, a surround sound system separates audio into different channels for more immersive, realistic sound. 5.1 surround sound indicates 5 audio channels plus a subwoofer, while 7.1 surround sound indicates 7 audio channels plus a subwoofer. With this set up you will hear immersive directional sound, crystal-clear dialogue, and thunderous explosions that will significantly enhance your HD entertainment.

Front Speakers are designed to be placed on both sides of your television, facing the listener at an angle. They provide a wide sound stage from left to right. For superior sound, choose a pair of floor-standing speakers.

Centre-Channel Speakers reproduce the sound that seems to come directly from your television, including dialogue audio. Choose the largest possible speaker to match the size of your front speakers. It should be placed directly in front of the television and pointed straight at the listener.

Surround Speakers are designed to be placed on the right and left of the listener. This type of speaker can include floor standing speakers, bookshelf speakers, or satellite speakers that fit on an end table. They provide ambient noise, special effects, and directional sound.

A Subwoofer is a must-have for deep, booming bass and explosive sound effects. It should be placed in the middle of the front wall.

Rear Surround Speakers are not necessary for 5.1 surround sound, but they enhance the listening experience for 6.1 or 7.1 surround sound. They are designed to be placed directly behind the audience.

Sound Bars: Simple Design with a Big Impact

Sound Bar

If you don’t have the space or desire for a complete surround sound system, a sound bar is a space-saving, cost-effective way to upgrade the TV speakers on your HDTV. A sound bar is a slim, elongated unit that houses several speakers, and it is incredibly easy to connect to your television. Simply connect using a coax cable and audio cables or via HDMI, follow the on-screen instructions, and you’re ready to go.

Small and discreet, a sound bar can be placed above or below your television display to deliver expanded stereo sound or virtual surround sound. A sound bar with virtual surround sound is designed to mimic the effect of a surround sound system. Limited by its small size, it may not provide the same amount of depth and detail, but it does widen the sound field for a more immersive experience.

Other Home Audio Options

Pioneer Wireless Speaker

If you want improved flexibility and convenience, Wireless Speakers are a useful addition to your home entertainment system. A wireless audio speaker uses technology such as Bluetooth, AirPlay, or 2.4GHz wireless technology to receive the audio signal, eliminating the need for messy, annoying wires.

Outdoor Speakers are a great addition to your deck or back yard. Perfect for parties, they have a streamlined, inconspicuous design that fits seamlessly onto the outside of your home, and they feature weather-proof construction that can stand up to the elements.

In-Wall/In-Ceiling Speakers are a good option for smaller spaces because they are designed to fit right against your wall or ceiling without the need for a large cabinet or speaker stand. Sleek and discreet, these speakers perfectly complement a flat-screen television and a more minimalist design aesthetic.

Features to Consider

Speakers come with a long list of specifications that indicate their quality, performance, and functionality. When you compare different speakers, these are the most important features you should look for.

Sensitivity: When it comes to speakers, the higher the sensitivity the better. Sensitivity is measured in decibels per watt, and it refers to how loud a speaker can deliver audio per watt of power. In other words, the higher the sensitivity, the less power it needs to achieve a high volume. Low sensitivity is around 80-88 decibels per watt, while high sensitivity is 89-100 decibels per watt.

Power Handling: Power handling is measured in watts and indicates the maximum sound signal that a speaker can receive. More power handling means your speaker can reproduce a stronger signal for louder, clearer audio.

Frequency Response: Measured in Hertz, the frequency response refers to the frequency range that a speaker can reproduce. The human ear can detect a maximum frequency range of 20Hz to 20KHz, so look for a speaker that can reproduce as much of that range as possible.

Must-have Accessories

Speaker stands and mounts: Small speakers require a stand or mount so they can be placed at ear level for the best possible listening experience. You can find speaker stands and mounts in a variety of styles to suit any kind of home décor.

Speaker cables: Speaker cables transmit the signal from your receiver to your speaker, and higher quality cables minimize interference to maintain the integrity of the signal. Speaker cable gauge ranges from 12-gauge to 16-gauge, where a lower number indicates a thicker wire. Thicker wires have better conductivity for a higher-quality signal.

Make the most of your space

To enjoy the best possible audio from your home theatre system, you should match your speakers to the room they will occupy. The size of your space and even the furniture and flooring can affect how your speakers perform.

Try to minimize sound reflection, which can occur in a room full of flat surfaces such as hard tile and exposed windows. Consider adding more soft surfaces to your home wherever possible, including carpets and drapes.

You should also place adequate space between the speakers and the wall and the listener and the speakers. For best results, match the size of your speakers to the size of your room. Small speakers could get lost in a big space, while large speakers will create a muddy, distorted sound in a small room.

Best Buy

Take the Next Step

You’ve seen how home audio speakers can greatly enhance your entertainment system. Whether you want a complete 7.1 surround sound set up, a sleek sound bar or a convenient wireless speaker, Best Buy’s extensive collection of home audio speakers from brands like Sony, Pioneer, Polk and more has what you need to fit your home and budget.

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