Better home audio

One of the best ways to increase your enjoyment of music and other audio recordings is to install a whole-house audio system, specially adapted for your living area. With the cost of whole-house systems steadily decreasing, they are now within reach for all budgets and all types of homes. Here are some installation tips to get you started.

Choosing the right components

The first step in setting up your system is to acquire the right components, and this primarily involves four major items: your music source, a digital-to-analog converter (DAC), an amplifier, and the speakers. Source refers to where the music originates from, e.g. a CD, Pandora, iTunes, etc., and the signal from this source will need to be converted for listening from digital format to analog by the DAC.

Your amplifier choices will center on either a digital or analog version, and while there are strong advocates for both types, most music lovers prefer a good digital amplifier. Speakers are best selected by listening to them in the store before purchase, but if that is not possible, look for speakers having a good sensitivity rating, because that is a good indicator of their ability to convert energy into sound.

Installing the speakers

The main objective with installing the speakers is to position them so that sound is evenly dispersed throughout the listening area, and this means placing them far enough apart that total coverage is achieved. They should also be placed at ear level or higher, so that sound projection easily reaches the listener. If speakers are mounted on the ceiling, they should be installed at least two feet away from adjacent walls.

Fine tuning the system

There are two calibration steps which can be taken to make your multi-room audio system sound its absolute best. The first involves the use of a Sound Pressure Level meter, as compared to various calibration test tones, and the exercise is conducted to maximize speaker positioning relative to the ideal listening point in a given room. The second calibration makes use of the equalizer settings to adjust the frequency response of the system, primarily for the bass and treble bands.