FAQ About Home Speakers
The right home speakers can profoundly enhance your listening experience. There's an emotional resonance that comes from hearing the subtle nuances in your favourite artist's music, or feeling immersed cinematic surround sound. To help you achieve your own acoustic ecstasy, let's consider answer a few common questions about home speakers.
What are the different types of speakers available?
There are several types and combinations of speakers. What works best for you will depend on your space and listening habits.
Also called floor speakers, tower speakers are a popular choice for stereo setups. Their size means they can house large and multiple drivers to deliver powerful sound with good bass response. They're also an excellent choice for front speakers in a surround sound setup.
Easy to position on shelves or stands, or mount on walls, bookshelf speakers are ideal for use as rear surround speakers or side speakers, and are a more compact alternative to tower speakers.
A critical component in a true surround sound setup, the centre speaker handles virtually all of the dialogue and most of the mid-range frequency sound effects in multi-channel audio reproduction.
A subwoofer, the ".1" in a multi-channel audio setup, handles low-frequency reproduction, a must-have if you want to feel the impact from those intense action scenes.
Speaker systems come packaged with all the speakers you need to reproduce the surround sound experience -- at least 6, including a subwoofer. They may include tower and/or bookshelf speakers. You can also get systems with additional speakers and multiple subwoofers.
Compact, but with larger, more powerful drivers than those found in flat-screen televisions, sound bars are a great way to enjoy rich, simulated surround sound without the need for a receiver and multiple speakers.
Portable wireless/Bluetooth speakers
Wireless speakers often produce excellent-quality sound despite their compact size. They eliminate the need for cables by connecting to your Bluetooth-, Wi-Fi-, or AirPlay-enabled device.
What are the main factors to consider when selecting speakers?
First, establish the type and number of speakers you want. Whether it's a pair of tower speakers for enjoying music, a sound bar for better TV and movie audio, or a full 6+ speaker surround sound solution, determine your budget and aim for quality speakers that are ideally from the same brand. Consider reputation, read reviews, or visit a Best Buy location to listen first-hand.
What specs and features should I look for in quality home speakers?
Power handling and sensitivity
Speaker wattage should be appropriate for your space and consistent with what your receiver or amplifier can provide. Sensitivity, in decibels per watt, indicates how much power is required to achieve volume. A high number like 100dB means the speaker requires less power to produce louder sound than a low sensitivity like 88dB.
Impedance, measured in ohms, is electrical resistance. 8 ohm speakers are standard, while low-impedance speakers like 6 ohm or 4 ohm require more power to achieve volume, so make sure you have a receiver or amplifier that's compatible and matched in ratings.
Frequency response is the range of frequencies a speaker can reproduce. For the most dynamic sound reproduction, look for a speaker or combination of speakers that can cover the widest range, keeping in mind 20Hz - 20KHz is the range of human hearing.
Want more info on home speakers? Check out some of our resources:
A Beginner’s Guide to Home Theatre Audio
I already have speakers, do I need a sound bar?