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Best Guide to Surround Sound Basics

Best Guide to Surround Sound Basics

I’m sure you probably remember the first time you experienced surround sound at the movie theater. In my case, I walked into a local screening of Jurassic Park, unaware of my local cinemas’ latest upgrade. I watched in awe as the t-rex skulked onto the screen, brontosaurus thundered, and velociraptors screeched and whirred around me.

I left with a massive smile on my face and immediately started trying to replicate the audio experience at home.

Early on, most people were stuck using kits from Bose, JBL, or a few other companies, but we’ve come a long way since then! Now it’s not only possible to match the experience of your local movie house; in many cases, you can even do better! (All while skipping the crazy popcorn prices in the process!)

Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park
Modern Home Theater
Modern Home Theater

If you’re starting to consider a custom home theater or surround sound system for your home, here are a few fundamentals to help you with your research: 


What exactly is surround sound?

The goal of a surround sound system is to take the action unfolding on your screen and place you sonically right in the middle of it. So, for example, when a plane flies overhead in a film, the sound would come diving from over your head.

Surround sound systems consist of an audio receiver and two functional types of speakers: satellite (full-range) and Subwoofers. The full-range speakers reproduce the majority of the audio signal and are carefully positioned all around the room to help simulate a sound’s location.

The Subwoofers are tasked with one hundred percent of the bass and low-frequency information and providing the roar when explosions take the stage.

Full Range & Subwoofers
Full Range & Subwoofers

Do your best to be “matchy-matchy”:

All of your satellite speakers should be identical in an ideal world, but that’s not always practical.

At the very least, make sure to use speakers from the same manufacturer and product line to ensure they have similar timbre and voicing; this will prevent a noticeable change in tone as elements move from one speaker to the next.


Surround formats are specified using a number system.

Example of Common Surround Sound Formats & Speaker Layouts
Best Guide to Surround Sound Basics 7

Five-Point What?

The way system configurations are written can often be confusing. Here’s the secret formula:

The first number listed is the number of satellite speakers; the second number after the decimal is the number of subwoofers. So a “5.1 System” would have five satellite speakers and one subwoofer, and a “7.1 System” would consist of seven satellite speakers and one subwoofer.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen the addition of a third number. The final number represents the number of height speakers for Dolby Atmos. If you’re lucky enough to build a “9.2.4 System”, not only will you have a mind-blowing theater, but it would include nine satellites, two subwoofers, and four height speakers (oh my!)


What is Dolby Atmos? 

Dolby Atmos
Best Guide to Surround Sound Basics 8

Dolby Atmos is the latest and greatest surround sound tech from Dolby Engineering. It incorporates height speakers (usually installed in the ceiling) to make sound come from above and additionally employs object-based audio processing.

Without getting too nerdy, Atmos takes a movie’s soundtrack and customizes it precisely to the number of speakers you have available. You let the receiver or processor know what it has to work with; the rest is Dolby magic!


Are you looking for a custom home theater in Franklin, Nashville, or Middle TN?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out! We’d love to put our expertise to work for you!


Before You Build - Home Technology Guide
Best Guide to Surround Sound Basics 9

Do you want to learn more about what’s possible with technology in your new home? Then, check out our “Before You Build” Guide to Home Technology!

Why Elan Home Automation Is better than DIY

Why Elan Home Automation Is better than DIY

THE DREAM OF HOME AUTOMATION

Over a number of years, lured by the magic of “DIY” technology, I tried nearly every DIY system: SmartThings, Wink, Hubitat, OpenHAB, Home Assistant, Home Kit and probably a few I’m forgetting. I would spend days configuring lights, TVs, and speakers, and just when it came time to show things off for my family, something would break.

I would fix it, and then it would break again. We’d “upgrade” to another system, rinse and repeat.

This led me to one very simple realization: Home automation that’s not reliable is just not worth having.


The Importance of Local Control.

Another thing that’s not quite right is the delay you experience with most DIY systems. You flip a switch, wait five or six seconds, and THEN your light finally turns on.

In an effort to keep costs down, commands are sent out to the internet for processing, which creates a delay and unbeknownst to you keeps most of your system from functioning if you ever lose your internet connection.

No Bueno.


DIY Means a Seperate App for Everything

Finally, that brings me to the greatest DIY rub of all, nothing is centralized. Yes, you CAN control everything with apps, glorious apps, but the problem is you end up with fifteen of them, none of which bother to talk to each other.

If you lose your cell phone, good luck controlling anything.


If you’re looking for a better way

Elan Home Automation Interface
Elan Smart Home Interface

At Audilux, we proudly design home automation systems with Elan. Here’s how things are radically different than DIY.

You’re not alone. Since Elan is only available through certified dealers, you’ll sit down with a pro and explain what you want to accomplish. We’ll build a solution that does everything you want and nothing that you don’t. Would you prefer not to give the kids access to security cameras? We can do that.

Do you want the lights to come on when you pull in the driveway way? Not a problem.

Everything you want is tied into one interface and ONE app, and almost everything is processed locally without ever leaving your home.

This is inherently more secure, and dramatically faster.


But there have to be cons….

Of course, there are always cons, but there are only two real negatives to a well-configured system from an integrator.

1. Cost – This may seem obvious, but if you place any value at all on your own time, this objection quickly starts to disappear.

2. You’ll need to call your dealer to make some changes, but after all, do you really want to have to mess with it anyway?

So how much does a custom system like Elan cost?

An entry-level Elan system to control something like a home theater starts at about $1500. Whole-home systems range in price depending on complexity and exactly what you want to control.

What Parts of my home can I control with Elan?

Lighting, Audio, Video, Security, Irrigation, Shades, Door Locks, Gates, and your Climate Control to name a few. With some careful planning to select the right products, almost anything can become a part of the system. One app to rule them all.

If you’re interested in taking the first step to finding out what a real smart home is like or looking for a certified Elan Dealer in Nashville, let’s talk. We’d love to hear about your project!

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