Consumer Electronics & Appliance News, Reviews & Information.

Jul 12

Countdown to the games: Audio Prep

Ready for the Opening Ceremony

The Opening Ceremony will begin at (as close as I can figure out from the morass of information out there, as well as being in MST) at 6:30 PM, July 27.

I plan to be glued to my seat. And my audio system.

If you’re just running sound from your top-rated flat screen TV, you’re missing out on one of the best parts of the summer games. As the crowd reaches a crescendo at the end of a race, or the silence breaks as the winning tennis shot is made, or the echoes reverberating through the swimming center, sound is the emotion of sport. You want to make sure the sound on your flat screen TV is up to snuff.

I haven’t missed an opening ceremony in about 30 years, and don’t plan to start now. And after that, I have 5,535 hours of coverage to schedule in 17 days, from badminton to equestrian right through the classics of gymnastics, swimming and track and field. Badminton WILL be watched! (And badminton at the summer games is insane. Not like your backyard in any way, shape or form. Especially doubles)

But when you set up in your easy chair, with the proper number of snacks placed in a perfect circumference about the area, make sure you’re sound system is ready as well.

The Soundbar

Boston Acoustics TVee Model 25

Polk Surroundbar3000 Instant Home Theater

A quick, sleek up-grade to a top-rated flat screen TV sound is a sound bar. As I demo’d sound bars for movies and sports, I came to the conclusion that a sub-woofer is critical. Without it, you’re getting a louder but still thin TV sound. But when you add the sub-woofer, even a small one, there’s a huge difference in the dynamics of the sound. Things that need a little more “presence”, like the roar of a crowd (or the crash of the sea in a movie- you won’t just use this for viewing the summer games) are more dynamic, and makes your viewing experience fuller. These two sound bars demo’d very well for me.

Those two choices might surprise some readers of my blog, because you know I’m not afraid to recommend some top dollar items. Why no big dollar recommendation- don’t more expensive sound bars sound better? And the answer is yes, they do. We carry the best  sound bar systems right up to $1999, and as with all speakers, the sound gets better as the price goes up. So why am I not recommending those top dollar sound bars.

Flagrant Opinion

Well, I thank me for asking that question. I take my sound seriously (as my wife will attest) and if I’m going to spend more than $600 on my best sound bar, I’m going full surround. A suite of speakers, even on the less relatively-expensive side, gives a more complete auditory experience than a,sound bar, even with a sub-woofer. At least that’s my opinion. A well tuned, less expensive surround sound will sound fuller than an expensive sound bar.

Yamaha YSP4100BL 120W, 42-speaker black digital sound projector

But of course I’m willing, for the sake of the sound, to have sizable speakers in the living room, and wires running under the edges of the rug. A sound bar provides a very un-cluttered look, complementing your top-rated flat screen TV, and is perfect when the sound needs to be up-graded but the room aesthetic can’t be changed. And if you want to truly up-grade your sound bar experience, I recommend a Yamaha YSP4100BL . The calibration mic adjusts the 42 speakers to create 7-channel surround sound from a single bar and Sub-woofer. Truly a well designed audio piece that won’t interrupt the flow of your room.

Surround Sound

As I said before, I am a big fan of full surround sound, and have surround in the house and the man-cave. I put my systems together from scratch, mixing and matching different speakers and receivers to get the best sound. And I follow the advice I got long ago, which says put your money into the center speaker. That’s the speaker that does the most work in your surround system. The sub-woofer provides ambience and backbone, but the center channel has to be clear and true. Save a little on your satellites to better your center channel. And for me, I put good money into the two front speakers as well, because I’m old fashioned, and so’s my music. If stereo was good enough for Jimi, Jerry and EC, (great Youtube links) then it’s good enough for me, so I have two great front speakers for true stereo sound.

Flagrant Sales Pitch

Flagrant sales pitch alert. is having a huge sale on Mirage and Energy speakers, and Infinity Subwoofers. You can throw together a great speaker system for a serious surround sound system and save about 70% while doing it. Could be worth looking into.

Make surround simple

Denon DHT-1312BA

But if you want to keep it simple, there are a lot of pre-designed home theater systems that will really put the GAAAA into the summer games. An excellent system for the price is made by Denon. With a Denon receiver and Boston Acoustic Speakers, it sounds very good straight out of the box. It comes with a calibration mic to make sure you get the perfect balance of sound, and is very easy to set up, with all wires included. Quick and easy, just in time for the Olympics.

Definitive Technology ProCinema 600 Black

But if you’re also a gamer, or a movie buff as well as a sports fan, you may want to take a look at some Home Theater Speaker packages. We carry surround speaker packages from Polk, Energy, Definitive and others as well. Just add the receiver, and you are on your way to a well balanced system.

What do we mean by well balanced? No one speaker drowns out the others due to size, or is under powered by the receiver. Some speakers need more power (easy example- larger speakers need more power) so if the system is unbalanced, your sound will be unbalanced as well. So if you are putting your own system together, keep your power needs in sight at all times, as well as relative output of each speaker. The home theater speaker systems are designed to work together, so you get a system that works great from the get go. Just pick a receiver you like, and get your system going.

And then you’ll be ready for the cavalcade of London, from the basketball and volleyball right through diving and fencing. Fencing WILL be watched! (And Fencing at the summer games is insane. Not like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Carribean. I mean NOT at all . . .)

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