speakers and subtitles

I’ve been reading off and on about speaker setups and TVs for a few years now. When living alone I had a 5.1 speaker setup = 5 (2 front, 2 back, 1 centre front) + 1 subwoofer, on a basic Yamaha all in one system. The number before the decimal point represents speaker count and the number after the decimal point refers to subwoofer(s). The system is set up in the games room of my current place and is effectively a 3.0 though could be 3.1 except I don’t usually (remember to) turn on the subwoofer and have not set up the back speakers. The centre speaker is the one I’m most interested in as that’s where the dialogue comes through while the rear speakers supply surround sound and are particularly effective for noises/explosions in movies and games. The downside of rear speakers is a combo of placement and wiring. The latter can be alleviated through wireless speakers but placement is tricky in both the games room and lounge room.

In the lounge room where we watch DVDs/TV/etc, the sound has been less adequate. The basic TV sound wasn’t sufficient and we’ve supplemented it with one of the better midrange sound bases that I managed to grab during a JB sale. It’s been ok but still too loud for noisy explosion type stuff and not sufficiently distinct for dialogue. On both systems I rely heavily on subtitles as it’s not an ideal environment to turn the sound up too loud. To be honest, loudness can make dialogue sound somewhat muddy so that doesn’t really help. As a deaf bugger, decent audio on dialogue is paramount. I recall years ago, going along with a friend, to a specialist hifi place, and heard an amazing centre speaker…except it was about $2,500. Ouch! However I think I’m getting to the point where I need to invest in something serious, though less keen on that level of seriousness.

Given the open plan layout of loungeroom/kitchen/dining, there is no place to put rear speakers. To be fair, given the nature of my hearing aids and the way they dampen sound behind me, it’s unlikely that I’d hear rear speakers anyway. In fact, I recall from my “living alone” days that I never actually heard the rear speakers and stuck my ear against them occasionally to check that they were emitting sound :-) In other words, I’ve discovered from the merged house arrangement with my partner and kids that actually an arrangement of centre + front speakers + subwoofer – rear speakers aka 3.1 would probably suit me rather well.

So I’m now at the point where I’m investigating a decent setup for the loungeroom. I will need a new receiver/amp to control and power the setup; ideally the receiver will support wifi/bluetooth and whatever else is current. I’d like to control it from my tablet/phone. In terms of speakers, the key item is the centre speaker that manages dialogue the best, rendering it clear and distinct. While most folk would prioritise the side (floor standing speakers) over the centre, given my dodgy hearing I need to prioritise the centre. I figure that means I can spend a little more on the centre and a little less on the sides. I’ve been doing a chunk of research into receivers and speakers but figure I’m probably at the point where I need to go somewhere and try stuff out lest I fall into an endless cycle of research…a rather familiar trap it must be said.

2 thoughts on “speakers and subtitles

  1. The other factor in the equation is the actual audio itself. So many movies (& TV shows) have the dialogue so mixed in with background noises, or the director is getting the actors to mumble, it’s impossible to watch the movie without subtitles.

  2. Totally agree there. Nor does volume equal clarity as movies are really loud and I struggle sometimes to make out what was said. Then there’s accents and I reckon most folk need subtitles for strong scottish and irish speakers :)

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