There is no component in a high end audio or home theater system that effects the sound more than loudspeakers. In the United Kingdom, there are brands like Linn who suggest that your system can only sound as good as your source component which may be true however speakers shape your sound more than anything else.
The Regional Sound of Audiophile Loudspeakers
The sound of speakers vary much like the way wines taste differently when they come from different parts of the world. British speakers tend to have a dry controlled sound with less bass. East coast speakers from the United States tend to have more bass but do have some influence from overseas. West coast speakers stereotypically have a more free-wheeling sound with more bass, more dynamics and are a bit more flashy. Canadian speakers are harder to classify geographically however there are many excellent speakers from near Toronto mainly influenced by design resources provided by the Canadian government.
Types of Loudspeakers
There are many different types of loudspeakers that can be used for all sorts of audiophile and home theater applications. Some of the most popular types of loudspeakers include:
Bookshelf speakers don't have to be installed on bookshelves but moredescribe the category of small speakers.Sometimes bookshelf speakers sit on stands. These smaller speakers can image fantastically but often are paired with subwoofers to provide a more full range sound.
Floorstanding speakers describe larger speakers that provide a more full range sound. Its not that people don't use subwoofers with floorstanding speakers but these larger transducers provide more output, more bass and often more dynamics than smaller bookshelf speakers.
Subwoofers, also known as LFE, are speakers specifically designed to provide low bass. Rarely does a subwoofer go above 120 Hertz and often subwoofers dip below the magic 20 Hertz threshold of human hearing. Below the 20 Hertz level provides power that listeners can hear. Be it a pipe organ or a Roland 808 synth – low bass adds excitement and power to any audio or home theater systems. In home theater configurations, there is often a subwoofer or LFE channel on DVD or Blu-ray soundtracks that specifically send unique signal to the subwoofer. Movie and music sound engineers can specifically send music to the LFE channel to create a more fantastic, more controlled and more over-the-top bass experience for movie and music listeners.
The idea of big floorstanding speakers might be the image that most people think of audiophile music systems however in the real world in-wall speakers often fit the challenge better than any other form factor of loudspeakers. As you might imagine, in-wall speakers are designed to mount flush to your drywall with much of the speaker enclosed inside of the wall itself. These speakers can be equated in terms of performance to bookshelf speakers but also can be paired with either traditional subwoofers or even in-wall subwoofers. Don't count this category of speakers out because they are design-centric. In-wall speakers can rock.
In-wall speakers go in the wall but on-wall speakers mount outside the 2x4s. These speakers are often better at replicating the performance of a traditional floorstanding speakers yet often need a subwoofer to deliver the whole frequency range to the listener. On-wall speakers sometimes match the aesthetic of a flat HDTV but can sometimes be larger.
Soundbars are the newest form factor of loudspeaker. These small speakers are designed to augment or replace the sound of a flat HDTV's internal speakers and often are designed to match the width of an HDTV. Soundbars are affordable and when paired with a subwoofer can make a pretty good sound. Can they compete with traditional speaker? Not really but their look, cost and size make them a compelling choice for many consumers who want an upgrade to their TV's speakers.
How To Get To Speaker Heaven?
The road to perfect audio is a long one but it starts with choosing the right speakers. Tuning your speakers to your room also help which can include room acoustics, EQ from your AV receiver or preamp and more. Getting your subwoofer setup correctly and allowing it to handle the deep bass can often allow your speakers to do their job better and with less stress. Hopefully, these tips have been useful to you and your goal of reaching speaker heaven with your audiophile or home theater system.