How do I test home theater speakers?

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How do I test home theater speakers?
« on: 28 Apr 2003, 03:22 am »
I know how to test the speakers in my main audio system, but for my home theater system I'm not sure what to do.  I'm trying out different speakers there now and realized recently that all I do is listen to music through them, but that's NOT what I actually use them for!  Any advice on how to proceed will be appreciated!




How do I test home theater speakers?
« Reply #1 on: 28 Apr 2003, 03:43 am »

Just watch something you're very familiar with that sounds good.

I presonally use chapter 29 of The Matrix, chapter 5 of Armageddon (Criterion Collection version, not the standard version) , and chapter 21 & 22 of The Fifth Element (Superbit version in Dolby Digital as I don't like the DTS mix on this disc). I also occasionally use chapter 1 of Fifth Element as well.

Those are 3 movies I'm very familiar with. And all of them have what I consider very good audio demos in those particular scenes.

Maybe someone else has some other more scientific approach than I do. But that's what I do as I find it easier to listen to a movie after you're very familiar with it. And I do happen to like those 3 movies quite a bit, and they all sound great as well.


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How do I test home theater speakers?
« Reply #2 on: 29 Apr 2003, 05:52 am »
Another good disc to use is Terminator II Special Edition.  Listen for how real certain sound effects sound.


How do I test home theater speakers?
« Reply #3 on: 29 Apr 2003, 10:28 am »
I think the above two posts are right on.  Listen to things you are framiliar with and listen to certian sounds to see if they sound real.

I think it is also important to pay attention to the center channel.  Make sure you like how it does voice and how well it blends with the mains.  Three of the same speakers on the same plain is best.


How do I test home theater speakers?
« Reply #4 on: 30 Apr 2003, 02:51 am »
MaxCast brings up a good point about center channels I forgot to mention.

The center channel is THE most important speaker in a multi-channel movie setup. Pick a quality center that sounds as life like to you as possible. Then get mains to match the center, or identical speakers if possible.

IMO the importance of speakers falls into this order, first being most important, last being least. Center, Sub (or better yet subs), Mains, Rears, Rear Centers.

I don't feel that any sub that makes a loud boom is fine for HT use. I read too often about a sub that someone thinks isn't ok for music because it's flabby or muddy or boomy etc., but they feel is suited fine for HT. Why do people feel that muddy subs are fine for HT as long as it's loud?

When I was testing subs, I was using the Mini-Gun scenes from Predator, T2, & The Matrix. Had no problem picking out the subs that didn't work for me because they weren't tight enough.

Rob Babcock

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How do I test home theater speakers?
« Reply #5 on: 30 Apr 2003, 07:30 pm »
I start testing by calibrating the system ( I use the Avia test DVD).  You first match the channel levels and tweak the sub level with an SPL meter.

Even though you may use them just for HT, music is excellent for testing and very revealing of flaws.  There are lots of MC concert DVDs, and of course DVD-A/SACD works well.

I like to hammer the system with a variety of discs to ascertain performance.  The scene in LotR where the Ring Wraiths pursue Frodo has some of the most deepest, more powerful bass ever put on disc.

The Red Violin is a very good movie, IMO, and has a superbly recorded soundtrack, mostly performed by violinist Joshua Bell.  This is a great test to see how well your speakers resolve spacial cues and how much detail they can portray.

I also find The Thirteenth Warrior to be a good test disc; it's got a good soundtrack with a lot of contrasts between bombastic fight scenes and quiet Nordic nature scenes.

For pure panning of effects and mayhem, it's tough to beat Air Force One and Spawn.