Choosing a Good Sound System
According to a famous German philosopher, "without music, life would be a mistake". To say it is true will be too exaggerating. For most of us, it certainly sounds more reasonable to say that without sound, life will feel imperfect. But sound alone is often not enough to make it matters and thus come sound reinforcement system, or better known as sound system. As suggested by the name, a sound system is basically an array of sound equipment to help enhance the quality of sound by processing it further through amplification. It can be very simple but can also very complex, depending on the applications and of course the budget allocated. You may know exactly what kind of sound you expect to hear but choosing a good sound system is hardly an easy job.
Choosing a good sound system will require pretty much of work if you does not even know where to start. To the very least, you need to know first how do you going to use the sound system. A conference room and live theater, for instance, will have different requirements and specifications for its sound system. Then, you also need to determine about what kind of sound system you wish to get such as stereo system or surround system. More or less, it will lead to you to different type of speakers or components. Matching a sound system with the setup or room is also important because you do not want to make the wrong choice. Not only it may ruin the overall aesthetic of the room, it will also affect the budget you need to spend and the future scalability. Say you want to mount the sound system on the wall or ceiling, you will need a pretty large room or space and it usually costs higher too. As for the scalability aspect, you can actually use the same sound system for various kind of configurations with other audio visual equipments. For this, you will need to look the range of connectivity options available and networking supports. In a nutshell, choosing a good sound system can be much easier after you understand more about how things work in a sound system, how they differ in various applications, and what you need to do to make the most of the sound system.
A very basic sound system should at least consists of input transducer (commonly microphones), signal processors, amplifiers, speakers, and of course source components. All these items can vary from one sound system to other in terms of amount or type depending on the complexity. For a sound to be heard, an input transducer will convert sound signal into electric signal to be processed by signal processor. After processed, sound will be enhanced or amplified to be more precise, and then transmitted back to the source component via speakers.
While there are many type of input transducers, a lot of sound system use microphones because it is the most flexible for diverse kind of applications. You can have it mounted on the podium, attached to the speakers, or integrated to headphones. In the case of today's integrated or clipped microphones, they are mostly wireless or use less wiring compared to previous times.
Signal processor or digital processor is essential in choosing a good sound system because it is one of the core component of a sound system where sound signal is processed through many type of processor such as equalizer, echo canceller, delay, cross over and mixer. Although each has different functions, they all serve one single purpose which is to enhance the audio signal quality. In applications, digital signal processors comes especially handy for theaters, worship houses, and mostly in performance stage. A good sound system, in most cases, will have each different components.
To cut it simple, amplifier or power amplifier is what it takes to deliver a punchy powerful sound. Its main job is to amplify sound by sending electrical signal to drive speakers. In papers, they are usually indicated with wattage numbers and can vary from 500 watts in small vocal system to around 28,000 watts in small stadium system. Nevertheless, note that high number does not necessarily means better sound. On the other hand, if you got a high power amplifier, then it will be sufficient to choose a low-power speaker because the high-amp can easily drive the speakers. When choosing a good sound system, you can either go with an integrated amplifier or a standalone, again depending on your requirements. It goes without saying that integrated amplifier may not produce a very great quality as compared to the standalone one. On the bright side, if you are not one of the audiophile out there, integrated amplifier can offer pretty good sound with better deals.
Among other components in a good sound system, speakers are likely to be the most familiar one for the majority of us. You see it everywhere and it is mentioned a lot in devices which delivers sound. They are in abundance, in terms of type, sizes, and price tags. They can also comes in several kind of configurations such as 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 7.1 or 9.1 based on the speaker setup. A typical good sound system generally have 5.1 speaker setup which contains two front speakers, two rear speakers, and one sub woofer. The front speakers will serve as tweeter which handle the high frequency sounds while the rear speakers takes care of the mid-range sound. To create a complete sound system, sub woofer is added to enhance bass response. Together, such 5.1 setup represents a basic sound system which is also known as surround system because sound is coming from several directions instead of only front or back. Which speakers can make a good sound system is a tough question because it will greatly depend on various aspects such as the design and material of speaker, the speaker driver, and the source components itself. Different kind of speakers cater to different needs so choosing a good speaker will require you to look at many choices before settling up with one. And if you want the best sound, you may also want to take note that speaker positioning also comes to play.
Choosing a good sound system is difficult but without a good source component, even a high-end sound system will not produce the best result. When it comes to sound, there are many source components you can turn to. In the old days, CD or DVD Player may become the first choice but Blu-ray player and various online music streaming can be also considered viable options thanks to its growing popularity. What makes they different from each other is easily the quality of the original file too. If you refuse to do any compromise in quality, better to go with lossless audio format such as FLAC, WAV, or PCM which offers uncompressed audio.
After a quick look at main component which makes a good sound system, it's time to shop around. However, it is important to get back to your requirements to see if you really need a sound system. If you are looking for sound amplification to deliver to a large amount of audience or immersive home entertainment experience, then yes you come to the right place. A good sound system has a price but make sure you choose the one that gives the best bang for your bucks. And yes, there is no such formula for choosing a good sound system because it really gets down to you needs and budget.