Have a cinematic experience with home theatre systems 

Have a cinematic experience with home theatre systems 

The Dolby Atmos and DTS X provide a three-dimensional surround sound experience

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These days, with the Covid-19 situation, one may not feel exactly safe going to theatres. And with the amount of content available with multi-channel surround sound audio on DTH or OTT platforms, it makes a lot of sense to have a good home theatre setup to get a complete experience. 

 A home theatre requires a multi speaker setup. More than just buying speakers and plonking them randomly, it requires careful placement of speakers. If the speakers are not placed carefully, the desired surround effect will not be there.  

Now, how does a home theatre system achieve the surround effect? At the heart of the home theatre system is the home theatre receiver. This contains the decoder that splits the two-channel signal from the source and sends the relevant signal to the relevant speaker.  

Typically, home theatre systems are in the 5.1 or 7.1 speaker configuration. In the 5.1 system, there are two front main speakers, one centre speaker, two back speakers. The .1 represents the subwoofer or the speaker that reproduces low frequency sounds or the punchy sounds. In the 7.1 system, there are two additional back speakers.  

Now, the 5.1 or 7.1 systems are two-dimensional ones. What is popular these days are three-dimensional ones like Dolby Atmos or DTS X surround formats.  

Let us take the example of the Dolby Atmos system. In this system, apart from the 5.1 speakers, there are two additional height speakers that are installed on the ceiling or there are upward firing speakers. In the case of ceiling-mounted speakers, the sound reaches the listener’s ears directly. In case of the upward firing speakers placed on stands, the sound bounces off the ceiling and reaches the listener’s ears. This is called the 5.1.2 speaker system. One can also have a 5.1.4 system which means there can be four overhead/ upward firing speakers.  

Now, what is the advantage of the overhead/ upward firing speakers? Imagine a movie scene where an aircraft is flying towards the viewer on the TV screen. Thanks to the overhead speakers, it will sound like the aircraft is actually flying over the viewer. Or if there is rain in a movie scene, it will sound like rain is falling on the viewer/ listener.  

DTS X is a rival system in which there are no additional height speaker requirements.  

So, for a Dolby Atmos home theatre system, what would be the requirements? Firstly, it requires a source that outputs Dolby Atmos signals. Secondly, to decode the Dolby Atmos signal, one would require a Dolby Atmos home theatre receiver. Receivers are available from several reputed manufacturers from about Rs 30,000 or so and can run into lakhs. Quite often, the same receiver will be able to decode DTS X as well.  

After the receiver, the speakers are needed. For a 5.1.2 system, obviously a set of eight speakers are required. For a 5.1.4 system, 10 speakers are required. Again, for height channels, placement becomes very crucial. If not placed correctly, a sweet spot will not be created and the whole system will not sound the way it is meant to. Instead of discrete speakers, a soundbar-based system can be bought. This will be cheaper and in the range of Rs 30,000 and upwards. Discrete speakers can run into lakhs of rupees.  

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