Set up Surround Sound Systems and Surround Speakers

Some new surround sound systems offer the ability to play all the latest multichannel movie formats with remarkable clarity. Don’t be fooled though, you get what you pay for.

Speakers and speaker systems are one of those items where quality can get very expensive, very fast. So take your time and find something that fits both your budget and gives you what you look for regarding performance.

single driver surround sound systems omnipolar loudspeaker picture

A simple approach for high quality audio on a budget.

A very nice surround sound speaker system could be built based on one of the full range speaker drivers below using the built in line level crossover of your home theater receiver. The only other thing needed would be a sub-woofer to handle the bass.

Getting your new system setup

1. Get some small speaker cabinets to house your full range speaker drivers.

2. Install the full range drivers into the cabinets.

3. Set the on-board receiver crossover at 150 to 200 Hz for your surround sound systems.

4. Plug the sub-woofer into the receiver’s sub-woofer output.

5. Plug the full range speakers into the corresponding speaker outputs on receiver.

6. Set the main, center, and surrounds to “small” in the speaker setup menu of the receiver for your surround sounds systems speaker. This will route all the bass from 150 Hz down to the sub and vice/versa.

This surround sound speakers system will yield -better than Bose cube speaker performance for a fraction of the cost. Let me know at the bottom of this page if you try the project and agree or disagree.

What you will need for a Simple Surround Sound Speaker System:

1. A home theater receiver. This should have at least 5.1 channels of output. A DVD audio analog input and output would be nice too.

I am not recommending the latest HDMI switching receivers because you can get HDMI switchers to perform those tasks. My advice is: if you already have a receiver capable and working- use it.

If you will have to buy one- look for one at www.audiogon.com or www.videogon.com.

These are both sites where you can buy a used receiver for about half of the cost of what they are new. Sometimes- substantially less than half price.

I bought a B&K reference 30 processor that lists for 2800.00 USD for $300.00 USD on Audiogon.com.

2. Full range speaker drivers. This page will show you some single driver speakers that perform very well and with low cost.

Using a single driver of high performance can often get you better performance than using lesser quality two way speakers with passive crossovers.

Set up the Crossovers in the Receiver

We will be using the active crossovers in the receiver by setting all of the surround speakers to “small”. This is usually found in the setup menu of your receiver.Hi Vi B3N picture

This routes all of the bass (below 150 Hz for example) to the sub-woofer and sends the rest of the signal to the small satellite speakers.

It also takes the bass out of the sub-woofer signal so that the sub does not try to play the mid-range and treble sounds.

I use Parts Express for Speaker Building -they offer crossover components to full kits.

They have a search menu at the top right of any page.

You can click here and then enter the driver names anTangband W4-1337SA full range driver picture d recommendations from our pages. Get the driver name by mousing over the picture. Parts Express – Free Shipping Every Day on most orders over $98 (Restrictions apply).
3. Optional: A computer. Most people have some sort of computer or laptop. Route a cable from the headphone audio jack of your computer to a stereo input on the receiver. You can get these cables at Radio Shack. It is a 1/8″ jack to stereo male RCA jack. This will let you play music from I-tunes into your surround sound systems input. Or, play DVDs’ from the computer. You may need a digital audio output on the computer for this.

a. The cable needed for this can be found at an electronics parts retailer. This is a 1/8” stereo jack on one end and a stereo pair of male RCA’s on the other.

4. Speaker cables. Don’t spend much time or money on cables. How much wattage are you pushing through the cable? Any 16 gauge cable will be large enough to handle the small speakers we are talking about here. Are you running the cable in the walls? Do you want all of the cable to be hidden?

For the costs of a system like this I would use some inexpensive cable from Parts Express Wire & Cable -They have a large selection of bulk reels to completed cables in every style and length.

As long as it is 16ga to 12ga you will be fine. Make your speaker pairs cables close to the same length. Example: Left and right surround cables should be the same length.

5. Have you considered making the surround sound systems speaker built into the walls or ceiling? This can actually be done pretty easily by making your own speaker system specifically for your needs.

It is easier than building speaker cabinets because the only part that shows is the wall plane.

The back of the cabinets can be fairly ugly and unfinished. The front can also be covered with some type of grill cloth as well which further increases the simplicity of this project.

Read this article about active bookshelf speakers. These can make an even better speaker for your surround sound speaker system.

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