Is Audio and Surround Sound for TV Really Important?
Much has been said and written about High Definition TV and all that it adds to the television viewing experience. And it’s all true. The vastly improved picture detail brings the on-screen images to life like never before. The swirls of smoke coming from behind the getaway car’s spinning tires. The individual rain drops falling in the lush jungle as the enemy lurks behind the trees. The brilliant architectural detail as the camera pans across a New York cityscape. HDTV brings you closer than ever to where the action is, all from the comfort of your living room.
But awesome images are only half the story. The creators of Hollywood hit movies, sports broadcasts, and even network TV shows reserve a huge portion of their budgets for the audio portion of their productions. Why? Watching the smoke from the getaway car’s spinning tires without hearing the head-turning screech is lifeless, dull, and—well—pretty boring. In the creation of today’s movies and videos, the designers of the sound are just as important as the writers and the director. Without the right audio gear to complement your video system, you’re losing half of the experience that was so carefully crafted for your enjoyment.
Don’t televisions come with built-in speakers? Are they good enough?
No, they’re not good enough. Not even close! The speakers built into nearly all of today’s televisions are there only as a convenience—only something to hear when the TV is first turned on. In most televisions, the speakers are so small and flimsy that they would be just as appropriate in a $39 boom box. They just don’t cut it.
Should I get surround sound with my television?
First, a few basic definitions.
Monophonic Sound—Good: This is where the entire soundtrack comes out of a single speaker. There can be multiple speakers in monophonic sound, but each one reproduces the exact same sounds. Monophonic sounds like you’re looking at the world with one eye closed. It lacks any sense of depth and space.
Stereo Sound—Better: This is where two independent audio channels are played through two speakers. Stereo adds a dimension of space to the listening experience. For example, in the recording of a band, the guitar might sound like it’s coming from the left side of the room, the piano from the right, and the bass and drums n the middle—just like a real concert performance.
Surround Sound—Best: In addition to the left to right sounds of stereo, surround sound adds the third dimension of front to back. This totally immerses the listener in the sound experience. Jet fighters buzz overhead. An unseen door creaks open from behind you. The crowd noise in the stadium surrounds you, placing you right in the middle of the action.