Home Cinema Speakers – Your Guide to Choosing the Best Speakers to Match Your Home Cinema Design
I know from experience that choosing the right home cinema speakers can be a real pain given all the different options out there. So I have compiled a list of some of the differences between models and the things you should look out for to make sure the speakers match in with your home cinema design.
Active or Passive
If you speak to ten different home cinema specialists you will probably get ten different answers as to which is better, active or passive design. So first off let me explain the difference between the two cinema.
Active home cinema speakers have the amplification built into the unit so they are generally heavier in design and will require a mains power connection in addition to the audio cable.
Passive home cinema speakers on the other hand require an external amplifier to make them work and so they only have an audio cable connection and do not require any local power.
So what are the pros and cons of each style?
Well, without getting too technical, when audio is transmitted it can be sent in a variety of different ways and some are better at maintaining audio quality while others may be less prone to interference and usually you will find it is trade off between the two.
For example, active home cinema speakers require an audio line level cable to make them work. Now line level transmission can be prone to interference if it is run alongside mains cables for instance. This can lead to a low ‘mains’ hum on top of whatever audio is coming out of the speaker which can be very annoying and degrades the quality of your home cinema.
Passive home cinema speakers on the other hand require a speaker level cable to make them work and are much less prone to interference. The trade off is that line level transmission maintains a better audio quality than speaker level and so if the cables are running over a long distance, say over 10 meters then you will get a lower quality sound reproduction.
Digital or Analogue
To go one step further you can also look at digital or analogue home cinema speakers which both work on line level transmission just one is digital and the other is analogue so let’s discuss the difference.
Digital transmission sends all the audio signals in ones and zeros whereas analogue sends the signals in waves. The full difference between these two technologies is beyond the scope of this article but in essence you will find that digital speakers will be less prone to interference but will lose some of the audio quality as they have to ’round’ everything to either a ‘1’ or a ‘0’
Number of Drivers
Home cinema speakers are made up of different audio drivers which are essentially just cone shaped bits of paper that push air away from the speaker. They are different sizes depending on the type of sound to be reproduced and create the sound for your home cinema. In essence there are only three different types of drivers and each one deals with a different audio wavelength or to be less technical, a different sound pitch. One deals with the high end, called the ‘tweeter’ one deals with the middle range ‘mid range’ and the 3rd deals with the low end ‘woofer’.
You will want to look for a speaker that has one of each of these drivers and preferably 2 or more to get the best sound reproduction. Again, I don’t want to get too technical but usually more drivers are better.
Now there are many other considerations which will need to be factored in when choosing home cinema speakers such as the quality of the audio cable used to connect them and the build quality of the speakers themselves as you want to minimise internal resonance which can affect audio quality.