Home theater speakers come in many different flavors. First, we have the standard right and left channel speakers which we are all familiar with. Most of our musical information is present in the left and right channels. Movement on the screen, which goes from left to right, should begin at the left channel speaker and move to the right channel speaker in synch with the on screen presentation.
The center channel speaker is an integral part of any home theater speaker system. The center channel speaker is for dialogue. Most center channel speakers are positioned below or above the screen, so that the dialogue appears to be located on the screen. Some center channel speakers are positioned directly behind the screen. Obviously, the screen would have to have perforations in it to allow the sound energy from the center channel to pass through the screen.
Side and rear channel speakers are usually a blend of left and right channel information which is then spread out along the sides and rear of our home theater systems. This process is termed matrixed. Some source materials have discreet information recorded in them for the side and rear channels which means the engineer actually recorded separate tracks of data for the sides and rear channels instead of “borrowing” from the left and right channel data. The side and rear channels provide non – localized, ambient energy which if properly positioned and acoustically treated can add to the realism of the presentation.
The most important part of any home theater speaker package is the sub woofer. Its job is to provide the low frequency energy for explosions, car crashes, and the like. Most sources have a separate channel that contains this low frequency data. This is where the designation 5.1, 6.1, and even 7.1 comes from. The number to the right of the decimal point indicates that there is one channel for LFE or low frequency effects.