It can often times be very confusing to shop for new home theater speakers. There are many terms out there that we have all heard, but we may not know what they mean. The following guide will help you understand the terminology so you can make an informed decision as to which home theater products will best fit your needs.
THX Contrary to popular belief, THX in and of itself is not its own surround format. It is however a certification for surround systems. In order for a home theater product to be THX certified it must pass a series of tests designed to test the quality of its sound and performance. There are varying levels of THX certification such as: THX, THX Select, THX Ultra, and THX Ultra2. While the exact criteria for certifying a product is unknown, we do know that it products to have to meet strict guidelines in order to receive certification.
5.1 This is the most basic of the digital surround formats. Systems with 5.1 surround sound will have 5 full range speaker channels and one LFE (low frequency effects) channel, which handles all low range frequencies.
6.1 Just like 5.1 systems have 5 full range speakers, 6.1 systems have 6 full range speakers plus the LFE channel.
7.1 7.1 systems have a total of 7 full range channels plus one LFE channel.
LFE Low Frequency Effects. This is a channel that is used only for low frequencies otherwise known as bass. Just as the right channel is different from the left channel there is a channel encoded only for bass. This channel is known as the LFE track.
Subwoofer The subwoofer will handle all the low frequency duties of a home theater system. A subwoofer is critical in a home theater as it is the speaker that can actually make you feel the action.
Tweeter The tweeter is the driver in a speaker that handles the highest portion of audio frequencies. Cymbols or female voices are examples of sounds reproduced by the tweeter.
Woofer The woofer handles the lower end of the audio spectrum. Woofers are typically the largest driver in a speaker cabinet to allow adequate movement of air requisite for producing low bass.
Timbre pronounced tamber, is the quality of a musical note. Speakers are often referred to as timbre-matched. This means that each speaker in the system will reproduce the same note with the same musical quality.
dB This measures how loud it can go. Generally speaking, the higher the number, the louder.
Hz Often known as cycles, this measures the frequency. Higher Hz values refer to higher frequencies.
Active Driver A driver that actually receives power from the amplifier.
Passive Driver A passive driver does not receive any power, but relies on the changes in pressure from within the cabinet for movement.