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  • Writer's pictureAndy Ross

New Speaker Woes

If you’ve been following my column this Summer you may be aware that it’s been a big Summer of necessary upgrades to equipment in the Andyplex, the nickname I use for my home theater, my one true sanctuary from the world these days. First, the TV finally showed it was ready for a rest and that allowed me to upgrade from a 2006 model to a modern 4K capable display, which has increased the cinematic quality of my movies.

I was happy and content with the new screen and had a few friends over to watch “Jurassic Park” as a way of throwing a little christening party for the new screen. Yet during the movie, I noticed that certain bits of the dialogue sounded kind of odd. Now I am a perfectionist, much to my chagrin and I’m also an audiophile. You can imagine how those two things can create some maddening deep dives into fixing things. As my aunt says “he’s so particular.”

I have surround sound in my home theater. Nothing fancy, a simple tried true five-speaker set up with a subwoofer. The receiver handles high-res audio so I’m getting theater-grade sound. That’s why these little voices passes in “Jurassic Park” stood out to me. I didn’t think anything of it, but a few weeks later I was watching a Harrison Ford film and couldn’t help but notice that something was “tinging” the center speaker where all the dialogue comes from.

It’s hard to describe the sound. It sounded like at certain passages of dialogue, certain frequencies, that the audio was getting trapped inside the speaker and not fully leaving. It was vibrating the whole speaker housing. As if the audio was “red-lining” inside the speaker. On the one hand, this began to annoy me and I toyed with ways to fix this. On the other, the speakers in my home theater are over 20 years old and I suppose it’s amazing I’ve not had to replace any till now.

Yes, after a good month or so of wondering what was up, I finally decided to go out and get a new center speaker. I miss the days when we had several electronic stores around here, and when you could easily find more speakers for the home theater. I did some research and picked the best option and bought it. A new speaker by Sony. I set it up and was amazed by how sharp and clear it sounded, that “vibration” was gone and I swear I could hear things I hadn’t noticed before in center channel sound with movies I know well.

And as I know those movies so well I also began to notice that some things still sounded a bit off, as if there is no low-end. So now I’m down the rabbit hole of making sure the new speaker is set up right and I’ve got all the things adjusted. Another maddening process and another time I wish I wasn’t such a perfectionist. Of course, the new speaker may be so new I need to give it time to “break in.”

It’s a new speaker for the first time in 20 years, maybe it will sound a bit different at first and my “well-adjusted ears” will take time to adjust to the new one. But still, I know this means another afternoon of listening and checking, checking and listening. I just hope this is the last time I have to replace anything in the Andyplex for some time to come. As I know the next thing I’ll do when the audio goes in want to upgrade to Dolby Atmos and add more speakers. But I’d like to save up a bit for that and not do it on a whim. Owning a home theater is fun, and also sometimes aggravating. See you next week.


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