DIY home theatre part one: Speakers

Everything you need to know about speakers.

Sony DAV-IS50's satellite speakers

Sony DAV-IS50's satellite speakers

Of all the components in your home theatre system, the speakers are arguably the most important. They take the electrical pulses from your amplifier and convert them into thrilling highs, rich mid-range and stunning lows.

There are many kinds of speakers, designed to fulfil many different roles in a home theatre. From tiny satellite speakers to giant, floor-shaking subwoofers, your choice in speakers affects how your music or movies will sound and the overall experience of your home cinema.

We’ll give you a condensed overview of the different kinds of speakers and the advantages that they offer.

Satellite speakers

Satellites are small, versatile speakers that you’ll be able to easily mount anywhere within your living space. Usually supplied with extensive lengths of cable — the six metres per speaker with Sony’s DAV-IS50 — satellite speakers provide surround sound in spaces where larger speakers would be impossible to place. You’ll get acceptable treble from even the smallest speakers, which makes them useful for immersive surround effects. The trade-off is a lack of any mid-range or bass response.

What’s Hot: Small size and low weight, easy placement, decent treble response.

What’s Not: No mid-range or bass.

Bookshelf Speakers

As the smallest size 'regular' speakers — featuring a woofer for low-range sounds and a tweeter for treble — they should get all your attention for centre, rear and side surround effects. There are many different kinds of bookshelf speakers, ranging from Yamaha’s sizeable Soavo 2 to the smaller Tannoy Mecury F1 Custom. Special mention must be made of full-range bookshelf speakers, which funnel all sound through a single speaker driver using clever enclosure design — JohnBlue’s JB4 Mk2 are a great example of this. Bookshelf speakers don’t generally have the power handling ability of full floor-standing units, but they make up for it with great sound quality from small enclosures.

What’s Hot: Great potential for quality sound, more versatile than satellites.

What’s Not: Larger and heavier, may need stands for placement.

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