Table of Contents

Optimal Audio and Video Reproduction at Home

Improving the Listening and Viewing Experience

Chapter 1: Introduction

The goal of this book is to help you set up a modern audio-video system for optimal reproduction of audio and video in a small room, such as a home listening room, home theater, or studio control room. The book provides an in-depth explanation of both audio and video reproduction using modern home entertainment systems with multichannel digital audio and high-resolution digital video. Concrete advice is given on setting up the system for optimal reproduction along with the reasons for doing it that way. Understanding these reasons is key, because in real life practical constraints may interfere with the advice given. Compromises have to be made when a room is used for multiple purposes, aesthetic considerations are taken into account, and your budget is limited.

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Chapter 2: Audio and Video Basics

Chapter 2 gives an overview of the components that make up an audio-video system. It explains how these components work together to create sound and moving images, and it explains how this creation is perceived. The audio channels used in surround sound reproduction are introduced. Some basic concepts of moving images are explained, such as light, luminance, color, and depth perception. And some basic concepts of sound are explained, such as frequency, timbre, sound propagation, reflections, and room resonances.

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  • 2.1 The Audio-Video System
    • 2.1.1 Multichannel Audio
    • 2.1.2 Audio and Video Equipment
    • 2.1.3 Factors That Influence Reproduction Quality
  • 2.2 Moving Images
    • 2.2.1 Luminance and Brightness
    • 2.2.2 Color
  • 2.3 Sound
    • 2.3.1 Frequency, Pitch, and Timbre
    • 2.3.2 Sound Pressure and Loudness
    • 2.3.3 Sound Propagation
    • 2.3.4 Room Acoustics

Chapter 3: Optimal Reproduction

This chapter answers the question: what is the optimal reproduction of audio and video? To better understand the answer to this question, the production of sound recordings, film, and video is briefly described. The chapter continues to explain in detail the different aspects of image and sound quality that allow you to accurately describe what you see and hear. It introduces terminology to describe image quality (such as brightness, contrast, color, and detail) and terminology to describe sound quality (such as spectral balance, clarity, dynamics, localization, and immersion).

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  • 3.1 Film and Video Production
  • 3.2 Image Quality
    • 3.2.1 Tonal Quality
    • 3.2.2 Detail
    • 3.2.3 Spatial Quality
  • 3.3 Sound Production
    • 3.3.1 Recording and Mixing
    • 3.3.2 Sound Reproduction
  • 3.4 Sound Quality
    • 3.4.1 Spectral Balance
    • 3.4.2 Clarity
    • 3.4.3 Dynamics
    • 3.4.4 Localization
    • 3.4.5 Immersion
  • 3.5 Listening Tests

Chapter 4: Room Design

Paying attention to the design of your room is the single most important step towards optimal reproduction of audio and video. This chapter describes how to determine the optimal listening/viewing position, the optimal position of the video display, and the optimal positions of the loudspeakers. It illustrates the different placement options with easy to understand diagrams. You learn that subwoofers give you a great amount of flexibility in loudspeaker placement as you can position them independently of the front and surround loudspeakers. You also learn how to deal with ambient light and background noise. Finally, you get practical advice on installing front projectors.

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  • 4.1 The Need for Subwoofers
  • 4.2 Floor Plan
    • 4.2.1 Placement Options
    • 4.2.2 Position of the Video Display
    • 4.2.3 Positions of the Front Loudspeakers
    • 4.2.4 Positions of the Surround Loudspeakers
    • 4.2.5 Distance Between Loudspeakers and Nearby Walls
    • 4.2.6 Positions of the Subwoofers
  • 4.3 Room Requirements
    • 4.3.1 Ambient Light
    • 4.3.2 Background Noise
  • 4.4 Installing a Front-Projection System

Chapter 5: Digital Sources

To enjoy high-quality audio and video reproduction you need to start with high-quality source material. The focus of this chapter is on that source material. First, the difference between production quality and the technical quality of the delivery format is explained. Next, detailed explanations of the different digital audio and video delivery formats are given. Lossless and perceptual coding are introduced. Resolution and frame rate requirements for digital video are discussed. And similarly, sampling rate and bit depth requirements for digital audio are discussed. This chapter also explains digital television, Internet streaming, digital media files, computer audio, and optical discs. In addition, this chapter describes the different digital connections via HDMI, S/PDIF, and USB audio.

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  • 5.1 Video Coding
    • 5.1.1 Aspect Ratio
    • 5.1.2 Resolution
    • 5.1.3 Progressive and Interlaced Scanning
    • 5.1.4 Perceptual Coding
  • 5.2 Audio Coding
    • 5.2.1 Sampling Rate
    • 5.2.2 Bit Depth
    • 5.2.3 Direct Stream Digital (DSD)
    • 5.2.4 Lossless Audio Compression
    • 5.2.5 Perceptual Coding
  • 5.3 Digital Media
    • 5.3.1 Digital Television
    • 5.3.2 Internet Streaming
    • 5.3.3 Media Files
    • 5.3.4 Computer Audio
    • 5.3.5 Digital Audio Extraction
    • 5.3.6 Optical Discs
  • 5.4 Digital Connections
    • 5.4.1 HDMI
    • 5.4.2 S/PDIF
    • 5.4.3 USB Audio

Chapter 6: Video Equipment

The quality and size of your video display matter a lot. This chapter describes quality differences between types of flat-panel displays and front projectors. It explains why it is important to calibrate your video display and how to perform such a calibration. The most common video processing features of displays and source components are described and you learn how to use them to obtain the best possible image quality.

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  • 6.1 Video Displays
    • 6.1.1 Performance
    • 6.1.2 Flat-Panel Displays
    • 6.1.3 Front Projectors
    • 6.1.4 Projection Screens
  • 6.2 Display Calibration
    • 6.2.1 White Point
    • 6.2.2 Black and White Level
    • 6.2.3 Luminance Output
    • 6.2.4 Color and Tint
    • 6.2.5 Grayscale Tracking
    • 6.2.6 Color Gamut
  • 6.3 Video Processing
    • 6.3.1 Scaling
    • 6.3.2 Sharpness
    • 6.3.3 Output Color Space
    • 6.3.4 Deinterlacing
    • 6.3.5 Motion Resolution
    • 6.3.6 Image Enhancement

Chapter 7: Audio Equipment

This chapter explains that reproducing sound from your digital source components requires high-quality loudspeakers, amplifiers, and DACs. You learn that the quality of the loudspeakers is by far the dominant factor. Quality differences between loudspeakers are discussed and you get practical advice on choosing the right loudspeakers. This chapter also discusses the performance of power amplifiers, subwoofers, and audio cables. It describes the most common audio processing features of A/V receivers and controllers and explains how you use them to obtain the best possible sound quality.

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  • 7.1 Loudspeakers
    • 7.1.1 Drivers
    • 7.1.2 Crossovers
    • 7.1.3 Enclosures
    • 7.1.4 Performance
    • 7.1.5 Front Loudspeakers
    • 7.1.6 Surround Loudspeakers
    • 7.1.7 Loudspeaker Stands
  • 7.2 Power Amplifiers
    • 7.2.1 Power Requirements
    • 7.2.2 Amplifier Types
    • 7.2.3 Performance
  • 7.3 Subwoofers
    • 7.3.1 Lowest Frequency
    • 7.3.2 Maximum Sound Level
  • 7.4 Cables for Analog Audio Signals
    • 7.4.1 Loudspeaker Cables
    • 7.4.2 Interconnects
  • 7.5 Audio Processing
    • 7.5.1 Surround Decoding and Processing
    • 7.5.2 Bass Management
    • 7.5.3 Delay Settings
    • 7.5.4 Level Settings
    • 7.5.5 Dynamic Range Control
    • 7.5.6 Room Correction and Equalization

Chapter 8: Room Acoustics

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the acoustical properties of your listening room influence the quality of the reproduced sound. This chapter first describes the reproduction of low frequencies in a room and the influence of room resonances. It provides a step-by-step approach to deal with such resonances that includes installing bass absorbers and using multiple subwoofers with electronic equalization. Next, the reproduction of mid and high frequencies is described along with the influence of early reflections. You learn how to alter the acoustics of the room by installing sound-absorbing material and diffusers.

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  • 8.1 Reproducing Low Frequencies in Rooms
    • 8.1.1 Room Resonance Modes
    • 8.1.2 Bass Absorbers
    • 8.1.3 Subwoofer Calibration
  • 8.2 Reproducing High and Mid Frequencies in Rooms
    • 8.2.1 Controlling Early Reflections
    • 8.2.2 Porous Absorbers
    • 8.2.3 Diffusers

Chapter 9: Summary

The final chapter of the book summarizes the advice given in the previous chapters. It groups the advice in a different way that resembles practical tasks, such as buying equipment, designing the room, placing loudspeakers, installing equipment, setting up the system, and playing content. Based on the task at hand you will find a comprehensive overview of all the important points.

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  • 9.1 Buying Equipment
  • 9.2 Designing the Room
  • 9.3 Placing Loudspeakers
  • 9.4 Installing Equipment
  • 9.5 Setting Up the System
  • 9.6 Playing Content