Room Calibration Explained
Some slightly more expensive systems offer a fantastic way of getting the most out of your setup, which is room calibration.
Essentially, this allows the system to fine tune the performance of the speakers to suit a given room, which (inappropriate room size aside) will help get the most out of your purchase. How this works is that usually, the receiver will come with an external microphone, that is connected to it and placed in a series of listening positions around the room. The receiver plays a variety of test tones, which are reflected around the room and captured by the mic, essentially giving the receiver’s processors a picture of your listening environment. When it’s got this, it can use its built-in equalisers to adjust what you’re hearing, in order to maximise the clarity of your system.
Calibration systems do vary – and they are much more common in 7.1 then 5.1 systems. The one we’ve been experimenting with lately is particularly good: the one that comes with the Marantz SR7011 (full review here) actually has a cardboard stand that allows you to raise the microphone to the desired height, and its built-in Audyssey EQ is particularly good. And in most cases, you'll hear an immediate improvement in your sound, especially in your regular listening position. It's the kind of thing which can make a major difference, and where possible, we'd urge you to go for it.
But what if your system doesn’t come with room calibration? Not to worry. You can still do it – although it’s a little more complicated. You’ll need to invest in something like the Digital Video Essentials: Optimize Your Home Entertainment System DVD.