Three Tips to Get the Best Sound for Watching Sports on TV

The big game is just days away, and it’s the prime time to prepare your home theatre. There are simple ways you can optimize your sound system so those touchdowns, referee calls and crowd roars will sound as big and lifelike as possible. Here are some audio tips & tricks you can use to significantly upgrade your sports viewing experience to have stadium-like sound that immerses you into the live action.

Image showing Dirac Live’s calibration interface on a desktop

1. Calibrate your Sound System

Most A/V receivers come with program options to optimize your sound system to suit your entertainment, be it sports, movies or tv shows. To start, cycle through the program modes (typically accessible on the remote control) to see which one makes your game sound the best. While many people use the default surround modes, they may not sound as natural as the ‘Straight Mode’ that provides you with the audio signal straight from the source with nothing added. Some receivers offer a ‘Sports Mode’ that allows the commentator’s voice to be presented at the center channel, closest to the TV screen, while positioning the audience and crowd sounds all around you in your left, right and rear channels. That being said, it never hurts to experiment and cycle through the various modes or ‘Programs’– you may want to turn on one mode for the halftime show but revert back to a different mode for when the game is on again.

Another feature that you should take advantage of is room calibration. Many receivers come with a microphone and guide on how to measure the response of your speakers to generate an EQ curve that will ideally identify any acoustic anomalies in the room. Premium A/V receivers offer room calibration tools such as Dirac Live, a third-party software that uses data from the room measurements to build an acoustic model of the listening environment and detect any deficiencies. After careful analysis, Dirac Live corrects for both the timing and amplitude aspects of the colourations in sound to deliver a uniquely pristine listening experience.

2. Add Rear Channels

The easiest way to feel like you are on the sidelines is by adding a pair of rear channel speakers behind you to create a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound system. For a solution that takes the speakers out of sight, consider using on-wall speakers that do not require a floor stand. Not only do they look clean and sleek, but also save you precious real estate and floorspace.

To position the rear channel speakers to be aligned properly with your listening position, front and/or center channels, place them so they are at ear height and angled towards your ears on both sides. See below diagram:

Image showing suggestion for speaker placement in a 5.1 surround sound setup

3. Add a Subwoofer

Adding a subwoofer is a great way to feel the rumble of every play, just like you were inside a stadium. The best way to find the sweet spot for your subwoofer is by moving it around the room to see what sounds the best. If you are hosting on gameday this year, consider the fact that your guests will sit in different locations in the room, so think about all the different listening positions. Placing a subwoofer in the corner of a room may increase its oomph, however depending on the size of your room, a corner may be too far from the sweet spot. If you are placing the subwoofer away from the wall, consider a 6 to 12-inch gap to avoid getting harsh reflections from the wall. Depending on the size of your listening area, you may want to invest in a larger subwoofer or even multiple subwoofers for consistent coverage across the entirety of your room. Placing a sub close to the main speakers is a great way to start.

Image showing the Alpha S8 subwoofer in a lifestyle setting

Helpful Tip:

To ensure that your source is properly set up for the big game, check that your cable or satellite box is set to output ‘surround’, or ‘bitstream’, and not only ‘stereo’ (often labeled PCM).

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