Thomas R. Horrall
Acentech, 125 CambridgePark Dr., Cambridge, MA 02140
Optimum multichannel sound playback in the home environment requires different room acoustical characteristics than traditional two channel playback. In particular, room surfaces should be acoustically more absorptive in order to avoid masking of later arriving reflections encoded in the software, and the availability of more than two channel playback permits such room design while preserving and enhancing the listener's sense of immersion in the sound field. Newer recorded five and six channel transmission systems employing a dedicated low-frequency effects channel require careful consideration of the type and placement of low-frequency loudspeakers. The optimum location and directional and other characteristics of loudspeakers intended for existing home theater audio formats are often considered different than those for music playback, but multichannel transmission formats for both video and music-only playback may impact these requirements. Layout requirements of the room, including screen size and placement, are reviewed in light of the coming availability of high resolution video formats such as the digital video disc (DVD). Finally, some measurements of acoustical performance in the author's home playback facility are presented.