Cinema Sound at Home

Cinema dealers and customers often ask us which QSC speakers they could use to make a home cinema sound amazing.

Many home cinema systems include an Audio Video Receiver (AVR). The AVR is the control center and power amplifier for typical 5.1 or 7.1 home theater sound systems with surround sound. The AVR contains 5 or 7 power amplifier channels to power the passive loudspeakers connected to the AVR. A separate powered subwoofer connects to the AVR via a line level output. Left, Center and Right front channels, in addition to Left and Right Surround speakers, are used for 5.1 systems, and Left Rear and Right Rear are added for 7.1 systems. Unlike commercial cinemas, a single speaker is typically used for each channel, including the surround channels. In commercial cinemas, surround arrays of multiple speakers are used to cover the larger rooms.

Budget and space permitting, it’s a good idea to use 5 or 7 identical speakers. Sounds that pan between front and rear will sound more natural when the same model speaker is used for all channels. However, it is sometimes necessary to use smaller speakers for the surround channels when size, cost or room décor requirements make it impossible to use larger speakers. The AD-SII Series is ideal for this application. There are several smaller sizes available in black and white, and the included mounting bracket permits a variety of aiming options and mounting orientations. It is also possible to paint the enclosures to match the walls.

The AD-SII Surface Mount speakers are designed for general purpose installations and although there are several settings available on the back panel, the 8 ohm setting is the one to select for use with an AVR. AD-SII speakers look and sound great and have greater efficiency and power handling than consumer-grade systems of similar size.

The AD-S4T and AD-S6T are the most commonly used models for home cinemas. Both feature a 2-way design with horn-loaded soft dome tweeters and 4 ½ inch or 6 ½ inch woofers. Both models have a wide 120° coverage angle that makes all seats sound great. The AD-S6 (the model without the “T”) has a 16 ohm impedance, so up to four can be connected in parallel resulting in a combined total impedance of 4 ohms. With its 16-ohm impedance, a single speaker won’t draw as much power and thus won’t play as loud on the average AVR as the 8 ohm option on the AD-S6T model. Save the AD-S6 models for use where multiple speakers on the same amp channel are required. Larger AD-SII models feature high output compression drivers on their High Frequency horns for maximum efficiency. The AD-S8T, AD-S10T and AD-S12 are probably more than the average family room needs.

QSC cinema subwoofers tend to be a bit large for the typical home cinema. Home cinema subs tend to focus on compact size and deep bass extension, and most small rooms can benefit from multiple smaller subs. With proper placement, it is possible to get better bass response over a larger area of the room with multiple smaller subs.

However, if you have a very large room, the SB-1180 is our most compact subwoofer used in real cinemas. It is best suited for rooms with a front projection system where the sub can be mounted behind the screen. Or, with some minor carpentry and a deep (12 inch) wall cavity, it could be flush mounted into the wall between studs (with a grill cloth covering). An external power amplifier, like the DPA 4.2, would be required to power the sub and provide the EQ presets. We generally recommend this option for rooms between 900-1400 square feet.

Outside of the home cinema, AD-SII speakers are great for general audio playback throughout the house. It is possible to use them for the patio. While they are weather resistant, it is a good idea to place them under a roof overhang if possible.

QSC also offer a full range of ceiling speakers. The 4 ½ inch and 6 ½ inch AD-C4T, AD-C4T-LP, AD-C6T and AD-C6T-LP are great companions to the AD-S4T and AD-S6T surface mount speakers.

The “LP” models can be very useful in residential installations. They have a “Low Profile” design that extends only 3 ¾ inches behind the ceiling surface. Unlike some low profile designs, low frequency performance is preserved with a larger diameter to maintain the enclosure volume even though the depth is very shallow. At least four ceiling speakers can be connected in parallel on most any amplifier. This is a great way to distribute high quality audio throughout the home. QSC also offers several compact, 4-channel power amplifiers in the SPA range. These amps are designed with convection cooling, so there is no fan noise to worry about.

So if you’ve been longing for that incredible cinema sound experience, and you wish you could take your living room from lackluster to BLOCKBUSTER, check out these QSC products.