Keeping Your Speakers Happy and Healthy – A Few Tips for Testing and Improving Audio Quality
When you’re buying a new speaker set, ensuring audio quality is important. We’ve talked in previous posts how speaker build and materials can greatly impact the sound that will ultimately fill a room, but there are a number of other pro tips you can follow to both test and improve audio quality. Let’s dive right in.
Starting with the basics – you want to be sure connectivity between speakers and player is strong and uninterrupted. This is especially true for wireless and Bluetooth systems. There are a number of online tools that will let you test the strength of connection between devices, so it’s best to run a few of these under different conditions. Also, be sure to check any wiring for cuts or kinks which could detrimentally impact your music or other sound output. Your music is only as strong as the signals and cables it flows through.
Where your speakers are in a room matters as much as connectivity, if not more. Having them appropriately placed can mean the difference between dull noise and IMAX-quality surround sound. Wall mounted speakers, for example, should sit at about 6 feet off the ground. You can begin testing your setup by listening to speakers individually, using an online Left/Right/Center testing platform. If there are problems, like one speaker sounds more distance than the others, you can rearrange your room as required. Don’t be afraid to play around a bit – room acoustics are different for everyone, so manufacturer guidelines on speaker placement may have to be adjusted
Pop songs from the last few years have repeatedly told us listeners that it’s all about that bass, and, well, they aren’t that far off. Bass is a crucial component of a quality audio experience and something critical to test. You can do this by playing, on loud volume, your favorite club pupping hit, something with a deep bass line. Think underground, 1990s warehouse party techno music. Well built speakers should be able to handle this audio pressure, at least for a little while. Others recommend using Silent Sound by the Knife for bass testing, with the successful speakers being able to filter out deep low end bass and playing through the whole song without crunchy sound or obvious distortion.
Testing: Tones and Volume
Similar to bass, a proper sound testing for speakers will require you to put them through a gauntlet of other song styles and types. In this way, if your speakers are capable of fantastic tremble but can’t handle the twang of a country tune, you’ll know right away. CNET and Cambridge Audio have great lists of top tracks for testing out speakers, ranging from movie themes and acoustic guitar duos, to the folk music and live orchestras. You could even opt for the THX introduction sound, which pits your speaker system against one of the most famous audio experiences of all time.
Improving Audio Quality
Without having to go and buy a brand new speaker set, there are a few basic things you can do to fix audio quality.
First, as we mentioned, be sure your speakers are set up appropriately for a room. Speakers, especially for surround sound systems, should face the seat that is directly opposite your TV or other focal point. In addition, units that are too close or too far from that focal point may cause problems for overall sound quality.
Second, play with the internal settings and controls of your speaker(s). Most come with a free mobile app or program that lets you adjust tremble, bass, tones, pitch, and everything in between. While factory default and manufacturer optimized settings will likely give you the best possible audio output for your speakers, it’s possible that small adjustments could make a significant difference in overall experience.
General troubleshooting approaches for electronics can also help audio performance: reconnecting Bluetooth; ensuring AUX cables are fully plugged in; removing anything that may be covering or interfering with your speaker; switching to different Wi-Fi networks; and, resetting your speaker, to name a few.
Improving audio quality on a speaker system will largely depend on what brand it is and function it will ultimately serve. Tinkering with settings and levels may be more important for a recording studio than a family who occasionally watches Netflix. By being clear on expectations versus cost, remembering that price doesn’t necessarily reflect quality, doing research beforehand, reading reviews, and understanding your at-home requirements and set up, you can pre-empt many of the challenges that could arise when purchasing and using a speaker.
Tell us in the comments below how you maintain your speaker’s long-term health!