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We are starting this series to equip people with basic knowledge about Audio and the importance of various components used in the entire Audio chain. The information being shared is based on our personal experience and in no way aimed at challenging the existing belief in this domain.

Chapter 1 - Basics

The human audible frequency lies between 20Hz to 20,000 Hz. This spectrum can be divided into many sub ranges, but most common are low, mid, high.
Low : 20Hz to 500Hz
Mid : 500Hz to 5,000Hz
High : 5,000Hz to 20,000Hz

Low can be further divided into bass and sub bass, mid into mid and upper mid and high into high and super high.

2 Way Configuration : When one speaker driver produces low + mid and another driver produces high.

3 Way Configuration : When we have separate drivers for low, mid and high.

Chapter 2 - Stereo Amp Vs AVRs

There is lot of debate on whether to select an AVR or stereo or playing AVR in stereo mode. It all depends on your use case, whether you want to enjoy movies or music. If predominantly movies, then AVR is the way to go. If music, then AVR in stereo mode is kind of a compromise and a dedicated stereo amp is the way forwards. For a Music lover a stereo amp is a better choice since it keeps lot if interference from multiple circuitry in AVR out of the signal path and produces unadulterated music. At the end of the day, the choice depends on your movies Vs music mix, listening preferences and budget.

Chapter 3 – External USB DAC (Digital to Analog converter) and / or External pre amp (Yes or No)?

Many times, we are confused whether to use external DAC and external Pre-Amp in the setup to improve the sound quality. Unfortunately, there is no single answer to it. Going by the basics, the aim of any setup is to produce a output flat response or the way it was recorded in the studio. Unless we go with high end DAC and / or pre – amp or try various brands and variants, we will see one or the other component impacting the flatness and the sound signature, which results in ear fatigue. After having tried various combinations and keeping budget in mind, wesuggest keeping things simple. Use a laptop / mobile/ USB player directly to a power amp or going with an Integrated stereo amplifier. Going for a dedicated DAC and / or a pre – amp has a greater impact on high – resolution audio as compared to a regular 320 Kbps MP3s.

Chapter 4 - Difference between Home and Pro Audio

Pro-audio has a different purpose that home audio does not always need. Homes rarely need an amplifier that can drive 100 speakers in parallel. They rarely need an amplifier that can drive 8,000 watts. Homes tend to switch from one audio source to another, not mix several sources together. Pro-equipment tends to be more rugged. Especially the equipment that is intended to be used in a live or touring sound environment. They use connectors that can withstand a lot of mate/unmate cycles. The chassis are made from thicker sheet metal. The chassis are designed to be bolted into an equipment rack. Typically the equipment has been designed to withstand more shock, vibration, and temperature extremes. Some of it has been made with withstand rain, direct sunshine, fog-machine condensate, and even salt spray. pro-audio amps tend to be higher power than consumer amps. Also, the stated specs of a pro-audio amp tend to be more "real" than the stated specs of a consumer amp. When rating the power of an amp there are a lot of ways that the specs can be fudged, and pro audio amps tend to fudge them less or if they are fudged then there is usually a footnote in the manual that explains exactly how the spec is measured.

Consumer equipment are designed to have pleasing looks and they are meant to sound just pleasing. However these consumer equipment are seldom able to fulfil the needs of a serious music producer, audiophile and anyone who is seriously interested in the sound quality rather than looks. A consumer gear is designed to look and sound pleasing. Pleasing is a very broad term but for starters it means that it is designed to shun out all the frequency brackets that tend to sound annoying on prolonged listening. This means that the sound from the consumer product is more likely to give you an output that is good to hear but not necessarily accurate. A pro audio equipment is designed to serve only one purpose, to sound accurate. At times an accurate sounding system is not pleasant to hear and that's only because of the source signal. A consumer speaker system is highly likely to have a V curve in the generated spectrum and are often coloured to be a little warm. Whereas pro-audio speakers are designed to give an honest and accurate sound with respect to the audio source and generally offer a very flat frequency response with little to no coloration to output signal.

Chapter 5 - What comprises of a Home Audio

Before you start shopping, consider how much sound you really need. If you have a small apartment or room, you may be better off investing in a good stereo setup, which is just a simple pair of speakers and an amplifier. A home theatre system probably also isn’t the best option if you just want impeccable audio. So, first ask yourself: is your system primarily for audio, for movies and TV, or a combination of the two? Once you have an answer, you can then figure out what sort of setup you need:

  1. For the simplest room Audio setup, you can get a good pair of speakers mated to a Stereo Amplifier. Based on the room size you can decide to go for bookshelves or floor standing towers.
  2. If you would want to climb littler higher, you can add a subwoofer to the setup along with a 2.1 amplifier. Ideally, for music experience, subwoofer is not required, instead a good 3-way speakers will do the job just fine.
  3. For Movies setup, decide whether you want to go for 5.X/7.X or atmos setup or video upscaling as accordingly your need for AVR will change.
  4. A receiver (AVR) is more than just a hub that connects your system. A good receiver can help ensure you get the best possible sound from your speakers and get the most from the rest of your audio gear. Once again, the choice begins with knowing how you listen. A modern home theatre receiver may be able to handle 4K/UHD movies and accommodate a slew of HDMI devices, which is great for the TV and movie lovers. Features like built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi can add streaming and internet connectivity to a receiver, but don’t think of them as deal-breakers. Wireless capability is something that can be easily (and inexpensively) added with the tools like Chromecast Audio or Fire stick, which also imparts some added functionality you won’t get with a basic Bluetooth-capable receiver. A Chromecast Audio connected to a receiver can become part of a whole-home audio system linked to other chromecast-enabled devices spread throughout your house.
  5. Once you have selected a receiver then matching speakers have to be selected, which would comprise of main left and right ones, centre for predominantly vocals and surrounds or ceiling for that enveloping sound experience.
  6. Last but not the least, set aside funds for quality cables, speaker stands and equipment supports – you simply won’t get your money’s-worth of sound if you don't. A good support lets your kit perform optimally. if you can use a dedicated mains outlet, that would be ideal – and avoid placing mains cables and signal cables too close to each other, as performance can suffer.

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