By Clay Riness —
I was just 9 years old when the 1967 NFL Championship game between the Packers and Dallas Cowboys, also known as the Ice Bowl, was played at Lambeau Field in frigid 13 below zero temperatures. I remember watching it with my parents, seeing how excitable they were, and viewing the spectacle on our fuzzy-pictured black and white television as we munched on popcorn. I thought my folks were going to blow a cork over the way that game ended.
Some things haven’t changed. America still loves its football and its TV. Nonetheless, both have come a long way. Technology has changed them for the better. Watching a game (or three) at home is a far more immersive experience than it was back then because of digital broadcasting, advanced audio systems and large-screen, high-definition TVs. Heck, even a modest 25-inch flat-screen with built-in speakers is a whopping step up from the console of yesteryear equipped with its cathode-ray tube and testosterone-lacking monaural speaker.
Today, we have many options, one of which is the ultimate experience: a dedicated home theater for those who want complete immersion in their favorite games (and movies).
According to Heath DeBernardi, founder and president of The Audio Video Pros, Inc., success depends on the space you choose and where you place the equipment.
“Most channels, especially on the high-definition side, will broadcast in at least Dolby Digital 5.1,” he explains. “So, you have five main audio speakers and one subwoofer. Generally speaking, in a theater setting we always go with two subwoofers. That being said, there are multiple ways to get the sound you’re looking for. Basically, you go from a powered sound bar to a small surround sound system. From there you go to an enclosed, dedicated space, a room not only to contain the sound but to keep sound from filtering in. Once you’ve decided on the space, it’s time for some math. Determine how large the room is and what speakers fit to produce sound accurately and cleanly within that given space.”
As it turns out, the most critical speaker in the system is the center channel. That one speaker delivers 100 percent of the dialogue and about 70 percent of whatever happens on the screen. In the case of movies, the musical score plays from both the left and right speaker while sound effects and the like emerge from the speakers behind or on either side of you. The subwoofer, of course, allows for rich bass. All of this, he says, produces one cohesive sound.
“You have to base all of those criteria on the space and where the individual sits. You need to know the distance from the television and the speakers if it’s a fixed listening position,” DeBernardi says.
He adds that the distance from your viewing screen, as the industry suggests, should be one to three times the width of your display. Not only will your brain process everything you see on your screen, but this setup offers you the best opportunity to be an active participant in what’s going on. In other words, get a little closer. Also, your eyes should be level with the lower third of your television screen, so don’t mount your HDTV too high on the wall.
Getting back to football, depending on the stadium, there are multiple layers in today’s broadcasts. Some stadiums run microphones throughout the stadium so you’ll feel like you’re sitting in the stands. Everything is mixed by an engineer on location. In the best of the broadcasts, you’ll hear the announcers on the center channel, but also fans cheering, guys yelling out plays, and even the whooshing of the wind through the stadium on the various satellite speakers. DeBernardi adds that you can extend the experience outside onto your deck or patio using an outdoor-rated TV and speaker system. Pretty immersive, indeed.
Hmmm … now imagine your next sporting event with your buddies, beer and brats. Cue the Tim the Tool Man Taylor grunt.
For more information, visit www.theaudiovideopros.com.
Clay Riness is a writer and photographer from Coon Valley. His manly traits include wearing a moustache, making fire, collecting knives and thinking of himself as Spartacus.