Transform Your Audiophile System to Home Theater
Many people think that “audiophile” systems and home theaters are incompatible. You can have one or the other. That’s simply not the case. Just like there are no speakers or subwoofers that are better for music over movies, any audiophile system can be transformed into a home theater system. How? Let’s discuss!
Why People Think Audiophile Systems Are Different
The main reason that people think audiophile systems can’t be transformed into a home theater is because of the focus on stereo. Audiophile systems often have two massive speakers and little else. Subwoofers? Not in an audiophile system! Just two massive speakers, maybe some amps, and massive cables. How can two speakers and home theater be compatible?
Obviously, You Just Need More Stuff!
If you are thinking that the key to transforming an audiophile system into a home theater is to add more things, you are correct. You’ll usually need an AV receiver (probably with pre-outs for the external amp), a couple of subwoofers, and a bunch more speakers (depending on how far down the rabbit hole you want to go). With that, you can take those “audiophile” speakers and integrate them nicely into a home theater system. Yes, you’ll probably have to worry about timbre matching the rest of the speakers to the mains. But that usually isn’t as much of a problem as you’d think.
But How Will the Audiophile Speakers Sound?
The worry is that audiophile speakers somehow sound significantly and specifically different than home theater speakers. That just isn’t the case. A great speaker is just as good for music as it is for home theater. If the audiophile speakers aren’t working for home theater, it is likely because they weren’t very good speakers to begin with. Instead, they sounded okay with some content in very specific rooms, but are uneven in general and the home theater content is revealing their deficiencies.
There can be very specific instances where audiophile speakers can be problematic in home theater applications. Electrostatic speakers have exceedingly small sweet spots. This means that they can sound phenomenal when they are set up for one specific seat in your room. How specific? So much so that if you move your head too far from one side, you’ll destroy the effect. Think of them as very expensive headphones that you put across the room from you. You can barely move when listening to them. They have very poor off-axis response making them problematic for home theater use.
Even with these types of speakers, people use them all the time for home theater. Magnepan, makers of similar speakers, offers home theater solutions. Are they as good for home theater as traditional speakers? Not really. But they are the exception, not the rule.
You can enjoy 5.1 content from two speakers so it makes sense that great two-channel systems can be grown to full home theater systems. Audiophile speakers are generally supposed to be some of the best-sounding speakers on the market. Why wouldn’t they sound great in a home theater setup? If you have an audiophile system, you can add speakers so that you can enjoy full surround sound. When you want to listen to two-channel music, there is no reason you couldn’t switch back to just your audiophile speakers. Of course, we’d recommend still using your subwoofers. But that’s just us.