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| Putting you in the game (4 comments )|
by: Itchyeyes (77) | Posted in cluster Editors Challenge Sponsored by Intel Round 2
Posted 75 months ago ( edited 75 months ago ) in category DEFAULT
5.1 audio is the unsung hero of a solid home theater setup. At least, this is the conclusion that I have come to after recently making the switch. A next gen console will give you fantastic draw distances and more textures, but the gameplay remains mostly the same. HDTV will give you nice crisp lines and a wide aspect ratio, but everything is still just happening on a flat screen in front of you. Surround sound though, that puts you in the game. It's no longer just something happening in front of you, it's all around you.
|» MEDIA (4)|
The Yamaha YHT-370 5.1 audio system
The front mains boast 6.5" woofers; sadly the rears do not.
The unconvential speakers can lead to difficulty mounting.
Included wires on left. Something more appropriate on right
The unit I picked was a Yamaha YHT-370. It falls pretty much right in the mid range of all-in-one home theater systems on price at $399 MSRP. It outputs 720 watts at a constant 120 watts to each speaker. Not a lot, but more than enough to fill you average living room with sound. The thing that sets this unit apart from most other all-in-one units on the market today is that it uses traditional stereo speakers for the front mains. This means you get 6.5" subs in each one rather than 3" subs that you'll find in tower speakers and smaller satellite speakers. The result is a solid mid-range bass that falls between what smaller subs and your average woofer are capable of creating. The woofer isn't independently powered, but for a standard living room it's more than enough. I actually found it to be a little too much out of the box. In movies it would drown out the dialogue in certain scenes. It was easy enough to adjust it to my liking though.
Setting up the YHT-370 is a chore, and definitely not for the technically challenged. I would definitely recommend upgrading to some sturdier speaker wire, as the stuff that comes with the unit is almost worthless. Also, those larger speakers don't fit on most stands that you'll find in the average electronics store. I ended up having to make a trip down to the Home Depot and Macguyver-ing my own solution before I could get everything mounted properly.
The game I chose to initially test the system on was Crackdown; really for no other reason than I couldn't pull myself away from it at the time. It ended up being a great game for an audio test though. Crackdown takes place in a large city and has a non-linear, sandbox style structure to the gameplay. This results in events constantly happening all around you. With gunfire at behind you, an exploding bus in front, and revving engines at 3 o'clock you can really get a feel for the added dimension of 5.1. What's more, Crackdown is a game of explosions, big explosions. This gave me ample material with which to evaluate the quality of the sub.
The first thing I noticed after getting everything started up was the ambient noise of the city. What was just background effects before was suddenly all around me. People on the street, tires on the road, car horns in the distance all came together to form a constant murmur that anyone who lives in a city would recognize. There was a whole new dimension of realism to the game world. One of the best parts of Crackdown is just leaping from rooftop to towering rooftop as you make your way ever higher. This is also where I least expected the sound system to effect the game. However, after missing a jump and falling several stories, it delivered a deep thud that gave a feeling of impact that just can't be expressed graphically. After messing around in the game for a little bit, I decided it was time to do some damage. I equipped myself with a rocket launcher and took to the streets. The YHT-370 delivered impressively in this area. This is where those 6.5" subs came into play, giving explosions much more impact and prominence in the game. When I perched atop a nearby building and sent a rocket spiraling towards an intersection full of cars, I could practically feel the shock wave in my chest as the system announced its arrival.
Unfortunately the rear speakers don't sport those 6.5" subs. While watching a movie this isn't that big of a deal. The rear sound channel is made up of sounds that are intended to be played from behind. There isn't a lot of switching back and forth. In a game though, the rear channel is just whatever happens to be behind the character at the time. While swinging the camera around in Crackdown, I noticed a distinct change in tone as sounds from in front of me switched from the larger front speakers to the larger rear one as they moved behind me. What sounded like a powerful high calibur weapon when it was right in front of me, changes to more of an echo when it moves to my 6 o'clock. It didn't detract from the game much, but it was definitely noticeable.
If you're looking to upgrade your console gaming experience, a 5.1 system will make just as much difference as an HDTV for substantially less money. The YHT-370's 6.5" mains are a definite plus over other systems in this price range, although you'll be wishing you had them for the rear speakers too. A powered sub would be nice too; and some quality speaker wire is a must. For the price though, it's a good system and even better deals can be found online.
|4 User Comment(s) • 2 root comment(s)|
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