Okay, it won’t revolutionize anything. And it’s more of a suggestion than a trick. But it might just enlarge your home theater’s filmsound experience, at least somewhat, and it costs exactly zero and takes all of 45 seconds to implement (as long as nothing falls over). So here it is: move your front-main speakers further apart.
Yeah, that’s it. As I said, it’s not very revolutionary, or even particularly weird (they never are). But in every system in which I’ve tried it makes movie sound more immersive, more cinematic, more “bigger.”
Most of us choose the sites for our front speakers under the weight a couple of preconceptions. First, that the left/right speakers and the listening position should form a roughly equilateral, or slightly isosceles triangle (with the listener located midpoint on the shorter side); this one’s an artifact of the stereophonic era, when speaker-width was restricted by the hole-in-the-middle effect. (We’ve got a center-channel speaker for that.)
The second old notion is that the left/right speakers must stay within a near reach of the screen edges “to keep action on the screen.” I admit to having subscribed to this one, and to having repeated it more than once over the years. But you know what? With modern filmsound production it doesn’t seem to matter all that much: I’ve viewed a couple dozen movies in ultra-wide setup mode now, and I can’t remember even a single instance of excessive lateral-ness having pulled my attention off-screen. (To be fair, given the artistic quality of most films today, and the crappy repro quality of all the popular streaming options, I may simply have fallen asleep.)
So, how wide is wide? In my room, for what I think of as “big-sound” movie viewing I place my left/right pair within a couple feet of the side walls, which puts them about 14 feet apart rather than the 7-1/2 feet separation of my normal “music” setup. The reward varies from subtle to obvious: obvious on action sequences like the classic speeder chase from ROTJ
, where the wider palette opens up the forest and makes side-spinning wipe-outs more dramatic; subtler on material like the batcave scene from The Dark Knight Rises
, where the added breadth adds, well, breadth.
Try it, you may like it. You probably won’t like having to move heavy speakers back and forth three times a day for music listening, and even for most surround-music playback (where instead of hole-in-the-middle you get two-holes-off-center, instead), or the back injuries suffered in the lazy-man’s-load process of frog-marching speaker-and-stand in one go—ask me how I know.
Alternatively, given a receiver or processor equipped with Audyssey’s DSX surround enhancement, you could just set up permanent Side (and Height) channels. Which is what I’m thinking I’m likely to do as soon as I get out of traction.