The random endorsement: surround sound


Big deal, Kennedy endorsed Obama. Today I endorse surround sound and I fully expect sales to increase one million fold.

Yes, after a brief hiatus in which I spent my time watching Home and Garden TV and refreshing Drudge every eight seconds, I return today with the endorsements. No doubt many of you don’t give a damn what I think—you have something in common with my father—but pay attention to this endorsement. It’ll win you friends.

With this, I mean to say that surround sound is good. Oft ignored by people for reasons of ignorance or practicality—a surround sound setup in a cramped apartment?—surround sound is as much a necessity for that home theater feel as an HDTV is. Whereas I’m sure, based on legally inadmissible anecdotal evidence, that most folks are keen to go to BestBuy or Amazon, say, “I want a plasma with that HD thing” you, CrunchGear reader, owe it to yourself and your never-stays-quiet-when-you-need-her-to wife (or husband!) to rock a surround sound system.

[Note: I’m not recommending any specific models here, just the concept of surround sound.]

First, like in all two-bit academic papers (or endorsements, as is the case here), we have to define what a surround system is, and what it is not. For our purposes here, surround sound is defined as (at least) a 5.1 Dolby Digital system—bonus points if you can afford a higher end lossless surround sound system. (Those Blu-rays and HD DVDs you’ve been buying? They come with lossless, high-def audio that’s better than regular old Dolby Digital.) What surround sound isn’t, in my endorsing opinion, is those two-speaker jawns that are advertised on late night TV. How on Earth you expect to make me feel like I’m surround by sound with only two speakers I’ll never understand. I don’t believe it, wouldn’t buy it and won’t put my good name on the line for it. Five speakers (or more) or bust. Take me to bed or lose me forever.

Why should you spend any sort of money on this aural excess? Watch Saving Private Ryan with a surround sound setup. Play The Orange Box or Assassin’s Creed with a surround sound setup. Then do that all over again, but using your TV’s built-in speakers. Awful. If you want to sash your friend with a chair after hearing the difference I totally understand. Bullets whiz by your ear—there’s trouble afoot!; the pitter-patter of footsteps compel you to look over your shoulder; sword and shield clash in 300, the unmistakeable ringing of metal cause you to cringe. It’s all good.

It’s all good.

Surely, then, something must suck about surround sound, right? I understand that price can be an issue for some people. I got my personal setup (these Pioneer speakers) around Christmastime on some sort of sale for just over $100. That’s a hell of a deal, believe me, especially since I was a new Safari tab away from dropping $400 on an Onkyo setup. Volume could also be an issue. My speakers are terribly loud. When I do a little Xboxing during the day on the weekends, all bets are off; it’s cranked up to 11. Sue me, neighbors. What are you gonna do, call the landlord and get me kicked out of my Queens apartment? Do me the favor, please. At night, though, I am respectful, lowering the volume to decent levels. In fact, sometimes I have to lower the volume so much that I need to watch/play with subtitles. It sucks, but I won’t be a total jerk about it. I fully realize that late at night my neighbors aren’t interested in hearing my TV. Fair enough.

So yeah, surround sound. Catch it.