Technology & Engineering

LCF/X Solid/Diffuse Switch

The Secret to Achieving a More Realistic Surround Environment with Built-in Speakers

Home theater demands real estate. And I don't mean a new house, although I wouldn't mind that at this point. I mean room space. There's the TV and your couch, of course. And then the speaker boxes you have to set up all over the room. Even if you're using a compact speaker system (like a Polk RM Series System), you still have to give it space for stands and subwoofer boxes. If your room is small, you could end up stepping around speaker stands and TV furniture.

Here's a reason to give thanks to the gods of technology: Polk engineers have perfected the performance of built-in, in-wall, and in-ceiling loudspeakers. Building loudspeakers into your walls gives you much more flexibility and efficiency when it comes to planning room space and living within your home theater real estate. Our built-in loudspeakers (including innovative subwoofers!) sacrifice nothing when it comes to audiophile performance, but they don't force you to sacrifice space to get that great sound. And now that you can hang your flat panel TV on the wall, the only thing you need in your home theater is a couch to snuggle up on, and someplace to put your feet up. (That's what coffee tables are for.)

How do you achieve audiophile sound from enclosureless built-in loudspeakers? You look to Polk Audio innovations to help you custom shape the built-in sound to your room environment. We discussed bipole/dipole sound customization technology here. We talked about the LCi custom audio controls here. Now let's combine the two technologies (one for traditional loudspeakers, one for built-in loudspeakers), and I'll show you how the solid/diffuse switch helps you optimize your surround sound environment using Polk Audio LCF/X and RTSF/X built-in surround speakers. 

Solid/Diffuse Switch

In this case, the diffuse setting is analogous to the dipole setting in traditional loudspeakers; it creates a less localized, more general cloud of sound. I used the example of a rain storm. In a correctly set up multichannel audio scheme, the rain would appear to be all around you. The diffuse setting emphasizes this effect. Diffuse setting is optimal for instances when your installation requirements demand that your built-in surround speakers are directly over, or in line with, your listening position. 

By contrast, the solid setting is like the bipole setting in traditional loudspeakers; it gives a more direct, localized sense of ambient surround sound effects. This setting works better when your installation places your listening position in front of your speaker location.

Ultimately, you'll be the best judge of which setting works best for your space. You can switch the settings easily from the face of the speakers, so you're never locked in to a certain sound or a specific seating location. And either setting is appropriate for THX Ultra 2 performance in LC80F/X in-ceiling speakers. 

Extra Credit: An RTSF/X Tip

For optimum effects performance with RTSF/X in-wall series surround speakers, we always recommend you place them behind your listening position. But if you can't do that, and you have to sit behind your in-wall surround speakers, simply switch the loudspeakers left/right orientation, placing the speaker marked right into your left wall (as you face your center channel) and the speaker marked left into your right wall. This replicates the solid/diffuse settings of the LCF/X Series! 

Setting Recommendations

RTSF/X in-wall surround location

Image setting recommendation

Surround speakers located close, straight to the sides of your listening area, and approximately six feet off the floor Diffuse
Surround speakers located behind your listening area and approximately six feet off the floor Solid

 

LC65F/X in-wall surround location

Image setting recommendation

Surround speakers located close, straight to the sides of your listening area, and approximately six feet off the floor Diffuse
Surround speakers located behind your listening area and approximately six feet off the floor Solid

 

LC80F/X in-ceiling surround location

Image setting recommendation

Surround speakers located straight to the sides of your listening area. Diffuse
Surround speakers located behind your listening area Solid

 

This article was last modified on Jul 10, 2012

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