As a long-time movie buff, I’m frequently asked if sound quality is better on monitors vs. theatre. To be honest, I don’t have a very good answer for that question. I don’t see any reason to spend the money on a separate monitor when the theatre can offer us both excellent sound and picture. In fact, movie theatre systems are getting increasingly more advanced with the advent of DLP (digital light processing) technology which enables them to display extremely clear, crisp audio with minimal loss of sound quality. This means that theatre systems are at least as good as dedicated studio monitors when it comes to watching movies.
However, we know that good sound isn’t the only benefit that cinema viewing offers us. If we want the best picture and the clearest image, then we should really be spending the money on a quality home theatre system. The problem is that most people don’t really understand the difference between the two mediums – or whether one is really better than the other. To make matters worse, the problem is getting much worse as technological improvements in television and computer technology continue to make image quality better than it has ever been before.
To illustrate the point, let’s consider two different styles of cinema, one which employs a monitor for its audio output and another for its video output. Compare these two forms of entertainment with each other: if you watch a feature-loaded film like Star Wars, then your main attention will be focused on the action. The sound should play a minor role in your experience, because although it will be difficult to hear individual explosions and footsteps if you’re seated at home, it should play a less important role when watching on a large screen. Movie theatres make great use of surround sound technology by physically installing speakers around the theatre area. Although this type of sound reproduction is better than simple stereo audio, it’s a far cry from the quality you’ll receive from a quality home theatre system.
In an atmosphere where sound is vital to the experience, the sound quality is even more important. In a dark movie theatre or space where smoke and debris are present, your listening experience can be improved by the use of ear plugs. A similar situation can arise when you’re listening to music on your portable CD player-if there is background noise, the quality will obviously be affected. For both devices, cheap earphones (like those provided by most mobile phone retailers) can solve the problem quite effectively.
The answer of course depends on your needs. Movies can be excellent sources for learning and training, and sound equipment such as studio monitors can only help you to hear clearly. If you need to concentrate hard, the clarity of the sound is not as important as the quality of the images produced. Also, remember that theatre systems don’t just send loud music through speakers – they also transmit their sound waves through the walls and ceiling to make the picture crisper. So although the sound may be better, you’ll only end up with a higher quality picture.
If you’re interested in watching a movie at home, where you can set the volume to your preferred level, the quality will be fine. However, if you’re into playing video games and watching high-definition video streams on your computer monitor, you’ll want the best sound equipment. This is especially the case if you’re a movie fan who wants to get all the benefits of a movie theatre without having to pay expensive ticket prices! So are studio monitors really good for movies? In general, yes, they can be a good investment!