Make it worth the watch

Top 5 movies you should watch to test your home theater system

Big screen LCD TVs and Blu-ray players are all the rage right now. People want to make sure they get the largest and clearest possible picture, but what about the audio? Even if you have the biggest, baddest television on the market, if you don’t have a quality surround sound system, you only have half of a home theater.

But how do you know if you truly have a good sound system? We’ve come up with the best movies possible to stretch your tweeters and woofers to the limit. Whether it’s for the soundtrack, sound effects or sound mixing, each one of these films is going to test a different aspect of your surround sound system.

Here are the top 5 films that will test your home theater speakers:

5. Transformers

Update 1

Say what you want about Michael Bay, but he can direct action sequences. Explosions, slow-motion, sweeping camera angles and car chases are always present in Bay’s films. “Transformers” has all of that, plus the added bonus of transforming robots whirling around the screen. The mechanical noises are distinct for each robot and a good sound system will allow you to hear that. Also, keep an ear out for the original transforming sound from the cartoon as it is played a handful of times in this movie.

4. Jurassic Park

update 2

ne roar of the Tyrannosaurus will let you know if your surround sound is up to par. The bellow of this beast was actually created by mixing the sounds made by an elephant, a tiger and an alligator. To test your tweeters, just watch any scene with the Velociraptors. Their high-pitched squeal was actually taken from a harmless dolphin mixed with the low growl of a walrus. Also, a good home theater system will make you feel like you’re right in the middle of the Gallimimus stampede. In addition to the excellent sound mixing, John William’s moving and memorable soundtrack will test the clarity and warmth of your speakers.

3. Gladiator

Update 3

The soundtrack alone is worthy of a speaker test. Hans Zimmer’s rousing compositions such as “The Battle” and “Barbarian Horde” will fill your room with clashing cymbals, beating drums and fiery horns. And then, in the end, you get the beautiful, swirling, serene “Now We Are Free” song with the enigmatic, yet enchanting lyrics of Lisa Gerrard. Plus, the fight scenes are more than just clashing swords — they include chariots, whips, flaming pots of doom, explosions, roaring tigers and the roar of the crowd. Even if the film is not to your liking, the soundtrack should be.

2 Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Update 4

Any of the Lord of the Rings films by Peter Jackson would be suitable for a speaker test, but “Return of the King” stands out from the rest because of one particular scene, when Aragorn meets the Army of the Dead at Dunharrow. In this scene, the voices of the dead will echo throughout your room along with a haunting wind. It’s hard to tell where the voices are coming from if your system is set up correctly. All of this, of course, is in addition to the epic battle scenes, the screeching Ringwraiths on their flying beasts, the boiling lava of Mount Doom and the collapse of Mordor. If that all weren’t enough, the accompanying musical score by Howard Shore provides yet another reason why this is one of the best movies to test your speaker system.

1. The Star Wars Saga

update 5

Is it unfair to include all six movies in this ranking? Maybe. But if we would have separated them, they would have dominated the entire list. Few will argue against the Star Wars films being a great test of a home theater. Your tweeters will tremor with the high-pitched laser blasts in the space battles as the ships whoosh past. Your midrange drivers will hum along with the lightsabers as they are wielded by the Jedi. And your subwoofers will boom as each incarnation of the Death Star is destroyed. George Lucas knows what he’s doing with sound — after all, he helped create THX, the current standard for movie theater sound. John Williams composed the music for each one of the films. The “Star Wars Main Theme,” “The Imperial March” and “Duel of the Fates” are all iconic compositions that are instantly recognizable. In short, if you only have time for one film to test out your home theater speaker system, make it one of the Star Wars films.


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