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Home Theater Design: Absorption vs. Diffusion [Glossary of Terms]

One of the most commonly misunderstood concepts you’ll face when you start putting together a home theater or high-end listening room is the role absorption and diffusion play in how your room will ultimately sound – regardless of the equipment you put in it. Just like with any other technology or specialized field, important terms get thrown around by people in the know while those of us not in the know kind of grin and nod our heads while we hope that maybe someday we’ll figure exactly what the heck all of these smart people are talking about.

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A Brief History of Surround Sound

You could win a bar bet by knowing that Quadraphonic sound (surround-sound as we call it now) first became available in 1969. In 1970, RCA Records released Quad-8 tapes which were 8-Track tapes that played discrete quadraphonic sound. If you played them on a standard stereo 8-Track you would only get half the sound, so this lack of backward compatibility meant you had to buy a specific Quad-8 player. Again, expensive with not a lot of demand. Quad-8 tapes were available until 1978, but demand was never strong.

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