Featured AV Setup & Home Theater Calibration Articles
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This guide is designed to address the numerous questions we receive from new home theater owners who purchase a new system component and don't quite understand the How's and Why's of bass management.
When trying to get the most performance out of your home theater, few things are more important than proper display calibration. It has come to our attention that many of you utilizing an HDMI…
Recently Published AV Setup & Home Theater Calibration Articles
No matter how good of a loudspeaker system you have, it's inconsequential to how it will perform in your room if it isn't properly placed and set up. It is imperative to ensure there is a direct path of sound from all of the drivers of your center channel to the listening seats without any obstructions such as theater chairs or people's heads. This article discusses how to tweak the positioning of your center channel speaker and also improve the base or stand it sits on to eliminate harmful resonances. We highly recommend you take the time to properly place and set up all of your speakers, and give some extra attention to the center channel as it will repay you in dividends when trying to understand what Bane is saying while crushing Batman's back.
As video displays become thinner, and more people move towards high-performance home theaters, manufacturers are often de-prioritizing the built in sound in their televisions. In other words, if you want anything other than small, quiet, tinny sound, you’ll need an external solution. For folks that don’t want a complex system that takes up a lot of real estate, a soundbar is a good option. “Soundbar” is the generic name for a system with multiple driver arrays in a single enclosure. They are much wider than they are tall to provide a sense of stereo separation and to match the aesthetic of today’s widescreen TVs.
My dentist was looking for a compact, reasonably priced home theater system that provided surround sound in the main family room and distributed audio throughout the home. The challenge was accommodating all of the design constraints outlined by his wife while still offering a respectable solution I could rest well at night after installing. Although this installation wasn’t perfect, I managed to take a pretty grim situation and turned it around to a workable solution. This system comprises Denon, Samsung and Panamax components with EMP and SVS speakers and subwoofers, respectively. Knowing the caliber of dentist my friend is, I asked him if the sound quality and function of the system met his expectations and he confidently told me “NO! They exceeded them!” Looking for a home theater system that you and your spouse can live with? Check out our install.
We know, we know...you are an expert in everything. Mounting a TV, wiring an outlet, framing a wall, programming a home automation system, or building a DIY speaker—you've got it covered. If only that were true. The truth is, we all need help. Coming from the custom install world, I can attest to the horrible mistakes that can be made when someone chooses not to ask for help. Depending on what you're doing, the consequences of guessing could be minor (having a speaker a few dB too loud/quiet) to all-out catastrophic (having a TV fall down, which scares the cat who then darts off and knocks over a candle, which then catches the curtains on fire, and then your entire home burns down, but the fire spreads over a clothes line and burns down the entire city block, which causes a local chemical factory to catch fire and explode, leading to a toxic cloud floating across the world and hurting millions of people). Seriously, don't create a toxic cloud, ask for help.
Do your speakers sound like they are in a tunnel, cave, bathroom, auditorium, or a similar location? If so, chances are that you have some type of DSP, or Digital Signal Processing, going on in your system. AV receiver manufacturers often include a number of different DSPs that are supposed to recreate the sound of a particular venue, but these modes can be distracting. Yamaha tends to be the king of DSPs, with options like Hall in Munich, Hall in Vienna, and The Roxy Theater. Their current flagship receiver, the RX-A3020, actually boasts a total of 23 different DSP programs! Check your A/V receiver settings to be sure you're running Dolby TrueHD / DTS HD without DSP processing if your experiencing undesirable results.
In stores, manufacturers purposefully crank up brightness and contrast, among other settings, to make their TVs look "better" than the competition. We know that "better" actually means, "We jacked with the settings as much as possible, at the expense of an accurate picture, so you would buy our TV." Unfortunately, this means your brand new TV doesn't look anywhere close to how it should. If you can afford the money to have your display professionally calibrated by an ISF or THX certified technician, great! If not, you can still get 80% of the way there by utilizing a test disc. Below are a few of the most popular tests discs on the market. If you don't want to spend any money on calibrating your display, then look through your movie collection for a THX certified disc that has the THX Optimizer included. Set your TV's picture mode to cinema or movie (or THX if it's available) and run through the THX Optimizer.
Every so often some variation of this question gets asked on the Audioholics Forums, "Will I blow my speakers if I use amplifier X with speaker Y?" A good general answer is that so long as reasonable care is taken, odds are good your equipment will last for years to come. That is to say, if you detect strain or distortion, simply turn the volume down to the point where those problems go away. Bluntly, no you won't destroy your new speakers simply by the act of hooking them up to a receiver that can deliver something other than the exact amount of power they happen to be rated for, so go enjoy some tunes. Not satisfied yet? No problem, follow the few steps below to make sure your system stays rockin' for the long haul.
As a general rule, we do not recommend mixing and matching different brands of speakers in a surround sound system. Even mixing different lines within a particular brand can present problems. In order to maintain a reasonably consistent timbre (sonic signature) between different speakers, it's a good idea to have a matched system. Matching your front three speakers is most important, but if the manufacturer of your front speakers doesn't make a suitable surround speaker you can consider going with a different brand for surround speakers. Still, we recommend trying to stay within the same brand and series for all of your speakers. A notable exception to this rule is the subwoofer, which fills in the low end. In fact, there is rarely any reason to keep your subwoofer the same brand as your main speakers. There are several companies specializing in subwoofers, such as SVS, Hsu Research, Velodyne, Rythmik, and Power Sound Audio whose products have consistently proven to be better than many of the alternatives on the market.
Background noise can drown out soft dialogue in movies or soft details in music. Unfortunately, most people only think about blocking noise from leaving a home theater, instead of stopping noise from coming in. Here are a few tips to keep noise out of your home theater.
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