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20 top tips to improve your home cinema or theatre

Wharfedale EVO4.4 Speaker

cyrus

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20 top tips to improve your home cinema or theatre

Source 20 top tips to improve your home cinema - AVReview Features

There are plenty of ways to improve the performance of your home cinema system and here are 20 of the hottest tips:

1. Get connected
The cables that arrive with your new components may seem like a thoughtful accessory from considerate manufacturers - but they're actually the lowest quality connections money can't buy. Upgrading your cables and interconnects is a simple and surprisingly effective way of improving your system's performance - without sacrificing a limb to afford it.

2. Wired for sound
Signals deteriorate the further cables are asked to travel so try to keep distances as short as possible. Using flat speaker wire will help to avoid turning your living room into a spider's web of unsightly connections. Also, ensuring that wires 'run' in the same direction (look at the writing) can also improve the delivery.

3. Rack 'em and stack 'em
Separating your system using a dedicated AV rack not only keeps things tidy but also improves performance. Isolating your components on separate shelves reduces unwanted vibrations and prevents electromagnetic interferences from disrupting the sound. Alternatively, you can cut a few squash balls in half and use them as vibration-dampening supports between components.

4. Stands to deliver
Like with AV racks, supporting your speakers on dedicated stands will help reduce resonant frequencies caused by vibrations. Standmount speakers should be positioned with the tweeter at ear level when you're sat in your listening position. Also, finding a stand for your centre speaker instead of the top of your TV will deliver dialogue with more detail.

5. One control to rule them all
If juggling several remotes at once demands the dexterity of an octopus with opposable thumbs, then lighten your load with a universal remote. The latest learning remotes can be easily programmed by simply pointing your old remote in its direction, and used to control your entire system. You can also customise commands and macro-programme a series of commands from only a single button - relegating one hand to popcorn duties.

6. Size matters
Before you splash out on a super-sized screen, ask if you have the space to accommodate it. Sitting too close not only gives you 'square eyes' but also reveals picture imperfections, especially with flat screens. Then again, sit too far away and you'll lose the on-screen impact of your favourite flicks. You can use these measurements as a guide:
Screen size Distance
13-26in - less than 2.5m
28-32in - 2.5-3m
36-42in - 3-4m
42-50in - above 4m

7. Get set for digital and HDTV
With the imminent arrival of high-definition TV services and the gradual switch-over from analogue to digital broadcasts beginning this year you need to ensure your new TV is equipped to face the future. More models are featuring already integrated digital TV tuners that will save you the space and cost of a set-top box. And to watch Sky's high-definition broadcasts, you'll need a widescreen set with a minimum 720 horizontal lines resolution and digital HDMI connectivity - look for the 'HDTV Ready' badges.

8. Keep an HDMI on the future
HDMI is regarded as the future of AV connections - tomorrow's Scart if you like. The single connection allows the direct digital transfer of both picture and multichannel sound signals without any conversion between analogue stages. This reduces degradation and noise to produce amazingly clear images and sound. HDMI inputs are appearing in more screens and are essential if you want to watch Sky's HDTV services or high-definition quality pictures from a compatible DVD player - ignore it at your peril.

9. Don't scrimp on a projector screen
While a white sheet or bare wall may suffice as a projector screen, the uneven surface and poor reflectivity won't do your projector any justice. Projector screens are more affordable than you think and will improve your experience immeasurably. Screens come in varying degrees of reflectivity, referred to as gain. The brighter your room, the higher gain screen you'll need to reduce the effect of ambient light - a gain of 12 is usually a safe choice.

10. Tinkering tutorial on disc
If you want to sharpen your system's performance to a razor's edge try soliciting the help of a DVD calibration disc. The discs include plenty of information and narration to help you calibrate various picture and sound settings with video and audio demonstrations to test their worth.

11. A piece of cake
When you're contemplating where to put your surround speakers in a 5.1 configuration, try to imagine a triangular piece of cake - with its top at the screen and corners of the base at each side of the listening position. Speakers, apart from the centre channel, should be positioned at each edge of the 'cake' for a basic recipe of surround sound success.

12. From Start to Furnish
The type of furnishings in your living room will play a part in the overall sound performance of your system. Bare walls, exposed floors and windows can create brightness and exaggerate low frequencies. You can introduce soft furnishings like rugs or heavy curtains to dampen the sound. Ideally, soft materials at the front of the room will help localize the sound from your front speakers while hard surfaces at the rear will create more reflections, enhancing ambience.

13. Put some money into a meter
All speakers in a surround system should operate at the same level for a balanced preparation. But trying to distinguish between test tones by ear can be difficult and if you want to be exact use a cheap sound pressure level meter to make adjustments. To use an SPL, make sure the room is quiet, take a seat in your listening position and set the SPL to 80dB, select C weighting and slow response. Hold the SPL firmly in front of you facing upwards and turn the volume of the test tone up until the SPL reads 75dB then adjust each channel until you get the same reading.

14. Automatic for the people
If correctly configuring your AV receiver is a daunting prospect then search out a model that's equipped with an Automatic Calibration System. These systems are even appearing in budget models now and decent ones are extremely accurate and easy to use. All you need do is connect a supplied microphone, place it in your listening position and allow the receiver to calibrate your system using a series of intermittent tones - without you even moving.

15. Sub way
Turning the subwoofer too loud is probably the most common set-up mistake - think quality over quantity? and reestablish relationships with your neighbours. You can find the best placement by starting with the sub in your listening position and moving around the room until you find a place it sounds best - and that's where to put it. Also remember that placing a sub too close to walls will emphasise low frequencies while free space does the opposite. Then again, if your large room requires more bass then you can always use a second, tonally consistent sub? and reestablish problems with your neighbours.

16. Add to the ambience
Rear speakers are responsible for ambient effects in a surround sound system. You can enhance the depth, spaciousness and cohesion of your surround sound by introducing additional rear speakers in either a 6.1 or 7.1 configuration - provided you have a compatible receiver of course.

17. Bi-wire front speakers for improved stereo sound
AV receivers are not renowned for their two-channel music ability. If you intend playing stereo music from your receiver, find a model that allows you to reassign additional surround rear channels to bi-wire your front two speakers and improve musicality.

18. Treat 'em clean to keep 'em keen
Keeping your system dust-free and clean also polishes the performance. You can treat interconnect plugs and terminals by dabbing them with cotton wool soaked in isopropyl alcohol from your local chemist to improve audio clarity. And wipe the smears from your screen with a suitable screen cleaner to get a better look at the picture.

19. Get switched on
If you don't have enough sockets to support your growing repertoire of components then turn your attention to a switcher - simply a device that houses additional two-way sockets which connects to your screen. You can get switchers for Scarts and, more recently, HDMI connections - especially useful if you want to alternate between broadcast and DVD high-definition signals.

20. Conditioned response
Connecting all your components using a mains conditioner will improve sound dynamics and picture resolution. Mains conditioners clean up the power supply before reaching your equipment and also prevent potentially damaging electrical surges. And keep cables away from mains leads to avoid electrical interference.
 

partita

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Great tips and I like to add/emphasize 2 points.

1) You need a HD source!

Make sure you get HD programming from either your satellite or cable operator.
I have seen way too many consumers with HDTV yet they still watch Standard Def video! It looks horrible on HDTV since all the interpolation that is needed.

If you don't get HD programming it is pointless.

I read a survey like 60% of HDTV owners have HD service. That means 40% are just wathching horrible Standard Def video.

2) Once you get the HD service or HD DVD players ( Blu Ray now.)
You should definatly use HDMI.

It is the only truly digital connection and you get absolutly no degradation.

I have just recently converted all to HDMI and connecting : HD receiver, PS3, HD video cam all to the HDTV via a HDMI switch hub. The PQ is incredible and much bettern than the component.
 

musik_manz

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Mar 31, 2008
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would say most of points you have mentioned is published by commerical vendors and I don't think that will really improve things.few points are valid.But let us agree to disagree and who can buy those idea can follow it.
 
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