Home Theatre Oversight

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A Review By: Alphonso Soosay

Did you make any mistakes when setting up your Home Theatre System?
You believe that you have spent quite a lot of your cash in setting up your new home theatre but something tell you that it just home-theaterseems not as it should be.
The following explains the more often confused mistakes that many people make when trying to set up a home theatre system.

Buying the Wrong Size Television
The majority of people I know want a big projection screen, Plasma or LCD TV, on the other hand, a huge TV system is not always best for a particular size room or viewing distance. A good rule of thumb to follow is that the minimum optimum viewing distance from the viewer to the TV screen should be about 2 to 2 1/2 times the width of the television screen. In other words, if you have a 68-inch television, you should not sit closer than about 14 feet from the screen.

Buying the correct Projector
As the movie industry moves towards digital presentations, the door has also been opened for the general public to bring digital technology into their homes.
From DVD’s, Blu-Ray’s to projectors, we are seeing that digital technology is improving and allows for more storage memory, quality resolution and a real life imaging system. Seeing movies in a theatre is a thrill. Bringing movie sized imaging into the home has been a problem, until now. With the new DMD chip, home viewing is now enhanced in many ways. The resolution and sound quality doesn’t have to be lost in home theatres. Keep reading for more tips on the latest and what to look for in a home theatre projector. So, finding the right home theatre projector is simply a matter of knowing what to look for. Before you buy a home theatre projector, always ask a few questions about its resolution, lumens and contrast ratio. These are the important factors in determining the quality of images you will receive from your projector.

  1. For bright, bold images, look for an ANSI lumens rating of at least 1100 and a 150W UHP lamp life of 2500 hours.
  2. A contrast ratio of appox. 600:1 will allow for deep, vibrant colours on movies, pictures, video games, and sports television.
  3. The number of pixels in your DMD chip will also determine the range of colours contained in your projector.
  4. Remember to check out the lens on the projector as well. Ask if the projector adjusts the focus and zoom manually, automatically or both.
  5. Other extra features to consider are the outputs and video signals. For instance, is your projector compatible with DVD or Blue ray players, HDMI, & amp; component outputs MP3’s, or computers? Be sure that your projector includes multi video signals like NTSC, PAL, PAL-M/N/ and SECAM.

Room Windows
Most Plasma or LCD TV systems perform very well in a semi-lit room, however, darker is better, especially for large video projection screen. Never place your TV on a wall opposite windows. If you have curtains to cover the windows, make sure they cannot pass light through into the room when they are closed.

Buying Low-cost Speakers
Some people spend a small fortune on audio/video components, but do not spend enough thought on the quality of the loudspeakers and subwoofer. This does not mean that you have to spend thousands for a modest system; but you should consider quality speakers that can perform the piece of music work accurately.
With so many choices of brands available, it may seem difficult, but the ultimate thing to do is to actually listen to speakers at a “Home Theatre” showroom before you purchase. Do your own comparisons. Take your own CDs and DVD’s with you to hear what they sound like with various speakers available in showroom.

Unbalanced Speaker Levels
You have connected and placed the speakers at the right position and turned everything on, but it does not sounds right; the subwoofer overwhelms the room (booming), centre speaker dialog cannot be heard over the rest of the soundtrack and the surround sound effect is not effective. This can be easily solved.
Generally Home Theatre receivers have a setup menu that allows you to note the size, as well as the distance of the speakers from the prime listening position, but also includes a test tone generator to assist in adjusting the sound output level of each speaker.

User Manuals
Sometimes you may think that you know how to put all the equipment together. No matter how easy it may looks, it is always a delightful idea to read the owner’s manual for your components, even before you take them out of the box. Get familiar with functions and connections before you hook-up and set-up.

About Service Plan
Although service plans are not needed for all items, if you are buying a large projection screen or flat panel LCD or Plasma Television, it is something to consider for two reasons:

  1. The sets are big and house calls are costly when paid out of pocket.
  2. If you have a problem with a Plasma or LCD screen, you cannot repair the individual defect; you will most likely have to replace the entire screen which probably means the entire set.

What You Are Really Looking For
Although considering by brand is a good starting point, but it does not guarantee that the “top” brand for a particular item is precise for you. When shopping, make sure you consider a variety of brands, models, and prices into consideration. Also, avoid prices that seem to be too good to be true. At the same time, a high-priced item does not necessarily guarantee of a excellent product of your choice. You will have to look for the features that you will use and require.

Cable Mess
Generally people are guilty of this. Every time a new component is added to our home theatre, we are adding more cables to it. Eventually it is difficult to keep track of what is connected to what; especially when you attempt to track down a bad cable signal or move the components around.

Here are two tips:
1) Make sure your cable runs are not too long; but long enough to allow easy access to your components.

2) Label your cables using cable markers, coloured tape or other marking so you know what is going where. Examples, Outputs / inputs and different sources used.

Avoid using Cheap Cables
There is always a loyal debate on whether it is necessary to purchase very high priced cables for a basic home theatre system. However, one thing to consider is that the thin, cheaply constructed cables that come with many Blu-Ray / DVD players, etc. Probably should be replaced by something that is a little more heavy-duty. The reasons are that a more heavy duty cable can provided better shielding from interference, and will also stand up over the years to any physical abuse that can occurs along the way.

10) How to get Professional Help When You Need It
When you have done everything right to your knowledge and you have connected all the components, knowing that you have also adjusted the sound levels and you have bought the right size Plasma TV using good cables but it still not right for your liking. The sound is outrageous, the Plasma TV looks not to your satisfaction. What can I do?

Instead of spending more time and money, or returning it all, consider calling the people you bought the system from or a professional installer to assess the situation. You might have to gulp down your pride and pay about $60 or more for the house call, believe me, that house call investment can rescue a home theatre catastrophe and twist it into a “Home Theatre” in a Pot of Gold within an hour or so.


Alphonso Soosay

Home Theatre Consultant


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