A topnotch home theater system can make every TV and movie viewing affair as entertaining and engaging as possible. It’s not necessary to purchase a top-of-the-line system in order to get excellent visual and audio results, as long as you set your products up in order to optimize these qualities. You no longer have to go to a movie theater to have a completely immersive viewing experience. As long as you have a decent HDTV, the correct cables, and some surround sound products, just follow these tips to get the most out of your home theater.
For the best visuals possible, it’s important to place your HDTV at the optimal viewing distance. While differing opinions abound on the subject, a good rule of thumb is that you should have the screen twice as far from you as your screen measures in diagonal. For example, a 42 inch screen would require you to sit about 5.3 feet away.
Arrange Your Speakers
This is fairly simple, as you’ll want to set these in an equilateral triangle, with the right and left front speakers as separate points and the viewer’s ears as your third point. Many people do this by placing them on either side of the TV, but basically you just want them to be symmetrical. If you are ten feet from your TV, the speakers you place should be ten feet apart (or about five feet from the middle of the TV). Your subwoofer can be placed in a more arbitrary manner – except for in an enclosed place such as a corner (and your neighbors will appreciate it if you keep it away from walls). You’ll want to experiment with a few different places in order to figure out where the sound quality is the best.
Tune the Speaker Volume
Adjust your speaker volume based on the distance to your listener. If you have more than two speakers, you need to pay careful attention to each alteration you make. Take a seat in your viewing spot and change the master volume so it’s at the level you want. You’ll have a test tone on your receiver that helps you set the volume levels – switch this on and allow it to play through every speaker. Adjust the volume level of every channel until they each sound alike. You can also use video calibration DVDs for this job. Keep in mind that your surround speakers are meant to shine only in certain parts of a show or movie – such as when a telephone rings or a rainstorm comes – not to give off loud sound at all times.
Adjust Your Subwoofer and Crossover
To set up your subwoofer, you need to determine its volume and crossover frequency, which is the point at which a sound is sent to it instead of your speakers. You’ll usually want this to be the point at which your speakers will begin to roll off (listed on your speaker’s specs). If your receiver has a setting for speaker size (small or large), you’ll probably want to set it to small in order to optimize sound.
Follow these guidelines, play around with some different settings and placements, and you’ll be enjoying your home theater system to its full potential in no time.