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Easy Home Theater Improvements

A list of easy home theater improvements you can make today!

Most people appreciate easy home theater improvements so they may have the best theater experience they can get. Thats great. We all should. But if you're on a budget, and who isn't really, you have to pick and choose what you can and can't put in your theater. Even if you're low on cash, there are plenty of things you can do to improve the experience your new home theater can offer you and your family.

Do Not Adjust Your Set...

Spend some time calibrating your new television set. Most sets aren't calibrated at all when shipped from the manufacturer. In fact, they tend to have the brightness and contrast turned up far too high. This is to ensure their sets look their best when put on display at the retailer. The manufacturers are trying to hedge their bets in case the retailer doesn't take the time to do the proper calibration themselves.

The problem here is that the set you bring home will also have these settings turned up to high. These leads to shorter life span in all types of televisions and can definitely harm other sets like plasma.

Try and get your hands on a calibration tool like Digital Video Essentials or Avia A/V Calibration to help. They intentionally display different colors and patterns and explain via a manual what you can expect to see on a properly calibrated set. The money spent here (around $50 online) can go quite a long way to improving the video quality of your television, whether its new or 10 years old.

Get Connected

Most audio/video gear built today have several connectivity options. HDMI, component, composite, S-video, DVI, and other types of connectors are available on everything from televisions to DVD players to A/V receivers. No matter how lowly your equipment may be, you want to use the best connector your gear offers.

In order of quality from best to worst, the major connection methods are:

HDMI (digital) - DVI (digital) - component (analog) - S-video (analog) - composite (analog)

Be sure to purchase good quality cables. Don't skimp out on the Walmart special on component cables. Good quality cables with gold-plated connectors purchased from a reputable manufacturer will outshine el'cheapo connectors any day.

Sound Advice

So you've got some good cables and your video looks sharp, but you've got these nagging sound problems you just can't put your finger on? Acoustic reflections and standing waves may now be your most annoying enemy. The shape of your home theater goes a long way to how good it will sound, no matter how expensive your audio gear may be. Sounds reflecting off of walls can mean the difference between a great movie experience and an average one. These sound reflections will cause dialog, sound effects, and movie soundtracks to arrive at your ears at slightly different times which is distracting. Installing acoustic wall treatments to your room at just the right places is what you need to do to fix these problems. For the price, they're one of the most effective and easy home theater improvements you can make.

There are different types of acoustic wall treatments. The most common types are simple wooden frames about 1 to 2 inches thick filled with sound insulating material and the covered with an attractive fabric. You find the places in your home theater where sound reflects off walls and you hang your new treatment there.

How do you find these reflection points? Sound reflects very much the way light does. Place a mirror along the side wall of your theater. You may need some help for this. Sit where your audience would be sitting, and then move the mirror until you can see one of your speakers. This is where sound would reflect toward the audience. Placing a wall treatment here will reduce that reflection.

You can also install bass traps in the corners of your theater. These absorb or diffuse what are known as standing waves. Standing waves are waves of low frequency sound energy that collects in the corners of your room reducing the overall bass performance of your theater. Bass traps reduce or eliminate these standing waves improving the acoustics of your home theater.

Final Thoughts

These examples are some of the cheaper ways to improve your home theater. Many of these are overlooked by most people but they can go a long way to improving your movie-watching.

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