Video and Audio Center Blog



Thursday, December 31, 2015

CHECK THE HDMI CABLES TO ENSURE A GREAT PICTURE



The end of the year is a great time to check on that favorite friend who has given you so much enjoyment over the last 12 months — your TV. But that also means checking that there hasn’t been any problems developed over the course of the year that has caused, or could cause problems or degrade the quality of the picture that you’ve been watching. And if you’ve gotten yourself a new TV — 4K or Curved or OLED or HDTV — it might seem a simple matter to just use the existing cables as they are to connect everything. But that might not be such a good idea because it’s the little things that can make the most impact.

So it’s time to take a good, hard look at the HDMI cables that are being used or you will be using. We all know  how great these cables are — they combine a picture and audio together so there’s no need for two separate cables — and they all look the same on the outside. They also all fit into their receptacles (ports) in the same manner; relying on friction to hold them in place because there’s no secure locking mechanism in place on them. So there’s no guarantee that the HDMI cable will stay in the device it’s been attached to. And since these cables fit into the back of the TV or Blu-ray player or cable box, etc. — that also means they can be easily pulled out inadvertently by the owner moving some equipment around or even just over time.

So lets look at what can be done to ensure that the HDMI cables are doing the best job they can.

HDMI CABLES AREN’T ALL THE SAME

HDMI first became a choice to use when HDTVs appeared. But since then there’s been 3D added to the mix and of course now 4K high-resolution. Using a current HDMI cable is necessary because it will be valid to use with all that is now going on and will be going on moving forward. Using old HDMI cables, even if they were originally given as free, can mean that the video signal traveling through isn’t as stable or intense as needed. Better to get new cables — high-speed cables are easily available and in various sizes from as minimal as 3 feet on up to 12 feet. The cables even offer some color styling as well, and in varying colors too.

ANGLING FOR A BETTER CONNECTION

The one thing that is guaranteed with a HDMI cable is that it will eventually be pulled out of the port it’s been put into should there be any tension brought against it. That’s because of the lack of a locking mechanism as noted above (and the effect of gravity bearing down on the cable). A simple and very effective solution is to use gravity to your advantage by changing the orientation of the HDMI cable. This can be done with an adapter that goes into the port that the HDMI cable normally would, with the HDMI cable going then into the adapter. But the adapter isn’t straightforward and that is its charm: it’s made on a right angle principle so that the HDMI cable that’s connected to it is pointed straight down. There’s that use of gravity. This also makes it far easier to remove or insert an HDMI cable and protects the port on the TV or device (for example, an A/V Receiver) from getting damaged from being overworked.


Sometimes the easiest solutions are the best and when it comes to watching on one of today’s new TVs, the HDMI cable is just a pittance of the cost but can affect the picture without one even knowing it. Short of having a professional installer, for example Just One Touch, coming in to set up everything for you (an excellent choice when deciding to build a home theater around your new purchase), making sure the HDMI cables are good is something that anyone can do.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

UPGRADE YOUR AUDIO SYSTEM



When was the last time you watched a movie with the sound turned off? No matter how big or splendid the TV picture is — without sound there’s just no enjoying it. And because today’s BIG SCREEN TVs are now so thin and svelte, there’s just not the room for including big speakers that can provide big sound to accompany the big picture.

That’s why it’s way past time to upgrade your audio system. Besides the obvious enjoyment of having greater volume and surround sound effects, listening to music becomes an event, not a tiny sound coming from a portable speaker or a smartphone.

The basics needed for a home audio system are simple, but making choices as to which components will best serve your needs will take time and effort. As will placing them correctly in your living room, den or wherever that 4K TV or HDTV has been placed. That’s why many forego the route of the Do-It-Youselfer and have a professional installer like Just One Touch take over: they not only have the knowledge as to what will give you the best possible sound, but also as to how to place the audio system so that it performs at its best.

So here are the basics that will transform whatever room you’re watching in — as it makes your home theater experience as good as going to the movies. Just without having to pay those insane prices for a candy bar and soda.


The A/V Receiver

An Audio/Video Receiver (named as such due to receivers having added video capabilities some time back) provides the means for powering the speakers that the home theater needs. As the “hub” of all the components, the receiver decodes the audio formats, like Dolby Digital and DTS (as well as even newer audio technologies like Dolby Atmos and others) and amplifies the audio signal so that it can drive the various speakers that provide surround sound. There are many added benefits found in different AV Receivers, but providing for multiple speakers is always the main concern — be that a 5.1 system (meaning a front left, front right, center channel and pair of surrounds along with a powered subwoofer) or 7.1 or even greater.

Additionally, the receiver can be used as a “video switcher” — this works by having the various video components (such as a Blu-ray player, a cable box, etc.) sending their video signal into the receiver. Then a single output cable goes from the receiver into the TV or front projector. This also has the advantage of sending the multichannel audio into the receiver, provided that the cable being used between the video device and receiver is an HDMI cable.  
The Speakers

A set of speakers provide sound for the  home theater. A pair of left and right speakers are the basics, good for playing stereo from a CD or a vinyl turntable or even a digital file. But to enhance the sound, a center speaker (a.k.a. center channel) will highlight dialogue and voices. Then added to that will be a pair of surround speakers (left and right) to allow for the surround effects that make movies so exciting. A subwoofer in the corner (self-powered) joins in to add the strong bass that makes action movies so dynamic. More speakers can be added too, especially if the sound format calls for them, but the 5.1 audio system is the basic setup needed for a home theater to sound good. Not that there are not alternates that can be used — for example, a speaker bar sound system. Here you have a number of speakers contained in a single unit, with surround speakers and a subwoofer often part of the package as well (and in some cases working wirelessly too). 


The Hardware
Amplifiers and speakers and other components can’t be left on the floor — they all need to be properly positioned not just so that they can perform their tasks correctly, but so they are safe for those watching to be around. So that’s why speaker stands and TV cabinets and other furniture and special devices are needed. That’s also where a professional installer can excel: helping to place those elements of the home theater safely and ubiquitously.

A home theater needs a great audio system just as it needs a great TV. Careful planning and patience will serve you well as you work on upgrading your audio system.