Tuesday, February 10, 2015


The name "home theater" was coined as a direct affront to movie theaters as in, "You can watch at home with the same level of enjoyment as if you were going out to a movie theater. But the reality has always been about comfort and convenience: watching at home means watching what you want when you want. But in order to do that, a big TV with a good sound system is needed. That wasn't so easy to acquire back in the day, but with big screen TVs so reasonably priced, pretty much any room can become a "home theater" and be worthy of the name.

But like any technology that has grown in leaps and bounds, some misconceptions have taken root. These misconceptions about home theater can keep you from enjoying the best picture and sound possible. So lets put a stop to three misconceptions right now.

The brilliance of a HDMI cable is that it can transmit not just high-definition video but multichannel audio as well. This is both convenient (removing the need for separate audio/video cables) as well as practical (since the connection looks unlike others and just works via insertion/gravity rather than any locking mechanism). But while digital ensures that if the cables wiring is working a picture is seen, the requirements of bandwidth needs today require a high-speed cable. This makes inexpensive models less likely usable and so should be avoided. Additionally, the cost of a HDMI cable can be quantified by its construction how well it will hold up physically. This means that not all HDMI cables are the same, since the quality of how they are made affects their overall use over time. This can be especially true when greater lengths are needed.

There's no question that a surge protector will help protect electronic devices plugged into the AC line -- the power "grid" is undependable at best and even minor surges can be problematic to electronics depending on electrical power to operate. That includes power "spikes" too both can cause damage over time (and invisibly). But its also true that AC power is "dirty" and can negatively impact both video and audio by degrading the quality subtly. To avoid that, a power conditioner will come in handy. What this does is take the AC power and conform and adjust it so that whatever is plugged into it benefits from a stable and "clean" current. This can only improve on the video (i..e., the TV picture) and the audio (i.e., the amplifier, sound bar, etc.). Best part is that you plug your devices into the power conditioner and then forget about it -- other than making some adjustments to the conditioner itself, there's nothing else that needs to be done. And yes the power conditioner has surge protection too.

Its understandable that reading a manual laced with technical jargon can be annoying pretty much every amplifier (i.e., audio/video receiver) is full of this because theres so many options and adjustments that can be made. But unlike a sound bar, an amplifier can adjust the sound coming from multiple speakers so as to make them provide a balanced sound basically making the speakers work together. So adjusting the speakers to benefit the listening position makes complete sense if only it wasnt such an issue to have to adjust each individually. Thats where the manual comes in, since most amplifiers include a microphone that, placed at the listening position, works with the amplifier to automatically do the adjusting through a series of tones. Its fast and painless (unless you stay in the room while the tones blast out) and improves on the sound immensely. It should be done.

Having a home theater means that you want the best possible picture and sound that you can get. Eliminating the misconceptions that can keep you from having that is a simple but necessary step that is well worth doing.


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