Monday, April 25, 2016


Everybody talks about a home theater as if it only can be done if you have a lot of room and a lot of money to spend. But a home theater isn’t just about the picture and sound, it’s also about where you will be spending your time watching. So what your home theater needs is to be set up so that it will provide you with the best experience possible. To do this, a few things need to be considered and taken care of. None are necessarily hard — they just require some foresight and planning.

The television may be going against a wall or it could be on a cabinet, but that doesn’t mean where you sit can’t be adjusted to be the proper distance away. There are calculators that will tell you how far back you should sit to the TV; these can be found online and don’t require extensive math skills to understand or use. The idea is to be far enough away to take advantage of seeing the whole picture without any distractions. If the TV is on a cabinet, obviously there will be more options for where it and the viewing area will be (since it can be moved around) — but for many, putting the TV on the wall means not using up any of the available space so that there’s more room (for most a professional installer like Just One Touch will do the job efficiently and correctly and, most of all in a safe manner).


Glare can ruin the enjoyment of watching so beware of having a TV too close to windows or where lighting can reflect off it it. Having the blinds closed or the shades drawn will immediately take care of the problem from outside, as well as muffling extraneous noise. Additionally, curtains help to make the audio sound better than if it is bouncing off of bare walls. The same goes for furniture like couches and other padded objects in the room.        

Where the speakers go will make a difference in the quality of the audio they put out. Soundbars are designed to go beneath the TV (if wall mounted) or in front of them (but not blocking the view in on a cabinet) — the various adjustments that can be made should be made so as to make the sound particular to your own environment. This means working through menus and perhaps even reading the instruction manual so as to get the best sound possible. Default settings should never be used.

If the speakers are separate, tower models will have their own stands built in. For smaller speakers, placing them on speaker stands will help them to sound better than if put on the floor — not just because of vibrations but also because the audio will be more muffled if on the floor (plus don’t forget neighbors whose ceiling is your floor, apartment dwellers). Making the speakers work together can be made easier by having the same brand for all of them: the left and right speakers that provide stereo and the center channel for dialogue and the left and right surrounds for sound. An omnidirectional subwoofer can pretty much go anywhere, even under a couch, and continue to do its job without incident.


Nobody likes when someone walks in front of them and blocks their view — watching at home shouldn’t mean having to put up with something that happens all too often at movie theaters. See if it’s possible to arrange the seating facing the TV so that someone coming into the area doesn’t have to walk in front of the TV. It might take some time to get this right, but once it is done you will be glad you took care of it.

Having a home theater doesn’t mean you have to have a separate room or the latest and most expensive equipment. But it does mean doing everything possible to enhance your viewing experience. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016


There's no denying that a big screen TV will give you a big picture to watch -- that's just sensible to say. But what about sound? Try watching a TV show or movie without the audio and it seems like all the energy has been sucked out of the room. But just turning up the volume of the TV isn't enough to give you the best sound possible -- for that you need to become involved and work to integrate the sound with the picture to suit your personal environment. Making the sound as powerful and enjoyable as possible requires making a few choices, but they will be worth it when you listen to your favorite TV shows or the next time you watch a movie -- be it streaming from the Internet or coming off of a high resolution Blu-ray disc (courtesy of a 1080p Blu-Ray player or the even higher 4K resolution from a 4K Blu-ray player).

The sound being put out hasn't been set to sound the best in the room the TV is located in -- it's set to a default standard instead. Contrary to popular belief, there's a lot of adjustments that can be made to the audio -- some of them specific to the particular TV manufacturer, but many are "generic" in that everyone includes them. And which go beyond the obvious raising of the levels of the treble or bass. For example, these adjustments include the ability to create a pseudo-surround sound effect (using the two speakers that the TV uses for stereo) with a variety of "tweaks" to make this more dynamic or apparent to the listener. Another adjustment is that for moderating the sound levels to insure that very minute sounds don't get lost amidst the louder audio being played (this is distinct from the "night" settings that many TVs have which keeps the audio playing low even when a commercial comes on at full blast). Still another adjustment is designed to enhance the quality of the audio while digitally removing hiss and other problems in the audio stream. Finding what audio adjustments can be made is as simple as looking at the TVs menu selection (since most TVs eschew a printed manual) or by searching from the embedded or online manual that details what the TV can do. And should the results annoy or offend the ear, accessing the "reset" setting will return the audio to how it was before you started so you can begin again.

For those looking to have more control over the sound, the first thing to do is avoid the audio from the TV completely by adding external audio. There are two selections that can be made here: the first is b getting a soundbar. A soundbar contains a number of speakers which, by virtue of it being independent from the TV, can be larger (the soundbar's size is also variable as well). Connecting a soundbar to the TV is simplified these days through the use of an HDMI plug, which in some cases will also allow the soundbar's menu to be viewed on the TV. Inputs on the soundbar can be used for getting audio from other sources than just the TV, for example from the cable box/satellite receiver directly or from a DVD or Blu-ray player. The soundbar doesn't take up much room and is designed for placement in front of the TV. This can be on the same cabinet the TV is placed on or, if the TV has been wall-mounted, then the soundbar can be wall mounted below it (for those concerned about wall mounting of a TV, professional installers, for example Just One Touch, can take care of doing this for you in a manner that will enhance the room). Additionally, most soundbars include a subwoofer for adding deep bass to the overall sound. Since a subwoofer is omnidirectional, it can be placed in the room without concern. And since the connected subwoofer works wirelessly in most cases, no wires need be involved.


Those with the room, and inclination, can duplicate how movie theaters arrange their sound by having multiple speakers to provide true surround sound. The basic setup requires a left and right speaker (for stereo) plus a center speaker for the "center channel" which is where the dialogue (voices) emanate from. Besides a subwoofer, two surround speakers (left and right) are placed on either side where the listeners are located to form a 5.1 audio situation (this number is increased as more speakers are added to further the surround effect, such as 7.1 and higher).  Newer technologies, such as Dolby Atmos, add to the surround effect through specialized speakers and their placement -- some of this can be done by the listener themselves while other setups might work best using in-wall, in-ceiling speakers put in by a professional installer

Regardless of how the speakers are placed, an AV Receiver (amplifier) is also needed to provide the power for "driving" the sound to the speakers. AV Receivers come in varying power configurations and with varying features, just as is the case with TVs. However you don't need to match a specific AV Receiver with specific speakers as regards the brand names -- what must be matched up is that the speakers are able to handle the amount of power that the AV Receiver can put out, and that the AV Receiver has been constructed so as to handle the amount of speakers that are designed for use (as well as having the audio technologies that are desired for the surround sound effect also).

Having great sound to go with your TV doesn't take technical expertise so much as it does patience and planning for accomplishing the results you want. Once you gain the audio quality that matches the level of the visual quality of your TV, it'll be time to sit back and enjoy.

Thursday, April 07, 2016


Everyone knows that the picture you get on today’s new BIG SCREEN TV is light-years ahead of those in the past. The TV displays brilliant colors, excellent contrast and an overall look that makes for excitement every time you sit down in front of it. But lost in all this are a few simple ways to improve on that already great picture — things that you can do that will make a difference because they’re applicable to your home and where the TV ends up living. The best part is that none of this can cause any problems with your TV either. So lets get started.

The display of a new TV can attract dust, which will adhere to the screen. This also works against seeing all that the display is trying to show you. Keeping the TV screen clean can be done on a regular basis, for example after you’re done giving the kitchen a once-over or having vacuumed the carpeting. The simplest way to keep the TV screen clean is to use a feather duster and remove all the dust from around the TV on the cabinet it stands on, as well as around the display’s rim/bezel (which also applies when the TV is wall-mounted). And a light feather-dusting of the screen can be done too.

But should there be more “junk” on the screen that can be easily removed, invest in a TV screen cleaning kit. Basically this consists of applying a special fluid to a special, non-abrasive cloth which can then go over the screen: the cloth isn’t rubbed on the screen like wiping a plate but applied to the screen extremely lightly and then moved across the screen to the other side in a single horizontal movement. Reaching the end, remove the cloth and return to the starting point at the other side, only this time moving down a little bit before repeating. The 5 or so minutes that this will take to completely have covered the entire screen will be evident from the minute bit of fluid that can be seen on it (which is replenished on the cloth during the process). Once done, give the screen 10 minutes or so for the fluid to totally evaporate and it’s done. Of course all this will be helped along by not having the TV next to a window where dust can be blown in at it, or across from a heating vent (hot air being forced out), etc.


Modern TVs, even BIG SCREEN TVs, are less likely to show reflections like that of their older siblings, especially due to many of the TV manufacturers having incorporated anti-glare technology into their displays. Glare has a debilitating effect on the TV picture, even if the glare doesn’t totally obscure the picture. But eliminating glare will make the TV picture look even more dynamic and so should be done. It’s not hard either — for one thing, if the TV is near a window, try closing the blinds or curtains. If that is not possible (or undesired), then perhaps the TV can be angled so that the glare is no longer happening (the TV showing a window its backside is one way to do that, although then you will have to contend with the light going at the viewer).

Review the lights in the room and see whether they are imparting glare on the TV. If so, and you don’t want to be watching in the dark (which is not always that bad, after all that’s how movie theaters work), try repositioning the lights that are more “aimed” at the TV. Turning out all the lights and then turning them back on one at a time (with the TV screen on) will let you see how much each one contributes to the glare.


The size of a TV dictates how close one should be to it in order to be able to see the entire picture with the best resolution possible (and which also contributes to how one can be “enveloped” by the images being presented). Even a 4K TV will look its best when you’re not right up against it, so plan on experimenting with distances to see what looks the best for just a single person looking or a group (for example, on a couch). A basic guideline to start is to multiply the diagonal of the display x 2.5 (for HDTV) or 1.5 (for UltraHD TV). But because each person is different, this type of measurement should be seen as a starting point to work from.

Having a TV perform its best doesn’t end with what the TV maker has put into it. Those who have a professional installer, such as Just One Touch, install the TV into their home for them will gain all the advantages noted above, and more. But regardless of whether you have it done for you or do it yourself, the results will be the kind of TV picture that will keep you coming back to watch over and over again.