Thursday, January 26, 2017


When it comes to being entertained in a home theater, audio seems to always be standing behind video: it's the TV picture, never the sound that gets touted. But having a really great home theater means that the audio is also dynamic and just as high in resolution as the picture is. And while a big screen TV also has stereo speakers built-in, the quality of the audio can be improved immensely by having separate audio components providing the sound. So what are the choices?
Sound Bar
A sound bar is a self-contained audio device that contains audio speakers (more colloquial described as "drivers") as well as an digital amplifier to take the audio from the TV and "send" it to the speakers. The sound bar doesn't require lots of cables to be properly attached, and more often than not includes "smart features" that go beyond providing a simple menu, like Bluetooth audio streaming capabilities and apps for playing music and videos from off the Internet. The size of the sound bar can vary, as can its ability to provide stereo sound or surround sound. And the sound bar can even be curved to match your curved TV. Most sound bars will include a subwoofer to provide for bass to enhance the overall sound -- in many cases the subwoofer is wireless and so eliminates a connection and just needs to be placed in a corner and plugged into a wall outlet for power. There is also the advantage in that, if the TV is wall mounted, the sound bar can be wall mounted below the TV also.

Surround Sound Audio System
The traditional way to have a surround sound system is by placing a set of speakers throughout the area where the home theater is located. This consists, in general, of front left and right speakers for stereo, a center channel for dialogue, left and right speakers to the side or behind the listeners for surround effects and a subwoofer to handle the bass. In almost all cases the speakers must be physically wired to the AV Receiver (i..e, the amplifier) which typically is placed in front of the listener, often in a cabinet on which the TV stands. The AV Receiver is able to handle the chores of being a video switcher as well as a full throated audio device for controlling the audio streams -- giving much more personalized control (and greater volume and clarity in most cases) for the listener. Features also abound in the AV Receiver -- automated matching of the various speakers to one another being just one of the many.

Personal Listening
For those who wish to listen in private, headphones become the "audio system" for the home theater. Headphones can be personalized in many ways but only when bought: you can get over the ear headphones or on the ear, headphones using moderate or large audio "drivers" and a variety of features that affect their placement and comfort level. In addition, while running a physical connection from the AV Receiver to the headphones is possible, being able to wirelessly connect a headphones is possible as well using either a wireless device that attaches to the headphones or having this wireless capability built in. Additionally many AV Receivers will have special audio systems built in to take advantage of the pros and cons of a headphone so as to provide the best sound to it (with multichannel surround sound capabilities existing as well).

Having great sound in your home theater shouldn't be a hope but something realized. Making an educated decision as to how to have the sound delivered will guarantee that what you are hearing will be just as exciting as what you are watching.

Friday, January 13, 2017


Setting up a home theater isn't a chore because there's good times waiting once done. But lost in today's "Internet of Things" (iOT) is that almost all of the components making up the home theater are now linked to the "Cloud" and able to go online. That bodes well for being able to stream video, do updates in a simple manner and enjoy tons of content, but how good a signal is being received? And what about the security of that signal? Just because that new 4K Blu-ray player or that new BIG SCREEN 4K TV isn’t a computer doesn’t mean there can’t be issues. So while there’s no reason to fear your home theater being connected to the Internet, there is a need to take simple precautions to ensure that nothing bad happens through the home network they use. This starts with getting the most stable and secure signal possible.

Stable and Secure Signal

The single most important thing for any component of your home theater is that it can receive a strong and stable signal from the home network. This necessitates noting where the modem is connected relative to where the home theater is located. In some cases the easiest results will come from "hard wiring" an Ethernet cable between the router and the home theater component (for example, an AV Receiver or a media streaming device), but for most going wireless makes for more convenience. But for some, having the Wi-Fi enabled router in close proximity to the home theater might not be possible due to where the modem is located. Should that be the case, the best results will come from physically moving the router to a closer location so it can service the home theater better (obviously, there will have to be a cable connected between the modem and the router). To check signal strength, most home theater components will display the signal strength as they are set up for using the home networks Wi-F. It’s also just as easy to use a smartphone to see its Wi-Fi signal strength and proceed accordingly.

Gateway Security

All your home theater components that have Internet access (wired or wireless) are connecting through a home network which uses a router — which itself connects to the Internet. The router, a.k.a. "Gateway" is the intermediary between the Internet and the devices and the first wall of defense against intrusions. Besides having a very hard password unlike anything else that you use for your home network, be sure that those safeguards built-into the router's software are activated -- the default settings might be too lax for your tastes and needn't be left as they are.

Different Passwords

It may be convenient to have the same password for every log-in screen, but it's not necessarily the safest thing to do. So if your login password gets compromised for a website on your smartphone, the same thing will happen when you go to the site on your TV or other home theater component, with the possibility of all the other places you are using that password being affected. One way to avoid this is by having different password being in effect when going through your home theater as opposed to your computer or phone (although in some cases this might necessitate a different user name).

Having a secure and stable iOT for your home theater might take a bit of effort at first, but once done you can sit back and enjoy all that it can provide.