Thursday, March 24, 2011
Note: This is part 2 of a 2-part article that first ran last Thursday.
For optimal viewing, you must determine the right TV screen size for your viewing space, To do this, simply divide the size of the screen in half, and convert the inches to feet. For instance, a 40-inch TV requires a room that is at least 20 feet long. Keep in mind that extra large flatpanel screens require large rooms and long viewing distances to provide maximum viewing satisfaction.
Planning your home theater setup requires you to play architect. On a piece of paper, map out how each piece will be positioned and how you will hook up all the components (most of your devices will be connected to your A/V receiver). Think about the location of electrical outlets (which should be the grounded, three-prong type) and the wattage you will need to run all of the equipment. Ask yourself whether your circuit breaker and outlet can handle the load. Figure out how long speaker wires should be, how you will hide and fasten the speaker wires, and where speakers should be set.
If you want quality sound—especially if you have a multi-channel Dolby digital receiver—the correct placement of speakers is crucial. Your three front speakers (left, center channel, right) should be placed around the television at roughly equal heights to one another (remember that unless your speakers are magnetically shielded, each needs to be positioned at least 3 feet away from your TV).
Place the left and right front speakers on as close to a 45-degree angle (facing inward) as possible, and be sure the center speaker is not placed ahead of the left or right speakers. The perfect position for surround speakers is roughly 3 feet or so above the viewing area and directly to either side of it.
Your subwoofer is the wild card in the equation. It can be placed anywhere in the room.
Try to keep your set and other components at least a few feet away from the back wall, giving you easy access to connections and ensuring adequate ventilation. If your system does not include an enclosed cabinet, you may want to purchase one, because it will protect your devices from dust (plan on dusting all of your hardware regularly to prevent damage to the internal electronics). Also, home theater equipment tends to generate a lot of heat, so you may want to install small media fans near important components.
With the right planning, you can put together a knockout home theater system that will be the envy of your friends, relatives and neighbors, When shopping for equipment, be sure to test different models and ask the salesperson plenty of questions. Find the ideal system for your room dimensions, budget and existing components by talking to home theater experts at consumer-electronics stores. By doing your homework, comparing prices and gauging quality and performance, your home theater system will be capable of producing a memorable entertainment experience that will keep you satisfied for years to come.
Finally, it's important to realize that, because technology is constantly changing, the home theater system you build today may soon become obsolete. Your components may not be upgradable or compatible with future equipment. Be a smart consumer by researching the latest innovations and comparing brands before you buy.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Time is running out to participate in this month's CineVerse poll. Vote now on which Best Picture Oscar winner is the most overrated. The poll can be found on our home page on the left sidebar (at the top). We've only got a handful of votes so far, so if you haven't cast a tally yet, please do so before March 31!
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
(Note: This is part 1 of a 2-part story that will continue a week from today).
If you want to capture the look, sound and feel of a big movie theater experience in the cozy confines of your home, consider building your own home theater system. You can buy a preassembled system, purchase separate equipment or simply add on a few extra components to the devices you already have. With the right know-how and careful planning, you can even put all it together yourself. Determine the kind of system that is ideal for your existing components, room dimensions and your budget by talking to home theater experts at consumer electronics stores. And be sure to test out the devices in the store before making the investment. By doing your homework, comparing prices and gauging quality and performance prior to buying, you can better ensure that your home theater system will be capable of providing an impressive entertainment experience that will keep you satisfied for years to come.
The law of home theater is that you truly get what you pay for. If you can afford high-tech, expensive devices and (if necessary) design and installation costs, you can create a breathtaking sensory experience that should be able to rival the sound, image and effect of a motion picture theater. If you are on a tight budget, you can still put together a bare-bones system that can at least enhance your audio output. And, ultimately, that is the most important criteria of a home theater system: the ability to improve and expand upon the sound. The size of your screen is important, but your audio capabilities are really what distinguish a home theater system from just a TV set hooked up to some extra speakers.
The heart of your system is your receiver, so choose a quality name and model. Be sure your component has plenty of inputs/outputs for HDMI, component, S-video and composite (RCA) cables, built-in video upconversion/upscaling to make non-HD sources look better, decoders for Dolby Digital and Dolby TrueHD, DTS and DTS-HD, ample watts per channel to deliver to each speaker, full-bandwidth power (20-20,000 Hz), and total harmonic distortion level below 0.1%.
You can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for a complete home theater system—depending on the quality of the devices you want and how many extra components you need that you do not already have. It is sometimes cheaper to buy “home theater in a box” packages (which will include the audio/video receiver and usually six speakers) or rack systems that include everything but the television, but you may achieve better quality by purchasing your equipment separately--one device at a time or in separate groups.
Buying all the necessary components is just one step toward building a home theater system, Before you shop for equipment, you should take time to plan exactly where and how you will build the perfect entertainment beast. After all, what good is a high-tech home theater system without the ideal "home" for the equipment?
First, think about where you will position each device and speaker in your designated room, Ideally, the room should be spacious enough to accommodate all of your equipment. To deaden sound and improve acoustics, avoid square-shaped rooms with too many bare surfaces. The best kind of room is one with carpet instead of hardwood or paneled floors, one that has framed pictures and drapes or curtains along the walls, and a room with walls of different lengths.
Experts often recommend choosing the basement for the best acoustics and to better control light interference. Whatever room you choose, be sure it's not positioned too close to a neighbor’s home—you don't want to get noise complaints about your righteous home theater setup.
Next week: part 2
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
The conversation captured that evening was quite insightful, as demonstrated in the podcast you can listen to at your leisure. Click here to hear our discussion from March 2008.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Note: This film was rescheduled from its original Feb. 2 slot (due to inclement weather).
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
That begs the question: What is the most overrated or undeserving film to win the best picture Oscar? For our March CineVerse poll, we've narrowed it down to 20 best picture-winning films that have inspired great debate since the Academy Awards were instituted in the last 1920s, including Gladiator, Oliver!, How Green Was My Valley, and Crash.
(For a bit of historical perspective on possibly more deserving films that got snubbed, you're strongly encouraged to read Michael Phillips' interesting article published in the Chicago Tribune last month, found here.
The poll can be found on the left sidebar of our home page--vote today and let us know your opinion.
By the way, the surprising winner of January's poll, which asked the question, "who is your all-time favorite movie villain," was preacher Harry Powell (played by Robert Mitchum) in Night of the Hunter, with 18% of the vote.