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Avoid the Top 10 Home Theater Mistakes

15 Feb Posted by in Blog | Comments
Avoid the Top 10 Home Theater Mistakes
 

Are you ready to set up a new home theater system for you, your family and friends to enjoy?  Before you spend a lot of money and time setting it up, be sure to review this list of common mistakes that are often made when trying to create the perfect home theater system and environment.

1. A Room with Windows

Most TVs do a satisfactory job in a room with windows; darker is definitely better however, especially if you are going to use a video projector.  Be sure to place your TV on a wall that is not opposite windows to avoid potential glare issues.  If you have window treatments to cover the windows, make sure they can adequately block the any light coming in when they are closed.

2. Buying the Wrong Size Television

While most people want a big screen, a large TV is not always the best choice for a smaller room or a specific viewing distance.  Typically, a good rule to follow is that the optimal viewing distance from the viewer to an analog or standard definition TV screen should be no less than two times the width of the TV screen.  For an HDTV, the optimal viewing distance is about 1-1/2 times the width of the television screen.  Therefore, if you have a 42-inch Plasma or LCD HDTV, seating should be arranged approximately five to six feet from the screen.  When you sit too close to a TV screen, the line or pixel structure of the image can often be seen; not only is that distracting, it can also be uncomfortable, causing unnecessary eye strain.

Of course, the opposite is true as well – you can also make the mistake of buying a TV that is too small for your room or seating distance.  If you buy a TV that is too small, or if you sit too far away, viewing your TV seems more like looking through a small window.  This is definitely a problem if you are considering a 3D TV in your home theater setting.  A satisfactory 3D viewing experience requires a screen that is large enough to cover your front field of vision, without being so big that you see the screen’s pixel structure.

3. Not Buying a Service Plan on an Expensive or Large TV

While service or replacement plans are not needed for many items that you purchase, if you are buying a large screen, flat panel LCD or Plasma Television, it is something to consider for two reasons:

  • Large screen TVs are big, so house calls are typically necessary to make the needed repairs; house calls are often quite expensive, when paid out of pocket.
  • If you have a problem with a Plasma or LCD screen, specific issues are not easily repaired. You will most likely have to replace the entire screen – which usually means replacing the entire set.

4. Considering Brand or Price Only

Although contemplating home theater components by specific brand is a good starting point when designing your home theater system, keep in mind that the “top” brand for a particular item may not always be the right choice for you. Shop around and consider a variety of brands, models, and price points.  Also, avoid components that have prices that seem too good to be true.  While a high-priced item is not necessarily a guarantee of a good quality product, chances are that “door buster” special sale items will not meet your expectations, in terms of performance or flexibility.

5. Buying Cheap Speakers

Do not spend a small fortune on audio/video components, without giving a single thought about the quality of the speakers and subwoofer.  You definitely don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a modest A/V system, however be sure to choose speakers that will do a great job.  With so many choices available, choosing good speakers may seem a bit overwhelming.  The best thing way to make a good choice is to actually listen to speakers at a dealer location before you make your final purchase.  Do your own comparison testing by taking your favorite CDs and DVDs with you to hear what they sound like with various speakers.

6. Unbalanced Speaker Levels

Once you have purchased your audio/video components and have placed and connected the speakers, you will want to test it out.  There is always the possibility that it just doesn’t sound right.  Perhaps the subwoofer overwhelms the room, or the surround sound effect is just too low.  Maybe you can’t even hear the dialog over the rest of the soundtrack. Thankfully, this is an issue that can easily be solved.  Most home theater receivers actually have a set-up menu that allows you to note the size, as well as the distance of the speakers from the main listening position.  The set-up menu also includes a test tone generator to help you adjust the sound output level of each speaker.

7. Not Reading the User Manuals

No matter how simple it looks, it is always a good idea to read the owner’s manual for each of your components, before you start setting up or adding to your home theater system. It is always best to become familiar with all the functions and connections before you set it all up.

8. Using Cheap Cables

There may always be a debate on whether it is necessary to purchase high priced cables for a basic home theater system.  Thin, cheaply constructed cables often come with CD and DVD players, so you may want to consider replacing them with a better quality, heavy-duty set of cables.  More heavy duty cable can provide better shielding from interference and they typically stand up better over time.  This does not mean, however, that you need to purchase outrageously priced cables.

9. Creating a Cable Mess

Who among us is not guilty of creating a messy cable nightmare?  Every time a new component is added to an otherwise wonderful home theater system, it seems more and more cables are added to the mess.  Eventually, it becomes difficult to figure out what is connected to what; this is especially true when you attempt to track down a bad cable signal or want to reposition the components.  Here are two tips to consider:

  • Make sure your cable runs are not too long; they only need to be long enough to allow easy access to your components.
  • Be sure to label your cables using colored tape or some other marking so you know what is going where.

10. Not Getting Professional Help When You Need It

You have done everything you can to set up your home theater system.  You have connected it all, you set the sound levels, you have chosen the right size TV and used good quality cables, but something just is not quite right.  Perhaps the sound is terrible or the TV picture is not top-notch.  Rather than investing more time on the project or returning the entire system that you worked so hard to choose and set up, consider calling a professional installer to assess the situation.  While you may need to fork out a few more dollars for the house call, will be a wise investment that can salvage a home theater disaster, making your home theater dreams a reality!

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