Home Theater Pro Tips — Every Movie Has a Lesson

Whether we wanted to or not, all of us became regular home theater attendees in 2020. Movie theater lovers started watching movies at home, and people who don’t even usually watch movies started watching movies at home. We are now all well acquainted with the comfort of watching films in our living rooms; some say that the movie theater industry will never fully recover from the change brought by COVID-19. 

Whether or not this is the case, there has been a massive spike in home theater investments as people spend less time and money going out and more time watching TV at home. If you’re ready to invest in an entirely new visual or sound system, that’s great, but most of us would probably like to upgrade our home theater setup without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars. The home theatre experts at Selby in Australia shared with us their professional insights on how to optimize your experience. And most of us are in luck — there are many ways to boost your home theater quality without investing in loads of new equipment:

Upgrading the Visual Component

When it comes to audio and visuals, there is certainly a never-ending debate on which one is more important for an exceptional home theater experience. So, let’s just say they’re both important. A seamless, crystal clear image plays a large role in creating a fully immersive film experience. You may not need to buy a brand-new TV to improve the visual quality of your home theater. Try these budget-friendly tips first:

  • Adjust your TV or furniture placement: You don’t always need to get a bigger TV to have a better picture. First make sure your seating area is the proper distance from the TV. The recommended viewing distance is about 1.5 times the screen size (measured diagonally).

  • Calibrate your TV settings: If you’ve never adjusted your TV’s screen settings from the factory setting, now is the time to do so. 

  • Control the room’s lighting: A very dark room is an important part of the real theater feel. Block out all of the light entering the room, if possible. 

  • Replace your HDMI cable: Many people doubt the difference that a strong HDMI cable can make. You don’t need the most expensive one on the market, but try getting a nicer cable and see if you notice any changes in quality.

  • Get a 4k bluray player or media streamer: In order to watch UltraHD films you’ll need a device that supports 4k playback. This can be a bluray player, a streaming device like a firestick or Apple TV, or a gaming console like the Xbox One. Just be sure the device specifically supports 4k. 

  • Use a direct internet connection: If you are streaming your movies wirelessly, rather than playing discs, connect your TV to the internet with an ethernet cable to eliminate connection speed issues and buffering.

Don’t real home theaters use projectors?

Well, technically, using a projector and projector screen makes it an official home theater. However, a projector doesn’t automatically give you great movie quality. Projectors require specific conditions and specs to reach their full potential. TVs nowadays offer beautiful picture quality and are much more versatile for most home theater settings, so unless you are a true film nerd and you want to watch a real projection from home, don’t feel pressured to invest in a projector.

Upgrading the Audio Component

That signature booming hifi surround sound in the theater is a bit more difficult to achieve at home. If you want truly immersive surround sound, you’ll need a hifi speaker system. However, whether you already have one or not, there are ways to boost your audio quality without buying a whole new set of speakers.

  • Sound-proof the room: Adding sound absorbent materials such as carpeting or foam to the room will reduce audio cancellation or interference caused by sound waves reflecting off of the walls and floor. 

  • Replace your speaker cables: Just as a better HDMI cable can make a difference, high quality speaker cables can help you get the most out of your speakers. 

  • Get a soundbar: If you don’t have a surround sound system and you’re not looking to invest in one, a soundbar is an affordable alternative. Soundbars are specifically designed to mimic a three-piece speaker set, and they often produce great sound quality for the casual listener.

  • Get a subwoofer: Another way to boost sound quality without a full speaker system is with a subwoofer. These are well-paired with soundbars, as they add a layer of depth to bass frequencies that can mimic the large, booming theater sound. 

  • Speaker placement: If you have a set of speakers already, adjust their location so that they are properly placed within the room. Speaker placement is actually a science, and makes a noticeable difference on how the audio waves are received by your ears. Learn more about proper speaker placement

  • Match your speakers: If you do have a set of surround sound speakers, make sure they all the same brand. Each brand and speaker model has its own unique sound profile, so hearing a soundtrack played through many different types of speakers can subtly detract from the immersion. 

  • Add speaker channels: If you want to upgrade your hifi system, you can always add more speakers. Commonly, hifi listeners will start out with a 3.1 channel system: a center speaker, left and right speakers, and a subwoofer. You can easily upgrade to a 5.1 system by purchasing rear left and right speakers, or a 7.1 system, or add a subwoofer, and so on. Of course, having more speakers doesn’t always mean better sound, it all depends on the room size and specific setup.

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