Looking for some suggestions on how to get more from your home theater system? Here are ten that will definitely improve your experience at home.

#1. Adjust Your TV/Display
Most TVs sets come out of the factory with brightness and other settings that are much to high to display an accurate image—instead they're just designed to draw attention to themselves on a showroom floor. Unfortunately, most of these settings never changed when the TV/display is brought home. Some people actually hire dedicated video professionals to perform sophisticated calibrations on their equipment to address these problems, but you can get away with buying and running one of several DVDs (such as the Avia Guide to Home Theater, Joe Kane's Digital Video Essentials, etc.) that are designed to help you properly set up your equipment. You'll be amazed at what a difference they can make (even if they do look a bit dull at first).


#2. Cables Count

While you don't have to buy the most expensive ones, investing a few dollars in cables to replace the inevitably cheap ones that come bundled with your home theater equipment is a good investment.

#3. Get Organized

Except for the simplest of systems, the back of most home theater systems quickly turns into cable spaghetti if you're not careful. If you ever add a new component or need to troubleshoot a problem you're having with your system, you'll be really glad you spent a few extra minutes when you first hooked everything up keeping things organized.

#4. Go Digital

Digital audio connections are required to listen to multi-channel Dolby (or DTS) digital audio  so you need those to take full advantage of a 5.1 speaker-equipped home theater system. In addition, digital video connections can make an impressively large improvement in picture performance. If you own an HDMI (or DVI)-equipped display, invest in one of the inexpensive HDMI-equipped DVD players and you'll be knocked out by the quality difference you can enjoy.

#5. Not All Progressive Scans Are Created Equal

Even if you have a progressive scan DVD player (or another progressive scan-capable source), you might find that you'll get a better image by setting it to output interlaced video and have your display (or a dedicated video line doubler/scaler) produce the progressive scan image for you. Try it out to see what works best for you.

#6. Take Control

Nothing's worse than a great system that's so confusing to use that no one else but you knows how to turn it on and enjoy it. Invest the time and money in a universal remote control (or program the one you have) so that all the necessary elements can be turned on and off and switched to the right settings in an intuitive way. In addition, while buying components for your system, looking for extra control connections (like RS-232 serial ports or USB). While you'll pay a bit more initially, you'll be glad later when you to try to get your system under better control..

#7. Invest in a Multi-disc Changer

If you have lots of CDs and DVDs, organizing them can be a real pain. One efficient way to keep them all available and ready to use at any time is by investing in a large, several hundred disc CD or DVD changer. They can take a bit of effort to first set up-by typing in titles, artists, etc.-but once the first effort is made, you'll really appreciate the convenience.

#8. Buy Good Speakers

The importance and value of good speakers cannot be underestimated and yes, you can hear the difference with more expensive speakers. A good set of matched surround speakers will make an enormous difference on your system. In particular, don't chintz out on your center channel speaker. Virtually all the dialog and lots of other important elements in surround sound movies, TV shows and even multi-channel audio (e.g., DVD Audio or Super Audio CD) is fed to the center channel, so it needs to be one of the best speakers in your system.

#9. Multi-Channel Music

Once you have a 5.1 (or better) speaker system in place it seems a shame to only use it for movies, right? Well, with the DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD (SACD) format players and discs out there now, there's no need to. These multi-channel audio standards will literally surround you with high-quality audio by offering a 5.1 music mix that features very high resolution (up to 24-bit, 96 kHz sampling rates) digital audio. You’ll need a universal DVD player in order to play all these discs at their full fidelity, but it’s a worthwhile investment, particularly for serious music fans.

#10. Get HD

Once you've seen how great high-definition television looks, you'll not only be hooked; you'll find it hard to look at standard definition TV. High definition is worth the investment. Of course, you'll need a high-definition (or HD-capable) display, but you'll need that for the future anyway….
 

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