5 Tips to Improve your Home Cinema that will cost you nothing
We all feel the pinch. The economy is in the pits. But that doesnt stop us from dreaming, wanting more. I for one as I have said many times before suffer badly from this. Always wanting an upgrade, always looking for the next addition.
Thing is like with most people, money is tight and therefore any upgrades are being put on the back burner until things gett a little better.
But this got me thinking, how can we improve our “Front Room Cinema” experience at home without spending a penny. Could we improve the picture, sound or just make our seats more comfitable without pleading to the better half to spend some money on a bit of tech that we must, no, NEED to have?
The simple answer is yes. I touched on picture before in my TV Calibration 101 post. If you follow those guidelines your display will be looking natural and crisp. Comfort, well if we are not spending money thats down to you and your pillows. But sound, thats something I can help you with.
What follows are my top 5 Tips to improving your surround sound. The best bit, it wont cost you a penny!! You will just get the rolling eyes from your other half when they see you tweaking the system yet again. Or is that just me?
1) Speaker Location
The positioning of your speakers is one of the most important aspects of getting surround sound right and this can depend on the shape and arrangement of your room. The ideal setup can be achieved if you have a square-ish room with your TV positioned in the middle of one of the walls.
From your ideal viewing position the Centre speaker should be directly infront of you, with its tweeter (the smaller driver) at ear height. The centre is the most important speaker as it delivers the dialogue from the movie.
The left and right front speakers should be roughly the same distance from the screen as eachother. Try to think of yourself in your viewing sweet spot and these speakers as the 3 points on an equalatural triangle, all the same distance apart. Doing this will add great width to the soundstage and increase the depth. Like the centre keep the tweeter at ear height, this gives more fluidity to the front sound stage.
The rear surround speakers need to be roughly between 90 and 100 degrees from your position. Try giving them a little height and tilt them down towards you too this will make the room sound bigger and more like a cinema.
2) Make sure you have your Hz set right
This is something over looked by us men. We all want it loud and big!! I know that I got a strict telling off when my sound engineer Brother showed me the way of cut off and Hz response
Modern surround soundtracks offer tremendous dynamics, which can stress small speakers. You need to make sure that your amplifier is only sending the right frequencies to the right speakers, known as cut off(shown in Hz). If you’ve thrown away your speakers’ manual you should be able to find it on the manufacturer’s website or on the back of the actual speakers. Enter this value in the ‘size’ settings on your surround reciever.
3) Volume and Delay
Another important thing to get right is the speaker volume levels. You’ll also need to set a delay time for each speaker otherwise sound from those speakers nearest to you will arrive first and ruin the effect. Some surround-sound systems come with an automated setup procedure that can set the levels and delay times for each channel itself. If not, refer to your amplifier’s instruction booklet to see how to set these manually – it’s usually fairly easy to do.
As much as I love a bit of automation, I have always gone back to using my own ear to get the levels and delay right. If you wanted to get all technical you could measure the distance from each speaker to your seat and enter each value into your reciever’s delay processing, found in the set-up menu.
4) Sub – How low can you go
There is nothing worse than sluggish bass in a soundtrack, having to turn up the quiet bits and turn down when there is any action. To find the best spot to have your subwoofer try this. Place you sub where you normally sit, disconnect all the other speakers andplay something with a steady bass line through the system. Then whilst this is playing move around the room until you find a spot where the bass sounds louder and punchier. There will be a few, these spots are where you want to put the sub for the most impact.
5) Keep it Clean
This is not in reference to you or you personal hygeine, what I am talking about here is power cables.
Your mains power can cause all sorts of issues with picture and sound. It is always best if at all possible to run your audio and disply cables in a different way to any mains line. Otherwise you may hear a slight buzzing at low levels, and once you hear it, it will annoy the hell out of you.
I hope that you can use a few of these tips to improve your system at home. Not only that but you havent spent any more money on AV kit. Which in my house gets me all sorts of rewards from Mrs Custard