If you’re like me, your home theater is the one system in your house that you use more than anything else. You’re probably even spending more than $100 a month on Digital Cable or Satellite TV service. Couple that with the at least several hundred dollars you’ve invested in the new TV technology hanging on your wall, and we’re not talking small potatoes. So, how do you maximize the return on that investment, especially when there’s nothing tantalizing on the TV schedule tonight?
TV Speakers Leave Something to be Desired
Let’s face it, television manufacturers don’t normally put too much money or thought into the speakers they put into the TVs we hang on our walls. This means that if we’re watching a movie, we’re losing out on most of the impact that the director had in mind when he released the movie for distribution. Even worse, many makers of flat-screen TVs aren’t even putting their speakers on the front of the units anymore, meaning the sound either radiates to the sides, or to the back of the unit, making it sound muffled.
However, almost every house has some sort of stereo system. And, I’d hazard a guess that 99.99 percent of home stereos have some sort of Phono, AUX, CD, or other extra input that you’re not using now. Why not hook that up to the output on either your TV or digital decoder and use the stereo to get full rich sound from those movies?
Here’s how: You’ll need a set of RCA cables long enough to reach from the TV or decoder to the stereo. On the TV, you’ll find a pair of RCA outputs for audio (Lower right in the image on the right). If you decide to go from the decoder box, they’ll look the same and be labeled similarly. Plug one end of the cable into these connectors and run the cable to the stereo. Choose an input option (I have a surround decoder, so I use my digital box and the Cable TV Audio input on it.) And you’re done. When you want to watch movies with awe-inspiring audio, turn on the stereo and select the proper input channel.
Speaker Placement is Key to Enjoyment
Now, I need to say a word or two on speaker positioning. This is very important, especially if you’re using a surround sound system like me. The speaker outputs are labeled for front and rear, and left and right. This is figured as you face the TV, so the right front would be (as you face the TV) on the right of the TV, next to or near the TV, and the left rear would be to your left (again, facing the TV) near or preferably behind you.
These speakers will ideally be placed where you have a direct line of sight to them because they produce what are known as the high and mid-range sounds in the audio tracks. These frequencies don’t move around or through obstacles very well, so placing one of the speakers where you can’t see it will cause the sound from it to be muted. And you may miss some important effects.
The subwoofer only produces the lowest frequency sounds in the audio track of the movie. It’s the speaker that produces the sound you FEEL in your belly and through your seat and feet. These audio frequencies are omni-directional — they go anywhere and everywhere. I use my subwoofer as a table next to the sofa. Some people I know hide theirs. Where you put yours is up to you, but remember that most surround systems have the other speakers connecting through the subwoofer, so it needs to be placed where you can get access to it to connect the wires for the other speakers.
If you can, buy a surround sound processor system for your home theater. Trust me, it’ll be worth it. You know how when you go to the movie theater and the sound seems to move from one side to the other? You can have that with a surround sound system.
The Cure for “There’s Nothing Good on TV Tonight”
When you’re paying for upwards of 600 Cable or Satellite channels, not finding something to watch on TV can be very annoying. You turn on the TV and start flipping through the guide. Twenty minutes later when you finally get to Channel 900-something, you tell your wife (or husband), “Dear, there’s nothing on TV tonight. What should we do?”
Here’s what I do: I stream video. There are pay sites for this and free sites. Both pay and free sites offer a plethora of viewing choices. There’s another article here on Digital Landing that outlines how to do this and use your TV, so I’m not going to go into major detail about. What I’m going to do is mention my two favorite free and legal streaming sites.
The first is XFINITY TV. This is my absolute favorite because of the sheer selection that’s available. You can watch episodes and movies from over 100 TV networks. Catch up on episodes you missed, or watch those made-for-TV movies that you missed. You can even make sure you have a fast connection by improving your Netflix streaming.
My second favorite is Hulu. Hulu hits my list because I’m a history buff and they offer choices from both The History Channel and The Military Channel. This means I can easily get my fix of history, even if there’s nothing on TV tonight.
Now, who’s got the popcorn with extra butter?
Main image comes courtesy of Derek Jensen at Wikimedia Images.