Quick Tip: Adjust your Picture using ONLY the "Video Level" Controls Found in your TV!

Brightness, Contrast, Color, Tint, and Sharpness:  These five controls establish your "Basic Video Levels", and are fundamental to achieving best Picture Quality in your Home Theater.  EVERY modern TV will feature these controls in its user-accessible settings -- although perhaps less prominently than in the past, as a whole bunch of other weird (and usually unexplained) settings like "Flesh Tone Correction", or "MPEG Noise Reduction" will also be clamoring for your attention.  "Contrast" might be called "Picture" in your particular TV, and "Color" might be called "Saturation" (Hey, Marketing guys LOVE to invent names!), but they are the same controls.

And as I move along in this Blog, I'll undoubtedly talk about each of them -- umm, at some point!  We've already covered Brightness in my post on Blacker Than Black Video, and Contrast in my post on Peak Whites Video.  And in my post on Extinguishing Torch Mode Settings I alerted you to the sad fact the Factory Default settings for these basic controls in your brand new TV are, almost certainly, flat out WRONG for best quality viewing!  So correcting THESE settings is something you'll want to tackle right up front when dialing-in your Home Theater.

But when you begin that task, you may be stymied by the discovery the SAME (apparently) controls are also offered in some or all of your Source devices -- and possibly even in your Audio Video Receiver (AVR)!  So, umm, WHICH set of controls should you use?  Or should you COMBINE the controls? For example, doing part of the necessary adjustment in each device?

In my post on Peak Whites Video, I revealed the basic Rule of Thumb for this:

Adjust your Picture using ONLY the “Video Level” Controls Found in your TV!

Let's explore this further.

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Quick Tip: Dealing with, "One of My Speakers Doesn't Sound Right!"

Home Theater audio systems are sufficiently complicated it can be quite daunting when something goes wrong.  Where do you begin?  Has something failed?  Did I accidentally screw up a setting.  Is it SUPPOSED to sound this way?

In this post we'll discuss some logical steps towards diagnosing audio failures.

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Quick Tip: Suffering Individual Disc Playback Freezes? Clean The Disc!

When you try to play your latest, smash hit, movie disc, does your player "freeze up" part way through?  Does this always seem to happen just as the movie gets to the GOOD part?  Does it then ignore all your desperate efforts to get it playing again?

And are your friends and family now judging you; given all the money you've spent on your Home Theater system, only to have THIS happen?

Is that your problem, Bunky?

Well take heart old chum!  Your problem may have an easy fix:  Clean The Disc!

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Quick Tip: Avoiding HDMI Topology Problems, OR Loops, Dual Paths, and ZOMBIES!

Folks with other than the simplest HDMI cabling hookups frequently experience connectivity issues directly related to the complexity of their cabling "topology" -- that is, the tangle of different ways their devices are interconnected, often THROUGH each other, via HDMI.

At root, this is due to the fact HDMI is an "end to end" protocol for transmitting your digital content.  Whichever Source device you've selected to use at the moment must set up that protocol, all the way through to the device(s) at the other end of the HDMI signal path -- a process called the HDMI handshake.  To accomplish this it performs something called Repeater Processing -- the method by which it talks THROUGH intervening devices to communicate with each next device along the signal path it is building.  And the end to end handshake, set up by the Source, must ALSO satisfy the demands of HDCP Copy Protection, which, as I've said before, is finicky by design.  It LIKES to fail!

In this post we are going to talk about the common things which bollix this up:  HDMI Loops, HDMI Dual Paths, and the infamous, HDMI Zombies!

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Quick Tip: Adjust Image Geometry So You See Every Pixel

Image Geometry is the combination of Image Cropping -- whether the image fills your screen from top to bottom and left to right, and with no pixels lost off any side -- and Aspect Ratio -- whether circles in the content actually look like circles on your screen, instead of tall ovals or wide ovals.

If your video setup has a problem with Aspect Ratio, you will likely notice it pretty quickly.  Indeed you may even have CHOSEN to use incorrect Aspect Ratio -- typically because you don't want to see Pillar Box Bars or Letter Box Bars padding the image on your screen.

But Image Cropping problems can be subtle.  And getting them wrong can have a surprisingly large effect on image quality!

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Quick Tip: Protect Your Center Speaker by Enabling Crossover Processing

One of the key upgrades with the coming of Surround Sound audio systems was the addition of the Center speaker; providing anchored sound centered right at the screen. For example, for dialog.

But it turns out Home Theater, Center speakers end up getting fried out of proportion to all the other speakers!  The culprit is excess bass.  In this post I'll explain why that happens, and what to do to protect against it.

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Quick Tip: Speaker Pointing

This is the first of my Quick Tip posts.  These will include tips, tricks, or suggestions which don't need a lot of background discussion, or detailed explanation.

Pretty much regardless of the type of speakers you get, the output of your speakers will become more and more "directional" as you go up in frequency.  This makes speaker pointing a consideration in your audio setup.

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