Blu-ray, Ceiling Speakers, Sub Crawl
My TV is a Panasonic TH-42PZ80U and my Blu-ray player is a Samsung BD-P1500. They are connected with an HDMI cable. I've noticed that some Blu-ray discs aren't as sharp as others and really look just like a DVD. Am I being ripped off? Are some Blu-ray discs simply DVDs labeled as Blu-rays to make more money? I can't see anything wrong with my setup. Has anybody else had the same problem? How do I fix it so I get Blu-ray quality every time I watch a Blu-ray?
There's nothing wrong with your setup. It's simply a fact of Blu-ray life that some titles are sharper than others, though they aren't simply DVDs in disguise. Be sure to check out Ultimate AV's new Ultimate Demos feature for the best-looking and sounding Blu-rays, and read the movie reviews on both UAV and HT, which discuss the picture and sound quality of the discs.
Sound From Above
I'm putting together an entertainment center in a family-room addition I'm building. Due to the room geometry, I have to locate my surround speakers in or on the ceiling. Should I have the speakers hanging down from the ceiling, or will I get good performance out of flush-mounted speakers? Also, I have heard you talk about the importance of matching the speakers in a surround system, but how do I match a system if I use flush-mounted surround speakers?
I don't think it will make much difference if the speakers are hanging down or flush with the ceiling. Neither is ideal, but having the surrounds in or on the ceiling is not nearly as bad as having the fronts up there. The surrounds are used mainly for less-directional ambience, so you should be fine either way.
I'm glad you took note of my assertion that the speakers in a surround system should be tonally matched. Fortunately, there are companies that make both freestanding and in-wall/in-ceiling speakers that can be matched. For example, look at Atlantic Technology and Aperion.
On Your Knees!
In order to do the "subwoofer crawl" for my listening position on the couch, I know I have to move the entire couch out the way and place the subwoofer there. My question is, should I put the subwoofer in the middle of where the couch should be or where I usually sit, which is all the way to the left side of the couch? Or does it even matter? Also, in order to crawl around the perimeter of my living room, do I have to move everything away from the wall, or could I just go in front of it?
BTW, I love the new question/answer section. You do us all a great service.
I'm glad you're enjoying Ask Home Theater! For those who don't know about the "subwoofer crawl," it's a technique for finding the best location for a subwoofer in your room. First, place the sub at your listening position and play some familiar music. Then, crawl around the perimeter of the room to find the spot at which the bass sounds the most smooth and even. That's the place to put the sub, which will then produce the most even bass at your listening position.
In your case, the sub needs to go where you normally sit, not in the center of the couch. It does mattera couple of feet can make a big difference. Moving stuff away from the room's perimeter is best, but if that's impractical, stick your head close to the wall as often as you can while crawling around objects. Keep in mind that you're looking for a place in which the bass sounds most even and where you can actually place the subwoofer.
As an alternative, master acoustician Floyd Toole of Harman International has determined that the best place for a sub in a rectangular room is at the half or quarter point along any wall. For example, if the room is 20 feet long, placing the sub 10 or 5 feet from either end along that wall will yield good results. This rule is not foolproof, and the subwoofer crawl will certainly find the best spot in any room, but if you don't want to crawl, it's a good approximation.
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