S&V Q&A — February/March 2006
Q. Why does the volume jump 20 dB whenever I switch from CBS to Fox News on my cable box? Shouldn't there be a standard broadcast volume to prevent us from blowing out our $2,000 speakers? William B. Fankboner Indio, CA
A. Al Griffin says: In an ideal world there would be a standard level for all cable TV channels, but as you've observed, there isn't. Some channels are significantly louder than others, and that volume can increase whenever the program switches to a commercial. One solution is to connect a volume regulator to "level out" the audio signals passing from the cable box to your TV or audio receiver. You can buy Terk's VR-1 for $45 to $50 at RadioShack, Target, and Amazon.com. It relies on analog RCA-jack audio connections, however, so you can't use it to adjust volume if you have a digital link between your cable box and receiver.
LOSE THE WHEEL!
Q. Will TV manufacturers ever make three-chip rear-projection DLP TVs that don't require the color wheel used in single-chip sets? Jake Bistodeau Ramsey, MN
A. Al Griffin says: Three-chip DLP technology, which eliminates the "rainbow" effect color wheels can cause (and that many viewers don't notice), has been around for several years. But you'll find it only in high-end front projectors that cost $15,000 and up. Just two years ago, however, those projectors were selling for twice as much. If the same rate of price erosion continues, we could very well see affordable three-chip DLP front- and rear-projection TVs within the next few years.