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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 14, 2009 0 comments
THX, Dolby, and Audyssey deliver reference-level punch at lower volumes.

You know the drill. You’re just getting into the latest action blockbuster on your new home theater rig when a still, small voice wafts gently into your SPL-addled ear. “Isn’t that a bit loud?” Or perhaps the voice comes screeching in from another room. “I can’t hear myself think in here.” Or there’s a knock at the front door from the men in blue, demanding that you surrender your assault rifle in exchange for a fun stay in the slam with Tony the Hammer.

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Joshua Zyber Posted: Mar 16, 2009 0 comments
How important is HDMI 1.3 anyway?

The HDMI standard was developed with noble intentions. Most people in the home theater hobby know the hazards of cable clutter. When you have a lot of equipment connected this way and that by separate audio and video cables, you wind up with a tangled mess of wires behind your equipment rack or entertainment center. The problem is compounded by component video (three cables just for picture) and multichannel analog audio (six to eight more cables!). Now factor in a DVR, a couple of DVD players, a Blu-ray player, a video processor, and an A/V receiver all interconnected in one theater room. If you want to add or remove any piece of equipment, you’ll have to squat behind the rack with a flashlight and trying to trace each cable from end to end. Which unit did this blue one come from? If I plug that red cable into here, will I get my picture back, or will my speakers start blaring obnoxious noises?

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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Aug 25, 2008 0 comments
Simple ways to set free your photo, music, and video libraries for the “10-foot” home theater experience.
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Joshua Zyber Posted: May 19, 2008 0 comments
To bitstream or not to bitstream?

For all the dramatic improvements they’ve given us in the picture and sound quality of movie playback in our homes, sometimes it feels like the new high-definition disc formats—both Blu-ray and HD DVD—also make our lives needlessly complicated in some respects. Case in point is the process of getting high-resolution surround sound audio from the disc player to an A/V receiver or processor. Let’s be frank here and admit that, in this regard, things were a lot simpler with standard DVD, where there was far less confusion about the different audio formats and hardware hookup requirements.

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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Mar 24, 2008 0 comments
Still lacking simple self-control.

The holy grail of home theater simplicity is to have fewer remote controls and one-touch operation without confusing programming. HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) promises to control components that are connected via HDMI cables with just one remote. Turning components off and on and one-touch play and record are some of the first features enabled on these initial HDMI CEC home theater offerings. But they often prove to be not so easy. You must set up the HDMI CEC in each component’s menu, and controlling the components can be inconsistent. Plus, each brand has its own nomenclature for menu and action items. But perhaps being forewarned will enable you to be forearmed.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Dec 17, 2007 0 comments
Part V: Software and do-dahs.

With the SilverPC up and running, (check the August and September issues for that), it comes time to talk about software. After all, you can't run a PC without software.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Oct 04, 2007 2 comments
You've installed your speakers, but your room still doesn't sound right. In this installment, we show you how to tweak your room's sound with acoustics.
Steve Faber Posted: Oct 01, 2007 2 comments
Set up your video display to get a great picture.
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Steve Faber Posted: Sep 21, 2007 2 comments
The art of making your whole system sound great.
Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Oct 16, 2007 Published: Sep 17, 2007 0 comments
Part IV: Impressing the neighbors.

Well, all the parts are in, and it's time to build the beast. If you missed it, check out last month's GearWorks for all the doodahs and pieces for this all-new HTPC. If you're using this as a guide on how to build your own HTPC, let me give a few tips to start.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 12, 2007 0 comments
An important feature of HDMI is its ability to carry both video and audio. If it passes this information in bitstream form, the receiver or pre-pro, rather than the player, decodes the various versions of Dolby Digital and DTS.
Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Sep 10, 2007 Published: Aug 10, 2007 0 comments
Part III: Starting Over

It was way back in the June 2005 issue that I built an HTPC from scratch—I mean really from scratch, as in out of wood. For those of you who may have missed it, you can find it at www.hometheatermag.com under the GearWorks section. It was a great experiment, and it basically worked. I haven't felt any effects of the RF radiation of 3.6 gigahertz (there was no shielding), and the minimal amount of innards-securing hasn't been an issue. (At 54 pounds, it does not get moved much.)

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John Higgins Posted: Dec 30, 2006 Published: Dec 03, 2006 0 comments
Making your computer feel Blu(-ray).

The big news in 2006 has been the emergence of two new high-def DVD formats—Blu-ray and HD DVD. With greater storage capacity than a traditional DVD, we can now get higher-quality audio and video on the small screen. Depending on the compression used, each release can contain a whole slew of extras—or you can fit entire seasons of television shows, in SD, on one disc. Now, with the introduction of some internal drives for the home computer, you can back up vast amounts of information with a single disc. My personal iTunes music library, which contains the majority of my CDs, encoded as AAC files at 192 kilobits per second (stereo), could almost all fit on one Blu-ray disc. That's three-and-a-half months of continuous music. Add the ability to play Blu-ray titles, and it's the perfect time to move that home computer into the home theater for some high-def goodness. Before you get too excited and run out to buy a new drive, there are a few things that you need to consider first.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Dec 30, 2006 Published: Dec 03, 2006 0 comments
Gear is hot. Hot is bad.

As I'm sure you've noticed by now, nearly every piece of electronic equipment you own creates heat. Some, like projectors, create a lot. Others, like DVD players, don't create very much at all. Depending on how you have your gear set up, though, any heat can create a problem. What's worse, you may not even know there's a problem until it's too late. There are solutions, though, and they vary depending on how you store your gear.

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Gary Merson Posted: May 25, 2006 0 comments
What's the difference?

The next generation of prerecorded video content is here. The new machines use a blue-violet laser to read discs with far more storage capacity than current standard-definition DVD, and they can play high-definition content in full 1,920-by-1,080 resolution. The big attraction is the promise of the best picture quality you have ever seen on a display. The prerecorded, high-definition content offers pristine, near-perfect images with fewer artifacts (noise and blocking) than is possible today with broadcast or D-VHS content.

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