Audio News for December 16, 2014

by | Dec 16, 2014 | Audio News

You’ll Probably Be Watching More Movies at Home – So why not set up a reasonably good home theater now? More and more new films are coming out on VOD the same day they open in commercial theaters, and altho UHD in the home is not quite the resolution of 4K in the theaters, it’s extremely good.  The traditional commercial theater experience may soon be, and in some case is already, a thing of the past. The first step is to decide between a projector or a HDTV or UHD TV. Projection is usually expensive, and the room has to be very dark, but you can save money on a special screen by painting your wall with Silver Screen paint. HDTV Magazine recommends the $700 Optoma HD26 for those on a budget and also the $1900 Panasonic PR-AE8000U. Both are 1080p and support 3D.

Since most films are not yet available in so-called “4K”, and if you buy a UHD display the HDTV sources will just be upscaled on it (which is usually not that dramatic an enhancement), so wait for the next generation of UHD “4K” displays, which hopefully will improve other picture details such as contrast and color. By all means get a “Smart” HDTV. OLED is clearly the tops in picture quality now, beyond what even plasma could achieve before, but is still expensive. Only after the new higher-capacity Blu-ray discs come out next year will UHD films be easily available on physical discs. Also the curved screen displays are fine for theatrical showings but silly in the home. 3D – well, we think it’s great if the particular movie also is, but it probably won’t be really popular until glasses-less 3D is introduced. If you don’t care about Blu-ray quality and don’t have a smart TV, there’s the only-$35 Google Chromecast, which plugs into an HDMI port and streams most anything to your TV.

Don’t forget about the sound. Even the best big-screen displays have tiny and tinny speakers and soundbars are not much better. The standard 7.1 channels is way above average and usually only for spaceships passing overhead – not necessarily for music. But if you use the extra channels above 5.1 for height you might have something special for music listening. You don’t require Dolby Atmos for that; many preamps and receivers have side or height outputs and the speakers don’t have to be as big as your main speakers. Many feel a subwoofer isn’t even necessary if you listen primarily to music; most multichannel SACDs and Blu-rays are only 5 channels and not 5.1 after all. Just get fullrange front main speakers. Try to avoid in-wall or ceiling speakers, they usually sound inferior. And if you use a subwoofer and place it close to your sweet spot, you may not require two, which are the standard.

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