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Issue #030 - What's new
The Practical HT Guide Update brings you the latest additions in a series of informative home theater design articles, unbiased system reviews, practical guidelines and free advice. If you like this e-zine, please do a friend and me a BIG favor and "pay it forward."
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Welcome to the May 2007 issue of
Correct home theater lighting plays an important role in setting the right atmosphere for your home theater.
Many would surely agree that for the best movie experience in the home theater, viewing should take place either in total darkness, or under very low ambient light, that is, either with the lights switched off, or significantly dimmed. In particular, projection-based video display systems would ideally require total darkness for the best image quality, otherwise, you would end with a washed-out image.
But even with direct view displays, too much ambient light in the room, as well as outside natural light coming from windows, can create glare especially with plasmas and CRTs.
This would normally imply that ideally, door and windows should be closed, and shades down, to cut on both any external light and noise.
Additionally, choosing a suitable color scheme for the walls, ceiling, and overall decor for your home theater room, can do a lot to help you enhance your home theater lighting.
This especially applies when it comes to a front projection setup. The requirement here is to avoid having light from the projected image itself being reflected by the walls and ceiling back onto the image. This would eventually reduce the overall image quality because of a reduced image contrast. Particular attention should be given to the ceiling - use a dark non-reflective color; go for black if your big screen size is such that the upper part of the home theater screen is close to the ceiling.
Due consideration should therefore be given to the overall home theater lighting at an early stage of the home theater room design. Fortunately, room lighting is relatively easier to control than room acoustics - by using black-out material, dark colored paint, dimmers, drapes, and if need be, a lighting control system.
A home theater lighting control system can turn to be a central feature in any home theater room, and is instrumental to create that much-desired ambience of a 'cinema-in-the-home'.
For more information on home theater lighting and the use of lighting control systems and X10 devices to control the lighting in your home theater, please read the full article here: Home Theater Room Design - Enhancing Lighting
Room Acoustics and Soundproofing
The acoustic performance of your home theater room represents an important element for a clear and optimal home theater sound. No matter how good your home theater sound system is, if the environment within which it is operating is not geared towards good quality sound, it would simply sounds terrible.
This in itself is dependent on the nature, as well as on the overall area of the different surfaces within your home theater room. In particular, the room's construction, furnishings, widows, and wall surfaces, all have a massive impact on the acoustic performance of your home theater.
Unfortunately, many would-be home theater rooms are less than ideal for the purpose from an acoustics perspective. Sound reflections as a result of the different surfaces and refractions as sound travels through different materials, lead to server sound distortions.
There is also the issue of noise transmission both from within the home theater and from the outside. One has to look at ways on how to stop sound crossing the room boundary, specifically to soundproof the home theater room.
Soundproofing can turn out to be a massive and demanding job - so it is best carried out by a professional as if it is done wrongly, it can make things sound worst. And this would surely turn out to be an extremely expensive mistake!
Yet, there are a few basics about soundproofing, which if followed carefully by the DIY enthusiast at the early stages of a room design, may help avoid wasting thousands of dollars in sound isolation and sound control measures.
More on how to improve room acoustics and soundproofing can be found at Home Theater Acoustics and Soundproofing.
Audio Video Equipment Racks - more than just storage space for your gear!
While you can place audio and video system components almost anywhere, yet it is recommended that you install your AV gear in a fixed dedicated enclosure, or component rack.
Keeping system components in an appropriate equipment rack will help you ensure the safety of your equipment, while making the system easy to access for service and future growth.
It is true that in its simplest form, inexpensive rack systems are merely a cabinet with shelves to take AV equipment. Yet today's rack mounting solutions have evolved far beyond the simple enclosure designed to stack your gear. Rather, the more elaborate and expensive racking solutions found in advanced home theater installations form a system in itself; these include accessories for power distribution, thermal protection, and cable management.
Furthermore, while the traditional standard 19-inch rack would often take a more industrial look, yet many manufactures have started to offer rack options that complement any home theater room decor. There is a never-ending list of equipment rack designs of all shapes and sizes, for use in media-closets, in the home theater on their own, or embedded within some piece of furniture or cabinet.
And there is more... You can find equipment racks that come with support shelves on rails that can be pulled out for ease of equipment handling and maintenance.
Others would even allow you to pull out the whole shelving assembly and rotate it a full 180 degrees for ease of access to the back panel of system components.
Such an example is the range of Pull-Out/Swivel Audio Video Rack solutions by HoloVision. The AV rack shown here may be mounted direct in a wooden cabinet to integrate better with the rest of the home theater room decor; alternatively, it can be floor standing and rolled on castors.
For more information on the use of cabinet enclosures in the home theater, please check out our series of articles appearing under the Equipment Racks section of the site. Items discussed include:
Standard 19-inch Rack Enclosures - The Basics
Selecting and Mounting Audio Video Rack Enclosures
In this second part of our guide, we cover the subject of rack selection and equipment mounting in rack enclosures. We also discuss the important issue of thermal management and see how to keep your equipment cool.
Available Rack Solution for the Home Theater
LCD Displays: Image Retention - Isn't it just an issue with Plasma TVs?
Image sticking is surely one of the least known phenomena associated with the use of TFT LCD panels. Yet, despite what many may believe, image retention or ghosting is not just an issue with plasma televisions.
What is Image Sticking?
Many are aware that if you leave a static image for a prolonged period on a plasma TV, you may risk phosphor burn-in. The result is that once you remove the static image, you would still be able to see a faint outline, or ghosting of the original image, even when you change the picture content.
LCD TVs do not suffer from burn-in, yet as surprising as it may seem, they still suffer from image retention when a static or semi-static image is left displayed on the screen for too long.
The intensity of image retention depends on various factors, not just the duration the static image remains displayed on the screen. Issues such as image makeup, working temperature, and the LCD panel brand itself, should also be factored in.
Image retention in LCD panels is often referred in the LCD industry as 'image sticking'. As with burn-in, image sticking is a phenomenon where a faint outline of a previously displayed fixed or semi-fixed image remains visible on the screen even when the image is changed.
It should be remarked that though burn-in in plasma televisions and image sticking in LCD display panels both result in image retention or ghosting on the display panel, yet burn-in and image sticking are two different phenomena.
To learn more on image sticking in LCDs, to what extent it is reversible, and what can you do to avoid it, read the full article appearing under the LCD TV Section of the site: Image Sticking in LCD TVs
Take care and stay tuned!
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