Home theater Calibration

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Keith_R, Jul 10, 2003.

  1. Keith_R

    Keith_R Screenwriter

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    Hey all, I've owned my HT for 2 or 3 years and have never calibrated the video or audio portion of it mainly because of how low end my equipment is (Sony HTiB with reciever sub and 5 speakers and a 20 inch Sony Tv)but with my current financial situation I don't see myself upgrading to higher end equipment any time soon and would instead like to possibly calibrate my system for the first time and see how much of an improvment that makes.

    A couple concerns I have though, given the low end equipment I mentioned above would I even be able to calibrate. In other words can a HTiB speaker and reciever combo even be calibrated? and what about my display, a 20 inch analog Sony Tv that is 5 years old and a far cry from the 36 inch HD Tvs of today, can my current display even be calibrated. Last, what do I need to buy to do all this, don't I need Avia and a SPL meter? Thanks.
     
  2. JamesHl

    JamesHl Supporting Actor

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    Calibration in your case would probably amount to setting your contrast, brightness and sharpness on the tv using a test pattern of some kind (avia or whatever), and you can use an spl meter and test tones to set the proper levels on your speakers. However, with the stuff that you have you could probably do it fine by eye/ear if you spend a little time on it, although if you don't know what a properly set tv looks like a setup disc might help.
     
  3. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Keith - the current set of setup disks were actually DESIGNED for systems like yours. A HDTV setup DVD is not even on the market yet.

    There is a LOT of tweaking & adjustment you can do. All televisions have brightness/contrast/sharpness controls. And if your receiver is Dolby Digital - it must have level-adjustments for the different speakers and time-delay settings, perhaps even crossover adjustments.

    And even high-end speakers can produce poor quality sound unless you follow some of the rules for good speaker placement & adjustment.

    EVERYTHING you learn to do with your budget system will apply to more expensive equipment. In fact, you are more likely to learn on your system because you are not afraid to mess it up. Get Avia and a SPL meter. A laser pen is also a handy tool to have to see where your speakers are pointing.

    Unlike with music systems, you can get really good HT experiences with a budget receiver, speakers and a 20" television. Dont discount your equipment. It can provide you HOURS of learing experience and MONTHS of DVD enjoyment.

    This link to our Primer and FAQ is a good one. Go through it and dont be afraid to play/ask questions.
     
  4. Keith_R

    Keith_R Screenwriter

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    Bob, thanks for the pep talk after being a HTF member for 3 years I feel bad seeing the high end set-ups other people on the board have in comparison to mine. I will definantly be looking into calibrating my HT especially since I've continued putting it off for so long. The biggest problem I see with my current set-up is speaker posistioning with the surrounds. Currently my surrounds are located directly behind our couch on each side, and the couch it self is about 1 inch off of the wall. I have my surrounds on cheap radio shack stands and I angled them in towards the wall so they face the couch and you can actually hear them. My front speakers are in a much better posistion so I'm not concerned with those but if there is a weak spot in my speaker posistioning I would say it is the surrounds.

    A question though, IIRC there are digital and analog SPL meters which type do you recommend that I get? as far as a test disc, the only one I know of is Avia but is there any other ones out there that do as good a job that are slightly cheaper? thanks.
     
  5. Bill Kane

    Bill Kane Screenwriter

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    Keith,

    Most find the analog SPL meter the handiest: And I see RadioShack is having a sale right now!

    You certainly can use the $16.50 test disk called Sound&Vision Home Theater Tune-Up, made by the same Avia people, for less technical users. Try amazon.com Type the words sound and vision in the search box at upper left.

    bill
     
  6. Keith_R

    Keith_R Screenwriter

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    sounds great! I'll plan doing it soon and letting you all know it goes. Certainly can't hurt.
     
  7. Christopher Lyn

    Christopher Lyn Stunt Coordinator

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    Keith_R after you calibrate your system, you might not want to upgrade your system in awhile, as your system may sound like a totally new setup. You will see and hear things that you never saw or heard before calibration.

    Regardless of a budget system or high-end system, a good calibration can go a long way to improving your audio/visual experience.
     
  8. Keith_R

    Keith_R Screenwriter

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    What kind of visual artifacts on DVDs can I plan on getting rid of by doing calibration on my Tv? also are SPL meters fairly easy to use? can someone explain to me how exactly a SPL meter works?
     
  9. Christopher Lyn

    Christopher Lyn Stunt Coordinator

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    Hmm..if you are having artifacts on DVDs, that may be due to your DVD player, interconnects, or some hardware problem (if you get artifacts with all DVDs and not just certain ones). The video, after calibration, will have more natural flesh tones, better detail in dark scenes, better color and contrast etc.

    SPL meteres are easy to use. You can start using it right away. Just make sure you set the weighting to "C" and the other switch to "slow." When you get your SPL meter (analog, that is), you will understand. Then just set the dial to the desired dB that you want and adjust your speakers for that dB rating.
     

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