How can you tell if your system is reaching its potential?

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by EricDeB, Jan 13, 2006.

  1. EricDeB

    EricDeB Stunt Coordinator

    May 30, 2004
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    Hey guys I'm very satisfied my system and I've been calibrating it successfully. The thing is, how do I know if it's reaching its full potential? I'm not an expert in high end stereo equipment by any means so I really have no idea. I'm assuming there are only ways to tell if it isn't at its potential, but any advice on this would be great.

  2. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

    May 10, 1999
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    In the words of Duke Ellington, "if it sounds good, it is good."

    It's probably the safest (at least for your wallet) way to operate.

  3. GeorgeAB

    GeorgeAB Second Unit

    Jan 28, 2001
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    Denver, CO
    Real Name:
    G. Alan Brown

    Do your homework! One of the biggest limitations to equipment performance is the room. Much info is readily available about hardware. Far too little is understood about the HUGE effect room acoustics, equipment placement, room lighting, decor, etc. have upon system performance. Many improvements can be realized with little or no cost. Poor listening and viewing environment conditions can seriously contaminate and diminish hardware performance. When environmental conditions are optimum, even modest equipment can perform surprisingly better.

    Only you know what your room conditions are. Therefore, you are the one who needs to understand what to do. You can hire professionals to evaluate what would be needed, or you can start learning what you can. It takes time for professionals to learn what to do for proper system design. You can invest your time toward that end or pay someone else who has invested theirs. It won't be necessary for you to understand how to optimize every room, just yours. That will simplify the quest to a large degree. However, like any field of study, you have to understand the fundamentals in order to judge what's suitable for your system.

    It's "safe" to simply accept your current state of enjoyment in life. The, "If it sounds good, it is good," point of view sounds appealing. However, if it can be better, why not seek it? That's been a pretty powerful engine for progress over the centuries.

    I believe people come to these forums with a thirst for understanding and a passion for excellence in both sound and image performance in their home theater system. You get what you pay for. This applies to both money and time. Sometimes you can save money by devoting some time. Other times it's preferred to spend more money to save time. Some hobbyists will never have the aptitude to gain enough understanding of technical fundamentals to supplant the need for professional assistance. Certain DIY-ers simply will never have enough time to gain sufficient understanding. It's also OK to spend more money on your system, if you have the resources and it brings you more enjoyment in life.

    Best regards and beautiful pictures,
    G. Alan Brown, President
    CinemaQuest, Inc.

    "Advancing the art and science of electronic imaging"
  4. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

    Aug 19, 2002
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    What is your system, and how is it set up, and how do you listen?
  5. Brian Osborne

    Brian Osborne Stunt Coordinator

    Sep 2, 2005
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    There are Video Calibration DVDs out there such as Avia, Video Essentials and Monster. You can even calibrate using the THX optimizer on regular DVDs (this will get you pretty good)
    Going off the deep end you can spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars purchasing Video and Audio optimization equipment including OpticOne from Avia and several companies that offer multi DVD sets for video calibration and Sound level meters.
    If you are looking to just get a bit more out of your Audio/Video system without breaking the bank, get Avia - Guide to Home Theater. This is a basic DVD that has Video and Audio calibrations chapters and a lot of info about room acoustics and Home Theater environment. You can get one of these DVDs from Amazon for just over $30.00. If you want to get a bit more out of sound, pick up a Sound meter from Radio Shack. You can get a digital meter for about $50.00. This will help you use the Avia disc to its potential. Pick up some acoustic foam and some removable double sided tape and place pieces in different locations on the back, side and front walls (primarily back and side). This will help you determine where you are getting undesirable reflections. Then you can work on installing permanent acoustical treatments where needed. Overdoing the acoustical treatments can result in a DEAD room.
    Good luck and have fun tuning!
  6. John S

    John S Producer

    Nov 4, 2003
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    Video? Audio?

    On the Audio side, maybe get RoomEQ Wizard, on a laptop.
    This will allow you to finely tune your room and equipment including your subwoofer.

    On the video side, have an experienced calibrationist come in, he will be forth comming on just how good your video really is.

    These are some things you do beyond just basic calibrations, which can get you along way for sure.

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