In Billy Joel’s seminal hit We Didn’t Start The Fire the singer/songwriter chronologically lists the major events since his birth which have shaped the world today. In between Studebaker and North Korea he mentions “Television” without any clarification or context, but since television was invented in the thirties, and colour television wasn’t available until the sixties, what does he mean putting it here?
Possibly he means that television entered his life between Nixon and the Korean war, as it may have been when the Joel family finally got their first television set, or it could mean that television finally became the universal means of mass communication during this era, finally superseding radio as the medium through which most people received information about world as well as local events. Read more
Getting the best picture from your television is a matter of personal preference, some people like a really saturated picture as it gives them a sense of really seeing something on television while others prefer a more muted picture where the colours are a little more gentle than in real life. But in either and any case, there are certain things to consider when setting up your picture and sound.
The theory is that your prime seating position is directly in front of your TV set, at a distance 150% of the width of the TV while the set should be mounted at a height where the bottom third of the screen is in line with your eyes when you sit in your favourite chair. In theory this will mean that the screen will fill your field of vision as fully as possible without you needing to move your head to see the full picture and you won’t have to raise your head to look up at the screen. Read more
Satellite and cable TV still offers many more options than the free to air services do. However, with the introduction of internet speeds so fast that it’s possible to watch, download and record more than one thing at the same time the way subscription based TV delivery is changing too. Sky, Virgin Media, BT and many others are all offering fast broadband which will let you not only watch and record TV, you can do all your online browsing, shopping, gaming and run your Smart Home network with it too. Which begs the question, which is best for you?
Trying to identify which is the best is like trying to guess the length of a piece of string. Every home’s needs are different, and so the best packages will be different too. For example Sky Q offers a basic subscription service (including all the channels currently available on Freeview) which you can expand buy buying additional ‘passes’. These allow you to access additional channels which are devoted to kids movies, sport, entertainment, history, and so on. BT has introductory offers on TV and broadband which include HDTV, superfast fibre, additional disks to eliminate WiFI blind spots and other hardware including Amazon Echo, Fitbits, and Samsung Galaxies. Read more
It’s almost time to get Black Friday deals in the UK
Up until recently Black Friday wasn’t a thing in the UK. It’s commonly known that most retailers don’t make a profit until November or December, but until a few years ago shops didn’t make a big deal of it or run sales events to get rid of old stock to make room for new. And once it caught on thanks to Britons becoming more and more aware of it thanks to social media, then retailers with an eye for a promotion started promoting Black Friday events here too.
However, they quickly stopped doing it again when shoppers, eager for a deal and egged on by the hype, stormed the shops, tore them to pieces and several shoppers got quite badly hurt. Consequently they quietly scaled back the hype and Black Friday became a mere mid-season sale. Read more
DIY is one of the UK’s favourite pass-times. Last year the DIY industry was worth £36,000,000,0000 and caused 25,763 injuries requiring medical attention between 2014 and 2017.
I’m sure if you really looked into it you could find out how much of that £36bn was spent on repairing their own mistakes, and replacing stuff that they had broken. Look deeper still and you can probably find how much was spent getting a professional in after a disastrous weekend of failed home improvement.
DIY ranges from building a lean-to, putting together flatpack furniture, decorating or installing home entertainment systems and the like. For the most part these kinds of jobs are easy enough, don’t require any specialist tools besides pliers, screwdrivers and a drill. I could write for ages about the guy who removed all the floors and load bearing walls out for reasons known only to himself, or the one who began burrowing under his home, then his neighbours’ eventually undermining several properties down his street over the period of several years. Read more
If you’re only asking basic “how to” questions, but the information you get back is in depth technical specifics, product descriptions, or professional level discussions including baffling jargon and acronyms, the information is useless. So, instead of confusing you with useless data, we break it down for you.
When I started researching this article I Googled “how to design your own home theatre” just to see what other home entertainment fans were doing. Wow! Those guys REALLY take home cinema seriously!
So, this blog is going to be about what the average home entertainment fan can do in their home to create the best viewing environment, without building a soundproofed extension and furnishing it with rows of suede armchairs. Instead, this will be about screen and surround sound location. But if you do have a mancave and want it turned into a theatre, you’re welcome too.
You can skip straight to the bulletpointed list now, or read on to see why we recommend doing things the way we do
First of all, decide which room you’re going to convert into a home theatre and entertainment centre. If you’re thinking you can just put a new surround sound system into the living room, think again. The room you choose will need to be dedicated to movies and games or the entire point of investing in the effort and equipment needed is lost.
Next you’ll need to set a budget. If you know the size of room you’re converting, and the type of movies you’re going to want to watch then you’ll also know the size of TV screen you want, the number of speakers required for the best sound and the size of furniture you can have in there. The price of the TV and separates is item 1 on your budget, but then it may be necessary to add carpet, comfortable furniture, and thick curtains to keep out light and muffle sounds.
As well as the AV equipment itself, think about lighting too. Too dim and you’ll need to turn it up every time you misplace the remote or game controller, too bright and it interferes with your immersion into the picture. Lighting which is controlled by your home hub would be perfect, but a dimmer switch will do for now.
As well as dark, heavy curtains to block out the light and noise from outside your house, it’s a good idea to get dark carpet or rugs cleaned timely by carpet cleaning riverside. These not only baffle the sound while adding a soft, comfortable surface underfoot, they reduce the ambient light in the room too. Paint the walls a muted colour too, or, better yet, use a noise reducing wallpaper.
Build a rack for all your equipment. All the different pieces of technology you’ll need soon mount up, and hoping to make sense of them all if they’re strewn about will become impossible. Building a rack will mean that they’re all in one place, neatly stacked but with all vents clear and the wiring loom will be much easier to make sense of too. Nobody wants wires all over the place, but if you don’t go completely wire free, you at least want the cabling to be neat and tidy with all lines neatly identified. Find a good universal remote control too. Having half a dozen different handsets all over the place, all getting lost, needing batteries gets very tiresome very quickly.
Next you need to start making it look like a luxurious home cinema. You’ll want to place the primary seating directly in front of the screen, at approximately 1.5 to 2.5 times as far away from the screen as the screen’s diagonal width and the primary speakers should be at eye level and equidistant from your head, ideally forming an equilateral triangle of left and right channels and your head. The secondary speakers need to be set up behind you, ensuring they’re on the right sides of the room, otherwise the stereo effect will be lost. The subwoofer can go under the TV, or directly behind you. Some say it should be aimed toward the head for the best sound, while others say “no, point it at your torso for a bone rattlingly intense experience!”
Ideally the maximum width of sofa will be two seats. Wider than that and the benefits of a wide screen and surround sound will be lost. If you’re planning on having more than two people at a time watching, don’t put additional seating alongside your primary viewing position, but behind.
When choosing what furniture to use, heavy, comfortable couches with fabric covers are best. As well as being comfortable to sit in for the duration of a movie or extended game-play, the fabric will deaden ambient sound. Other furniture should be kept to a minimum. Flat surfaces reflect sound back into the room which can affect the dynamic surround. Keeping curtains closed when you’re watching will also prevent the windows reflecting sound back into the room as well as keeping out bright sunlight or street lighting.
Another reason to keep furniture such as dressers, chests of drawers et cetera to a minimum is data and signal. If you decide to use wireless devices and wireless speakers interference can come from many sources, and objects in between a signal source and the receiving device can reduce the strength of the signal, which in turn affects the output.
Finally, KISS. Keep It Simple, Seriously. Too much clutter, too many boxes and devices needing to be plugged in, swapped over, or charged, too much cable, are irritants. Even pictures and posters on the wall which can cause reflections and detract the eye all interfere with your viewing pleasure. You don’t want a bare room, but a zen-like peaceful space, at least until the opening titles run, is a must.
Now for that bulletpoint list:
• Dedicate your space to movies and games
• Set a budget, and tweak your expectations accordingly
• Think about how you’re going to light the room
• Use soft furnishings such as curtains and rugs to muffle sound and light
• Keep your home cinema clutter free
• Plan the layout of the room, speakers, subwoofer, screen and seating
• Use heavy fabric furniture for comfort and noise deadening
• Think about signal and data, keep the line of sight between radio sources and receivers such as wireless speakers clear