Archive for Home Theater Q&A

Home Theater Plasma TV in Family Room or DenIf you ask a home theater installer the differences between their products versus a name-brand TV or stereo system that you can pick up off a shelf at Best Buy, most are going to claim a huge difference in quality.

I tend to be a bit more open with my reply: As a rule of thumb, there are very subtle quality differences between, say, a Samsung or Sony or other name brand that you can purchase at Best Buy versus the higher-end systems that we sell. Unless you’ve purchased a low-end, no-name brand piece of equipment, most people aren’t going to notice these differences.

But for the true audio junkie or videophile or a customer who wants the best quality entertainment available these subtleties are worth paying a little extra for.

Plus, there’s the installation side of this equation: Getting the components to work together and correctly, to ensure that all the cables and wires are best-in-class, and perhaps just as importantly making sure those ugly but important cables and wires are hidden from view.

The difference in going with a CEDIA-certified home theater installer comes down to sound and video clarity, greater dynamic range of sound, brighter colors, and customer service.

Higher-end home theater systems (for instance, Integra, which is to Onkyo what Cadillac is to General Motors) are more dependable and come with longer warranties. At Sound and Image, we’ve only had to use warranties a few times here and there. When we do activate a warranty, you wouldn’t believe how fast manufacturers react. We’re talking two-day air shipping directly to the customer. It’s an amazing degree of customer service.

And that�s the other part of what you pay for: Service.  The cost of any product you buy from us (generally only around 5 to 10 percent more than the store) includes our phone number for whenever you have issues (hopefully you won’t if we do our jobs right) or need questions answered.

Here’s a great piece from ElectronicHouse.com that we always give to customers when they ask about the benefits of hiring a pro. At Sound and Image Design, we strive to be as open and transparent as possible with you about service, cost or product quality. Drop me an email at tim@soundandimage.com if you have questions. I love talking about this stuff!

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Home Theater Question: Is there an ideal distance (or maximum/minimum distance) that a person should sit from their television for optimal viewing? Also, is there an ideal height to hang a TV if you’re putting it up on a wall? What are the guidelines you give customers?

Control4 Home Theater ImageThe ideal viewing distance depends on 2 main factors; screen size and resolution of the TV or display.

Most displays manufactured today have a resolution of 1080P, so we’ll use this as our reference. Although there are varying opinions and methods to calculate this, two of the most common viewing distance guidelines are 1.5 – 2.5 times the diagonal measurement of the display or 3-5 times the screen height (preferred). If you sit any closer than 3 times the height of the screen you will start to notice the display’s pixel structure. As viewing distance increases beyond 5 times the screen’s height, you will lose the benefit of the display’s 1080P resolution.

In other words, you’ll miss some of the detail of high definition content. The higher a display’s resolution is, the closer you may sit to it. As resolution decreases, you’ll want to sit farther away to avoid seeing any imperfections.

There are exceptions to every rule, but the general guideline is to mount your TV at a height that allows viewing to be natural and comfortable. It should be mounted allowing you to view the screen head on with the center of the screen being at eye level. This is generally at a height of around 48 inches for the average person. You don’t want it mounted at a height that forces you to tilt your head back. If circumstances require that the TV be mounted higher, make sure that the bottom of the screen is no higher than eye level.

Sound and Image Design helps homeowners simplify and enjoy their lives with easy-to-use home technology systems such as home theaters, whole house music systems, and home automation.  For more information or to receive a free estimate, please call your Richmond home theater experts at 804.741.5816.

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