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Home / Tips and Tricks / 7 tips for a better home theater: improve performance, mount your TV and more

7 tips for a better home theater: improve performance, mount your TV and more

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Don’t throw the cables on yourself, keep them organized.

Sarah Tew / CNET

If you have a TV and an accompanying sound system, you may have noticed that it does not perform optimally. This could be for various reasons, for example you may have noticed that the TV is no longer as bright as it used to be, or that the dialogue has become mute. Over time, you may also have noticed dust bunnies or other horrors lurking. Solving these problems is easy and doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, in fact, some of the tips are free.

Here are seven tips for your TV as well home theater equipment in top shape, ranging from simply picking up one remote control to buy yourself some new stuff.

Calibrate picture and sound settings

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Calibrate your TV by eye


Don’t worry, you don’t need to wear a blue overalls or have a scientific calculator to calibrate your system, it’s easy! Whether you have just taken your TV out of the box or have been on your TV stand for years, you can always do that enhance the image with a few quick button presses. The first thing to check in your TV’s picture settings is that it is in movie mode or even better calibrated if available. Vivid mode might look impressive on the shop floor, but that’s where this monster has to stay – people look orange and a lot of fine detail is lost. If you have an Apple TV, you can now use an iPhone to calibrate the color from a connected television.

Likewise, better sound from your sound system can be improved with a few simple adjustments. For example, do you have a soundbar with a separate subwoofer, move it a few inches in any direction could make it sound a lot better. But if you have something more involved, like a receiver and speakers, there are a few more tricks available. First, you can always dig out the calibration microphone and go through the installation process. However, if you have lost the microphone, you can always do it by hand, using a decibel meter app on your smartphone. I prefer the latter method as I find it gives better results, especially when it comes to setting the subwoofer level.

Keep it clean

Home theaters are literal dust magnets with the amount of static electricity flying around – especially on TVs. Not only can cleaning your system make it look better, but many AV components will also work better after a little maintenance: the most obvious thing is your TV screen.

If the television has grease stains from fingerprints, use a damp but not wet cloth, or for really stubborn stains, use a mild soap and water solution – you don’t need a special screen cleaner. Then wipe it dry with a lint-free cloth. If you’re particularly short on time, you can always breathe on the stains and use the resulting condensation to buff them away.

how to clean up your home theater

Sarah Tew / CNET

The next step is to remove any dust from around the TV and any associated equipment, such as a AV receiver or junction box. Although manufacturers make specialty wipes, a duster or the same lint-free cloth will also work.

If you have appliances with cooling fans, they can collect a lot of gunk over time – cleaning them makes them work better. Buy one can of compressed air To efficiently clean these fans from the outside – do not open it – but make sure to unplug it first. The “air” can contain a lot of moisture and you don’t want to run the risk of short circuits in your equipment.

Hide your cables

Cables are the lifeblood of any home theater or TV system, but nobody likes to look at them. Getting rid of them not only reduces clutter but also prevents potential tripping hazards.


Sarah Tew / CNET

Cable ties are a cost-effective way to organize the cables from the TV to other parts of an AV system. But don’t buy single-use plastic ties – get one instead Velcro or even wired closure strips for bread bagsas these are adjustable.

When running cables together, try to keep AV connections and electrical cables separate. This prevents electrical interference that could result in a degraded audio or video signal. Use the zip ties to secure the cables along the natural boundaries of AV furniture and walls.

When mounting a TV on the wall, you probably don’t want a power and HDMI cable dangling down from the bottom. If you don’t want to drill holes in your wall, use cable ducts that attach to the wall and can be painted to match your decor. Even better, buy white HDMI and power cables, which also ensures a cleaner look.

If the system includes surround speakers or Ethernet, the cables can run under carpets, along skirting boards or specialized inside rubber tube covers walking across your floor. Fastening clips can be used to fix cables to the wall to prevent them from straying. As one reader suggests, don’t put power cables under your feet.

Buy a surge protector


Belkin surge protector with 8 outlets

Sarah Tew / CNET

Consider purchasing a dedicated surge protector that has enough outlets for all components of the system. While power conditioners can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, you don’t necessarily need them.

Numerous highly rated surge protectors are available from about $ 30. Look for the ones with 10 to 12 outlets. The Belkin Pivot-Plug Surge Protector pictured above has “only” 8, but also has room for large power packs for “wall warts,” which is another major selling point. CNET’s Geoff Morrison covers the things to watch out for when buying a surge protector here.

Keep in mind that these devices can’t really protect equipment from direct lightning strikes: a small wire fuse can do little to stop Mother Nature’s relentless power. For the same reason, you don’t have to worry too much about connecting USB, Ethernet, or coaxial cables to your surge protector to protect it from lightning strikes. That said, some models offer attached device warranties and may offer some comfort, but one CNET reader found it was like trying to get blood from a rock when they tried to file a claim.

Mount the TV on the wall


Sarah Tew / CNET

Wall mounting a TV is one of the easiest ways to reclaim space in a living room, and not only does it look great, but it is also very easy to do. (The harder part is hiding the wires, but that’s what the aforementioned cable channels are for.) Here’s everything you need to know about mounting a TV. OmniMount is a good starting point for shopping.

Buy a new TV stand

how to clean up your home theater

Sarah Tew / CNET

If you’re using a table or even the floor (!) To house the TV and associated components, it might be time to invest in a dedicated TV stand. Ikea is usually the standard, but also think of products from specialized companies such as Bell’O, Sanus and Salamander. If you’re especially passionate about the look, you can hire a local cabinetmaker to build something custom.

Here’s what to look for:

  • Sufficient ventilation
  • Integrated cable management
  • Line-of-sight shelves for remote controls without having to leave the doors open
  • Enough space for all cable boxes, consoles and video streamers

Most TV stands are grouped based on the size of your screen, which keeps everything looking neat, but keep in mind that if you’re using discrete speakers, a really wide AV unit could mean that the speakers are too far apart. stand for a convincing stereo effect. . In this case, you can mount bookshelf speakers on the unit itself and mount the TV on the wall.

If you have small children or particularly noisy friends, it is a good idea to mount the AV cabinet on the wall as well. Some units are equipped with Furniture fastening kitsbut if not, these kits are available for very little money from Amazon or Home Depot.

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This way you can easily mount your TV


Buy yourself new equipment

We all spend more time at home, so why not spend improving our TV settings? Whether you’re looking for a new streamer to take advantage of newer video standards or want to go all out with a brand new system, the possibilities are endless. Here’s a list of all our favorite AV equipment from the smallest Roku Express to the largest 4K television and everything in between.

This article was originally published in March 2017 and is regularly updated with new tips, tricks and products.

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