DIY: How to Improve Your TV’s Picture and Sound

When shopping for TVs, most of us set a budget and choose the biggest and best-looking screen in the store’s flashy TV department, regardless of how large or small our living space is. Sound about right? But once plugged in at home, that glossy high-definition TV often doesn’t look or sound as great as it did in the store. What gives? Never fear. With a few simple furniture moves and some easy math, your HD or Smart TV can provide a home-theater-like experience. Try these free and easy DIY tips to improve your TV picture and sound quality right now.

1. Don’t mount your flat-screen TV over the fireplace like a painting. That’s too high for comfortable viewing. Your TV should be on or near eye level so your eyes are perpendicular to the screen, website Rtings.com advises.

2. Don’t sit too close to or too far from your TV. Sitting too near the TV doesn’t make you, your dog, or your kids nearsighted, a new study that tracked the vision of thousands of children over 20 years confirms. But it may dull your movie experience by causing you to see the pixels in the picture of the new 1080 hp resolution screens. By sitting further away, TV picture density increases, producing a smoother, more realistic image. For the ideal home cinematic experience, the Society of Motion Picture Theater Engineers and THX say the ideal viewing angle from your couch is 30 degrees.

3. That’s great, but how far should my couch be from my TV? Wondering what 30 degrees looks like? Basically, it’s about 1.6 times the diagonal measurement of your television. So if you have a 55″ television, multiply that by 1.6, which gives you 88 inches or 7 feet and 4 inches. When placing the furniture, be sure to measure from where your eyes are, not the front or back of the couch. Too much math? Use this handy calculator to tell you exactly how near or far to sit: http://myhometheater.homestead.com/viewingdistancecalculator.html

how close to sit to tv

4. Calibrate your TV picture. Brightness, Contrast, Overscan and Movie vs. Vivid TV settings can make a big difference in how rich your favorite movies and TV shows look at home. To set these, simply download and burn the *free* AVS HD 709 Calibration disc files. (Lifehacker.com walks you through the process here.) Or if you or your kids are a little more tech-y, connect your PC to your TV via HDMI or DVI, and use the built-in Windows display calibration utility.

5. What about surround sound? Audio snobs make a big deal out of surround sound and home theater systems. But it’s not that complicated. Basically, a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound setup uses five or seven main speakers, plus a sub woofer for low-bass tones. These speakers should be set up as close to ear-level as possible with at least 3 feet between each. But for small rooms or apartments, you may just want to go with a sound bar below the TV and a sub woofer, Samsung TVs advises.

6. Use canvas art, books and rugs to improve your movie and music sound. Wood and tile floors are all the rage, but they make the sound from your TV bounce and echo like crazy. A sofa helps absorb these sounds but rugs, shelves filled with books and simple painted canvases (without glass frames) can too. Remember you can also enjoy your music on many of today’s Smart TVs. Samsung Smart TVs have the MyMusicCloud app built right in, so you can play, mix and search your entire music library right from your couch. Find out more about How to Activate MyMusicCloud here. Learned something cool from this post? Click the “Follow” tab in the bottom right corner to get more tech and music updates.

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