Home Theater

HDTVs, projectors, and surround sound systems.

Why is dialogue in movies so hard to hear?

Robert from Upland, CA

Episode 1043

Robert has a question for Scott Wilkinson. He wants to know why the dialogue is far more quiet than sound effects and music on his home theater system. Leo suspects a center channel problem. Scott says that the dynamic range of a movie is very wide, meaning that quiet parts are quiet and effects are louder. In the movie theater there isn't much he can do of course, but at home Robert can use "midnight mode," or dynamic compression mode, which compresses that range. He can also increase the center channel volume.

What A/V receiver should I buy?

Episode 1042

Jonathan from Los Angeles, CA
Onkyo 818

Jonathan wants to upgrade his AV receiver and wants to know if the Onkyo 818 would be a good choice. Leo says he has two of them, and the 818 has some cool stuff including a powered HDMI port (called HML). He should always upgrade his firmware when he gets it home, too.

A new AV receiver is a nice way to upgrade a home theater. It will gives more flexibility and functionality.

Do my home theater components all need to be the same brand?

Mike from Santa Monica, CA

Episode 1041

Mike wants to know if it's beneficial to buy a blu-ray and sound bar with the same manufacturer so he could use just one remote. Leo says that may be the one reason for buying from the same manufacturer. On the other hand, mixing and matching Blu-ray players and receivers doesn't hurt in any other respect. Often times, one of the remotes will work for all of the components anyway. He could also get his own universal remote like the Logitech Harmony.

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1041

Scott Wilkinson

Scott joins Leo today and Leo wants to know the best way to see the Hobbit. Scott says Dolby Atmos is wonderful, if you can. Peter shot the film at high frame rate (HFR) 48 fps and a lot of people object to it. Scott also says that next month we'll see the newest models of HDTVs and right now is a great time to get a new 2013 model TV. Check out his buyer's guides at AVSForum. This year may just be the last year to get a plasma TV. Leo says that's sad because they really do have a superior picture quality.

Why am I getting lousy antenna reception?

Raymond from Highland, IN

Episode 1040

Raymond cut the cable a year ago and is relying on an antenna for local broadcast channels. But his reception isn't that great in the basement. It's much better on the third floor. Leo says that a smaller antenna in the basement isn't going to give him as good of reception than a higher antenna that's on the roof. It's better to have that and wire it through the house. Leo advises going to AntennaWeb.org and see what the best options are for his area. Another option is TVFool.com.

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1039

Scott Wilkinson

Scott can finally talk about "The Hobbit: The Desoluation of Smaug." It's crazy because there are over 200 different versions with different languages, high frame rate, 3D, IMAX, Dolby Atmos, and more. There's always the option to watch it in 2D, too. Scott saw it in HFR 3D. Even then, you still have the choice between Real D, IMAX3D, and Dolby3D. Scott says that high frame rate is the way to see it. HFR looks really sharp, less like film, and more like video. A lot of people object to it, saying it looking too real takes you out of the movie.