Home Theater Hacks

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It might be the long lines at the theater, the $4.00 for a small bag of popcorn, or the cutting-edge technology that's now so readily available to the home market. Whatever the reason, the home theater market today is booming like the soundtrack to Star Wars! Want proof? A Google search for home theater reveals over three million results. Yikes!

It's simply undeniable: More and more people prefer watching their favorite movies, television shows, and videos from the comfort of ...

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Home Theater Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools

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It might be the long lines at the theater, the $4.00 for a small bag of popcorn, or the cutting-edge technology that's now so readily available to the home market. Whatever the reason, the home theater market today is booming like the soundtrack to Star Wars! Want proof? A Google search for home theater reveals over three million results. Yikes!

It's simply undeniable: More and more people prefer watching their favorite movies, television shows, and videos from the comfort of their own sofas and couches. What's also undeniable is the inexperience of most people who choose to install or upgrade their home theaters.

Until now, the knowledge, technique, and experiences of those who've encountered similar conditions to yours could only be accessed through laborious web searches, stacks of magazines, and water cooler conversations. Home Theater Hacks from O'Reilly is the perfect remedy for this group.

A smart collection of insider tips and tricks, Home Theater Hacks covers home theater installation from start to finish, purchase to experience. Just imagine: no frustrating trial-and-error process and better yet, no expensive appointments with installation experts. Home Theater Hacks prevents both by imparting down-and-dirty technique not found anywhere else.

The book begins with a quick glossary of terms so you can speak the lingo when you go shopping, and then dives right into hush-hush, insider tricks. It's all covered where to find the right audio and video components, how to deal with speakers and wiring, understanding cable connectivity, mastering remote controls, how to fully grasp TiVo, and so much more. And to top it off, each of these insider tips is presented in a concise yet delightfully entertaining style. Bringing the Jurassic Park dinosaurs into your living room has never been so easy!

A seasoned veteran with numerous O'Reilly titles under his belt, author Brett McLaughlin leaves no stone unturned in helping you customize your home theater experience to your own personal environment.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780596007041
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/8/2004
  • Series: Hacks Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,052,726
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Brett McLaughlin is a bestselling and award-winning non-fiction author. His books on computer programming, home theater, and analysis and design have sold in excess of 100,000 copies. He has been writing, editing, and producing technical books for nearly a decade, and is as comfortable in front of a word processor as he is behind a guitar, chasing his two sons and his daughter around the house, or laughing at reruns of Arrested Development with his wife.

Brett spends most of his time these days on cognitive theory, codifying and expanding on the learning principles that shaped the Head First series into a bestselling phenomenon. He's curious about how humans best learn, why Star Wars was so formulaic and still so successful, and is adamant that a good video game is the most effective learning paradigm we have.

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Table of Contents

About the Author;
Why Home Theater Hacks?;
How to Use This Book;
How This Book Is Organized;
Using Code Examples;
How to Contact Us;
Got a Hack?;
Chapter 1: Buying Gear;
1.1 Hacks 1–8;
1 Master Theater-Speak;
2 Audition Before You Buy;
3 Buy from Chain Stores with Skepticism;
4 Buy in Person from Electronics Boutiques;
5 Shop Intelligently at eBay;
6 Find High-End Equipment Online;
7 Buy Cabinets for Your Gear;
8 Plan Your Room Décor;
Chapter 2: Video Components;
2.1 Hacks 9–20;
9 Get the Right TV;
10 Your TV's First Steps;
11 Move Your TV Safely;
12 Fix Panasonic's Picture Glitch;
13 Figure Out Aspect Ratios;
14 Avoid Cheap Projectors;
15 DVHS on a Budget;
16 Cover Black Bars with Letterbox Mattes;
17 Improve the Picture on Rear Projection TVs;
18 Paint Your Theater a Neutral Color;
19 Backlight Your TV;
20 Add Metal Plating to Support a Center Speaker;
21 Squeeze Your TV into Your Basement;
Chapter 3: Audio Components;
3.1 Hacks 22–27;
22 Get the Right Receiver;
23 Watts Are Meaningless Without Context;
24 Amplify the Front Soundstage;
25 The Mythical Burn-In Period;
26 Use Gain Offset to Regulate Volume;
27 Use Dynamic Range Compression to Regulate Volume;
Chapter 4: High Definition;
4.1 Hacks 28–35;
28 Ensure You Can Get HD Programming;
29 Get the Right Type of HD Set;
30 Add a Set Top Box;
31 Properly Size Your HD Image;
32 Get the Right Antenna;
33 Erect an OTA Antenna;
34 Don't Use Portable Signal Strength Meters;
35 Resolve Problems After Buying an HDTV;
Chapter 5: Speakers and Wiring;
5.1 Hacks 36–47;
36 Organize Your A/V Racks;
37 Get the Right Speakers for the Job;
38 Select the Perfect Rear and Side Speakers;
39 Little Speakers Can Create Big Problems;
40 Add Bass Shakers to Feel the Lows;
41 Lower the Resonant Frequency of Aura Bass Shakers;
42 Use Subwoofers as a Poor Man's Bass Shaker;
43 Convert In-Wall Speakers to In-Ceiling Speakers;
44 Banana Plugs Trump Bare Wires;
45 Use the Same Speaker Wire Lengths (Not!);
46 Use Thicker Wiring for Longer Runs;
47 Bi-Wiring and Bi-Amping Speakers;
Chapter 6: Subwoofers;
6.1 Hacks 48–54;
48 Learn Sub Talk;
49 Choose the Right Subwoofer;
50 Match the Sub to Your Room;
51 Hook Up Your Subwoofer Correctly;
52 Optimize Subwoofer Placement;
53 Use Multiple Subwoofers;
54 Remove Subwoofer Hum;
Chapter 7: Connectivity;
7.1 Hacks 55–59;
55 Cable Basics;
56 Watch Out for Entertainment Centers;
57 Don't Be Swindled into Buying Overly Expensive Cables;
58 Use Your Receiver for Video Switching;
59 Understand Component Video Switching;
Chapter 8: Calibration;
8.1 Hacks 60–74;
60 Choose the Right Seating Distance;
61 Get the Best Calibration Tools;
62 Choose the Right Calibration DVD;
63 Calibrate Speakers with a Sound Meter;
64 Set the Receiver's Reference Level;
65 Avoid Using THX Optimizer;
66 Avoid Using Internal Test Tones;
67 Set Your Speakers to "Small" in Your Receiver Setup;
68 Hack Your TV's Service Menu;
69 Clean the Optics on RPTVs;
70 Reduce Focus Problems on RPTVs;
71 Reduce Lens Flare on RPTVs;
72 Focus Your Front Projector;
73 Don't Mess with Odd Screws;
74 Annual Home Theater Tune-Up;
Chapter 9: Do It Yourself;
9.1 Hacks 75–83;
75 Build Your Own Speaker Stands;
76 Add Rollers and a Stand to Your TV;
77 Construct a Screen for Projection;
78 Mask Your Screen;
79 Construct Speaker Cables Using CAT 5;
80 Home-Grow Your Power Cables;
81 Build a 16-Bay UHF Antenna;
82 Ground Your Outdoor Antenna;
83 Build a Lens Hood for Your RPTV;
Chapter 10: Remote Controls;
10.1 Hacks 84–89;
84 Add a Programmable Remote;
85 Program Your Remote with ProntoEdit;
86 Create Custom Graphics for Color Remotes;
87 Learn IR Codes the Smart Way;
88 Work around Proprietary Remote Systems;
89 Disable NetCommand for Faster Response;
Chapter 11: HTPC;
11.1 Hacks 90–93;
90 Choose the Right Display Resolution for Analog-Input HDTVs;
91 Add Custom Resolutions with PowerStrip;
92 Adjust the Overscan on Your HDTV Display;
93 Play Video Games in Custom Resolutions on HDTVs;
Chapter 12: TiVo;
12.1 Hacks 94–100;
94 Must-Skim TV;
95 Navigation Shortcuts;
96 The 30-Second Commercial Skip;
97 Streaming Internet Audio Broadcasts to TiVo;
98 Signing Up for the Home Media Option;
99 Remotely Scheduling a Recording;
100 Moving Shows Between TiVo Units;

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2005

    A must read before working on your home theater

    Home Theater Hacks is the perfect book for anyone in the planning, building, or improvement phase of their home theater. This book really covers everything that has to do with a home theater: from selecting the right components, to component configuration, to cabling, to making your theater look awesome. This book is a must read before you start your home theater. The book begins with a very thorough and impressive discussion of how and where to buy home theater components. The author discusses receivers (both audio and video), DVD players, TVs (both HD and standard), as well as the ins and outs of buying online versus at a local store. This discussion naturally leads to a very large section on ¿configuration¿, which includes such things as how to install and configure a terrestrial television antenna, how to match your subwoofer to your room, and everything you ever wanted to know about cables. I particularly enjoyed the author¿s discussion of the modern myth of expensive cabling. He provides a very good explanation of what ¿good enough¿ means (you wouldn¿t put gold water pipes in your home, why spend $100 on a gold cable?). As mentioned, this is a very interesting and useful book for anyone planning or currently working on a home theater. It dispelled a lot of myths I had heard in the past, and provides clear explanations as to why many of these myths are false. Additionally, I found that the book provided sound advice in the purchase and configuration of home theater components.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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