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2 free ways to improve video and audio

technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology

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2 free ways to improve video and audio 

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1992, The Syracuse Newspapers

A reader called the other day to complain about my coverage of the new and expensive electronic devices that are being introduced.

"I don't have the money to buy every new gadget that comes along," he said. "You'd be doing me a favor if you stuck to things that are cheap."

I have an even better idea. How about things that are free?

So, I'm listing two no-cost ways to improve your home audio and video systems. Let's start with your TV.

Chances are, the picture on your TV set isn't adjusted to its optimum settings. That's because most viewers adjust the brightness and the contrast the wrong way—with the color turned on. This nearly always produces a picture that is much too vivid to be lifelike.

The proper way to adjust the set is to start by turning the color control all the way down. Then turn down the contrast and the brightness. (Your set may call one of these controls something else, such as "picture.")

The picture should be black and white and washed-out. Turn the contrast control up until the picture starts to have a little life to it; it will be dim, but it should have a sort of black-and-white-movie quality.

Then turn up the brightness until the picture has bright whites and deep blacks. Leave the contrast and brightness settings alone and turn the color up until the reds look natural.

That's all there is to it.

As for home audio, many stereo systems have one major flaw—the loudspeakers are located where they look good instead of where they sound good. The big problem is the placement of the woofer (the big speaker inside the cabinet that puts out the bass notes).

For technical reasons that I'll explain at another time, the woofer sounds best when it is not the same distance from two or three different surfaces. In other words, if the center of the woofer is, say, 14 inches from the floor, you should make sure that it is a different distance from the back wall and still another distance from the corner.

There's an added complication. These distances should be odd multiples of each other, meaning that if one distance is 10 inches, the second one should be something like 17 inches instead of 20 inches.

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