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Home Theater Hacks by Brett McLaughlin

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Hack #61. Get the Best Calibration Tools

Purchasing a few simple tools, such as calibration DVDs and a sound meter, allows you to take your home theater from an out-of-the-box experiment to an in-the-theater experience.

The ability to accurately reproduce the intended look, sound, and feel of a film is one of the major appeals of having a home theater. Respect for film and moviemaking as an art is taken seriously by hobbyists, and the intent of the filmmaker is respected above all.

When films are conceptualized and shot, a lot of energy goes into color palette choices, lighting, production design, and film stock—all decisions that help to subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) influence the viewer's mood, enhancing the emotional impact of the scene. When film is processed and printed, again, much attention is paid to maintain the intended color and visual message of the images. When a soundtrack is mixed and finalized, great care is taken to maintain relative levels of music and effects, to maximize the impact of bass and low-frequency effects (LFE), and to properly present surround information.

When the material reaches the DVD production stage, the masters are once again scrutinized to confirm that the intended color and look of the film aren't altered, and the sound is checked to ensure the channel levels and audio fidelity are maintained. Technicians and artisans work for hours on specially calibrated display and sound devices to tweak nearly every subtle hue, shade, and frequency—all ...

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