home theater

Can I watch TV with headphones and speakers?

Vizio Sound Bar

Episode 1549

Don from Santa Barbara, CA

Don recently bought a new LG TV, and he likes to watch TV with ear phones, but his wife doesn't. When he uses the earphone jack, it shuts off the speakers. What can he do? Leo says the easiest way to do it is to use dual audio outputs. Leo recommends a sound bar that he can plug into the optical port, and then he can use the headphones with the headphone jack. Vizio makes a good budget sound bar for around $100. The other option is an analog splitter.

Why is my Blu-ray player "jerky?"

Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player

Episode 1549

Rich from Tuscon, AZ

Rich recently bought a 4K TV, now he's having issues watching Blu-ray DVDs that are non 4K, because it's a bit "jerky." Leo says it's called "decoding hesitation." Scott says that the very first Samsung Blu-ray players had problems with resolution and detail. It's also related to upscaling. What's odd is that it's inconsistent, happening every 5-10 seconds. Leo also says the Blu-ray player is losing sync when decoding the data stream. A better player will fix the problem, and if Rich is looking to get the next component in his new 4K system, the Blu-ray player is where to start.

Scott Wilkinson on Home Theater

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1549

Scott says that there are now 4K HDR projectors, and you can get them under $5,000. It sounds like a lot, but it really isn't considering where the prices were last year. Sony makes one that uses a technique called E-Shift, or 4K enhancement. The pixels 'wiggle' back and forth and can create close to 4K using 1080p imagers. It's pretty impressive. Scott says that the black levels are key to making the image really pop, and JVC is better with black levels than Sony. TheDLA-X790R is the one with great native contrast ratio and deep blacks.

Scott Wilkinson on Home Theater

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1547

This week, Scott says that Tom Cruise came out this week against "motion smoothing" in modern TVs and encourages fans to turn off frame interpolation on their TVs before watching Mission Impossible: Fallout on Blu-ray. Scott says it isn't trivial to find the feature and turn it off either. It's called something different with every manufacturer. On top of that, it's turned on by default. Motion smoothing, Vivid mode, or frame interpolation, sharpens your image, which can be helpful in watching sports or action movies.

Why don't my headphones work with my home theater system?

Optical splitter

Episode 1541

Eileen from Upland, CA

Eileen bought a Bose sound system, which is connected to an optical splitter, so they can use her headphones too. But now the headphones won't work after a power surge. Leo says it's possible that the power surge fried the optical splitter. She should check if the headphones work with her TV (she may need to change her audio settings in the TV). It may also be possible that the settings changed in her TV, so she should look in there and see what it's offering. She may need to reset it to PCM unencoded audio or something similar. She should just try different settings.

Scott Wilkinson on Home Theater

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1539

Scott got an email from a listener who wanted to stream using an old analog receiver and speakers, and Synology NAS. Scott says that the listener discovered that using the Chromecast audio (which has an analog/digital output) was the ideal solution. It works great with a powered speaker or a pair of speakers which are powered by the AV receiver. You have to set it on AUX, but if all you have is analog, this is a great workaround.

Scott Wilkinson on Home Theater

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1537

What is the difference between OLED and QLED? Scott says that OLED is Organic Light Emitting Diodes, and is based on organic chemistry, or carbon. That's how it makes light. QLED, on the other hand, stands for Quantum Dot Light Emitting Diode, and it's just a higher end LCD TV. The light source behind the panel is using quantum dots, including LEDs to illuminate the image. They are completely different technologies. But the "QLED" term confuses people, and they may think they're getting a special OLED screen, but they aren't.