Nowadays most everyone has a flat screen LCD, LED, or Plasma television. A good portion of you also probably own a home theater receiver, or at least a sound bar to augment the audio of whatever program you watch. Back in the day, getting the most out of your video and audio home theater system took careful calibration from an expert in that industry, or a costly do-it-yourself package. Thanks to modern technology, the playing field has been leveled quite a bit. With an iOS device (iPad, iPhone, or iPod) and the THX tune-up™ app, calibrating your home theater system can be quick and easy.
First off, you’ll need to connect your iOS device to your home theater system. This requires either an Apple AV adapter for a direct HDMI connection to your home theater receiver or an Apple TV so that you can connect via AirPlay on your Wi-Fi network. Granted, the Apple
Digital AV Adapter costs $39 for the 30-pin style and $49 for the Lightning style and an Apple TV costs $99, but I’m guessing that many of you already have one of these items.
Once you’re connected, the app walks you through the process to “help you get the most out of your TV and sound systems.” An introductory video explains the process and theory behind the adjustments you will be making. You can then select the make and model of your display (TV) and your speaker and audio/video receiver (AVR) setup. After that, I recommend you view the adjustment tips to help get the most out of the process you will be following.
Adjustments are broken down into picture and sound categories. The picture adjustments include aspect ratio, brightness, contrast, color, and tint. Each adjustment makes use of a gorgeous photo with stunning details that allow you to fine-tune each setting so that your display provides you with the most accurate representation of the picture.
For audio adjustments, your selection of your speaker setup comes into play. Either 2-channel or 5-channel speaker configurations are available, but for the 5.1-channel tests, a direct connection via HDMI cable is required. This means you’ll need that Apple AV Adapter and a spare HDMI cable, so be ready should this fit your needs. Audio adjustments include speaker assignment, which verifies that the proper sound is coming from the proper speaker by playing a test tone through each, and speaker phase, which will verify that your speakers are properly connected and in-phase.
After configuring each adjustment, your video should be crystal clear and colors should be strikingly bold and beautiful. Your audio will be accurately projected as the source intended it to be heard, and your home theater calibration will be complete! To test your newly calibrated AV system, the app also provides some of the cool THX trailers and sounds that you often see at the beginning of movies in the theater.
THX tune-up™ is currently available in the App Store for $1.99, which can be considered a bargain by many who are familiar with more expensive alternatives for the video and audio calibration process. An Android version is scheduled for release in Spring 2013, which means it should be out soon.