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Tweak Week tips

I edit the home A/V and pro audio articles on It's a cool gig for a guy who's been seriously into audio since way before 1974. I started buying records, guitars, and gear with the money I made mowing lawns and delivering newspapers. Now the way I earn my money has changed for the better, but where it goes hasn't changed too much. Just give me the proverbial three chords and the truth. I'll do my best to help you feel it, too.

More from Jim Richardson

Tweak WeekOur Product Support Team really shines during Tweak Week - those first few days after the holidays gifts are opened and thousands call for help. Some callers need help hooking things up, while others have questions about how to operate a new gadget.

To celebrate Tweak Week, we've put together a list of tips to help you get the most out your new gear. Here are a couple of examples:

Get to know your TV's picture controls
Most TVs come from the factory with the picture setting pre-selected to create an image with blazing brightness and color levels - a mode often labeled "Dynamic" or "Vivid." This mode is designed for a brightly lit electronics showroom, not your living room. Instead, go into the TV's picture settings menu and look for a mode labeled "Movie," "Pro," or "Custom," which will provide a more natural-looking picture, especially for high-quality video sources like DVD movies and HDTV programs.

Dive into your Blu-ray menus
To get the best picture and sound from a new Blu-ray player, you'll want to go into your player's setup menu and choose the best audio and video settings for your particular home theater system. All Blu-ray players let you select their video output resolution, and you'll want to choose the one that best matches your HDTV. If you have your player connected to your TV using HDMI, it may let you select an automatic option that chooses the best resolution for you. And if your HDTV is capable of receiving a 1080p/24 signal (images recorded at 1080p resolution and 24 frames per second), you'll want to turn this option on in your Blu-ray player's menu for the smoothest, most filmlike picture.

You'll also want to tell your Blu-ray player how it should handle surround sound. Your player's menu will usually give you a couple of options, typically labeled "Bitstream" and "PCM." You'll want to select the bitstream option if you want your home theater receiver to do all of the surround sound decoding. Or, if your player has a built-in surround sound decoder and you want to use it, you can select PCM.

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