Q We recently purchased a 58-inch Panasonic VT25 series 3-D plasma TV. The installer strongly recommended that we get it color-balanced by a professional for $200. Do you think it's worth it?
A Calibration can be worthwhile for picky owners of high-end HDTVs, but most people don't need it.
Professional calibration adjusts the picture so color, brightness and contrast are as accurate as possible. Many big-box stores push $200 calibrations on $499 TVs. Spending 40 percent of the set's cost to adjust the picture is silly.
Most TVs will produce a pleasing, reasonably accurate picture by setting the picture mode to "custom," "movie" or "standard" and color temperature to "warm." The $30 Digital Video Essentials Blu-ray can be used to tweak your TV, as well.System of the week
Need tiny speakers? This week's system significantly beats the Bose cube speaker systems in sound quality and price.
The speakers come from Chase Home Theater (www.chasehome theater.com) of Erie, Pa., a startup speaker company run by audiophiles. The Chase WAF-3 gets its name from "Wife Acceptance Factor." WAF is a term used in the audio-video hobby to describe how your wife will feel about the equipment's price, size and appearance.
The made-in-the-United States WAF-3 is a single-driver speaker like a Bose cube but with a slightly bigger box holding a 3-inch driver. The simply styled WAF-3 is finished nicely in black satin and sells for $60 each.
Understandably, the WAF-3 does not have the deep bass or extended treble of a big, two-way speaker. The sound the WAF-3s do make is pleasingly rich, detailed, balanced and sweet. When I reminded myself of the size and price, the performance was quite remarkable.
They integrate nicely with other brands of speakers for surround and center channels, too. Or get five to make a surround-sound set, $300 total. Add the excellent Dayton 10-inch powered subwoofer for $150 to complete your system.
Drive the WAF-3 speakers with the $249 Pioneer VSX-521 home-theater receiver (www.pioneer electronics.com). The VSX-521 and its MCACC setup and room calibration system will bring out the best in your WAF-3 speakers. MCACC uses test tones and a microphone to balance the speakers and subwoofer automatically while analyzing and optimizing the sound for your room acoustics.
Connect your satellite or cable box, Blu-ray player and TV. You now have great surround sound for less than $700, in a small, wife-pleasing package.
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