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Setting Up A Home Theater System For A High Definition Super Bowl

Celebrate Super Bowl Sunday in High Definition and Surround Sound

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Friends disappointed about a moment during a football game.
Robert Deutschman / Digital Vision / Getty Images

The annual Super Bowl is not only football's big day, but it is also one of the best excuses to have a party. In order to fully appreciate the Super Bowl, you need an HDTV and Home Theater System. To prepare for the best homebound Super Bowl viewing experience, check out the following three setup tips:

1. Receiving the Game: Make sure your Antenna, Cable, or Satellite box is functioning properly and that you will be able to receive the channel in your area that is broadcasting the Super Bowl. If you will be receiving the Super Bowl via an antenna and need to get one, check out some suggestions and compare prices. For questions regarding Cable or Satellite, contact your local cable provider or satellite provider.

2. Watching the Game: If you want to get the best possible picture, an HDTV is your best viewing option. If you already have an HDTV, then you are all set, provided your HDTV has either an ATSC tuner, which is required for receiving over-the-air high definition television broadcast signals, or that you subscribe to HD-Cable or HD-Satellite service. Also, make sure your cable and satellite service will provide access to the channel broadcasting the Super Bowl in high definition.

If you don't own an HDTV and want to buy one in time for the Super Bowl, then consider a Plasma as they offer the best viewing experience for fast live-action sports. The reason for this is tha Plasma televisions display smooth fast motion activity, such as football, very well.

However, an LCD (or LED/LCD) flat panel set can be a good option as well, especially if you will be viewing the Super Bowl in a brightly-lit room. Also, LCD TVs are now available in screen sizes as large as 90-inches.

On the other hand, although Plasma TVs are not offered in sizes to consumers larger than 65-inches, However, if comparing feature-to-feature in screens sizes between 42 to 65-inches, Plasma TVs are typically priced lower than their LCD TV counterparts.

Check out my suggestions for LCD Televisions, and Plasma Televisions.

Also, although the Super Bowl isn't going to be broadcast in 4K, your Super Bowl TV viewing experience may still be further enhanced on a 4K Ultra HD TV. These newer LED/LCD technology-based sets provide 4K upscaling capability, which will add more perceived detail from the HD broadcast signal, especially if you spring for one that is 65-inches or larger. Check out my running list of available 4K Ultra HD TVs.

In addition, another type of TV that is available (although supplies are very limited and they are very expensive), are the new OLED TVs from LG and Samsung. These sets are not large (55-inches) and are not available in 4K resolution yet (expected to come later in 2014 or early 2015), but they offer a unique curved screen design and provide blow-your-socks off image quality.

3. Hearing the Game: To get the best sound experience for the Super Bowl there are several ways to go, depending on your setup.

Option 1: If you are planning to receive the Super Bowl using an over-the-air antenna, which is connected to an HDTV with an ATSC tuner, then check to see if your HDTV has a Digital Optical Audio Output Connection. Also, if you have a surround sound system in your home theater setup, check to see if the receiver in your system also has a corresponding Digital Optical Audio Input connection. If so, then simply connect the digital audio output of the HDTV to the digital audio input of the home theater system and you will experience the surround sound feed for the Super Bowl.

Option 2: On the other hand, if your HDTV does not have a Digital Optical Audio Output, but has a set of analog stereo outputs, then connect those outputs from your HDTV to your home theater system. If using this connection option, check to see if your home theater system a Dolby Prologic II or IIx setting option. If so, then you will still be able to extract a surround sound signal from the stereo input signal, although it is not as effective as the surround sound signal accessed by the Digital Optical Audio connection option.

Option 3: Another way to access audio that you may be able to take advantage of is Audio Return Channel. The features utilizes the HDMI connection that you may already have between your TV and a home theater receiver (or HDMI-equipped sound bar) and can transfer the audio signal originating from the TV back to the home theater receiver without having to make a separate digital or analog audio connection from the TV to the home theater receiver. However, in order to take advantage of this option, both your TV and Home Theater Receiver/System or Sound Bar have to incorporate this feature. For more details, read my article on Audio Return Channel.

Option 4: If you subscribe to HD-Cable or HD-Satellite, then your cable or satellite box should have a Digital Optical Audio Output connection. If this is the case, then connect directly from the box to the Digital Audio Input Connection of your home theater system. You will now be able to access the surround sound signal from the high definition cable or satellite feed.

Option 5: If you have a home theater receiver that has HDMI audio access, and if your HD-Cable box or HD-Satellite Box has an HDMI output, then the best option would be to simply connect the HDMI output from your Cable or Satellite box to your home theater receiver and then connect the output of your home theater receiver to your HDTV. This simplifies the number of connections; you will be able to access both audio and video using a single connection from the cable or satellite box to the home theater receiver, and then to the HDTV.

If you don't have a home theater system to complement your HDTV, consider an all-in-one home theater system. To find out what you need to know about these systems, check out my article: Home Theater - The Easy and Inexpensive Way. Then, check out some affordable all-in-one home theater packages that may provide the perfect option for hearing those Super Bowl bumps and grinds: Top Picks For Home Theater-in-a-Box Systems.

Also, if you aren't interested in having extra speaker clutter - you can also take advantage of the more modest Sound Bar Option - check my suggestions in this audio product category.

Lastly, if you are starting completely from scratch, and need to purchase and set up an HDTV and home theater system in time for the Super Bowl, be sure to check out my articles: Planning A Home Theater System and Practical Tips for Home Theater and Consumer Electronics Shopping.

Once you have your system all set-up and ready to go check out the useful THX Home Theater Tune-Up App for IOS and Android devices.

Also check out how to put together the rest of your Super Bowl Party with great tips from our About.com Entertaining Site.

Of course, for an inside look at all the post-season NFL Football frenzy, check out our About.com Football Site

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