Super Bowl 2017 is right around the corner, and whether you’ll be cheering on the Falcons or the Patriots, or just plowing through a platter of nachos, it’s the one day of the year when your home entertainment system should look and sound its very best. The colors on the screen should pop, the audio should be clear and powerful, and you should be able to sit back with your family and friends and soak in all the game day action without having to fuss with a bunch of gear.
There are many simple tweaks you can make and components you can add to your viewing location to make the experience more engaging. We asked several home systems integrators to offer their recommendations on how to take your Super Bowl party up a notch. Here’s what they said:
Buy a better remote: Why peck at a slew of buttons on a remote control to get your system up and running when you can tap just one key and make the entire room come to life? If you don’t already own a universal remote control, get one now; if you already have one, consider upgrading to a system that lets you also operate the lights, thermostats, and other devices so that the entire room is under your command.
The Harmony Elite from Logitech, for example, unifies the control of every component in your entertainment system as well as a growing library of smart home devices (more than 270,000). Imagine unlocking the electronic lock on your front door (yes, it might be an addition worth making prior to the game) by tapping a button on the remote as you settle into your seat. It’s possible. You can even create a special button, called Super Bowl, that fires up the TV, cable box, and surround sound system, adjusts the room lights and lowers the motorized shades.
The Harmony Elite and its companion hub retails for around $349.
Add a Second TV: You pick the spot; you choose the TV. Maybe it’s a 27-inch HD set in the kitchen or 42-inch wall-mounted beauty in the den; perhaps you live in a climate where you can place a weatherproof display outdoors. Whatever the case, a second TV ensures that you and your guests can stay on top of the game day plays while grabbing a drink out of the fridge or getting a breath of fresh air. All you need to add is a product like the Wireless HD Digital Kit ($249.95) from IOGEAR to transmit HD video and 5.1 surround sound wirelessly to a second TV. Seriously consider integrating external speakers; those puny speakers built into the TV likely won’t provide the punch you’re looking for—especially during the Super Bowl. A soundbar (see below) could be a good option.
Install a Video Projector: Maybe you’ve been thinking about trading in your TV for a video projector and screen. With the price of a 65-inch LED 4K Ultra HD TV running close to $1,000, a separate projector and screen becomes an attractive, financially feasible alternative. For a little extra money, you can enjoy a much larger image. Epson’s Home Cinema 3100, for example, retails for $1,299, and can cast an image measuring 110 inches diagonally that maintains its brightness and clarity in a well-lit room. Pair it with a projection screen, like the DIY Wall 2 screen from Elite Screens, and you’re still well under $1,500.
Tip: It’s important to think about how far from the screen your guests will be sitting in relation to your screen size. Check out this throw distance calculator from Projector Central to determine how much throw distance you will need.
Squeeze in a Soundbar: If you’re still using the speakers built into your TV, now’s the time to stop. One of the quickest ways to introduce surround sound into your Super Bowl viewing space is by mounting a soundbar like the PLAYBAR from Sonos to the bottom of your TV—you can always place it on a table below the TV if you don’t feel like mounting it. Add a wireless subwoofer–the Sonos SUB pair nicely with the PLAYBAR—and all those tackles on the football field will sound as if they’re happening right in your living room. The PLAYBAR and SUB each retail for $699.
Add More Speakers. What’s great about the PLAYBAR is that it’s designed to stream audio wirelessly to other speakers, which on game day is important for people who want to follow the commentary while they take a breather in kitchen, bathroom, or anywhere else. You can pick up additional Sonos speakers for about $200.
Screw In (Color-Changing) Light Bulbs: Here’s a super-simple way to incorporate team colors into your Super Bowl touchdown celebrations. Color-changing LED bulbs install just like a regular light bulb, cost less than $50, and can be controlled right from your smartphone. When the Patriots score tap on blue and white; when the Falcons rule, switch to red. With seemingly endless color choices and the ability to have the lights strobe on and off at predetermined times, you can create a festive football atmosphere in an instant. The least expensive route is to choose a controllable colored LED bulb that requires no gateway, like Sylvania’s Smart Multicolor A19 bulbs–to receive your smartphone issued commands. After game day is over, the lights can be set back to their everyday color—until next season or your next party.
Thanks to the following home systems integrators for their input:
David Huse, Theater Advice
Tod Puma, The Source Home Theater
Dan Paulson, Paulson’s Audio & Video
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