Is this the end of cable as we know it? Thanks to the proliferation of video streaming services and platforms like YouTube TV, Apple TV and Sling, TV and movie fans have more viewing options than ever before. Best of all, they can pick and choose which subscriptions they want to pay for, rather than get locked into a cable package that may include channels they don't want and will never watch.
The major narrative surrounding cord-cutting focuses on choice and costs, as it gives viewers more control over the media they consume, often at a much lower price tag. But there's another, arguable more important aspect to consider: cord cutting offers better video and audio quality than broadcast television — you just have to get the right setup. Here are four ways cord-cutters can enjoy the very best video and audio quality.
1. Change your bandwidth settings
Streaming services are better positioned to deliver high-quality video and audio due to the inherent bandwidth limitations of broadcast television. To make the most of those streaming capabilities, users will likely need to change some of the settings on their 4K TV, streaming device and AV receiver.
Look for an option to change your bandwidth configurations to "enhanced" — this will allow for more data to be transported through the video signal. If your TV only includes an option to set your bandwidth to a specific data transfer speed, choose at least 18 gigabits per second, although 20 gbps and above would be even better.
It's very important that you update these settings on all of your home theater equipment, including your TV, AV receiver and streaming device. Home theater systems will default to the lowest common denominator to ensure that every component can support video and audio requirements. That means if just one element is set to a lower bandwidth setting, your entire setup will suffer.
2. Pair the right AV equipment with your streaming service
The latest and most advanced audio and video formats like Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision and DTS:X enable movie fans to recreate the cinematic experience in the comfort of their own homes.
To make the most of this technology, you need both AV equipment and streaming services that support the same cutting-edge audio and video formats. If you want to take advantage of the incredible 3D audio offered by Dolby Atmos, but your streaming device doesn't support it, your AV receiver and speaker system will downgrade the audio quality to a lower format.
Those who want the most options from their video streaming services should consider Apple TV. It supports more formats, including Dolby Vision and Atmos, than any other streaming platform. On the AV front, the Denon AVR-S740SH features Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Dolby Vision, HDR and HLG support, among other leading audio and video formats.
3. Set up a speaker system worthy of premium audio
Even with a TV, streaming platform and AV receiver that are totally in sync as far as audio formats go, sound quality could suffer if your setup lacks an adequate number of audio channels.
Object-based audio, or 3D audio, represents the very latest in home theater sound design, creating engrossing and immersive soundscapes. 3D audio formats add verticality to the audio playback, so movie viewers can actually hear distinct sounds coming from not only the left or right side of their home theater, but also from above and behind.
An object-based audio system will provide sound quality on modest audio setups (a soundbar, subwoofer and two speakers, for instance). But to really capitalize on this technology, you should have at least a 5.1.4 setup. That would include five speakers on the floor, one subwoofer and four physical height speakers to add crucial verticality. With that arrangement, it will feel like you are right there in the middle of the action on the screen. If your room allows for more speakers, work on building up to a 9.2.4 setup to really send your home theater into overdrive.
4. Take advantage of automatic setup programs
Few of us have the AV expertise needed to install and properly configure a complex home theater system. Don't worry though, because today's advanced AV receivers feature automated setup programs to optimize audio and video settings and ensure you get the best quality possible.
Denon AV receivers include the Audyssey MultiEQ Editor application to help users seamlessly configure their home theater systems. Using a microphone, the program takes measurements of your listening and viewing space to determine the best place to position your speakers. It also automatically makes acoustic changes, configuring the EQ, level and other audio settings to optimize sound quality. If you want to achieve movie theater-quality video and audio without running into any headaches during the setup process, Audyssey takes all the guesswork out of the equation.
Today's cord-cutting options give viewers more control over their home media — and yes, they typically reduce household entertainment costs. Moreover, the latest video streaming services offer premium-quality audio and video that rivals the most sophisticated movie theaters in the world. Denon AV receivers support the most cutting-edge formats available, making them central components to any home theater setup.