Polk's favorite is, unsurprisingly, Polk Audio's SurroundBar. But whether you go with discrete 5.1-channel speakers or a single speaker up front, he cautions hosts to set it up properly.
"When you're hooking things up, use the digital audio output on your cable or satellite box and connect that directly to your receiver," says Polk. "Many cable and satellite companies don't put the digital surround sound through the box's HDMI jack."
The DVR: Use Sparingly
While both Robinson and Polk think you should definitely record the game to your DVR, you shouldn't use it as your personal instant-replay machine - especially during the commercials.
"To me, the Super Bowl is a real-time event," says Polk. "Everyone knows the commercials are just as much fun as the game."
"If you have to [rewind], I'd say the halftime show would be the best time," says Robinson.
Remote Control: Keep It Simple
A good remote control is a key ingredient in your party planning. Robinson recommends getting your hands on a Philips Pronto or a Logitech Harmony model and hiding all the components' original remotes in a drawer. Besides a solid remote, a solid remote "handler" should also be part of your plan.
"Assign a very calm individual to keep possession of the remote," says Robinson. "Someone who is not going to hurl it at the TV when the Giants start to lose." [Ed Note: The Super Bowl predictions of any entertainment lifestyle specialists quoted here are theirs alone, and do not necessarily represent the predictions of the editors of Sound & Vision.]
As anyone who's ever watched TV for a few hours knows, cable and satellite feeds tend to go out at the worst times. An outage can turn an amazing Super Bowl party into a spectacular disaster. Our experts all recommend having an off-air antenna connected to your TV just in case - and be sure to test it beforehand.
If your flat-panel TV is wall-mounted, Robinson suggests putting it on an articulating arm that can swing and tilt, so you can aim the picture for maximum effect no matter what your room is shaped like.
To be sure everyone can hear the play-by-play, Sciacca says, "Turn up the volume of the center channel speaker or put the system into 5/7 channel stereo so the dialogue is easily heard from any position. And for God's sake, make sure you are tuned to your HD channel!"
Polk has seen his share of setup mistakes, too, and offers this tip: "Get the screen aspect ratio right. Make sure your cable or satellite box and your TV are set to 16:9. Also, avoid all zoom or stretch features - they're just going to mess things up."
Whether your system has a front projector with 10.2-channel sound or a plasma with single speaker, the best thing you can do is plan ahead. Polk says, "If you're helping someone set up, come over a couple hours early. The last thing you want is to be screwing around with your equipment while your guests are trying to have a good time."
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