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  • Author Jonathan Evans
  • Published May 13, 2014

Get set up for gaming

What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision‘s Jonathan Evans gives us the skinny on the perfect gaming setup…


Whether you’ve taken the plunge and invested in a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, or if you’re sticking with a last-gen console, it’s well worth spending time setting up your system to get the best out of gaming. What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision‘s Jonathan Evans drops some knowledge.


If you’re into games such as FIFA, you’ll want motion on your TV to be as smear and blur-free as possible. More atmospheric games such as Skyrim will need the sound to be just so. Whatever your favourite genre, getting the sound and picture right is crucial but that doesn’t just mean splashing out on good kit in the first place. Improving sound and picture means better gameplay: the more immersed you are in the action the faster your reactions, and a decent surround-sound system could be the difference between levelling up and game over.


So, where to start?
The obvious place to begin is your screen. If you’ve bought a new TV, plugged it in and accepted its defaults straight out of the box, you’re doin’ it wrong. Many TVs are set up to look spectacular in the harsh fluorescent lights of a telly showroom; fine when it comes to selling you a set but unless your living room is decidedly weird, those settings might not be appropriate.


You don’t have to invest in gadgetry to get a TV set up. In fact, you might have everything you need to get a great picture already. At What Hi-Fi?, we use THX Optimizer software to set up every TV we review. You’ll find the software on many DVDs and Blu-rays and you probably already own one – Disney discs are a great place to look, but there’s a full list of places to find THX Optimizer software here.


The straightforward software takes you through the process step by step. When you’re done, you should have a far better picture than the one you started with, but don’t be afraid to tinker – it’s your picture, so don’t feel restricted by the “official” setting.


Game processing mode
Once your TV’s set up for general viewing, it’s worth looking at the presets the manufacturer has supplied. There will usually be a “Game” mode, which can help reduce lag between button presses and action on the screen – a problem that can arise if the TV is being asked to put a signal through plenty of processing. You might also see less motion blur. Take care, though: some modes boost colour and contrast, creating an in-your-face image that’s not for everyone might. Experimentation is key. If you don’t like the setting, don’t use it, but at least give it a go – your TV’s manufacturer has invested time and money trying to give you the best experience. And we hate to think of sad-faced TV makers…


If you don’t like the “game” setting, experiment with turning down, or off, the various motion-processing modes, and leaving the colour and contrast settings as they are. That way you’ll get the benefits of a gaming mode without the garishness it can inflict. Your ultimate aim is no lag between your button presses and on-screen action.


To get the best out of modern consoles, you’re going to want surround sound. Modern TV speakers are amazing but for more atmospheric gaming, surround sound can give you a tactical advantage.


You’ll need to invest some cash but a reasonable system needn’t cost the earth. £200 or so will transform your gaming, while at the same time revolutionising how you enjoy film and TV.


Once again, you should get things set up correctly – you only need to do it once and it will make a huge difference. Many systems have an auto-calibration function using a supplied microphone. Once you’ve got the speakers where you want them, hit the button and let the amp do its thing. You may want to make some manual tweaks, but in general they do a decent job.


If you don’t have the space for a full-on surround-sound system, surround-sound headsets can be very impressive . While not as versatile as a proper surround setup – you can’t share the experience, for starters – a headset will involve you in games far more. Distractions will be kept to a minimum, making a decent set of cans a great choice for the hardcore gamer.


Best seat in the house
If you’re anything like us, you like to get close to the gaming action – closer than when watching a movie or TV. That’s fine, of course, but you don’t want to lug heavy furniture about whenever you want to play Puzzle Bobble.


With a Full HD TV and a modern console, you can sit close before you notice any pixellation, but your gaming chair will be a matter of personal choice. Personally, I’m happy lounging on a beanbag when I’m playing Skyrim or a spot of GTA but I can’t play FIFA that way. With FIFA I’m always leaning forward into the screen, on the edge of my seat, with concentration set to max.


You’ll need to find your own happy medium.


Take a break
And never forget to take a screen break every hour – it’s scary how you can fall into a time vacuum when you’re really involved in a game. And now you’ve sorted yourself out the optimum gaming set-up, involved you most certainly will be. Use the time to refill the snack bowl, remind yourself what loved ones look like, then get back to it.


Jonathan Evans is What Hi-Fi?’s managing editor.


Head to the official website to find out more about LG’s awesome range of Ultra HD TV’s.

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