You are really starting to get into home theater and you can’t get enough of it. You’ve always loved going to the movies and realizing that you could get a similar (or sometimes better) experience at home has you over the moon. We get it! We’ve been there. You can’t get enough information but you’ve quickly realized that some information is better than others. There is a lot of snake oil out there. How do you become a home theater “expert?” Let’s discuss!
Consume Everything You Can
First things first, you can’t be an expert in anything without studying. You need to fill your brain with as much knowledge as possible. Watch videos and read as much as you can. If you want to be a home theater expert, this is imperative.
Of course, you must consume consciously. As the old proverb says, “Trust but verify.” As you learn more, you are going to hear many pieces of advice repeated. Just because something is said often, doesn’t mean it is correct. The Internet can quickly become an echo chamber. Seek out alternative (and external to audio and home theater) sources of verification.
You can learn a lot from behind a keyboard. You can learn a lot more from experience. Seek out sources of experience as often as you can. Visit all your local high-fi stores and experience all their speakers and technology. Listen to what they say but don’t take it to heart. Try to come up with your own conclusions.
This also means you must seek out live music performances. People often talk about how “lifelike” their system sounds. How can you know that without hearing lots of live music?
Keep an Open Mind
The most important part of learning is realizing when you’ve been wrong. Becoming an audio and home theater expert isn’t about being right all the time. There isn’t a point where you just know everything there is to know. Science constantly strives to learn more. As science does, so should you.
Just a few years ago, everyone was sure that infrasonic bass was important. Now, many (especially us) don’t think so. People thought they knew the best way to set up their speakers, but recent audio codecs have made those “rules” obsolete.
This becomes especially difficult to do when we have specific experience that contradicts the new data. We now know how to properly set up dual subwoofers but people still do it wrong. Why? There are a lot of reasons but one of the big ones is that that’s the way they’ve always done it and why should they change? If you find yourself thinking similar thoughts, you’ve stopped learning. Open your mind.
Lastly, you need to be welcoming. You should be welcoming of new information, as we discussed above. But you should also be welcoming of others. One problem that permeates nearly every hobby is gatekeeping. There is a natural human reaction to “otherize” people that know less than you. How can they not know that OLEDs are the best? Doesn’t everyone know about room acoustics?
We all start somewhere. You might be starting here. When you become more of a home theater expert, don’t forget what it felt like to be a neophyte. Mentor others, don’t haze them. Help them along their journey, don’t denigrate them for their lack of knowledge. That was you at one point. Never forget that.
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