10 tips for a TV set-up to wow your friends

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Arm yourself with a big TV, some speakers and a surround sound amp and you'll already be halfway towards beating the movie experience found at your local multiplex.

But a few judicious tweaks here - plus some canny investments - really can add pizazz to your pictures and sizzle to your sound. We've outlined some of the biggest home cinema improvements you can make right here - but write in and less us know your favourite tips. We'd love to share them!

1. Calibrate your TV

Most TVs are setup to look good in a shop, not at home, so you'll need to tweak its colour, contrast and brightness settings to get the movie experience. While you can do it by eye, your best bet is to use some kind of set-up guide. These can be found on some Blu-ray or DVD movie discs or, better still, pick up a copy of Digital Video Essentials.

2. Choose the best connections

DVD and Blu-ray players are awash with video connections, and picking the right one can really make a big difference to the look of your movies. If you're lucky enough to have an HDMI connection on both your TV and DVD or Blu-ray player, use that.

Otherwise plump for component video or RGB Scart. If your TV doesn't have enough of the best connectors for you, consider buying a breakout box. AV accessory king Russ Andrews can sell you a Kimber 4-port HDMI hub for £292.94.

3. Upgrade your interconnects

If you're using the cables that came in the box, then you should really treat yourself to a decent quality HDMI, Scart or component video cable. You'll find plenty of choice down at your local home cinema store, but brands like Ixos, Chord Company and Van Den Hul are good ones to look out for.

When choosing your cable though make sure the device you're plugging it into can hack it. Many mass market TVs and video players have poor quality connections, which can mean that heavy cables will literally drop out.

4. Invest in an equipment rack

Balancing your precious Blu-ray player and home cinema amp on a sideboard may be OK for now, but in the long run you'll want something dedicated. Brands like Alphason, SoundStyle and TechLink offer a wide variety of options, with prices starting at around £200.

The good thing about using an equipment rack is that everything in your home cinema setup can be given its own dedicated space. Equipment racks can also improve sound and picture quality, and they've been design to be robust enough to support heavy AV equipment properly. HiFiBitz has a great selection online.

5. Look after your discs

Sounds obvious, but you'll be surprised how many people either leave their naked discs lying around on the floor, or have kids who love covering them in sticky goo. Always keep your discs in their protective case when they're not being used, make sure you remove them carefully [poor quality case mounts can cause your DVDs to crack over time], and make sure you clean them regularly using something like Reveel [£12.67, Russ Andrews again]

6. Position your speakers

In 10 ways to get better sound quality from your old hi-fi, we explained the importance of positioning your speakers correctly. It's the same deal here, except with home cinema you have a lot more speakers to deal with. Ideally you want the three front speakers (left, centre channel and right) aligned on a horizontal plane so that the tweeter is at ear height when you sit down to listen.

This can be tricky to achieve with a big TV in the way (proper cinemas mount the speakers behind the screen, fact fans). Your best bet then is to get the centre channel as close to the ideal as possible, ideally by placing it underneath the TV - possibly on the equipment rack you picked up after reading point 4 above.