The Dolby® Theatre(SM) may be sold out, but home viewers can make the most of the Academy Awards® broadcast mixers and engineers’ efforts to make the show sound better than ever—like you’re there in the audience.

Craig Eggers, Director of Home Theater Marketing, is Dolby’s longtime expert on the topic, and offers these suggestions for the best Oscars® experience in the comfort of your living room.

Lab Notes: What’s the one thing that will make the most difference in watching the Academy Awards at home?

Craig Eggers (CE): The Oscars will be in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound this year. To get the full experience of being there, nothing beats listening to the show with a surround sound system. It’s the perfect complement to the high-definition picture.

Lab Notes: If someone happens to be shopping for a new TV before the Oscars, what’s important to consider?

CE: Chances are that your new flat-panel TV delivers great pictures, but it’s less than optimal for listening. That’s because the small speakers in these new, ultra-thin televisions just can’t deliver on all of the dynamics of a live event. Worse yet, people often complain that they have problems hearing the dialogue –and no one wants to miss the nominations!

Lab Notes: How can you compensate for flat-panel TV audio?

CE: A sound bar can help. These devices are designed to sit directly underneath the flat-screen TV on a cabinet or attached to the wall. They deliver improved sound quality and better bass performance. Naturally, I recommend looking for a product that includes Dolby Digital decoding for the best performance and the best experience of any show—not just the Oscars—that’s broadcast, on Blu-ray, or online.

If you want to go all-out, the optimum way to enjoy your new HD television is to complement it with a high-definition surround sound system. There are many options, from “home-theater-in-a-box” systems with a built-in, high-definition Blu-ray player, to dedicated 5.1 or 7.1 speaker systems. There’s nothing like the truly immersive entertainment experience you get from these systems—and you control the center-channel speaker volume, which is crucial to audible dialogue.

Lab Notes: Any other tips?

CE: Yes—Dolby’s surround sound set-up guides are incredibly popular. And if you missed their theatrical releases, a few of the nominated films like Skyfall and Argo are available on Blu-ray disc. Your new home theater system will give you all the rich cinematic sound and nuance that those films’ directors intended for you to hear.

What will you do to make great entertainment out of the Oscars telecast, in your living room?

Enter your email address. We'll notify you about new Dolby Lab Notes posts.