News & Opinion

I Started From Scratch, And You Should Too!

I started from scratch and you should too! No, I am not talking about selling all your gear and starting over. I am talking about hitting the factory reset on all your gear. Reseating all your cables and speaker connections. Lastly, look at the position of your speakers and the layout of your room. Sometimes starting from scratch can be a good thing. Let’s discuss.


My wife asked me that very question. For me, there was a bit of impetus diving me. First, I wanted to rearrange some things in my rack and remove some components. I know that is a shocker to many, my editor included. However, my rack was getting decidedly heavy, and I hadn’t used my VCR (aside from my month away from modern tech) in a while. So, off to storage until nostalgia hits me again.

Secondly, I wanted to add some new HDMI cables to my system. If I was going to start pulling stuff apart, it would be a good time to do some cable management and some dusting under my components. Cable management is something we only think about AFTER we try and move something and find it wrapped up in a tangle of cords. No time like the present I guess.

As an enthusiast, I am a tinkerer. I question my settings all the time and wonder if I am getting the absolute best I can from my components and system. This often leads me to grab a remote and play with settings mid-movie, which annoys my wife to no end. It also means that I have changed settings often over the years. Did I make changes that are no longer relevant or are not the best?

Lastly, I have moved my room all around in recent months. I am a lazy tinkerer, so I only ran a few measurement positions when I added in my new SVS PB-1000 Pros. That means it’s time to ensure I have my speakers have the best placement, get my subs dialed in, and re-run Dirac in all its glory with my UMIK-1.


The how of all this is pretty easy. Every one of my devices had some sort of “Reset” or “Return to Factory Settings” in their menu. Once I found them in each device, I reset them all – Xbox, Shield TV, Apple TV 4K, Harmony/Sofabaton remotes, AV receiver, and my LG OLED.

Without exception, each of the devices was easy to reset, which is great. Often we will tell people to reset their devices as a troubleshooting measure. I remember the days when a factory reset of an AV receiver was a combination of holding the power and a couple of other buttons. We have come a long way with menus!

I will admit that I was super nervous about resetting my Harmony Elite and Hub. Yes, I know that Harmony said they would support them for a long while. But what if something screwed up and I brick my ole faithful? More on that later.

The Results

I will spoil this for you, I didn’t have any crazy differences that made “a world of difference”, but I did get some things working that were previously disabled or didn’t quite work well for me.

Speaker Placement/Subwoofers

Cards on the table, I got a little lazy this year with my speakers. I had played with my seating distance from my speakers/display and didn’t bother considering moving my speakers around. I played with their placement excessively when I was still “fresh” to the game, but lately close enough is good enough.

As far as my bookshelf speakers were concerned, I was always a straight-ahead guy. But that was when I was 8-10 feet away. Now I am 6′ (or less) and found that toeing in my speakers gave me better stereo imaging. As for my center, I played with the angle and found very little difference.

Subs were a bit different. I tossed my two-channel system, my bar, and my fridge so I could better place my rear subwoofer across the room from my front sub. On top of that, I did a better job of level-matching them and went through my room correction software again. Lastly, I changed sectionals, so I could pull my front sub a bit out of the corner.

By better placing them to be on opposite sides of the room, and pulling them out of the corner, I was able to get rid of some boominess (boundary gain) and uneven bass. Yes, I am a hypocrite for not doing this earlier. But remember when I said I was lazy?

AV Receiver

As much as I hate to admit it, I had screwed with some settings in my AV receiver that I forgot I turned on/off. The first thing I noticed is that I had AI upscaling turned on. Turning it off didn’t have a noticeable difference from my end, but it may have been playing weird games with my NVIDIA Shield which upscales. Additionally, I realized that I had CEC enabled! My Onkyo allows me to use ARC without CEC, and while I am not sure it caused me any issues, it’s always best to have that off!!

I realized that I had previously enabled THX settings for my subwoofers. My old sub was THX-certified, so I turned it on. I forgot about it until I was scrolling through menus and realized that I had left it on when I swapped to my SVS subwoofers. Here is the thing. I can’t say if that setting harmed my new subs’ performance. I moved my subs and better dialed them in, so that is probably more of the better bass performance I am hearing. Yet, I have to wonder if the THX setting was harming me too.

Lastly, room correction. I bet you are all wondering if I noticed a big difference. For my five base layer speakers and four Atmos, not really. They had very similar trim levels to what I had before. That said, I have a well-treated room and that helps a ton. Subs were different. Again, to go back to my previous paragraph. I better placed my subs, so I am attributing my better bass to than, and not Dirac Live. But I am sure it helped a bit.

Streaming Boxes/Xbox

Honestly, I did not expect a whole lot from resetting my NVIDIA Shield and Apple TV 4K. I use them both regularly, and I took a lot of time to dial them in properly. Most are set-and-forget. That said, I did notice that my NVIDIA Shield 2019 Pro was a lot snappier once I reset it. I hadn’t removed any programs, so there was a lot of bloat on there. In this case, a fresh reset was what it needed.

I had the same sort of experience with my Xbox. It was running just fine, but since I am an AV enthusiast and not a gaming enthusiast, I allowed some of my unused games to get very bloated with updates. A reset gave me a lot of extra space on my internal drive for games I play. I know that I could have done that manually, but out of sight, out of mind.

What I did take notice of is how refined the installation processes for these boxes have become. I was dreading signing into so many services after the fact. However, these boxes are really great if you are within their ecosystem. I have a Google, Apple, and Xbox account setup, and they did all the magic for me. The only password I needed was for my Plex server.


I will get through this quickly. No, I did not brick my Harmony. In fact, it was just as easy to set up from scratch from the desktop or my iOS app. For those of you wondering if a Harmony will still be a thing in 2024, it will.

As for the Sofabaton? I am happy to say that they have continually refined their setup process. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s as good as Harmony. However, Sofabaton has come a long way since their Kickstarter.

I didn’t gain anything from setting them up again. They worked as expected, but it was nice to see how far they have come. Oh, and that Harmony is still as rock solid as it always has been!


After resetting my LG B9 OLED, it was apparent that I had been tinkering. First off, I noticed that my color was a bit off, and not in a good way. I can’t remember what I did, but I changed some color settings and made the image decidedly more yellow. This just goes to show that your brain will get used to something pretty quickly because I thought that the image was pretty good.

The other thing that I noticed is that I can finally put my TV into PC mode when playing my Xbox Series X. While I didn’t notice any spectacular improvements in picture quality, I felt better that I could finally get it into PC mode after giving up on it a year ago. The change? I think it was because when I set up the OLED initially, I used the “device wizard” that would allow me to use my LG magic remote to control all my devices. I have long since stopped doing that (because CEC sucks!), but I am pretty sure that is why it locked my TV input to only see my Nvidia Shield as the connected device.

It also reinforced how terrible motion smoothing and AI modes can look. By default, all of that stuff gets turned on, and for the average person, they probably don’t care. But for someone who knows what it is supposed to look like, it can be jarring.

Our Take

I started from scratch and you should too! Or should you? My take is that it was a good way for me to double-check my room and make sure that I was doing everything possible to get the best quality. It didn’t take too long, with the longest part being re-rerunning Dirac Live.

I found a couple of things that I forgot about, but it was not detrimental to my system overall. However, if you are having serious issues, and you can’t figure it out, starting from scratch might be a good way to methodically eliminate the likely culprits.

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