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Home Theater Hell

Posted: February 11, 2009 in House & Garden

A few months ago my wife decided that we should have a new flatscreen TV to go in our newly remodeled basement. We're not huge AV aficionados, so I wasn't after the biggest and best thing on the block. I ended up getting a killer deal on a Panasonic 50" plasma TV that can do 720p. Since our receiver (circa 1991) had a busted volume control (you had to get up and walk over to it and turn it up/down manually) I also picked up a decent Sony receiver, which I also got a pretty good deal on.

The back of the receiver is mess of wires, because however the signal comes into the thing, it has to go out the same way (so if we do component video in for the DVD, it has to be component out to the TV). So we had a mix of HDMI, optical audio, RCA, etc.

We always had a crappy DVD player. It's a "Shinsonic", which is a cheapo Canadian brand that my wife bought years ago. It has problems playing DVDs that aren't perfect, and the remote for it is pretty horrid. A few days ago, I picked up a nice new Oppo 980H, and it arrived on my B-day (what timing!). You'd thing a simple DVD player would be easy to hook up, right? Hah!

Since all the components we use now have HDMI, I stripped the mess of wires off the back of the receiver and just went HDMI for everything, since it can handle video and audio. Once done, I was surprised to have no audio. After 30 minutes of pouring through all the manuals, I finally got online. Guess what. Our receiver only does "pass through", meaning that it'll carry the HDMI signal from one device to another, but it won't process it. So we need to feed it audio in some other way.

This leads to another problem. On the back of the receiver, we have HDMI for "DVD" and "BD" (BlueRay Disc). We have optical audio for "SAT" and "BD". So, I can use the "BD connection for our Oppo DVD player, no problem. But what about the DVR? If I want to use the "SAT" optical audio connection for that, I'm reduced to component video, which is analog and not digital. A better way is probably to use the "DVD" HDMI connection for the DVR, which leaves me with something called "coaxial digital audio". I've never heard of this, but it sounds better than RCA jacks. I'd need to get a cable for that.

The only other option I thought of was to bypass the receiver altogether. The TV has 2 HDMI inputs, and an optical audio output. If I ran both the DRV and the Oppo to HDMI 1 and 2 on the TV, that would get the audio and video to the TV. I could then run a single optical audio cable back down to the receiver for sound, and just never change the device the receiver is set to. Then to switch between devices, I would use the "input" button on the TV remote instead of the receiver.

Oy vey!!

Maybe by tonight I'll figure something out and have sound.

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