Audio Recievers

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Sir Purrcival
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Tue Nov 06, 2007 12:21 am

I am looking to upgrade my some of my electronics with the view of building a home theatre system. I am torn by a couple of things so maybe some of the membership here can be of assistance.

Most of my base components are Sony (CD Players, Decks Etc) but if I am going to lay out some coin for a 7.1 Receiver, I am wondering if anybody has any suggestions of other brands. (I have looked a little at Denon and Harmon Kardon).

First, is it worth bothering with 7.1? Not a lot of movies seem to encode with it and may not anytime soon. 5.1 is a hell of a lot cheaper. Thoughts?

I am going to have to purchase a new DVD player as well probably with an HDMI output so any info there too is helpful.

Thanks
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Soundy
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Tue Nov 06, 2007 12:44 am

I dunno about any specific brands, I've been out of the home-audio market for ages (you're probably fine sticking with Sony), but I can point out a few options you may want to keep in mind...

First, I don't think 7.1 is a huge concern - I haven't seen any source material being encoded with it, despite seeing more and more systems supporting it. So you can probably safely save some money there.

Second, for ease of operation, you probably want your receiver to support audio AND video switching duties - the easiest (though certainly not least-expensive) way to do this is to make sure your receiver supports video up-conversion. Most receivers, whatever video input you use for a specific source, will only switch the signal directly through, and you'll only get that signal on the same type of output.

For example, if your cable or satellite box does S-video out, and your DVD player does component out (and assuming the receiver supports these inputs), a non-up-converting receiver will only output the cable/sat box from its S-video output, and only output the DVD player on its component output.

What this means is that you then need to connect both S-video and component feeds to the TV, and when you switch receiver sources, you also need to switch TV inputs. Kinda negates the whole point of having video switching in the receiver. An up-converting receiver will take the S-video feed from the cable/sat box and convert it to output on the component feeds.

Ideally you'd want the receiver to up-convert everything to HDMI, but that may be getting a little(!!!) expensive...

The other option, if your TV has lots of inputs, is to let it handle the multiple video inputs (which means you don't need the receiver to handle that function), and use a Logitech Harmony or similar type of remote that can be fully programmed with macro-functions. Then, for example, you would hit the "Watch DVD" button, and the remote will send the codes to turn on the TV, receiver and DVD player, turn off anything else that's not needed (cable box, VCR, etc.), and switch the necessary inputs on all devices. Hitting the "Watch TV" button would then turn on the cable box, turn off the DVD player, and switch the TV and receiver inputs appropriately. The remote can also be told that the channel buttons will always send the cable-box codes, no matter what mode it's in; the volume buttons will always control the receiver; and so on.

For the DVD player, I'd suggest looking at a DVD recorder - they're not that much more expensive these days, and it's nice to have the option for recording... oh, say, THE GAME! :) For a bit more cash, you can get one with a built-in hard drive to time-shift programs, or record one while dumping another to DVD, and so on.

One other thought on the receiver: look for something that supports optical *and* coaxial digital audio on *every* input. One system I set up a while ago, the receiver had a coax digital audio input on the cable/sat input, and an optical input on the DVD channel... but the DVD player had only a coax output while the satellite receiver had only an optical output. It meant having to reverse the two connections, which (since it was in a semi-public system) led to a lot of confusion... even after we made big obvious signs explaining "SET RECEIVER TO SAT FOR DVD"... because of course, people are dumb and don't bother to read things.

In any case, the point is to allow yourself the widest possible flexibility for future additions/changes...
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Sir Purrcival
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Tue Nov 06, 2007 8:27 am

Thanks Soundy, That is really helpful.
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