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Home theatre set up - blue ray, cable box, receiver, HDTV

by sharpey13 / March 3, 2009 3:39 AM PST

Hi - new to the forum, but frequent patron of Cnet and this forum (thank you for all the previous help!).

Ok, I'm not a complete newbie to home a/v, but far from an expert. My wife and I have a fairly basic set up, and I'm just looking to get the most out of what I have. I have a 50" Samsung DLP tv in a fairly large room, sectional sofa about 10-12' away from it. It has two component video inputs, 1 HDMI input, and the standard red/white/yellow outputs). I have two Polk Rti38's for my front right/left, a Polk CS1 center channel speaker, and a Polk sub. I don't plan on adding rear right/left in this room (too much trouble wiring all the way to the back for now). I have a new Samsung blue ray player (with 7.1 channel audio output, component video output, digital optical audio out, and 1 HDMI out), a Motorola cable box (Comcast) with component video out, analog audio out, digital optical audio out, and DVI out. Finally, I have an older Pioneer receiver (VSX710S) with analog audio inputs, 2 digital optical inputs, 5.1 channel analog audio inputs, but no HDMI.

Ok - here's how I have things set up:

Cable box to receiver & TV - analog (red/white) audio out to red/white audio in on receiver (and receiver set to 'analog' and 'dolby digital standard' setting when watching TV), component video out to component video in on TV

Blue ray to receiver & TV - analog (red/white) audio out to red/white audio in on receiver (and receiver set to 'analog' 'dolby digital standard' setting when watching blue ray or DVD), HDMI out from blue ray to TV.

Ok - my question is mostly on audio (but feel free to poke holes and make recommendations on anything!) - how can I take full advantage of the best possible sound, I have a feeling I'm not doing that currently. One more thing - I'm thinking of buying a new receiver w/HDMI ports, what difference would this make?

Sorry it's so long, any thoughts are much appreciated!

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Some thoughts
by Dan Filice / March 3, 2009 4:52 AM PST

1) You have everything setup basically correct. The only thing you could do a bit better is to have the Optical Audio-Out from Blu-Ray go to your receiver. Even though the Optical will deliver the full 7.1 to your receiver, you will still need to put your receiver in a mode that delivers only Dolby Digital 2-ch, since you aren't using rear speakers, and if you set your receiver for 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1, you will miss some of the sound that never gets to the rear speakers.

2) Why get a new receiver when you aren't using rear speakers? Your current receiver should do just fine. Yes, a receiver with HDMI may help with wiring since HDMI does both video and audio, but you only have one component (BR player) with HDMI-out, and you have this connected to the TV already.

3) You have your cable box connected in about the best way. I have mine connected via component too and I am totally happy. You have your cable box audio connected with Stereo cables, buy why do anything more since your audio setup is configured for Stereo?

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home theatre set up
by sharpey13 / March 3, 2009 5:18 AM PST
In reply to: Some thoughts

cool - thank you both for the thoughts/ideas. I figured using the 'optical out' from cable box and blue ray to my receiver might improve sound slightly, but I tried it a couple weeks ago and had trouble getting any sound out of my speakers when watching TV - not sure if I did something wrong or have my receiver set to the wrong mode or what.

One more question - am I still operating with 2 channel sound when I have a center channel speaker and sub? I would think this would technically be 3.1 channel? What if I used the 7.1 channel analog outs from my blue ray into my receiver, but only plugged in the right/left fronts, center, and sub - would it work if I set my receiver to '5.1 channel surround'? Thanks!

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5.1 on receiver
by Dan Filice / March 3, 2009 5:37 AM PST
In reply to: home theatre set up

If you set your receiver to 5.1, it will be sending audio signals to rear speakers that you don't have. You could certainly use the Optical audio to the receiver and set the BR player to 7.1, but I would think you need to set your receiver to something like 6-channel Stereo, which would give you L-R stereo, center-channel and Sub, and not having rear speakers would only take away rear stereo sound which your are getting in the front anyways.

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A couple ideas
by Pepe7 / March 3, 2009 5:01 AM PST

If you don't have plans to add rear speakers, well, I wouldn't bother with a new receiver. That's my opinion anyway ;). You are missing out on 98% of the fun though(!)

You could however add two inexpensive digital optical cables- one from your cable box to the receiver, and another from your blu ray player to the receiver. That *might* give you a slightly 'brighter' sound, but won't give you surround per se lacking the rears.

-Pedro

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