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PLEASE HELP!! Home Theatre questions

by mattwaring / April 2, 2006 4:25 AM PDT

I need help from the experts. I am in process of ordering the new 50" 60U Panasonic plasma. I have received a variety of different ways to connect the various audio/Video cables and various components to purchase. I will be upgrading my DirectTV to an HD receiver. I will be mounting the TV above a Mantle in my family room and I will have to hide the cables behind the drywall. The majority of our viewing will be sports, standard satellite channels and a occassional DVD movie. I need advice on the following: 1) a good audio Receiver to buy under $1000.00 2) good speakers to buy for a 5.1 system under $1000.00( purchase speakers not part of box system. 3) a good upconverting DVD player 4) and most importantly the best way to run my video/audio cables, what type of cables to use ( component verse HDMI) and should I connect all my cables to the audio receiver and then to my TV. I know I have alot of questions but I have received so many different answers. Thanks for taking the time to help me out!

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Here is some info,,
by jcrobso / April 2, 2006 8:55 AM PDT
Here is some typical hook ups.
For recivers start here.
You want a reciver that will handel all of the switching so you won't have to run a lot cables through the wall.
Yes connect every thing to the reciver.
HDMI would be best, component would be the second choice.
Find out what cables come with the direct TV box.
For DVD players start here.
How big is you room???
Now speakers are a very personal item,, My favoite speakers are JBL, but there are many other good speakers. But yor ears are the final judge. John
or thies,
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Sounds like you're about to go wow!...
by kena10 / April 19, 2006 4:10 PM PDT

Commish, for starters....

Since you're going to be putting the plasma above a mantle, the most logical way to hook it up in a clean way would be to connect everything to the receiver and then hook up an HDMI cable from the plasma to the receiver for the switching. This will save you the headache of connecting all your sources to the tv and having to fit all the cables behind the drywall. With one cable, you have less fishing to do.

The receiver I'm thinking about is the Yamaha HTR-5990. The good news is that since it was last years model, you can still get a new one unopened in ebay for about 500-600 bucks, as opposed to paying the full price of $1000 at best buy. I believe it does HDMI upconversion and switching, so you'll have 2 inputs and 1 output for the tv, along with 3 component inputs and the rest of the various A/V connections most every receiver out there offers, including fiber optic audio.

Speakers, hmm, lets see... A good suggestion would be to buy only the speakers in a package and buy the sub separately. Considering that you already have about 400 bucks that you saved in the cost of the receiver above, you can get the Polk RM20 5 pack for $699, , and then get a sub. This is where it gets a bit hairy... I'm kinda biased towards Velodyne because I like to feel the bass, so, if you want a sub that's going to rock your place, get a Velodyne SPL series (yes, they're expensive). You'll have to spend a few extra bucks on it but it'll be worth it. Depending on the size of the room and how loud you want your sub to be, Either get a Velodyne (if you want to splurge), or you can get an Infinity CSW10 ($599), a Velodyne DLS-4000R ($599), or a Polk PSW505 ($499), all from crutchfield,

Finally, the upconverting DVD player. This brings the following question.. Do you have a large collection of movies and music you would like to put into one unit to save space and so forth? If so, then I would recommend the Sony DVP-CX995V, which is about $400 from most places. This thing holds 400 discs and it can also play SACD's. It has a built-in decoder, so that's also a plus. I believe has it for $299 plus shipping.
However, if you're going to be using the dvd player to watch one movie at a time, I would say go with a nice high end piece that will have nice guts. My suggestion would be the Sony DVP-NS3100ES ($499), or the Denon DVD2910 ($699). These units are single loaders and the main differences are in the S/N ratios and the price difference of course, $200 more to be exact. In my opinion, I would not spend more than 300 bucks on a dvd player since the new formats are already coming out and more than likely you'll simply need something to get you by for a couple of years.
Personally I'm leaning toward the changer because of the price but ultimately it's your choice and also keep in mind that the changer is really deep (21 inches), so if you're planning on putting all these pieces in a rack or stand of some sort, do some research to find depth specifications for furniture pieces.

I hope these more concrete suggestions will help you in purchasing your new equipment. Please let us know what you wind up buying. Good luck!

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Some new questions on the topic....
by emp.ani / April 20, 2006 3:02 AM PDT

If there is no worry of too many cables, fishing, etc. behind the walls, is it better to connect all video feeds directly to the TV? I mean, is there any signal loss experienced by connecting the video feeds to the receiver first and then to the TV? I would still want to connect the audio to the receiver to expereince the surround sound. Also, how important is a Line Conditioner in the whole Home Theater setup? Please advise and thank you.

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by kena10 / April 20, 2006 4:22 PM PDT

If there isn't a worry about cable fishing and space constraints, you can do either or. The whole reason why you would want to connect a single cable to a Plasma that was goign to be mounted over a mantle would be for simplicity purposes and to truly make your setup a surround sound setup. Some people say "well, sometimes I don't feel like watching a movie in surround sound and I only need my tv speakers", in cases like that, some people connect all their sources to the tv and then to the receiver from the tv. The only downside to it is that sometimes you can't send a dolby digital signal to the receiver because in most cases you're only sending a stereo signal from the tv through the rca left and right cables from the tv's audio out.

Another thing you can do is "double dip", but that can get expensive. By "double dip" I mean that you can connect everything to the receiver and then use an hdmi connection from the receiver to the tv...
And then, for whatever sources you want to use without the receiver sometimes (like the cable box), you can connect it to the tv and the receiver at the same time.
Let's take an hd cable box for example.... Say the box is connected to the receiver using hdmi, right? While the box is connected to the receiver and the receiver is connected to the tv through hdmi, you can run a set of component cables from the cable box (since the cable box will have 2 or 3 different type of outputs) to your tv and pluging them into a different input and still leaving the hdmi connection plugged in.
Still with me? Good..
So if you want to watch tv without turning the receiver on, you can do so and then all you have to do is change inputs on the tv and voila!. Like I said, it's the expensive way of doing it but that way you can have the best of both worlds.

As far as I know, there is no signal loss when sources are connected to the receiver and then to the tv. Receivers are meant to do this kind of task, so there is an emphasis picture quality. You might experience some signal loss if you're using an analog source, like a vhs deck but not necessarily depending on the quality of the equipment.

Line conditioners....Well, line conditioners are nice but not essential. Their job is to regulate power and provide you with clean power. In my opinion (and that's a personal choice), I would purchase a nice surge protector and leave it be. Some people claim that a Plasma needs a line conditioner and so do rear projection tv's because if a storm rolls around, your equipment is safe. Let's face it, how often does a storm hit? (depending on where you live, of course).
It's a simple rule, if you have nice equipment and you know a storm is coming, then unplug the surge protector from the wall and you'll be fine. The same principle applies to computers at home.
Remember when people used to have modems in their computers to connect to the internet by dialing in? If you used your pc in a storm, chances are your modem could get fried, and some did. It's just a matter of common sense.

I purchased a Monster Powerbar 2100 one ebay brand new for $176 (they run about $350 at the stores), and that's more than enough for me. It tells me what the voltage is at and whether my current outlet is good enough to handle everything plugged into it.

Keeping in mind all these things, if you're still interested in purchasing a line conditioner and want to spend the money on it, do it by all means. What matters most is that you feel comfortable knowing that your equipment is safe.

Please let me know if you have more questions, I'd be glad to answer any more questions you may have.

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Thanks-More questions
by mattwaring / April 21, 2006 12:38 AM PDT
In reply to: Honestly.....


Thanks for all the great info in a easy to understand format. I think I might try the "double dip" hook up method. A couple more questions. Should I buy a HTIB speaker system minus the SUB-woofer or should I buy all my speakers for a 5.1 set up separately. The front right and Left speakers will have to be in a bookshelf. The size of the room is 20' by 15'. Any recommendations on good bookshelf speakers under $500-$600 for the pair. The rear speakers will be wall mounted. How important is the center channel speaker? We will be using the tv and audio set up mainly for sports,satellite programming, and occassional DVD movies with the kids. I don't know if we need to use the receiver and speakers all the time. Will the sound from the Panasonic 60U plasma be good enough for our room? Do you have any installation tips? Where should I buy my HDMI cables( 12'-15' ft ) We are going to mount the tv above the mantle of the fireplace and connect a Satellite HD receiver, DVD player, Audio receiver in the lower cabinets. I think I am going to hold off buying a new DVD player until the dust settles on the new HD- DVD players. Any recommendation on RF remotes so I can hide my components behind the cabinet doors. Thanks again!

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Some delayed input..
by kena10 / April 25, 2006 11:49 PM PDT
In reply to: Thanks-More questions


For the speakers, Polk has a nice 5 speaker set (the RM20) for about $699.

They also have the RM10 series and that's about $539

All these speakers are small enough that you would be able to use them for the particular application you discussed. Since all the speakers come in a package, you'll be able to have a matched set of spakers and not notice any difference in sound emanating from them. As far as the center channel is concerned, that is the most important speakers in a 5.1 setup. The center channel is what provides you with the dialog, voices and main sounds in a movie , game or concert. As far as the internal speakers from the plasma being good enough for your room, that would be kind of difficult to guess. To give you an example, the speakers in my KDS-R60XBR1 are pretty weak. Some tv's used to come with outputs so that you could use the internal speakers as a center channel but, I honestly wouldn't recommend it.

Install tips, hmm... I'm not sure that I have any tips per say but, if you have any specific questions, I can give you some answers.

You can purchase the HDMI cables from most a/v stores. Lately, I've been buying allmy monster cables from ebay, so I can save some money. Although HDMI cables are expensive to being with, I would at least get something in the middle of the line, that way you know you have a decent set of cables and you know they're goign to give you a nice picture.

The Logitech Harmony 890 is a good remote that you could use to solve your IR problem.

Hope this helps and let me know if you have any more questions.


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Good info!
by emp.ani / April 21, 2006 2:48 AM PDT
In reply to: Honestly.....

Thanks so much JB for the reply! I'd love to get your feedback on how I've currently set up my system:

I've connected the component video feeds from my HD Cable Box and DVD Player directly to my Plasma TV (Panasonic TH-50PX500U) using Monster THX Component Video Cables.
I then connected the digital audio feeds from my HD Cable Box and DVD Player directly to my receiver (Harman Kardon AVR-235) using Monster THX Digital Fiber Optic Cables.
I also connected the analog audio feed from my HD Cable Box directly to my TV.

Here is the reasoning for my current set up:
1. My components (except my TV) do not have HDMI capability. My HD Cable Box only has DVI.
2. Space behind the wall, cable fishing, etc. was not a problem for me.
3. This is my only TV and is not always used for a "Home-Theater Experience". I wanted to watch TV (programs like the News, etc.) without having to use the Receiver & the Surround Sound. For times when Surround Sound is needed, I simply turn on the Receiver and use it's audio.
4. From what I can tell, routing video feeds through a receiver does not necessarily enhance the feed (to my knowledge) and to me I feel it might even weaken the feed..."middlemen" tend to do that Happy
5. I'm actually saving on one set of video cables by not having to run video from my Receiver to my TV.

Please review and see if there are any glaring problems with this set-up. It seems to be working well for me so far (I just set it up this week).

Now for Line Conditioners... The sales people in the stores make you think that "clean power" is the #1 factor to a clearer picture & sound. How true is that? Does it really make a difference? I feel that the quality of your cabling is what makes the difference. And that's only because I've personally seen picture & sound quality increases with the addition of quality cables. Maybe if I would have seen that with Line Conditioners, I might be singing a different tune. I will look into getting a good surge protector as you've suggested. Thanks again for all your help!

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by kena10 / April 25, 2006 11:25 PM PDT
In reply to: Good info!


Sounds like you got the whole thing running pretty smoothly. Sorry for my delayed response, I've been kinda busy the last few days and have not had a chance to log into cnet.

As far as line conditioners go, you pretty much got the answer convered.


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