What is the best way to connect everything?

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Elphaba, Aug 4, 2007.

  1. Elphaba

    Elphaba Stunt Coordinator

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    First, thank you all for the help you gave me in choosing things.

    I have all my gear here, and I am giddy as a schoolgirl. It's still in boxes. I'll be getting the stand assembled tomorrow and then it will be time to connect everything.

    These are what I have:

    TV: Philips 42PFL7432D/37

    DVD Player: Panasonic DMP BD10A

    Receiver: Yamaha RX-V661

    Speakers: SCS500.5

    I think I have an idea of how to hook things up, but there seem to be like a thousand options and I'm not sure which to take.

    Here's what I tentatively had planned on:

    HDMI from the DVD Player to the TV.
    Fiber Optic Digital from the DVD player to the reciever.
    Digital cable from the wall into the TV Coax.
    Digital coax from the TV to the receiver.

    I think this gives me 1080p from the DVD player to the TV, 5.1 DD or DTS surround sound for BD and DVD, and whatever digital sound is offered on the channel I'm watching for regular cable.

    Now the questions:

    1. Would there be any advantage to using the 5.1 out from the DVD player to the receiver? If I understand correctly, that's going to be the only way to get the TrueHD sound. If/when I get two more speakers for rear surrounds, I'll have to do the 7.1 analog connections to get TrueHD sound, correct? Is this going to be a big improvement over the regular DD or DTS? If I were to use the 5.1/7.1 connections, would I need any special type of cables, or just regular RCA interconnects? Does the quality of these cables make much difference?

    2. Would it be better to go HDMI to the receiver then HDMI to the TV for the DVD to TV connection? The receiver can separate out and decode the DD and DTS sound this way before passing on the video signal to the TV, is this correct?

    3. I think I can go HDMI to the TV, then digital coax audio to the receiver, with cable going into the coax and passing audio into the receiver, which would make input switching easy for cable and DVD. Assuming the TV can pass through the digital sound this way (the manual isn't clear), is there an obvious problem with this? It seems the simplest setup in terms of cables.

    Assuming I want the best video and sound possible with the most efficient input switching feasible, is there a better way to connect things?

    Speaker connections: I got a spool of 14 gauge speaker wire when I got my cables, but it turns out the speakers come with speaker wire in the box, a 20 ft. set for each front, a 40ft. set for the rears, and an LFE cable for the subwoofer. I could save myself a few dollars, enough to get myself another movie, by returning the spool of speaker wire. Probably more than that, as it seems the 50 foot spool probably isn't going to be quite enough. However, when I looked at the included wire, it seems very thin compared to the spool I bought (perhaps half as thick or less, to my untrained eye it looks like 24 gauge). Is the better speaker wire going to make a difference in how the speakers sound? Assuming the included LFE cable is of similar quality (IE, cheap) would I get any benefit from buying a higher quality cable?

    Surge suppressor: I got a surge suppressor, and just wanted to make sure I'm not cheaping out and taking a risk. The Best Buy guy tried to sell me a Monster Power think for well over $100, and I said no thanks. My surge suppressor is a Philips (matching the TV appealed to my sense of order). The listed specs are:

    Energy dissipation: 4320 joules
    Maximum Surge: 6000 volts
    Maximum peak current: H-N 72,000; H-G 12,000; N-G 12,000
    Response time:
     
  2. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Hi Elphaba.

    Wow - you are in for a great time hooking all that stuff up. But you asked so many questions, it may scare some people off.

    Let me start with this:

    RACK LAYOUT:

    Put your receiver on the bottom shelf. Put the DVD player on the top (so you dont have to stoop to interact with it).

    SPEAKER WIRE:

    I usually recommend 12 ga for all your speakers and you can get spools of it at Home Depot or www.partsexpress.com. But the 14 ga will work fine as long as you are not running it in-wall. If you were, I would insist on 12 ga for the long runs just because the wire is cheep compared to the hassle of installation.

    SURGE SUPRESSOR:

    I would not bother running the CATV coax through the surge suppressor UNLESS:

    - You live in a lightening-prone area
    - Your CATV coax arrives at your house on a pole

    WIREING:

    Try running HDMI to the receiver, then to the TV. This allows the receiver to strip off the 5.1 (and TrueHD/etc), but pass the video along.

    You did not say your CATV system is providing HD video. Check with your cable company and see about a HD-PVR. These things are wonderful. Just go with "Basic Cable" to start. My HD-PVR with Basic runs $24/month, no contract. This will give you another device to run through your receiver.

    I'll leave the other questions to others.
     
  3. Elphaba

    Elphaba Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks, Bob! I'll use my speaker wire when I get around to hooking up the sound system tomorrow.

    Sorry about having so many questions [​IMG]. I get verbose when I'm excited.

    I got my tv stand assembled, attached the base to the TV, updated the firmware on the TV, hooked up the BD player with the HDMI cable, and spent the rest of the evening fiddling with the picture. I used the THX optimizer to adjust the picture, then tweaked to taste from there, and watched a little Toy Story. It looks fantastic, not quite HD, but pretty close.

    I'll get the sound system set up tomorrow. The TV speakers actually don't sound too bad, at least on the previews on the POTC BD.

    I'm not quite sure exactly where to put the subwoofer--does it hurt to have it right next to the wall, or do I need to leave a little distance there? Aesthetically, the best place for it is just a few inches from one side wall, but I can be a little flexible if need be.
     
  4. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Subwoofer: You usually want to put the sub in a corner of the 2 longest, un-broken walls. Often sliding it along the longest wall 2/5 or 1/3 prevents over-emphasis of some frequencies.

    Failing that - the corner a few inches out is fine.
     
  5. Schadow

    Schadow Auditioning

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    Gilda -

    I can relate to the giddiness. Just recently purchased a 6.1 channel (Onkyo) HT package and got it wired-up. My TV (a Toshiba 1080p LCD model) has three HDMI inputs so I went HDMI direct to the TV from the HD Cable Box, a DVD recorder, and a HD-DVD player. Then connected the TV to the Onkyo receiver by Digital Optical cable. (The receiver does not have HDMI connection.) My theory was that whatever source was being played on the TV, all the program audio content was present, via HDMI, in the TV circuitry and would come down the fiber optics.

    Since the HD-DVD player also plays CDs, I did have to run a pair of red-and-whites from the player to the receiver. Otherwise the whole thing is HDMI and a single Digital Optical cable. (OK, there's also a red-white-yellow from the HD cable box to the DVD recorder.)

    The gurus here in the forum pretty much agreed that this would be a satisfactory hookup and they were right. I'm certainly not sophisticated enough to know the fine points of the technical content of the sound I'm hearing from this wiring setup, but it is amazing.

    I would heartily second the acquisition of HD channels from your provider. You have to rent a HD box of course to go with them. We get about eight HD channels including Discovery HD Theater, HD Net, Universal HD, ESPN2 HD and others. The programming opens a whole new world of viewing.

    Only one thing I would add to the subject of subwoofer placement. Don't put it in contact with a wall or furniture. You would inevitably get a buzz (the kind you don't want.) Also, set it on a little square of carpet or rubber mat for the same reason.

    Have fun! [​IMG]
     
  6. Elphaba

    Elphaba Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks, Bob and George.

    My floor covering is Flor carpet squares, so anywhere I put the subwoofer is going to be on a square of carpet with a rubber back. [​IMG]

    I'm going to try the subwoofer in the spot I'd planned and see how it sounds. There's a short wall between the front door and the door leading to the staircase to the second floor, with one step in front of this door leading up stairs. For purposes of arranging furniture, in between the step and the front door a few inches out from the wall with the cable run along the base of the step is the best placement. If it doesn't work there, I'll get a big long honking LFE cable and run it over the ceiling and put the sub in a back corner.

    Fortunately, I have no neighbors within a quarter mile, and the only other resident of my home is nearly deaf, so I can crank up T2 at two o'clock in the morning with the sub set to "crack the foundation" and not disturb anyone.

    Hee hee.
     

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