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Need help wiring up a setup for the family room

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by surfdoc37, Jan 5, 2010.

  1. surfdoc37

    surfdoc37 Auditioning

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    Got a new Panasonic 50" G-15 plasma for the family room. Wife is excited to mount it to the wall, and have a single wire (i.e. HDMI) run through the wall to it so that everything looks nice. So far, so good!

    Right now we have the following:

    Inputs: DISH HD DVR (HDMI, component); Panasonic Blue-Ray player (HDMI, component); Toshiba VCR (composite, S, component); Wii (composite, surprisingly); might add a CD player and lose the VCR.

    Have a Pioneer Elite VSX-50 (stored the DVD that came paired with it when we got the Blu-Ray) which handles the current setup OK but has no HDMI; it has optical and digital coax(?) handling the audio inputs. Also I have a killer VSX-72TXV in the basement not doing much of anything but I don't think I'd move it upstairs as it isn't HDMI 1.3.

    We're willing to invest in an Onkyo 607 or similar to get HDMI 1.3 ins/outs/switching. (Can even the Wii can be run through that receiver via HDMI to the TV?)

    But should we? The most commonly used configuration now is receiver "off" and watching CNN or cartoons or Jeopardy with just the the TV speakers. A configuration that requires the receiver "on" all the time will be unpopular. Does the HDMI signal pass to the TV even with the receiver turned off? And sometimes I like to turn on a football game but pop in a CD to listen to. Does HDMI run thru the receiver prevent me from doing that? Seems like it would. Should we run optical digital from the TV back to the receiver for surround sound?

    In short after setting up the system, we want to be able to: 1) Watch HDTV/Blue-ray movies in glorious surround sound (5.1); 2) Just turn on the TV to watch the news without powering up the receiver at all; 3) Listen to music from CD or radio while a ballgame or CNBC shows on the TV screen. Does wanting to run only one HDMI wire to the TV

    Help us to not make a mistake, and get a setup everyone will be happy with.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Not as far as I know. I'm pretty sure HDMI requires power, and I've never heard of a receiver that can do what you're suggesting. You're best bet is to add run component video out directly from the DISH receiver to the TV, along with analog audio. That's five extra wires to the TV, but its either that or always have the receiver on.


    Not possible. The receiver can only be set to one input at a time. If you only have a single connection to your TV and switch the input to the CD player, the TV is going to show the CD player's GUI. In order to listen to one input on the receiver while watching something else on the TV, you're going to need a second connection to the TV that is independent of the receiver. And that means "no single HDMI cable."

    (This is the second time this question has come up in two days. I feel another Wiki coming on.
    You're going to have to stick all the rest of the stuff in a cabinet of some kind anyway. Why not just get a nice, low entertainment cabinet that will allow you to set the TV at a reasonable height, give you somewhere to put the center channel speaker (did you remember about the center speaker?) and contain all the rest of your gear and wires?

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  3. Jason Charlton

    Jason Charlton Ambassador

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    Don't forget the power cable/outlet behind the TV! I also second Joe's caution about wall-mounting. Ideally, the center of the screen should be at or just slightly higher than eye level when seated (unless you do all your TV watching while standing). Maybe go to your local Best Buy and spend about 15 minutes watching the TVs that are mounted high on the shelf to get a sense of what may be in store.



    With regard to watching TV and listening to CDs at the same time, my old Onkyo TX-SV828 receiver WOULD do this (but only with the CD input as that input had no video associated with it). I sometimes enjoyed listening to CDs while watching sports (my own commentary was often much more entertaining). I can understand, though, with todays much more sophisticated receivers that include assignable video/audio inputs, etc. that this is something that has gone the way of the dinosaur...
     
  4. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    It's ashame the recievers don't supply power while "off" so the signal could be passsed through. Joe gave a work-around, but if you are chosing one or the other I think you'll find that once you get used to having the surround, you won't want to go back. My wife wanted the no-receiver option, so I hooked ours up similar to what Joe described. But after about 3 months she got spoiled by the surround and now always uses that mode. And we don't even have a universal, so she has to do the four remote 2-step. (Which I do still take grief for!)

    Of course, if you've already been hooked to a surround and you're still not impressed, then maybe it's not your thing and you should just skip it.
     
  5. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Good catch, Jason! It has been so long since I've used a CD player that was just a CD player that I had forgotten all about this option. (My current "CD" player is a 400-disc Sony DVD changer that has both movie and music discs loaded.)

    And I agree with Al Anderson's post. Most of what I watch on TV benefits from surround sound (especially sports) and I honestly don't think the receiver is using SO much extra power that I need to worry about it. The only time I ever use the TV speakers is when I'm recording two shows on the DVR and want to watch something "live" on a local station via set's internal tuner.


    Regards,


    Joe
     
  6. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    No, because it won't work.

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  7. CB750

    CB750 Screenwriter

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    I will agree that wall mounting a large screen TV should be your last resort when no other options are available. I had that problem as the only acceptable location for my new 52" LCD and surround system was above my fireplace with a raised hearth . Since we never used the fireplace I was able to mount the bottom of the TV 35" off the floor which is only a couple of inches higher than sitting on the typical 28" high cabinet. This has worked well for me as far as viewing height. However, since I mounted the TV on a brick wall hiding the AC power cord and HDMI Cable has been difficult. I cannot imagine trying this with anymore cables.

    Have you taken any time to listen to the sound from your 50" Plasma. I can say that from my experience that I have not found any new flat panel that has what I would consider decent sound. I can't think of any reason I would want to have my receiver and surround speakers on and that goes for Fox News and old Three Stooges movies.
     
  8. pagerfriendly

    pagerfriendly Auditioning

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    I coincidently just got off the phone with Denon and Crutchfield. I'm about to make a big purchase and had a couple of questions about my speaker choises and the Denon 1910.

    I was told by one of them, not sure which, that with the HDMI repeater, this receiver would allow video and audio to pass through to the TV with the receiver off.

    Is this not true? I agree I personally wouldn't care too much about not being able to use the TV's speakers; its more of a wife thing. Ease of use. Too many buttons and worries. That sort of thing.
     
  9. Jason Charlton

    Jason Charlton Ambassador

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    I can't offer any specific information on whether or not the receiver passes audio and video when off, but my gut tells me it won't.

    As for your wife's concern about remote control complexity, you should consider investing in a good universal remote such as the Harmony line from Logitech. I have the 880 and love it. They are very easy to program (you can download codes directly off the Internet and into the remote) and it's organized around "activities". Press "Watch TV" and the necessary devices are turned on, inputs set, etc. Switch to "Watch DVD" and everything switches correctly.

    They are well worth the investment, and IMO once you have a receiver and speaker setup for a room, that's the ONLY way to watch ANYTHING.

    Good luck.
     
  10. MrMark

    MrMark Auditioning

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    The Wii does not have HDMI, right? You could let an A/V receiver up-convert the Wii to HDMI, but It may be worth considering that many of the video processors that do up-conversion impose a certain amount of delay in the up-converted video. It's typically not a problem with sources like DVDs, but it can be a problem with game systems because the lag makes the controller feel like it is not responding...it makes some games very difficult to play.

    But your point about running everything through an A/V is a good one...at some level, that is the easiest and best way to do it, but I've had any number of customers tell me that they like to just use the TV stand-alone. It does make it easier to watch the news using the built-in tuner on the TV, but at the same time, it makes it harder when you want to hook up multiple sources and have surround sound.

    As to watching one source while listening to another, some receivers will let you do that. Of course there are all sorts of creative ways to hook it all up without making the A/V receiver the center of it all, but they are more complicated to control and pretty much destroy your single-cable-hookup concept...

    -Mark
     

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