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Lossless audio made me go low-tech


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#1 of 54 ONLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted November 10 2007 - 06:24 PM

Since buying a new prepro/receiver with HDMI audio processing capabilities is not in the budget for the near future (bought a new car recently), and my old Outlaw 950 only has 1 set of 5.1 analog audio inputs. Got the Toshiba XA2 and the Panasonic BDP-10A, both have at least 5.1 analog audio outputs (for lossless audio, and anything else they can decode). So I ended up using two of those 3-port A/V switchers (just simple mechanical switchers for RCA connector inputs), and fed the front L-R-C into one switcher from each source, and the rear L-R-Sub into the other switcher. The video side is handled with direct connection of HDMI to the TV set.

Originally I had the BDP-10A using the 5.1 analog audio input on the 950, and the optical audio output from the XA2, but I really wanted to hear TrueHD from HD DVD, and after comparing the downrezzed audio from the XA2 with the TrueHD, it was well worth the hassle and cost of the A/V switchers to get the sonic upgrade for both HDM sources now. Sure, it's a low-tech and clunky solution for now, but it'll have to do until I upgrade the prepro/receiver in the future.
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#2 of 54 OFFLINE   Scott Calvert

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Posted November 11 2007 - 05:49 AM

That's exactly what I am planning on doing. Right now I have the HD-A1 hooked up via 5.1 analog to a cheap Yamaha receiver. Sounds fantastic. When I go blu-ray I'll pick up a cheap switcher for the RCA cables.

This is a newbie question, but do most blu-ray players have 5.1 analog outs?

#3 of 54 ONLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted November 11 2007 - 09:27 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Calvert
This is a newbie question, but do most blu-ray players have 5.1 analog outs?

That's not always the best assumption (because Sony's PS3 is considered to be one of the best Blu-ray players, but only has lossless audio via its HDMI output), so you should always check to see if the model you are considering does offer 5.1 audio output (or 7.1 as in the case of the Panasonic BDP-10A).

I picked up my A/V switchers at Target for $15 each. I would have bought them at Fry's for $13 each, but they only had one in stock and I needed 2, plus the very same rebadged switcher by RCA (or Magnavox) was $27 at Fry's as well, so shop around. There are some on Ebay for $7 delivered, but I didn't want to wait to get the stuff hooked up (because my longer HDMI cables showed up last week too).
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#4 of 54 OFFLINE   PaulDA

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Posted November 12 2007 - 01:38 AM

monoprice has one that can accommodate four 5.1 analogue inputs and one output (with remote switching) for about 35$ or so. I plan to get one to accommodate my two hi-res audio players and two hi-def disc players.
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#5 of 54 ONLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted November 12 2007 - 03:48 AM

Do you have a part number or link to that particular item from Monoprice? I did look, but never stumbled across anything remotely like that, and not for a price under $100 (in other searches).

...

Then getting creative with the searching, I found this:

http://www.monoprice....seq=1&format=2

From the reviews, it looks like it's not all that good at pushing 720p/1080i via component video, but seems to be a decent 5.1 analog audio switcher since the bandwidth requirement is much smaller for audio (only 0-20,000Hz). Too bad it'll be 12/1/07 before they have them in stock again, but I'm intrigued by it (plus I could return the other switchers if I needed to if I pull the trigger on this unit from Monoprice, but the convenience of an all-in-one box solution will add about $10 to the cost when shipping is factored into the final price).
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#6 of 54 OFFLINE   Dave Moritz

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Posted November 12 2007 - 04:27 AM

All I have for now is a Yamaha RX-V995 with no HDMI and no component video. I have my Sony BDP-S300 hooked up to the optical and analog input and my HD-DVD player is hooked up to a optical input. At least until I upgrade to a Denon AVR-3808ci or VSX-94TXH receiver.
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#7 of 54 OFFLINE   PaulDA

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Posted November 12 2007 - 04:55 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Sun

Then getting creative with the searching, I found this:

http://www.monoprice....seq=1&format=2

From the reviews, it looks like it's not all that good at pushing 720p/1080i via component video, but seems to be a decent 5.1 analog audio switcher since the bandwidth requirement is much smaller for audio (only 0-20,000Hz). Too bad it'll be 12/1/07 before they have them in stock again, but I'm intrigued by it (plus I could return the other switchers if I needed to if I pull the trigger on this unit from Monoprice, but the convenience of an all-in-one box solution will add about $10 to the cost when shipping is factored into the final price).
This is the unit I meant. I don't know why it would not be good with component video (I'm currently using a switch like yours to "combine" two pathways to my pj--only one input--and it works fine). In any event, I will be using it only for audio as A) I have sufficient cabling to accommodate four players and B) it is a lot cheaper than upgrading my receiver. Besides, my receiver allows me to do all the bass management/time alignment I want at the MCH input, so as long as the players have internal level adjustment functions, I'm good to go. (and three years of using my receiver in that fashion with hi-res audio has shown me that I have nothing to fear about "sonic degradation" from using it that way)
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#8 of 54 OFFLINE   Ryan

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Posted November 12 2007 - 03:11 PM

Someone at AVS attempted using this unit as a solution without any luck.

I can't post the URL but just do a search.
(Thread title: Anyone use Y-splitters to hook up multiple analog setups?)

"OK here the short answer, it won't work in most cases.
The component section of the switcher[pb pr y] has a much lower voltage then the audio L. R. section. It was a 15db difference. The digital was fine for the SW. I couldn't detect any noise . I played Sound & Vision test disc to check I got the channels right, they were, but like I said there was huge difference between the front 3 channels[hooked up through component video] and the surrounds[hooked up via audio L R]. My Oppo would let me balance the difference out but the Toshiba won't let you raise the level beyond "0" , so it would come up short by 5db. Bummer!"

#9 of 54 ONLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted November 12 2007 - 03:29 PM

That's good to know. I guess I'm back at the purely mechanical solution for now.
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#10 of 54 OFFLINE   ErichH

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Posted November 13 2007 - 01:00 PM

Low tech Rules for the rest of us.
I actually put in a BD10 with an older 720p TV, but now I have a 1080p (nice)
The audio was and still is 5.1 to an old B&K - sounds great.
The thought of adding a clunky switcher is OK if I ever go dual. Why Not - HDMI in the current Pre/receiver market is still evolving. Low tech is cool

#11 of 54 OFFLINE   PaulDA

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Posted November 14 2007 - 03:21 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan
Someone at AVS attempted using this unit as a solution without any luck.

I can't post the URL but just do a search.
(Thread title: Anyone use Y-splitters to hook up multiple analog setups?)

"OK here the short answer, it won't work in most cases.
The component section of the switcher[pb pr y] has a much lower voltage then the audio L. R. section. It was a 15db difference. The digital was fine for the SW. I couldn't detect any noise . I played Sound & Vision test disc to check I got the channels right, they were, but like I said there was huge difference between the front 3 channels[hooked up through component video] and the surrounds[hooked up via audio L R]. My Oppo would let me balance the difference out but the Toshiba won't let you raise the level beyond "0" , so it would come up short by 5db. Bummer!"
Yikes--guess I'll stick to the clunkier, but reliable, all mechanical solution.
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#12 of 54 OFFLINE   Ryan

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Posted November 14 2007 - 12:20 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulDA
Yikes--guess I'll stick to the clunkier, but reliable, all mechanical solution.

Paul - A lot of people are using a Philips component video switcher sold at Walmart for $20 (in stores only, not online). It's a 4-in/1-out design that includes 6 RCAs for each input (3 component ,2 l/r audio, 1 composite). It's a passive model that apparently doesn't color the sound in any way. I'm just going to continue swapping the cables until I upgrade my receiver.

#13 of 54 ONLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted November 14 2007 - 01:37 PM

I meant to check out Wal-Mart, but never got near one last weekend, but I'll try to swing by there this weekend and see if I can score the 4-n-1 switcher.
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#14 of 54 OFFLINE   PaulDA

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Posted November 14 2007 - 01:46 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan
Paul - A lot of people are using a Philips component video switcher sold at Walmart for $20 (in stores only, not online). It's a 4-in/1-out design that includes 6 RCAs for each input (3 component ,2 l/r audio, 1 composite). It's a passive model that apparently doesn't color the sound in any way. I'm just going to continue swapping the cables until I upgrade my receiver.
Any chance it can be found at another store than Wal-Mart? I have a small list of stores who've given me sufficiently bad service to warrant a personal boycott, and Wal-Mart is on that list. In any event, it's not important for now but I do thank you for the heads up about the product.
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#15 of 54 OFFLINE   Ryan

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Posted November 14 2007 - 07:47 PM

Here's a link to the Philips switcher I mentioned:

http://www.walmart.c....uct_id=3904683

Walmart is the only seller I'm aware of. You might check Amazon sellers. I never go to Walmart either but I think I'll swing by and check. But wow that's gonnna be a lot of interconnects behind my equipment rack. Still - I think it's the best solution because I really don't wanna upgrade my receiver just to get HDMI. The analog outs on my Toshiba and Sony players both sound really good to me.

#16 of 54 OFFLINE   Patrick Hannon

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Posted November 14 2007 - 10:45 PM

I was in the same position a few months ago, needing a 6 channel switching unit. I tried a number of video switchers, including a Philips HDTV (component, video and L/R) from Wal-Mart (Canada) and my Key Digital (component, digital and L/R) and another Sony switch (video, L/R). In all cases, whenever the audio was routed through the video lines (and digital in the Key Digital) the volume was always 12 - 15 dB low as noted in a previous post. My Toshiba XA2 did not allow increasing volume enough and I could not find a solution to the volume differences......Just for information from my trials....YMMV

Cheers

#17 of 54 OFFLINE   PaulDA

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Posted November 15 2007 - 03:27 AM

I use a switch box to get 2.1 from one player and 5.1 from another (all audio) into my MCH input. I use the stereo L/R and the composite video inputs on the switch box and I've not noticed any difference in audio level compared to when it went directly to the receiver (I used to unplug and replug the cables). I had set the levels before buying the switchbox and did not bother to redo them. I have no reason to doubt your experience but I am very curious as to why the component video inputs on the switchbox would have that effect (at least on mechanical ones that are entirely passive--what would be the point in designing it that way?). Is it possible that it is a cabling issue, rather than a switchbox issue? I'm just trying to understand. Otherwise, I'll simply get more "ordinary" switchboxes like the one I have now and deal with that. Still cheaper than upgrading my receiver.
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#18 of 54 ONLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted November 15 2007 - 03:36 AM

From what I've read, the main reason why some of the switchboxes presented a 15db drop when connecting the component video and the coaxial audio ports is because those ports also have a terminating resistor in the circuitry path for each port.
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#19 of 54 OFFLINE   PaulDA

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Posted November 15 2007 - 03:46 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Sun
From what I've read, the main reason why some of the switchboxes presented a 15db drop when connecting the component video and the coaxial audio ports is because those ports also have a terminating resistor in the circuitry for each port.
Ok. I'm no engineer, but that sounds like something that could interfere with the signal. My next question would be, then, does this confer an advantage to the video signal (the purported purpose of the box)? I have another box that I currently use to switch two component feeds to my projector (one from the HD PVR and the other from my receiver's component output for SD DVD). It is just like the one I use for audio as I've described above. One thing I've noticed for these two boxes is they don't care which direction the signal is going. I once used the same box to send the component video output of a DVD player to two different TVs (so the single "output" of the box became an input and the two "inputs" were now outputs--I did this so the kids' room TV could get a DVD image without buying another player). I find the PQ through this switchbox as I am using it now to be very good, even excellent and it is NOT a box specifically tailored to switch component video. Would my PQ be even better if I got such a box?
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#20 of 54 ONLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted November 15 2007 - 04:49 AM

Usually terminating resistors are put in place to eliminate reflections in the signal path, smooths out the high frequency signals (audio signals only go from 0 to 20,000 Hz, while the video signals are in the 50MHz range).

It's also like how SCSI cables 10 years ago always had a terminating resistor on the end to eliminate the bounceback of the data being transferred at high speed on the SCSI databus.
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