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Sony BDP-S550 or New Receiver with Playstation 3?


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#1 of 26 OFFLINE   Jersey314

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Posted November 12 2008 - 11:43 AM

Hi guys, new poster here with sort of a general question about home theater setup (please keep in mind that I am just familiarizing myself with the different options and all of the terminology). I finally purchased an HDTV (the Panasonic TH-58PZ800U), it's being delivered in a few days. I currently have a surround sound setup, however, my receiver is a little old. It's a Denon AVR 1802. Unfortunately, the receiver doesn't have any HDMI inputs and it's only 5.1. I've been reading through the forums (and learning a LOT from all of you guys) and, from my understanding, it sounds like I have two options if I want to get Dolby True HD and/or other new technologies while using Blu-Ray: 1. Keep my receiver and instead get a Blu ray player that can internally decode Dolby True HD (like the Sony S550) and then some how hook that up in some way to my Denon so that I can hear Dolby True HD despite the lack of an HDMI connection from my Blu Ray to my receiver or 2. Get a new receiver with HDMI input (I'm hearing the Onkyo TX-SR606 is a good choice) and get any Blu-Ray player (in which case I'll probably get a PS3 as I hear that it is a quality Blu Ray player and maybe I'll pick up a game or two). Am I understanding all of this correctly? I would love to hear your opinions. Thanks guys!

#2 of 26 OFFLINE   Stephen_J_H

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Posted November 12 2008 - 12:26 PM

Not being familiar with your receiver, I checked out the specs online. It looks like you'd need a new receiver in any event if you want to heard the advanced audio codecs, as the Denon does not have 5.1 inputs.
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#3 of 26 OFFLINE   CraigF

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Posted November 12 2008 - 12:36 PM

At this particular time, I cannot see much point in getting a PS3 unless you are going to play games or stream media also. It is a fine BD player though, I like mine a lot. I use the streaming a lot. But I bought it "then". The S550 is likely the better choice for just BD whatever AVR you connect it to. They cost $400 here NOW (the S350 is barely above $200 at some places) and are supposed to be $300 here quite soon. The PS3 is around $400, and not as nicely IR-integrated into a system as the BDPs. If your AVR has 5.1 analog inputs then the S550 will do you. Not saying anything bad about the PS3, but it has some decent realistic competition now. Edit: if what Stephen says is true about the 5.1 inputs, I still say the S550 to go with your new AVR, though maybe the S350 would be good enough to decrease the cash crunch...

#4 of 26 OFFLINE   Jersey314

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Posted November 12 2008 - 02:06 PM

Thanks for the info guys. Stephen, I'm kind of confused. I have surround sound hooked up to my current Denon (5 speakers + a sub). What do you consider "5.1"? I know very little about all of this, but I was under the impression that if you have inputs in the back of your receiver that allow you to hook up 5 speakers (center, two front, two rear) and a sub, that you essentially have 5.1. Am I wrong? Are you telling me that the five spots where I insert speaker wire in the back of my receiver aren't "5.1 inputs?" Any explanation/advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated!

#5 of 26 OFFLINE   Ed Moxley

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Posted November 12 2008 - 03:01 PM

The AVR 1802 does have 5.1 inputs.
Jersey314......... If you're looking at the back of the receiver, in the lower left hand corner, there's six analog RCA type inputs called "EXT. IN". Those are the ones referred to as the 5.1 inputs. Not speaker connections. The Sony BDP-S550 has 7.1 analog outputs, so you could hook up the 5.1 connections of those, to your 5.1 EXT. IN inputs, and hear the HD audio of the blu ray movies.

The EXT. IN inputs are labeled FR (front right), FL (front left), SW (subwoofer), C (center), SR (surround right), and SL (surround left). You'll hook up corresponding connections from the S550 to those. The S550 will also have two more labeled something like: SBR (surround back right), and SBL (surround back left). Actually guessing at how those two are labeled, but you get the idea. Just don't worry about those. Not sure if you'll need to disable those in the player's setup menus or not.

Connected this way, instead of pushing the dvd button on receiver or remote, to watch and listen to the blu ray movie, you'll push button for "EXT. IN". On most receivers, that's marked as "Multi-Channel", but Denon uses their own language............... Posted Image
Hope this helped you understand what's being said?
Samsung HL61A750 (LED DLP)            Onkyo TX-SR805
Oppo BDP-83 Blu ray                                  Polk Audio LSi9
Polk Audio LSiC                                  Sony SS-MB100H
SVS PC12-NSD (Sub)                       ...

#6 of 26 OFFLINE   Jersey314

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Posted November 12 2008 - 03:53 PM

Thanks Ed!!! Man, I have been totally lost trying to figure out how this will work, but you totally cleared things up for me! I found the "Ext.In" Inputs and will be sure to connect my blu-ray there if I decide to stick with this receiver. What is your opinion on my situation? Will I get identical sound whether I connect my blu-ray this way or whether I instead get a new receiver and connect via HDMI? I don't mind buying a new receiver at all if it will improve my sound (I was thinking about the Onkyo TX-SR606). I'm also trying to determine if it's worth it to me to get a PS3 (although the most important thing to me is the video and audio quality I get overall from my blu-ray/receiver combination).

#7 of 26 OFFLINE   Jersey314

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Posted November 12 2008 - 03:55 PM

One other thing...what do you think of the Sony BDP-S550 versus the Panasonic BD55K?

#8 of 26 OFFLINE   Ed Moxley

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Posted November 12 2008 - 04:22 PM

No, you won't get identical sound. You'd be better off in the long run with the Onkyo TX-SR606. Denon makes great stuff, but you're about to outgrow what you have. To get a Denon that will do the same as the Onkyo, you'll spend a lot more money. The Onkyo is a lot of bang for the buck! Some blu ray players don't pass dtsHD Master Audio through the analog outputs. Not sure about the S550. So, in that respect too, you'll be better off with the Onkyo.

Since you can do so much more with the PS3, than just watch movies, that may be the way for you to go. It's said to be a very good blu ray player (faster loading times than most standalone players), and said to be pretty decent at upscaling regular dvds.

A lot of people like Panasonic, but I don't. I, and several people I know, have had bad experiences with Panasonic. Our experiences have been that their stuff doesn't last long enough to get your money's worth from it. Others here will argue that point, but as I said, it has been our experiences. So, personally, I'd take the Sony.............. Posted Image
Good luck with whatever you decide to do. Keep us posted.
Samsung HL61A750 (LED DLP)            Onkyo TX-SR805
Oppo BDP-83 Blu ray                                  Polk Audio LSi9
Polk Audio LSiC                                  Sony SS-MB100H
SVS PC12-NSD (Sub)                       ...

#9 of 26 OFFLINE   Jersey314

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Posted November 12 2008 - 05:18 PM

Thanks again Ed. Would going from my Denon to this Onkyo be a major downgrade? I got a really good deal on my Denon 6 years ago and didn't realize that it was such a quality receiver.

#10 of 26 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted November 12 2008 - 06:27 PM

If it was me, I'd rather consider the discontinued(?), but still available, Onkyo 805 or maybe even 875 instead assuming the $$$ diff (after whatever discounts) is not a problem. I suspect the 606 will be a downgrade from the Denon in aspects other than HDMI and ability to process the new audio formats. The old 805 and 875 would probably be more in line w/ the Denon plus the new stuff. How much of the quality diff actually matters will probably depend mostly on how loudly you play it in what size room w/ what kinds of speakers -- the 805 and 875 probably also use better DACs than the 606, not just better power section.

If you get the 805 (and maybe even the 875), just make sure to keep it well ventilated and maybe throw in a cooling fan to help out just in case as it's supposed to run pretty hot though I do not know from personal experience.

RE: the reliability thing, I'm one of those who aren't high on Sony for reliability over the past decade or so. They used to be great, but not anymore. I haven't paid much attention to the new S350 and S550 models, but I would've expected the new Pannys to be better players for the most part, except for certain things like remote ergonomics. Posted Image OTOH, the PS3 is indeed an excellent unit in general though not w/out its own (minor) flaws as a BD player, eg. the lack of official IR remote support.

As for 5.1 analog audio support, well, that probably should not be a big deal in the long run anyway. You'll inevitably want to upgrade the receiver for HDMI and probably the new lossless audio formats although the latter is actually not quite as necessary as you might think since IMHO the BD player should ideally be capable of decoding (and remixing in some instances) the audio into multichannel PCM to be passed via HDMI, instead of only passing the audio undecoded as "bitstream". This bit about decoding and remixing seems to be needed (or at least desired) for certain extra features in BD and might also eventually be needed for whatever stereoscopic(?) 3D enhancement for the format -- though the player you buy now may or may not be upgradeable for that anyway, except perhaps for the PS3.

Anyhoo, hope I didn't just confuse you more than I helped. Posted Image

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#11 of 26 OFFLINE   Ed Moxley

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Posted November 13 2008 - 12:17 AM

As Man-Fai Wong stated, the 805 or 875 Onkyos are definitely a better choice, if you don't mind spending the extra money. Also, as he said, make sure there's air getting to them. They're known to get pretty hot. Do not put them in an entertainment center, unless you can have a fan blowing on them. If in a rack, they probably should be the top piece.

The 606 is the entry level receiver for the new audio formats, so it may be a bit of a downgrade of overall quality, from the Denon. But, all the folks that have them, from all the HT forums I go to, seem to have nothing but praise for them. Again, if you don't mind the extra money, definitely go for the 805 or 875. I agree with most of what _Man_ said.

A lot of this boils down to personal taste, and money. Denon/Onkyo, Sony/Panasonic. If you feel more comfortable with one over the other, that's what you'll get, in most cases. I'm no longer comfortable with Panasonic, so I'll go Sony. I'd love to have a Denon 3808ci, but no way I can afford it, so I'm probably going to get the Onkyo 706 or 805 myself.

The only complaints I've heard on Sony's BD players is the load times, but the new S350s and S550s have improved on that. Sony receivers, except for the ES line, are mostly what gets the negative reviews from users.

One other thing I forgot to mention........... you might want to consider getting a Harmony remote, or one that's similar. The Harmony will work everything you have, except the PS3, with the push of just one button. They are very user friendly! My wife loves ours. With it, she can use the system as well as I can. It takes the place of several remotes...... Posted Image
Samsung HL61A750 (LED DLP)            Onkyo TX-SR805
Oppo BDP-83 Blu ray                                  Polk Audio LSi9
Polk Audio LSiC                                  Sony SS-MB100H
SVS PC12-NSD (Sub)                       ...

#12 of 26 OFFLINE   Jersey314

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Posted November 13 2008 - 03:40 AM

Thanks guys! I have learned more from talking to you over the past few hours than I knew to begin with (yes, I'm that ignorant when it comes to this stuff). I'm thinking now that maybe I'll hold on to my old Denon for the time being and plan to eventually upgrade my receiver. This means of course that I will have to get a blu-ray player that can internally decode the new audio standards and has analog outputs (i.e. I won't be getting PS3). Does this mean that I should get the Sony S550 or Panasonic Panasonic BD55 instead of the lower end models (Sony S350 or Panasonic BD35)? Or do the lower end models also provide the internal decoding that would allow me to pass Dolby True HD, etc. into my non-HDMI receiver? Ed, that Harmony remote sounds like a really good idea. My wife is the same way, she's overwhelmed with my remotes as is and I can only imagine her reaction when I add/change components.

#13 of 26 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted November 13 2008 - 04:42 AM

Tim, Yes, you will need either the Sony S550 or Panny BD55 instead of the lower models from each company if you want to decode the newer audio formats in the player and pass them to the receiver via 5.1 analog. I will also second Ed's recommendation on a Harmony universal remote. I've been using Harmony remotes for several years now -- first a 659, now a 880. They are easy to setup and customize, and very "family friendly".

#14 of 26 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted November 14 2008 - 09:11 AM

RE: the Harmony remotes, just don't get the cheapest ones. Posted Image My sister has one of the cheaper ones, and that thing is slow as molasses on start-up and in certain other situations -- or at least her hubby hasn't been able to figure out how to make it work smoother. And that slowness causes all sorts of frustration.

Personally, I like the Universal Remote models -- and recently sprang for the RF20 w/ the RF-to-IR unit bundled at a nice price from Amazon since I'll probably soon need the RF capability (to sorta "hide" the component rack).

If I ever get the well-known homebrew Bluetooth-to-IR converter for my PS3, I'll see about borrow my sister's Harmony remote to help program the commands into my RF20 remote. Posted Image

One other thing about choosing an internally decoding player. If you plan to upgrade your receiver soon enough, you might wanna consider not bothering w/ the 5.1 analog out anyway and just enjoy your BDs at 640Kbps DD 5.1 or 1.5Mbps DTS 5.1 (which are typically nearly ~2x as "good" as the DVD counterpart w/ few exceptions) for the short term. Then you can save the $$$ otherwise spent on the more expensive player toward the receiver upgrade instead, assuming all you're adding w/ the better player is the analog outs. In these lower end price ranges (for receivers), you'll likely be compromising the sound to some extent anyway by going w/ 5.1 analog just because you probably won't get proper bass management and/or distance/time delays and/or other room-based adjustments...

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#15 of 26 OFFLINE   Stephen Tu

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Posted November 14 2008 - 09:34 AM

I wouldn't automatically eliminate the cheapest Harmony models, at least not for the reason stated. The functionality is nearly identical between each model. Only big differences are button layout, display (number of commands, color/not color), rechargeable battery/cradle or regular batteries (can use rechargeable AAA of course). Plus some smaller features like picture/sound submenus for tweaking settings within an activity, and favorite channel lists. I would choose mainly on button feel & layout; the Harmony One is best at this IMO but is the most expensive. The Harmony 620/670 are the ones I'd choose if going for cheap. The 620 is only $72 at Target. The slowness is almost certainly because they haven't properly customized the various IR delay settings (power-on delays, intra-device delays, intra-key delays) for each component, whether or not to turn devices off when switching activities, which components to leave always on. Going to a more expensive model wouldn't change anything, and it should be fixable on their current one.

#16 of 26 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted November 14 2008 - 10:38 AM


The cheapest ones I was thinking of was the 5xx ones, not the 6xx ones. My sister has the 550, IIRC. But yeah, the button feel and layout are also quite poor on it. And again, like I said, I'm not sure if it's just that her hubby don't know how to set it better even though he's an IT networking consultant and should be smart enough to do such things.

Then again, judging from some of the Amazon user reviews, the Logitech/Harmony software isn't always a breeze to use -- just make sure you use the latest available software off their website, not whatever comes packaged w/ the unit, I guess. Posted Image

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#17 of 26 OFFLINE   Sanjay Gupta

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Posted November 15 2008 - 10:25 AM

In case you do go in for a new receiver with HDMI support, my vote for a Blu-Ray player would very easily go to the PS3. I personally own both the PS3 and the Panasonic BD55, and believe you me I by far prefer the PS3. The only reason I bought the Panasonic BD55 was for HD sound via it's 7.1/5.1 analog output, for like yourself I too have a Denon AVR-5800 which does not have HDMI support. But as impressed as I am with the HD sound, I still find myself wanting to use my PS3 over the BD55. In short, unless you really must have 5.1 analog output for HD sound, the PS3 is by far the best overall Blu-Ray player out there and that too irrespective of price. Ofcourse, all the other stuff, such as gaming, media server, web browsing etc. that come with the PS3 are a great bonus and I am not taking them into account in making this assessment. I personally am regretting my decision to buy the BD55 and think I should have just bought a Pre/Pro and used my Denon AVR-5800 as the power amp for Blu-Ray movies. Thus to answer your question, I say go in for a New Receiver with the PS3 instead of any other Blu-Ray player. Although to be honest, I have no experience with the Sony BDP-S550, but I can't imagine it being too much better than the BD55, that is if it is better at all.
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#18 of 26 OFFLINE   Jersey314

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Posted November 15 2008 - 05:46 PM

Sanjay, if you don't mind my asking, what makes the PS3 a better blu-ray player than the BD55?

#19 of 26 OFFLINE   Sanjay Gupta

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Posted November 15 2008 - 07:52 PM

As far as the picture quality is concerned, I find the PS3 and the BD55 to be almost the same, if not exactly the same. Although I must add, that I think the PS3 does a better job upscaling DVDs compared to the BD5. I can't say this for sure, since I have not spent too much time comparing the two for DVDs yet. Ofcourse the lossless audio, via the analog outs on the BD55 is outstanding, but since my receiver does not have HDMI, I cannot compare it with the PS3 audio. Where the PS3 simply blows away the BD55, is in the overall speed and response performance. There are several other irritants/shortcomings in the BD55 compared to the PS3. I am listing the one's that I can remember off hand. Overall sluggish performance. Having been used to the PS3 it is hard to overlook the fact that the BD55 is horribly and painfully slow compared to the PS3 and I am not merely referring to Power On, Power Off, Disc load times etc., but rather the painfully slow response to button presses while playing Blu-ray discs. Here I must point out, that compared to other standalone players the BD55 is actually supposed to be much faster. So I can only imagine how slow and frustrationg the other standalone players must be. No dedicated Subtitle button. Instead it takes 'SIX' button presses on the remote to turn on the subtitles and another 'SIX' button presses, to turn off the subtitles. Now this might not be as important to all, but to myself and I am sure quite a few others, this or rather the lack of this feature is a very major issue. White Bands on the sides of 4x3 encoded material. I am sure most here would agree with me, that to have 'white' bands instead of the regular 'black' bands is not just distracting but outright stupid on Panasonic's part. I am just thankful that atleast the top and bottom bands, on material wider than 16:9, are not white. You can workaround this issue by switching the 'screen saver' feature off. Why the connection between the two? Beats me, but this workaround does work. Ofcourse you then lose the 'screen saver', but i'd rather lose that feature, than have the 'white' bands. No Menu Button to bring up the Menu while playing a DVD. Instead it takes 'Four' button presses to simply go to the menu. You tell me how stupid is this. The Display button. It does not Display anything. Rather it brings up a menu from which several player settings can be made including turning on the subtitles. It would make more sense for most of these settings to be in the Setup menu. Status button. This is the button equivalent to a normal 'Display' button. But even this needs to be pressed 'twice' before it will display the Chapter, Time Elapsed & Total Time. By the way, there is no way to see the 'Remaining' time and this goes for onscreen and the LCD display on the player itself. Thus you have to do the math yourself by subtracting the Elapsed time from the Total time to get the 'Remaining Time'. I am sure all avid movie watchers will be thrilled with the idea of having to do maths, as simple as it might be, instead of watching the film. Settings Menu - GUI. This is so poorly designed that it takes a while to figure out where the most basic of settings are. I personally have never felt the need to ever refer to a manual for such things, but I can imagine the average persons frustrations with setting up this player. No WiFi. The BD55 only has wired ethernet, while the PS3 has both. No internal data storage. This is a must to be fully profile 2.0 compliant and to use the BD Live features. While the PS3 has more than ample storage space due to it's built hard disk, the BD55 only has a SD Card slot for the same purpose. No display of Audio/Video bitrate. I know it's not a major thing, but then again it is to me specially since the PS3 gives this information. Playability & Compatibility issues with various BDs. Although this one is not really an issue but rather just something important to keep in mind. The PS3 has almost unanimously been championed for it's fail proof performance, the BD55 is yet an unproven player. Thus, keeping in mind the above and also that, pending verdict on the Sony S550, the Panasonic BD55 is considered the best of the standalone players, the PS3 to me is by far the best choice for a Blu-Ray player. Ofcourse, the High Definition gaming, the wireless media streaming & internet browsing etc. on the PS3 are just some nice goodies to close the deal in case one still has any reservations.
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#20 of 26 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted November 17 2008 - 08:19 AM

RE: the poor remote control capabilities of the Panny, I'm wondering whether some of the missing commands on the remote might not actually be available through a good universal remote though. Stuff like that do sometimes happen w/ quality devices that come w/ poor remote controls. Anyway, I'm very happy w/ my PS3 (other than the seemingly flaky harddrive that I replaced easily enough). Only thing I miss so far is IR remote capability via my Universal Remote RF20 -- the PS3 Bluetooth one is not bad though it does add ~$20 to the cost and requires using the separate remote. _Man_

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