Best Upconverting A/V Receiver for Cable?

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Theogenes, Sep 24, 2006.

  1. Theogenes

    Theogenes Agent

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    Hello! I've been crawling around the web for a day or two now, and digging through the forums here, trying to solve a problem. (I came tantalizingly close to finding the answer in a couple threads started by JGiampa and one by JustinJB, but no banana). Here's the situation: I have a Toshiba 52HM95 that I love to the point of blatant insanity (at least until the bulb goes-- wish I found these forums earlier), and have been blown away by the HD programming I've seen thus far. However, the SD on my set is less than awe-inspiring, to say the least. What I am looking for is an A/V receiver that can upconvert standard cable programming (480i, I'm assuming) to at least 720p (the native rez of my set). I already have the Oppo 971H (which I also love dearly), so I don't really need my DVDs upconverted. With that said, I have been sold on the quality of the Faroudja deinterlacer, and would greatly prefer to have that in my receiver. The units I've seen so far that look impressive are the Yamaha RX-V2600 and the Denon AVR-4306 (although the 2600 is really probably out of my price range and the 4306 is Angelina-Jolie-type out of my league). Couple of questions along these lines:

    1). Is an upconverting receiver what I need? With the understanding that the WAF has an exponentially inverse relationship with the amount of money I spend on these wonderful things, and therefore I can't afford a rack unit with separates, etc. Especially since I've read several people on the forums here say that the upconversion in a/v rec. is in general not very impressive...

    2). What sort of problems am I potentially in for as far as HDCP incompatibility? It would really stink to finally get the money and womenfolk approval lined up and then find the little sucker doesn't work.

    3). With the 2700 on the horizon, I'm hoping the 2600 will drop even more significantly. Any idea how much?

    4). Any other suggestions for really rockin' receivers that fit the bill? I looked at a couple of JVC units as well, and really liked the idea of a wireless USB dongle for streaming from the computer, but axed them on the basis of not upconverting beyond 480p, which is pretty pointless for me.

    5). Does this mean (as I'm guessing it does) that the scaling equipment in my Toshiba is substandard?

    If it helps, here is some additional info: I am currently building my first HT, which I will be using primarily for movies and television, but occasionally for music as well. As it is, my inclination is considerably more towards videophile than audiophile, so take that for what it's worth. I just recently bought a Panasonic SA-XR57 receiver, and have been utterly amazed by the sound quality on it, but now that I've tasted the sweet fruit of HD video, I might have to sell the Panny...

    Sorry to be so long-winded. Any suggestions?
     
  2. Theogenes

    Theogenes Agent

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    Anybody?
     
  3. Adam Gregorich

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    You don't want an upconverting receiver...you want a scaler. While some more expensive receivers will do some scaling, you will get the best results with a stand alone model. If you are happy with the audio on your Panasonic, keep using it and just add a scaler to your system. You can find a thread discussing scalers in the CEDIA portion of our forum.


    Yes and no. Garbage in garbage out is applicable here. Most video devices have 'ok' scalers in them, but a dedicated box will usually do a much better job.
     
  4. Theogenes

    Theogenes Agent

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    Separate scaler, huh? Sounds good. I'll check out the CEDIA forums and try to learn something. At one point (several weeks back, when I knew even less than I do now) I looked for DCDi scalers and they were god-awful expensive. I'll check it out. Thanks so much for the help!
     
  5. Adam Gregorich

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    Look at Key Digital, DVDO, Gennum, Lumagen and Crystalio. They are not cheap, but several models will do a better job than the Denon 4308 and will do a better job.
     
  6. Theogenes

    Theogenes Agent

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    Will do! I have been looking at DVDO scalers (which is actually what I meant to type above when I said, "I looked for DCDi scalers and they were god-awful expensive." I should sleep more...), and the iScan HD+ seems like a pretty good fit, and it's somewhat less horrendous price-wise than other scalers. I'm going to check out the other brands you mention as well. How concerned do I need to be about upgradability (if that's a word)? I assume if I get a scaler I will run all my video through it and my primary concern is getting 480i from my cable box to look acceptable, but as someone mentioned in the thread on outboard scalers, there have been several changes w/in the last year alone that have greatly affected PQ. I'm wondering where I should find the line between upgradability and cost-effectiveness. One last question: I usually shop around pretty extensively before purchasing any HT equipment, but I almost inevitably find what I just purchased cheaper elsewhere within a week or so. Any suggestions for particularly good websites for value? J&R was really snappy (in a a good way) about shipping my Panasonic receiver to me, so I'll look at them first, but if you know of any other places I should especially look, I'll definitely hit them up.

    And if I haven't made it clear yet- THANK YOU!! If it wasn't for guys like you here and at AVS Forums (although people here have been a bit more friendly) I would be utterly in the dark. Much obliged!
     
  7. Adam Gregorich

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    I can't speak for the other brands, but DVDO has a VERY nice trade-in policy to upgrade your unit. I would at least look around in the VPXX family over the iscan.
     
  8. Bob McElfresh

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    I feel your pain. I had a similar problem with my spouse saying things like "Why do we need a bigger TV?" and "Why do we need so many speakers?".

    But over the last few years a strange thing has happened: We got a PVR from Dish Network and my wife found she can skip commercials/pause/etc. She loves the PVR features so much that she actually refuses to watch live TV. We could not get a HDTV until the cable company offered a HD-PVR box.

    She has also gotten to be a HD-Snob. We have gotten so used to the 5 or 6 HD local stations that it is almost painful to go back to SD channels.

    While a scaler might be nice - I am not sure it will help all that much. Remember that standard-video was designed for a 9" black-and-white tube. While you can do tricks to de-interlace it, it still looks dull/flat and shows it's 1940's limitations.

    I have a 60" Samsung with the Faroudja deinterlacer and it does a great job of up-converting things. But it does not hold a candle to a HD signal.

    My advice: check out your cable services for more HD offerings. While I have been a Dish Network customer for years, the upgrade cost to HD was too much. But my cable company gives me ~8 HD channels and a PVR for about $24/month. They tried to sell me a $60/month package which I refused, then they said "basic cable". In my town "basic cable" includes HD locals and a few other HD channels.

    Check out your local cable company - you may be suprised at what you can get.

    Hope this helps.
     
  9. Theogenes

    Theogenes Agent

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    Lol! I knew I couldn't be the only one. I actually have cable and have all the HD channels they provide. 'All,' in this case, being a whopping 5 channels. I do absolutely LOVE the PQ on it, especially on ESPN HD. I would like to do something along the Dish Network lines, but I live in an apartment on the historic registry and don't have access to the roof anyway. There are a couple of OTA HD channels, but I've yet to find an antenna that will pick up in there. It's not just that I love HD; I certainly do. But my television has always had a fairly soft and noisy SD picture and I would really like to polish that up a bit. I've been researching the brands suggested above and so far the DVDO and Lumagen scalers have sounded pretty good. I dunno. Givn that my SD PQ is pretty poor, do you think it4 worth it?
     
  10. Theogenes

    Theogenes Agent

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    And if I can possibly find a way to get the ol' ball and chain addicted to home theater at all, I'll throw everything I've got into it!!
     
  11. Adam Gregorich

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    I couldn't disagree more. DVD was designed and displays the same standard video. When you watch a progressive scan DVD you are "using tricks to deinterlace it", and it looks pretty good. A good scaler won't make standard TV look like HD, but it will make it look better. I recently attended a demonstration where Denon took their hight end DVD player with a very nice internal scaler and played clips from Serenity. They also played the same clips from the HD-DVD. I couldn't believe how close they looked. For someone like me who has a large DVD collection it makes sense to invest in a scaler rather than double dip.
     
  12. Theogenes

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    What do you think would be the best standalone scaler under $1000? (Preferably waaaaaay under, but I don't see that happening). I'd really like to have a DVDO VP30 (like Adam was suggesting earlier), but if I bought one, they'd never find my remains...
     

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