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Building first HT, more I read the more questions pop up (1 Viewer)


Nov 6, 2008
Real Name
Hi all, thought I'd start in the basics forum and see how things go. I am building a home theater with a projector, looking at the new Panasonic AE3000, but waiting a bit to see if Epson comes out with anything better. I will initially project onto the wall to play with screen dimensions, and then buy or build a screen to suit the preferred format, whether it turns out to be 16:9 or 2.35 or whatever. I have room to run the image out to the projector's (reasonable) limits, so picture quality is an issue.

I already have a Denon AV receiver that should put out some good, clean power, but it is a couple years old and does not have HDMI inputs.

I have been getting my TV over the air with a regular antenna, which is about to end.

I like the idea of having a DVR with a hardrive to record shows like Tivo, but without the monthly service. Philips makes the DVDR 3576H/37 which does this, and also includes a ATSC tuner to pick up broadcast digital TV.

For best DVD playback I will get a Blu Ray player, but I may not get that right away if the Philips DVR does a respectable job.

So to the questions:

What is the best way to preserve video quality using the receiver without HDMI inputs? I'm guessing I could run HDMI directly from the Blu ray Player to the projector and use separate audio connections, does that introduce any compromises compared to the more normal practice of routing everything through the receiver? At least I'm guessing I would not have any on-screen indication when changing volume, is that correct?

Should I do the same with the DVR output? Or is that not as critical?

If the digital broadcast TV thing turns out to be crap I may end up going to cable, does that change anything?

Hope the post wasn't to long, I wanted to give a little perspective to the issues at hand. Thanks for the help.


Bob McElfresh

Senior HTF Member
May 22, 1999
Hi Greg. Welcome to HTF!

So far your plans ... all talk about standard def. Only standard def is changing from an analog format to a digital one and a converter is available for about $50.

Plus - standard def was designed to fill a 9-inch screen. You really will not enjoy the results on a big projector.

"I like the idea of having a DVR with a hardrive to record shows like Tivo, but without the monthly service."

Well.... I gotta say that this is penny-wise and pound-foolish. The hidden magic of a good DVD is the programming guide that lets you setup lists of shows, search for shows and letting the box takes care of recording all New, All, shows with particular titles, etc. The programming guide makes this all possible and your monthly fee pays for the small army of people that update the guide every day.

Here is what I would do if I were you:

1) Type your address into AntennaWeb and see where the TV towers are around your house. It will tell you how large of an antenna you may need. You may be able to get 5-10 HD stations for free.

2) Check into the HD Tivo units with a cable card slot.

3) Contact your local Cable company and see if they offer no-contract, cable cards which you can plug into the HD Tivo. Using your own Tivo box will eliminate the cable box lease fee.

4) Argue with the cable company to get "Broadcast Basic" service. They will try to up-sell you to a $70/month package but as you hang up in disgust, they may tell you that all your HD locals, a HD-DVR can be had for $24/month - not a bad option and usually no contract.

5) HDMI: Ok - you can almost always send video to the projector and audio via optical to the receiver. You can get cheap HDMI switches from HDMI Cable, Home Theater Accessories, HDMI Products, Cables, Adapters, Video/Audio Switch, Networking, USB, Firewire, Printer Toner, and more!.

6) The Onkyo TX-SR 505, 605 and 705 series of receivers offer HDMI switching and they start at about $380. Keep this in mind if you start looking at a $200 HDMI switch - it may be better to just get the lower end Onkyo receiver.

Hope this helps.


Nov 6, 2008
Real Name

Thanks for the info, all very good stuff. I have a question about your comment on the HDMI switch. I believe the projector I'm considering has 3 HDMI inputs, so if I can run an HDMI cable for the TV and one for DVD, I'm guessing there is no need for a switch? Does that complicate using the stuff, introducing the need to switch inputs via the remote?

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