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Connecting new player through existing HT system (1 Viewer)

Batt

Auditioning
Joined
Dec 8, 2008
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7
Real Name
Neil
I have a perfectly good 2-year old Panasonic HT system with a 5-disc changer and front, rear, center and sub. I'd like to get an upconverting (or, maybe, Blu Ray) DVD player and connect it to my TV via HDMI and just connect it's audio out to the existing system rather than buying a whole new HT system. I'd have to use either analog stereo cables or the digital optical in. Will this: 1) even work, and 2) produce the proper 5.1 Dolby surround?
Thanks.
 

Joseph DeMartino

Senior HTF Member
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Jun 30, 1997
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Joseph DeMartino
Neil, welcome aboard!

The analog stereo cables obviously aren't going to produced the proper Dolby Digital sound. They can't. They're analog. The best you'll get is matrixed Dolby Pro Logic "surround", a system in which the different channels are not kept seperate but "bleed" into each other, and in which the rear channel is mono, with no directional rear imaging. An optical (or coax) digital audio cable will, assuming your HTiB has such an input.

What kind of TV do you have ? If it is a fixed-pixel array (LCD, nearly all plasmas, DLP, or any projection system other than CRT) it is already de-internlacing and scaling your DVDs to its native resolution. Fixed-pixel designs can only display their native resolution. So you might not see much or even any improvement going from a standard DVD player to an upconverting one. (And if you have an "720p" LCD flat-panel you probably won't see any at all. These TVs actually have a resolution of 768p, for technical reasons, and therefore scale everything to native resolution regardless of input. You're better off having your DVD player send 480i or 480p to one of these TVs than 720p, because doing that would just add another layer of processing.)

You may be better off just saving up a little more and adding that Blu Ray player for true hi-def, while using the Panasonic changer for your SD DVDs.

But you have run into one of the main disadvantages of an HTiB - limited connectivity and expansion options. Since the HT hobby is like crack, and almost everybody gets the upgrade bug sooner or later, I usually advise people to skip HTiBs entirely and create a budget system from individual components.

My advice to someone new to HT is to put the most money into the display device, and the next most into the receiver. You can actually afford to skimp on speakers and the DVD player. Any surround system is going to sound better than TV speakers, and any player will manage to play DVDs. As long as it has at least component video outputs and digital audio out (obviously HDMI would be nicer) it will work. If there's room in the budget a better-quality subwoofer will do more to given a lower-cost system a real HT "feel" than any other single purchase. Over the life of the TV you can upgrade the rest of the components or add things like game systems, and HTPC, etc. - as long as the capacity to do so is there from the start. But some HTiBs have very limited connectivity and use things like RCA connectors (or worse, odd-ball proprietary connectors or other arrangements) for their speaker connections, so the first time you want to expand or upgrade, you find you have to junk the whole system and start over. You may be one optical audio connection from being in that position. Something to think about for the future (think twice about upgrading to another HTiB in order to save a few bucks when the time comes.) Also something to think about when friends who are inspired by your setup inevitably come to you for advice on buying their first HT.
htf_images_smilies_smile.gif


Regards,

Joe
 

Batt

Auditioning
Joined
Dec 8, 2008
Messages
7
Real Name
Neil
Wow - thanks for the quick answers.
So it WILL, work, but may not give me much picture improvement. I have a 47" Vizio 1080p 120Hz LCD TV. The Panasonic is a progressive scan player. And I think when it's time to replace it, I will go the individual component route. So, bottom line - should I get a Blu Ray player now, as the first step toward a component system? Is Blu Ray even going to survive?
 

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