Noob with some basic questions. I will help you in any way that I can!

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by MachineElf, Nov 4, 2009.

  1. MachineElf

    MachineElf Auditioning

    Nov 4, 2009
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    First, let me say that I apologize if I am not posting this in the correct place or if I should have found these answers on my own without requesting advice (I have done a lot of research already). I am a member of a couple message boards and I know how frustrating it can be when a novice imposes on the others.

    I have updated my profile with my current setup (I'd be very grateful if you'd take a look) but here it is in a nutshell: I have an XBOX 360 Elite which I have not even opened yet, A Philips DVD recorder, a Philips DVD player with USB/Divx, an older TiVo, and a Sony receiver with Cerwin Vega surround speakers/subwoofer (which I love). I know these components are not the most up to date but they have served me well for what I use them for.

    This month I am making the jump to HD (finally) and I need to know what preparations need to be made. I have ordered an HDMI cable for the Xbox 360, ordered the DirecTV upgraded hardware for HD, and have plenty of cat5 cable here (not going to use wireless for the Xbox and am unsure what the benefits of connecting the new HD DVR to the net are, though I plan on doing it). I will be purchasing a Samsung 50-inch PLASMA TV in the coming weeks (waiting for the best price. Model numbers are in my profile) and need to know what exactly I need to do for the best picture and sound. My setup is almost entirely for movies as I am not a major gamer and will only play a few times a year. Currently I download everything as .avi files and watch them via USB but have recently begun experimenting with .kmv files. From my understanding, almost all HD content is in 720p except Bluray which I will not have. I am also signing up for Netflix in order to stream Starz content through the Xbox because it is cheaper than what I pay for it via DirecTV. What do I need to use to connect all these components? I have an optical audio cable that was used with my old PS2, does that have a place in this setup? I have no idea what I am doing in terms of connection cables. I really want to maximize the picture in all aspects (Xbox/Netflix, DirecTV, DVD).

    I am also very confused by the configuration. Does the HD DVR connect to the Xbox in any way? Will I need to run ethernet cable to both the Xbox and HD DVR individually? If so, do I need some kind of hub? I know both of my DVD players are 1080 upscaling but I have no idea what that actually means (or if it matters) as they only play SD discs.

    I know I have asked a lot of questions and to expect someone to take the time to answer them in detail is no small favor. If I can help you in return in any way, I'd be glad to. I don't really have any areas of specialty beside film and philosophy. Any help or direction is greatly appreciated, truly!!!!
  2. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

    Aug 22, 2000
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    Since you aren't planning on upgrading your receiver, for the best picture quality, you will need to connect each component to the TV using the best connection available. For your new DirecTV DVR, that would be the HDMI cable. For audio, you would connect the DVR to the receiver via a digital audio connection. The DVR should have both optical and coaxial as my D* DVR's do. Repeat for the DVD players. I'm not familiar with them but since they are upconverting, you may have HDMI or component video connections.

    Networking will require individial connections to your network. A/V components aren't made to be networked to each other. There are different method of connection via CAT5 to your router, wireless access points, switches (don't ever use a hub). It all depends on your network and the ability to run wires. I'm in the process of networking my two DVR's. I'll be running two lines of CAT-5 to the theater from my office. In the office, each cable will run into a 10/100 switch. The 10/100 switch is then connected to my 10/100/1000 router. This allows me to connect all of my slower equipment to the switch while my gigabit equipment connects directly to the router for faster speeds.

    Once all of this stuff is connected, it will be a nightmare to switch from component to component. I know, my system is extremely complicated. I have simplified it with the use of a Harmony 880 remote. I chose that model so that I had full control of the button labels. The generic Watch TV on the lesser models wasn't descriptive enough for me. I have 3 HD DVR's. Other than myself, who would know which one was going to be watched. Now my descriptions read Watch HR-20, Watch HR-22 and Watch HD TiVo. The family knows which DVR is devoted to which type of recording (HR-22 records the networks, HR-20 records "cable" channels and HD TiVo records sports and resolves any conflicts between the other two).

    Get your cables from

    Calibrate your TV and audio system with a DVD like Avia or Video Essentials and an SPL meter.

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