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x-box hook up question. (1 Viewer)

David Preston

Supporting Actor
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Mar 23, 2003
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698
Just got my x box. I want to hook it up to the component input on the back of my tv. What all do I need to do that? Do I need the hd pak? I can't use the cables (red,white,yellow)that came with it in my component input can I? If I buy the hd pak Do I also need to buy a set of component cables? Is it ok to buy a used pak for $9 cheaper? What sound cables do I need? Sorry about all the questions just want to do it right. Thanks.
 

Asim_C

Auditioning
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Apr 10, 2003
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buy monster component cables for xbox, they are around 60 buks from best buy or circuit city, the difference between monster components for xbox, versus stock composites is very significant...
 

Allen_Appel

Second Unit
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Dec 13, 2002
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418
David, I doubt that you will see a difference between the cheaper Microsoft HD AV Pack and the Monster series. I might get a flame from the more militant of home-theaterers, but unless your system is really high-end (and I doubt it is since you are asking basic questions), you're not going to notice improvements that merit the cost, imo. Get the HD pack from Microsoft, which comes with a set of component cables. The RYW cables are composite and are the cheapest quality. The Monster hook-up also requires you to buy an extra Monster piece to enable 5.1 digital sound. If your TV has a TOSLINK input you can just connect a digital cable from the Xbox, otherwise use the audio cables that are already with the Microsoft HD connector into your audio-in jacks.
 

Joel Mack

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I might get a flame from the more militant of home-theaterers, but unless your system is really high-end (and I doubt it is since you are asking basic questions), you're not going to notice improvements that merit the cost, imo.
Not from me, you won't. Monster is the Bose of cables.
 

Dave Bennett

Screenwriter
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Aug 11, 2000
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1,167
I'm with Joel. Monser cables are extremely overrated. As long as the cables you're using aren't super cheap, you'll likely notice no difference between them and monster cables.
 

Ritchie T

Agent
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Mar 5, 2003
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43
If you do want to get the Monster Brand cables, just check on ebay, you may get lucky and get one for less than $30 including shipping. Make sure you get it from a reputable seller. Or try Gamestop, they sell theirs brand new for $39.99.
 

David Preston

Supporting Actor
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Mar 23, 2003
Messages
698
My tv does not have a TOSLINK. I want to be able to hear sound through my tv without the receiver being on and I want to be able to hear Xbox through my receiver when I chose. My tv does have a out to hifi will this help? What do I need to do? Can I run a optical cable to my receiver and rca's out to my tv. Thanks
 

Bob McElfresh

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May 22, 1999
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As long as the cables you're using aren't super cheap, you'll likely notice no difference between them and monster cables
But thats the problem with the Microsoft Advanced AV pack for $20: Non-shielded, cheap cables & connectors.

With all the other signals behind your equipment, you dont want un-shielded cables. Sure, they work well enough plugged into the front of the TV away from everything else, but route them behind your rack with all those other power cords & speaker wires - it's a harsh environment for un-shielded cables or that plastic breakout box.

And the connectors - cheap audio RCA plugs. Nowhere near the 75 ohm impedence video cables really want.

I'm not fond of Monster's marketing or expensive copper in general, but unlike Bose, Monster cables are decent.

Remember that cables are like the asphalt in the roads. The same stuff that is on the freeway is in front of your house, but it's built differently for different speeds. And the video signals we use today have the following max frequencies:

NTSC Component Video: 4 Mhz
480 Progressive Video: 13 Mhz
1080 Video: 35 Mhz

If you are on a budget, get the Advanced AV pack. But to bring the cables up to HD quality, the Monster cable is the the best option I know about.

This link to .AudioHolics - The truth about Component Cables gets a little technical. But jump to Page 3 and look at the de-constructed pictures of the plugs. The crappy plugs are just like the ones with the Advanced AV pack (and even the poor cables in the picture are BETTER than the cables in the AV pack).

Note: There was a guy on eBay who was wireing up and selling a XBox cable made with Canare coax and RCA plugs. I love the Canare stuff, but the real trick is wireing in that XBox connector. Anyone get one of these? I'd love to hear some feedback if you have them
 

JayV

Supporting Actor
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May 30, 2002
Messages
612
Couldn't you purchase the Advanced A/V Pack and replace the included cables with something from your retailer of choice?

Then you get whatever cables you want, skip the cost of an optical adapter and skip the cost of Monster gear. You can put the cables you replaced in your Xbox's G-Pak or whatever.

-j
 

Bob McElfresh

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Couldn't you purchase the Advanced A/V Pack and replace the included cables with something from your retailer of choice?
Sure. But the whole signal path from the XBox connector to the breakout-box is unshielded coax and cheap RCA connectors on the box. Then you go into another (hopefully HD Rated) component cable.

My main argument FOR the monster cable is that it's a single, un-broken, shielded path all the way from the XBox connector to the RCA plugs.

Think of each connector/break as being a speed-bump. A speed bump is not too bad driving a car at 10 mph. But hit the same bump at 60 mph and you do major damage.

Sure, we have all used connectors for audio or CATV coax. these are 'low speed' so no problem. But look at the max frequencies I posted above. There is a world of difference/issues between 20Khz, 500Khz and 13 Mhz.

Another point: A coax cable has a center wire suspended in the middle of a 'pipe' of metal (called the shield). The impedence of the cable strongly depends on keeping a uniform distance between the two.

What happens when you bend the cable? It changes the geometry and messes up the impedence at the bend. These each become 'bumps' in the signal path.

A good video cable is actually stiff/hard and fights tight bends. Look at how the higher-end video cables are packaged: in a large plastic package with the wire coiled in a circle. No sharp bends to damage the shape and ruin the impedence. Now look at the package for the Microsoft Advanced AV pack: looks like it was tightly wound around someones hand so it could be shoved into a small package.

I normally dont recommend Monster in general. You get much better cables from the custom web sites like www.bettercables.com and others, and the prices are similar to the low-mid Monster line.

But everything I know about video cables (I'm an EE, I've been studying HT for about 8 years now and I build long video cables for friends), tells me that the Monster cable is a much better designed/built cable than the Microsoft Advanced AV pack. Is it worth 3 times as much? Not if you dont have the money or are playing on a 25" analog TV. But a HDTV has tons more resolution/sensitivity than any analog set. Read that word again: sensitivity. These new sets are NOT your fathers television. What you learned about wires years ago may not always apply to High Def.

You may not realize this but the US television standard since the 1940's was built around a Black and White 9" tube with interlace video. We did not have the technology to transmit progressive video back then and color was an add-on several years later. We have been stuck with this standard, even with bigger tube sizes and all our progress, until a few years ago.

HDTV looks like a television, acts like a television, but its standard is based on advances in technology we have made in the 63 years since our TV standard was set. They used slide-rules back then. Today we have personal computers.

When someone tells you a video cable makes no difference, ask them what HDTV they own. If they cant answer or dont have one, remember that their opinion is based on their experience with a 60 year old video standard.
 

JayV

Supporting Actor
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May 30, 2002
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Huh. Interesting info. An unbroken path is always better, but it didn't occur to me that that the breakout box itself is unshielded.

Two questions, then:

1. The breakout box is far away (well, a few feet) from the TV. Does this decrease its need for shielding? I guess a better question would be, does it decrease its need for shielding significantly?

2. What would the cable from the back of the Xbox to the breakout box look like if it were shielded? Internally, I mean.

-j
 

Allen_Appel

Second Unit
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Dec 13, 2002
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Can you explain (or show) exactly what differences you will see? Or is shielding just "in case of interference" from power cables? It's not like the Microsoft cables are simply clipped-off extension cords.
 

Bob McElfresh

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If the cableing is in front of the TV and not routed behind the equipment rack, you reduce the risk of interference.

But the shield in a coax cable really does 3 things:

- Protects the fairly weak, line-level signals on the center conductor from outside fields (like from power cords or speaker wires).

- Maintains a uniform 75 ohm impedence that exactly matches the input impedence of your TV video connectors.

- Keeps the signals from 'leaking' off of the center conductor like an antenna.

You totally loose these unless you are using coaxial cables.

If the cables on the Advanced AV pack were shielded coax, they would each be about as thick as your CATV coax. This includes the thick cable going to the breakout box, and the cables with the RCA plugs. As I recall from the package, the thick cable just looks like parallel wires in a common plastic sheath. Not nearly thick enough to be coax unless they are using mini-coax like SVideo cables use.

Can you explain (or show) exactly what differences you will see?
Trouble is, we are talking about some ghosting and a loss of fine-focus detail with a cable not really made for ordinary/progressive/HD video.

The AVIA setup DVD has several video test patterns. There is a white & black test pattern with lots of fine lines called the "Fine Focus" test pattern.

The sudden transition from full white to full black is matched by sudden changes in the video frequency. This is what can show problems in the signal path. Reflections/roll-off can be seen as ghosting and loss of focus.

But to see this you would have to:

- Hookup with the Advanced AV pack, view the test pattern
- Then switch cables and re-view the pattern to notice the change in detail.

I dont know if it is safe to pull / replace the xbox cable while the power is on so it would take a minute or two to power down/switch/power up/ get back to the test pattern.

If I'm right, the Monster cable should show much finer, well defined lines than the Advanced AV pack. The black & white static test pattern helps make this obvious because it's a worst-possible-case. But the poor quality cable reduces the focus/detail in all scenes/objects with high-contrast.
 

David Preston

Supporting Actor
Joined
Mar 23, 2003
Messages
698
Man Bob I wish I would have read your post before I went and bought the av pak. I looked before I went and now I look when I get back and see this. Looks like I'll take the av pak back and get the monster pak. If the av pak is away from wires will it be even close to the monster picture. David
 

Allen_Appel

Second Unit
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Dec 13, 2002
Messages
418
Now, this is where I think HT advice can sometimes be misguided. I'm looking at my Xbox signal right now on a Mits 46807 HDTV. Not only am I using the Microsoft HD pack, with the only concession to shielding being the power cords wrapped on the other side of the TV, I'm also viewing it through a composite switchbox. Maybe a rabid videophile could see ghosting and loss of fine focus detail, but the picture is perfect to my eyes. Maybe if you swapped the cables and ran the Avia test patterns, I might see something, but then you'd switch them back and I'd see my perfect picture again. Bob, you have David convinced he's made the wrong choice before he's ever even seen his Xbox in 480p. David, I think you'll be fine with the MS pack. If you haven't yet done so, spend the money towards a calibration disk (Avia or Video Essentials) and you'll see more improvement, imo, than upgrading to Monster cables.
 

David Preston

Supporting Actor
Joined
Mar 23, 2003
Messages
698
Allen I hooked it up and it looks great and all I've played is Sega GT 2002. I plan on getting avia next. I found it at barnes and noble for around $45.00 is that about average price. Ohh yeah about the optical cable is it true that you will get the same quality sound out of a low or mid grade optical cable for the xbox sound. Thanks everybody for their help. David
 

Ben Seibert

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Jul 4, 2002
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173
I think the price/quality for the optical cable will not matter as long as it has good connectors because it is not affected by interference. Be sure not to bend the cable though.
 

Bob McElfresh

Senior HTF Member
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May 22, 1999
Messages
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it true that you will get the same quality sound out of a low or mid grade optical cable for the xbox sound.
The ones and zeros are identical so all digital connections should produce the same sound.

But "Home Theater" magazine did a article called "Bits are Bits?" and swapped several optical cables. Most of the cables sounded identical, but one name-brand optical cable made the sound different and everybody heard it. This was never fully explained in the article.

I personally suspect a mis-aligned connector or micro-fractures in the cable caused the problem (but that still does not explain things). Ben's advice is quite good: dont buy an optical cable if it's tightly bent into a small package, and make sure it does not have stress/bends when it is hooked up in your system.
 

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