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Newbie! Help with understanding some 5.1 sound setup and cable box..

Last response: in Home Theatre
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February 2, 2010 8:32:20 PM

hello people,

I am a little confused at how to setup the audio for a sound system... Recently I bought an Samsung 27" LED TV (ok well technically LCD-LED, or whatever they want to call this specific lighting).

Now the speakers on the TV itself are complete garbage. Because of that I really want to invest in a sound system for the HDTV, but I have no idea what I should be doing or where to really start. One thing that confuses me is the use of Home Theater A/V Receivers. For exmaple, on Newegg they have a deal going where if you buy this speaker system:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You can get this receiver for free:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

So now I'm assuming the first product you'll just get the speakers, with no actual way to connect them all to your TV, which is why you need the receiver, that makes sense. What I don't understand is should I be using the hdmi on the receiver? For example I have an Xbox 360, a PS3, and a Fios HD box. Should I be connecting each of these devices to the receiver, then have one output to the TV to utilize the 5.1 surround sound speaker setup? My TV does have an optical audio input, could I instead just connect the receiver to that, and not have to plug any of my devices directly into the receiver? Or do the devices need to pass through the receiver to use the speakers?

Hopefully that makes sense to someone... :lol: 

One last question I have is, when using my fios HD box to watch TV, should I be connecting it to the TV via HDMI or through coaxial? Will either make a difference? I ask because the HDTV has the ability to scan channels and such, but it needs to be through coaxial. Would there be a quality difference depending on how I connect it?

Thanks!
February 2, 2010 9:34:54 PM

With that receiver, any device that you have that transmits 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound via the HDMI cable should be connected to the receiver via HDMI. If a device does not deliver 5.1/7.1 surround sound, you should probably connect it via the component ports (R/G/B) ports and stereo audio ports (R/W).

The coax input on your TV is only to be used if you have an antenna for receiving free digital broadcasts from your local stations. The coax output on your FIOS HD box is probably an analog output for older TVs and should not be used with your new HDTV.

Hope this helps!

-Wolf sends
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February 3, 2010 5:28:46 AM

Then what exactly is the point of the optical audio port on my HDTV in regards to surround sound?
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February 3, 2010 11:20:42 AM

To be honest, I don't know. Optical audio input and crappy TV speakers doesn't make sense to me either.

-Wolf sends
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February 3, 2010 1:51:09 PM

Haha, well then, thanks for that. I was under the impression that I might be able to connect the audio system to the TV while somehow still having all my consoles and such connected to the TV.

In that case, would you have any recommendations for me to a low end sound system I could use? My don't really have much money, only in the $300 range, and my room is pretty small so I don't need a powerful system, I'm just looking to bypass using my HDTV speakers, they are really trash.

My main problem is if I indeed need to pass all my games and such through the sound system itself, I'm going to need 4 HDMI ports, which I cannot find in my price range. I have a PC, Xbox 360, PS3, and my cable box all through HDMI (not to mention my Wii, but that's component).

Do you have any idea what I could do to get them all connected to a low end/cheaper, but good quality system? Like I said, I'm not looking to go crazy with this system as this is for a decently small bedroom, and I have a family whom I wouldn't be able to crank up the volume on anyway.

If you can help me out I'd appreciate it, I've been pulling my hair out on this one for a week now trying to find something that suits my needs but without costing a fortune.
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February 3, 2010 3:01:25 PM

Unfortunately, at that price range, you're going to be hard pressed to find something that suits you. Most HTiB (Home Theater in a Box) systems at that price range only do HDMI Pass-Through (audio is not captured by the receiver, but passed through to the HDTV).

-Wolf sends
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February 3, 2010 3:28:22 PM

Well, after thinking it over for a bit, with that circumstance, I think it would probably be in my best interest to save some cash up in invest in a better system. Maybe I shouldn't go all in one, and instead buy things one at a time. For example, I could just buy a nice receiver, two front speakers, a mid, and a sub, and save the rest of the setup for later expansion.

I could maybe save up to $500-600 area for a receiver? Well, what would you say I should do if I were to just try and save up the money to get something worth my while?
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February 3, 2010 5:30:50 PM

First off, I'd keep looking at lower cost solutions. When you start getting into the $500-$600 range, you're looking at systems that are serious overkill for your small room. Maybe what you need is a smallish HDMI Switch. Note that I have NO experience with these and have no idea how it works (or even if it does what your need).

Newegg currently has the Onkyo 6200 on sale and seems to fit your requirements, but again. This is way overkill for your small room.

-Wolf sends
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February 3, 2010 7:08:40 PM

Well what I'm saying is, eventually I plan to move into a bigger space where I may be able to use it for a full living room. That's what I meant by consideration of the future.

That does seem like a good system though.

And thanks a ton for all the help so far. :) 
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February 3, 2010 9:18:02 PM

No problem! :) 

Just for reference, I have that system's baby brother (HTS-3200) and the sound is spectacular. I wouldn't recommend it for your situation, though because it does HDMI Pass-through. I have my HTPC connected via an optical cable.

-Wolf sends
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February 4, 2010 3:28:31 AM

Can you elaborate on that? Can you explain HDMI- Pass-through, how it works, Vs. the optical cable approach you mention?

I'm a bit confused on exactly how there are systems that have no HDMI inputs but have an HDMI output... Do they work differently or something? It's pretty confusing, I couldn't find a guide that really explained it online sadly ^^;
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February 4, 2010 9:14:14 AM

With HDMI Pass-through, the HDMI audio signal is not captured by the receiver; so you won't hear audio from the receiver's speakers. The HDMI audio and video signals are passed through to the HDMI output of the receiver and to the HDTV's HDMI input where you get both.

Since my receiver only does HDMI pass-through, if I want to get audio from my HTPC through my receiver's speakers, I have to use a secondary (optical S/PDIF) audio connection to my receiver.

Systems with no HDMI input and one HDMI output must have some sort of video source. Many HTiB systems come with DVD players embedded, so there is your A/V source, which will output the signals to your HDTV. If you could provide me with an example of such a system, I might be able to explain it better.

-Wolf sends
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February 14, 2010 3:43:18 PM

I am struggling with the same dilemma. I have a Vizio LCD HDTV, a HDDVR Satellite receiver, a Playstation 3, and an RCA RTD315W HTiB. I am currently using HDMI cables to go from the PS3 to TV and DVR to TV, and I am trying to figure out how to tie the HTiB into this. My HTiB has HDMI capabilities, but we have the PS3 to watch DVD and BlueRay movies so we won't really have any use for the DVD player that is built into the receiver. Should I hook up the HTiB with a HDMI cable or SPDIF cable for the best sound quality?
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February 19, 2010 1:08:25 AM

the Optical cables actually gives you better quality sound than HDMI but it doesn't output video (you can also use DIGITAL coax not the coax from the cable line ...same quality). Connect everything to your tv (just like you had it) and then connect the receiver via HDMI and Optical cable.

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!