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Old 10-05-2013, 15:20
annieb
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Hello,

I currently have an old-fashioned set-up but am considering upgrading my TV and DVD freeview recorder/player and also upgrading to Sky+HD from Sky+. But first I have a few questions...

Question 1
We have an old Sony surround sound system which we want to keep in the set-up. It has an optical connection which I understand can be connected to the new TV. What I want to know is, if both the Sky+HD box and DVD recorder/player with Freeview twin tuners are each to be connected to the TV via HDMI, will I get surround sound when watching both live TV and recordings from either of these boxes or do I need to send another optical cable to each of the boxes?

Question 2
I currently have a coaxial cable running out of my Sky+ box to my kitchen where there is a 19 inch HD TV. At present, I can only watch the HD picture on the inbuilt Freeview tuner and the Sky picture is in standard format. In order to take advantage of the HD signal of the new Sky+HD box, will the signal be in HD? If not, what would I need to do to be able to watch HD on this TV? The coaxial cable is about 20 feet long. I've been told by a local shop that the RF connectors on the new SKy HD boxes no longer work! Mmmm, is this true?

Question 3
I have another TV upstairs. I currently watch Sky on this TV via a Video Sender Unit which I bought from Maplins some time ago. Would this Sender unit send through an HD signal or, if not, do any others? The unit is a Nikkai 5.8Ghz, model A00HR, but I don't think they sell my particular model any more. It's connected to the Sky+ box via Scart so I presume not but I would be interested to know if any others do.

Question 4
I'm considering buying a Panasonic DVD recorder with Blue Disc Player/Recorder. I want to be able to archive old family videos and camcorder movies. If I record onto a blue ray disc, am I right in thinking that I can only watch the disc back on a blue ray player? Because the home movies aren't very good quality I'm not so concerned about putting them onto blue ray disc. My question is, if I recorded onto a normal DVD disc using the blue ray recorder, can I finalize the disc so that it'll play on most DVD players? I'm considering buying the new Panasonic DMR-BWT735 when it becomes available.

Any help would be much appreciated.

Annie
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Old 10-05-2013, 15:38
chrisjr
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First off, there is no e in Blu-Ray

1/ You need to check the specs of any TV you plan to buy. These days many TVs can pass through a Dolby Digital surround signal from HDMI to optical out so you may be OK on that score. Also you need to check the Sky HD box does surround over HDMI. They never used to, only over optical out. But I think the latest models do allow surround via HDMI.

2/ & 3/ HD is only available from HDMI. Not via the RF out or SCART. There is only one HDMI output on a Sky box so if you wanted to send HD to other TVs you would need some sort of HD splitter and either long HDMI leads or some sort of HDMI sender. You can get units that use ordinary network cables such as you may use to connect a PC to a router. Or ones that use RF like your existing SCART video sender. Though they are more expensive than SD versions like you ahve already got.

4/ Blu-Ray disks only play on Blu-Ray players. A DVD player will just spit it out. You should be able to record DVD disks that can play on other DVD players. Though it can be a bit of a pain finding a disk type that works reliably on every player you want to use it on.

Just to add on 2/ & 3/. You will still get pictures from HD channels on the RF and SCART outputs from a Sky HD box. The box downscales them to SD automatically.
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Old 10-05-2013, 16:08
grahamlthompson
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Blu-ray players will play DVD, Blu-ray and CD (also often jpg photos and MP3 audio). Any newer ones will also play AVCHD (HD on DVD blanks). If you have one, no need for a DVD player. Unless the Blu-ray recorder has a built in HD tuner you won't be able to record HD content in HD if that's what you want to do.
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Old 13-05-2013, 15:16
annieb
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Sorry for the delay in responding and thank you for your replies.

The TV I'm intending to buy is the Panasonic P42GT60.

The spec at the link above states:
Digital Audio Output (Optical): 1 (side)
but I can't see anything about passing through a Dolby Digital surround signal from HDMI.
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Old 13-05-2013, 15:40
iangrad
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I was going to chip in with "optical" output is now not on all TVs as it been replaced with the far better ARC via a hdmi connector but your chosen TV has got optical output as well ( most 2012 pana models do not have optical now but some 2013 models do ) . You may end up with lip sync issues but at least it will work .

If you are wanting a matching Panasonic recorder to achive your matirial then the only one in the range that records to either a DVD or BD is now DMR-BWT735 and on this you have to record it to the built in hard drive first ( super piece of kit though ) -- in all the others the optical drive is playback only
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Old 13-05-2013, 16:03
chrisjr
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Sorry for the delay in responding and thank you for your replies.

The TV I'm intending to buy is the Panasonic P42GT60.

The spec at the link above states:
Digital Audio Output (Optical): 1 (side)
but I can't see anything about passing through a Dolby Digital surround signal from HDMI.
There is an online manual you can view from that webpage. The manual I am looking at is the one got to by clicking the Manuals tab then selecting the top (2MB) "Operating Instructions" then going through a confirmation process before you can look at the manual (I suspect I can't post a direct link to the PDF as it may be session limited in some way and not open on anyone else's browser)

Reading through the pages on connecting external equipment it does seem to suggest it doesn't do surround pass through. For example on page 30 of the manual it says that to listen to 5.1 sound from external equipment on an amp you must connect the equipment to the amp.

And on page 34 it says that the HDMI audio format is 2 channel PCM. So not looking good for passing surround sound through the telly to any external amp/speaker set up.
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Old 13-05-2013, 16:22
annieb
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Thanks for checking the manual. I did download this the other day but I find this all very confusing. My thoughts too were that it may not do what I want it to so thank you for helping me to clarify my thoughts.

With my existing setup, I use a switch box with 3 scarts and have the surround sound plugged into that along with my Sky box and DVD recorder. It works and I get surround sound on everything. I'm thinking that the new equipment is limiting on the number of scarts and I'm going to run into problems. This is very disappointing.
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Old 13-05-2013, 16:24
annieb
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If you are wanting a matching Panasonic recorder to achive your matirial then the only one in the range that records to either a DVD or BD is now DMR-BWT735 and on this you have to record it to the built in hard drive first ( super piece of kit though ) -- in all the others the optical drive is playback only
Yes that was the model I was looking at. My local Panny dealer doesn't have it in yet and now it looks like I'm going to have to rethink my setup before I jump.
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Old 13-05-2013, 18:19
chrisjr
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Thanks for checking the manual. I did download this the other day but I find this all very confusing. My thoughts too were that it may not do what I want it to so thank you for helping me to clarify my thoughts.

With my existing setup, I use a switch box with 3 scarts and have the surround sound plugged into that along with my Sky box and DVD recorder. It works and I get surround sound on everything. I'm thinking that the new equipment is limiting on the number of scarts and I'm going to run into problems. This is very disappointing.
You are not getting true surround sound via SCART. The audio over SCART is stereo only. Your system could be using something like Dolby ProLogic to generate a surround effect from that stereo feed. If the programme maker used a suitable encoder to downmix a surround mix to stereo then that will enhance the effect.

But if you want true discrete 5.1 surround you need a digital connection, either HDMI or some form of SPDIF digital audio, usually optical or "coaxial" on a phono socket.

If the surround system has enough digital audio inputs then you could just hook up all the other kit that way. If not then you can get switch boxes of varying degrees of sophistication.
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Old 14-05-2013, 13:52
annieb
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If the surround system has enough digital audio inputs then you could just hook up all the other kit that way. If not then you can get switch boxes of varying degrees of sophistication.
Thanks for the reply. I wonder if you could do one more thing for me. I've uploaded the diagram of the back of my Sony Surround system to http://www.ambwebdesign.co.uk/temporary/soundsystem.jpg

Would you be able to tell me if it's likely that I can do what I'm trying to (ie. get 5.1 sound on all the new equipment), be it with special switch boxes or not?
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Old 14-05-2013, 14:10
chrisjr
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It only has one digital audio input so you would need some sort of external switch if you've got more than one bit of kit. What make and model number is your kit? Being able to read a manual (if it's available on line) would help decide if it can do anything useful.

There is no reason why it shouldn't do 5.1 over optical digital but I have seen some systems that will only do stereo from external devices, the surround decoders only work with the built in disk player! Hopefully you don't have such a beast but knowing what breed it is will help
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Old 14-05-2013, 14:23
annieb
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Oh, I never thought of that. I didn't expect there to be a manual online as we've had the item for several years. It's a Sony Compact AV System DAV-S500. Anyway, I've found the manual at http://pdf.crse.com/manuals/4236526131.pdf
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Old 14-05-2013, 14:57
chrisjr
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Well that was about as much use as a chocolate teapot frankly Told me three eighths of sweet FA about the optical input.

The only useful information it had about it was that it took precedence over the analogue sockets for Video 2 and if you lost Optical it would switch back to analogue. Not a single solitary word about whether you could get surround sound out of the thing.

Which makes me think that if you presented it with a Dolby Digital 5.1 signal it may just spit it's dummy out and run off into the corner and sulk. That impression is not helped by the bit on page 47 where it says "Surround sound can be applied to DVD, VIDEO CD, and CD playback." No mention of applying surround to Video 2 input there, nor anywhere else in the manual that I can find.

Now you did say you wanted a new system didn't you...
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Old 14-05-2013, 15:24
annieb
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Thanks for all the time you've put into this for me. I've been scanning the manual too and am inclined to think that the 5.1 DTS is only available by using the disc player.

We have it set to Cinema Studio Ex B* practically all the time for watching TV.

Am I right in thinking that HD TV broadcasts are more than just stereo? I'm thinking that when we bought the thing it was in the days when stereo was all there was in TV broadcasting.

If we kept the surround system for a bit longer, would it still output to all the speakers just the same as it does now (albeit, not in true 5.1 surround) by connecting the optical cable to the new TV? Or would it not work at all without the surround pass through facility?

Moving on to the idea of buying a new surround sound system, what should I be looking out for in order to connect the new Blue Ray Player/Recorder/Freeview HD box and a new Sky Digital HD box to obtain 5.1 sound, preferably without too many wires between the equipment? Is my choice of TV going to become problematic in this case?

Sorry to be so ignorant on these matters but I don't want to spend out and then regret my decision because I don't know enough about the technical side.

Annie
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Old 14-05-2013, 15:41
Sue_C
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We've got a Sony DAV-S550 (slightly different model) and have a nettop pc with blu-ray drive connected to it via optical lead. This set up does manage to produce surround sound.

The rear panel isn't exactly the same as your model but the video 2 setup looks as though it's the same. I wouldn't give up hope entirely.

We'd quite like to replace our system with something from this century but still need the sony to play our 6 sacds!
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Old 14-05-2013, 16:19
chrisjr
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Thanks for all the time you've put into this for me. I've been scanning the manual too and am inclined to think that the 5.1 DTS is only available by using the disc player.

We have it set to Cinema Studio Ex B* practically all the time for watching TV.

Am I right in thinking that HD TV broadcasts are more than just stereo? I'm thinking that when we bought the thing it was in the days when stereo was all there was in TV broadcasting.

If we kept the surround system for a bit longer, would it still output to all the speakers just the same as it does now (albeit, not in true 5.1 surround) by connecting the optical cable to the new TV? Or would it not work at all without the surround pass through facility?

Moving on to the idea of buying a new surround sound system, what should I be looking out for in order to connect the new Blue Ray Player/Recorder/Freeview HD box and a new Sky Digital HD box to obtain 5.1 sound, preferably without too many wires between the equipment? Is my choice of TV going to become problematic in this case?

Sorry to be so ignorant on these matters but I don't want to spend out and then regret my decision because I don't know enough about the technical side.

Annie
HD can have Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. It depends on what the programme uses, it's not a fixed format.

If you set the external kit to send PCM (or LPCM - same thing just one more letter ) or 2-Channel or Stereo (or however it describes it) then the TV should apss that on to the optical out. It may not do so with DD 5.1. And of course there is no guarantee the Sony system can handle it anyway.

If you've set the Sony to generate a surround effect from a stereo source then it will do so wherever the signal originates. It doesn't know where it's coming from and couldn't care less.

If you want a new system then either of these would do the job. Neither has a disk player built in but as you have a Blu-Ray player that isn't a problem.

http://www.richersounds.com/product/...96/yama-yht196
http://www.richersounds.com/product/...98/yama-yht298

They are proper grown ups systems . You should be able to connect all your kit via HDMI to the amp and get full "proper" surround from them all.

If you have a bigger piggy bank to raid then this is a pretty decent system

http://www.richersounds.com/package/...eals/pah011076

And if you save up for a REALLY long time you might even be able to afford one of these

http://www.kipnis-studios.com/The_Ki..._Theaters.html

Only $6 million
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Old 14-05-2013, 16:21
chrisjr
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We've got a Sony DAV-S550 (slightly different model) and have a nettop pc with blu-ray drive connected to it via optical lead. This set up does manage to produce surround sound.

The rear panel isn't exactly the same as your model but the video 2 setup looks as though it's the same. I wouldn't give up hope entirely.

We'd quite like to replace our system with something from this century but still need the sony to play our 6 sacds!
Buit is your Blu-Ray outputting multichannel (DD or DTS 5.1) or plain stereo?
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Old 14-05-2013, 16:24
Sue_C
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multichannel. Display on Sony shows dts, just tried it.
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Old 14-05-2013, 18:27
Zarbi
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If you are wanting a matching Panasonic recorder to achive your matirial then the only one in the range that records to either a DVD or BD is now DMR-BWT735 and on this you have to record it to the built in hard drive first ( super piece of kit though ) -- in all the others the optical drive is playback only
Actually that's not entirely accurate. If you check the Panasonic product page you'll see that the DMR BWT720 is still part of the range. This is widely available - and the only really significant functional difference between this and the 735 is the latter will have the capability for setting up recording remotely. The other difference seems to be the price - the 735 looks like it will be available for 500 whereas the 720 is available for about 375 or less.

Details: http://www.panasonic.co.uk/html/en_G...318/index.html
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Old 14-05-2013, 21:47
iangrad
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Hmmm 720 has not been available to dealers to buy in as new for quite a while -- although its very good if you can find one , but its not part of the 2013 range .
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Old 16-05-2013, 09:25
annieb
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HD can have Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. It depends on what the programme uses, it's not a fixed format.

If you want a new system then either of these would do the job. Neither has a disk player built in but as you have a Blu-Ray player that isn't a problem.

http://www.richersounds.com/product/...96/yama-yht196
http://www.richersounds.com/product/...98/yama-yht298

They are proper grown ups systems . You should be able to connect all your kit via HDMI to the amp and get full "proper" surround from them all.

If you have a bigger piggy bank to raid then this is a pretty decent system

http://www.richersounds.com/package/...eals/pah011076

And if you save up for a REALLY long time you might even be able to afford one of these

http://www.kipnis-studios.com/The_Ki..._Theaters.html

Only $6 million
Ha, love the $6 million set-up. Would love the house you'd need to go with it even more!

Seriously, I never thought of going to Richer Sounds and looking at a non-Panasonic sound system. We have a Richer Sounds here in Plymouth. Thanks for putting me on to the idea, Chris. I think hubby is quite keen to upgrade this too although I'm going to need to look for a place to put the subwoofer because it's going to need a plug nearby.

I've not heard of Onkyo before. Have you had personal experience of this make? I'll google some reviews. Pity the small speakers aren't wireless.

There's so much to think about, I can see myself having a steep learning curve when we get the new equipment and lots of bedtime reading.

Just to double-check, will the DMR-BWT735 output the 5.1 sound across the HDMI lead (ie. no need for any other cables) if it's connected to the Onkyo or the Yamahas? The BWT735 spec says the following but this doesn't mean much to me...

Dolby Digital Plus/ Dolby TrueHD: Decode and Bitstream Output*5
DTS-HD Master Audio/ DTS-HD High Resolution Audio: Decode and Bitstream Output*5

And also, the same question about the Sky+ HD box assuming the broadcast is in this format? I don't have the Sky+ HD box yet so don't know what would be turning up.

Lastly, a general question, does Freeview HD ever broadcast 5.1 sound or is it just Sky that do it?

I can't thank you enough for all your help.
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Old 16-05-2013, 15:53
chrisjr
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Onkyo are one of the more respected names in the AV field. Got an Onkyo amp myself.

There is no such animal as totally wireless speakers, in the true sense of having no wires at all. Unless that is you enjoy spending shed loads of time and money replacing the batteries all the time. Any wireless systems you see simply have no wires between amp and speakers. However the speakers need power so will still need a mains connection. OK if they are on the wall right above a mains socket but not so handy if they are in the middle of the room! Or they have a separate receiver/amp unit and wires to the speakers and mains to the amp. So you can't eliminate all the wires completely, just have to get good at hiding them

Your Blu-Ray player will actually do 7.1 over HDMI if you talk to it nicely. Dolby Digital and DTS are the two main formats of surround sound and come in various flavours including 5.1 and 7.1 variants. Decode and Bitstream refer to how the player delivers the audio to the amp. Decode means it decodes the Dolby or DTS soundtrack into the 6 or 8 discrete audio channels and feeds those to the amp. Bitstream means it passes the raw digital data onto the amp and the amp does the decoding itself. If you notice on the actual webpage you cut and pasted those specs off the *5 at the end refers to the footnotes where *5 is "HDMI connection required"

You have to be careful about Sky boxes. Until fairly recently they only did 5.1 over optical digital and HDMI was fixed at stereo. More recent models can do 5.1 over HDMI. Might be worth checking with Sky as and when you sign up.

Freeview HD can do 5.1. Though not every programme uses it.

One thing I would suggest is download the manuals for any kit you are interested in before purchase. These AV receiver beasts are pretty fearsome when you start poking under the lid.
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Old 16-05-2013, 16:42
annieb
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If you notice on the actual webpage you cut and pasted those specs off the *5 at the end refers to the footnotes where *5 is "HDMI connection required"
Doh, silly me

One thing I did notice on the AV specs was they don't do upscaling. One of the reasons why I've been loathe to lose my CRT TV is because I don't like the way non-HD programs look on modern tellys. I know much more is being broadcast in HD nowadays so hubby's eager to upgrade. Am I given to understand that upscaling would slightly enhance a picture, even if it's not HD? Do you know of an amp that would give me this too?

Lastly, I will give Sky a call but if I'm not lucky enough to get a Sky+HD box which does the 5.1 over HDMI, is there any reason why I can't connect to the amp via optical to achieve the same result or does this only give me sound and not video?
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Old 16-05-2013, 18:20
chrisjr
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All HD TVs upscale. They have to in order for an SD source to fill the screen. Most Blu-Ray players can upscale as well. The Sky box and many Freeview HD boxes can also upscale. So basically it matters not if the AV amp does it or not.

Upscaling SD does not make it HD, nor can it. Basically all it does is "invent" a shed load of pixels to pad out the gaps. On a full HD TV close to three quarters of what you see on screen is down to the upscaler in the telly when watching an SD broadcast! Obviously the quality of the result is largely down to how well the scaler in the TV "invents" the extra pixels. Most will use varying degrees of maths to derive a value for the pixel based on the surrounding values.

But one thing it cannot do of course is increase the amount of detail in the original. If you've seen duff pictures on HD TVs then that could be down to poor upscaling or simply because CRT sets have a reputation for glossing over some of the worst of what SD broadcast encoding produces. LCD panels are said to show up the artefacts of low bit rate encoding more clearly. And the make of TV can have some influence. Sony and Panasonic are regarded as the best, LG and Samsung somewhere in the middle and the supermarket/Argos/Currys own brands at the bottom.

The optical out on any device, not just Sky, is purely audio. There is nothing to stop you plugging the optical out to the amp and the HDMI to the telly. It's not an either or option. In any case all most amps do with the video data over HDMI is chuck it straight out of the HDMI out up to the telly. They don't really do anything else with it.
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Old 18-05-2013, 09:22
ixHellstormx
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SKY released an update to enable 5.1 SS over HDMI so ur all good to go
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