Need sharp logical thinkers to solve the puzzle that is my home cinema

Spiritos

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I want to buy a (used) 5.1 Home Cinema Set. I don't really care that much for superb audio quality just as long as I am able to neutralize the sound coming from my neighbours TV by surrounding myself with my own audio.

Now I have this current setup that I want to connect but although I read numerous articles I just can't seem to wrap my mind around what it is I need for inputs/outputs.

- I have no regular TV connection (only Netflix with XBox Live).
- I have a windows PC which I use to stream movies to my TV through HDM out from my GPU.
- I also have a XBox 360 which I preferably want to connect to the home cimea set if possible.

So I don't need my hifi set (music) to be connected. It's only for watching movies from PC or movies from Netflix.

Now I know HDMI would be the best solution but since I'm looking for a used set and I have limited finanical means that's not really an option.

As I understand most sets come with a DVD-player and as such it won't be able to route the signal from my PC (which streams HDTV to my TV) into it but here's where I get lost.

Can I for eg. keep using the PC->HDMI->TV routing to route my videosignal to my TV and then use a audiocable from my soundcard to a 5.1 receiver? (And muting the volume on my TV for the HDMI audio signal?)

And then can I use a (s/pdif?) cable to route the signal from my XBox to the 5.1 set?

My TV is a Samsung LE32D550 and has multiple HDMI outs, digital audio out (optical) and the manual reads '5.1CH audio is available when connected to an external 5.1 device'.

So what I want to achieve is:

- Route the signal (video and/or audio) from my PC playing movies to my LCD TV through 5.1 set.
- Route the audio from Netflix through the 5.1 set.
- If possible connect my XBox to the 5.1 set for the audio.

What kind of set (with what kind of connections) would I need?



 
sony --- actually this system might just work for you. you might want to read this thread http://www.avforums.com/threads/sony-htss1300-help.767785/page-2 about another user (well a few users) who have it hooked up to their xb360 and ps3. from what i can tell they have hdmi inputs AND spdif inputs.

jvc --- looked at a few images of the rear... it looks like it may have some optical and a coax port.

onkyo --- this appears to only be a receiver (and an older one at that) and doesnt come with any speakers....

---

i would read up more on the sony... but it might be the best or at least most full featured of the ones you listed.
 

Spiritos

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A 100 euros tops but for that money that's not an option (checked several marketplaces). Again, I know I'll get crappy quality but it's only purpose is to cloak the neigbours.

 
well there is another issue...

some HTIB sets even if they have hdmi or optical inputs do not actually provide surround sound for them. sometimes you are limited to just 2.0 stereo even though you're connected up to it via methods which can carry surround.

which ones? hard to say but typically it happens on cheaper models most often.

as wolf sends suggests the bests option would be to have a receiver box (the dvd player typically is built into this on HTIB sets) which accepts hdmi inputs however if it can accept two spdif inputs that would also work.

i say hdmi first because spdif isnt capable of transmitting all types of surround sound modes just a few. while its not normally an issue it is something that needed to be noted.

100eur isnt much to work with especially for surround sound. you might be able to find a few sets better than what you can buy new by looking at used sets however even those are likely to be rather low end.

must the sets be 5.1? for that budget you might be able to pick up a used older receiver and a few bookshelf or tower speakers which could pump out some decent volume to muffle the sound of your neighbors. of course that option would be stereo sound only but you said that audio quality doesnt really bother you too much.

if you want anything specific you need to provide us with a few models that you were looking at used... or where you are finding them (for instance on some used equipment website) and/or the retail stores you can deal with (for instance the website of a home theater company in your country). also providing us with what country you are in can help

you may also want to note if your television has a hdmi out with ARC capability.
 

Spiritos

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It defintely has to be 5.1 (speakers behind me are most important for the sound cloaking).
As for my TV having ARC - I don't think so but the manual reads '5.1 CH audio is available' with an optical (digital) cable.

Here are some sytems I'm looking at:

Sony HT-SS1300L: http://www.sony.nl/support/nl/content/cnt-specs/HT-SS1300/list
JVC RX-F10s: http://www.marktplaats.nl/a/audio-tv-en-foto/home-cinema-sets/m783228865-jvc-rx-f10s-home-cinema-surroundset.html?c=be2da871b0d84f75c3056cc6db858f31&previousPage=lr
Onkyo TX-SR501:http://reviews.cnet.com/av-receivers/onkyo-tx-sr501-black/4505-6466_7-30432842.html
 

Wolfshadw

Splendid
Moderator
Not sure this is even in your price range, but I use an Onkyo HT-S3200 for my 5.1 surround sound system. Three HDMI inputs, one HDMI output. I bought mine for $300 US new a number of years back. You may be able to find something similar on the used market and hopefully in your price range. Just tossing it out there.

-Wolf sends
 
sony --- actually this system might just work for you. you might want to read this thread http://www.avforums.com/threads/sony-htss1300-help.767785/page-2 about another user (well a few users) who have it hooked up to their xb360 and ps3. from what i can tell they have hdmi inputs AND spdif inputs.

jvc --- looked at a few images of the rear... it looks like it may have some optical and a coax port.

onkyo --- this appears to only be a receiver (and an older one at that) and doesnt come with any speakers....

---

i would read up more on the sony... but it might be the best or at least most full featured of the ones you listed.
 

Spiritos

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Just installed the set. Configuration was easier than expected so no hassle there. Sound quality isn't top notch but way better than my TV speakers.
Will be experimenting with some settings in the near future I suppose but so far I'm amazed (and relieved) hoe easy this was setting up.
Thanks again!
 
well... for a low budget you arent going to get anything "top notch" in terms of sound quality. thats to be expected.

at least it sounds like it will provide for your needs at least though. yes tv speakers are often quite horrible!

glad to hear setup was a breeze and that all is working well.
 

Spiritos

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Ah.. a little help is needed after all.

I wonder if I'm getting the proper DTS signal. The manual of the HCS is a bit unclear as to a function called 'Auto Format Direct'. In Auto I expect the receiver to detect the best audio signal but sometimes when playing a DTS source I just get 2 channel audio. The manual says the auto function 'plays sound as if this was recorded without surroundeffects'.

Although it sounds obvious: Does this mean I shouldn't use the 'auto' setting? I mean, I see no description in the manual to set it for DTS only pro logic..

Also when checking the sound devices on my PC (Win7 64x) when I want to configure the AMD HDMI output I see no 5.1 surround option, only stereo? And when in Media Player Home Cinema I select Audio settings for LAV and select Dolby Digital or DTS there is no sound at all..?

I realise these are a lot of questions but I've read numerous topics and I just dont know how to verify if I have the proper settings.
 
well i honestly cannot say for your particular unit... but the "auto surround" function on normal receivers functions to select the appropriate sound mode automatically. for example it will display stereo for stereo signals, dolby for dolby signals and pcm for pcm signals. "direct" mode disables the eq, phase change and other post processing on the receiver for the sound being input.

you listed it as "auto format direct" which combines those terms so i'd have to guess (or search for it on google) for an answer. speaking of which you might want to read this post i found: (click on the spoiler tag)

let me explain what AFD is on Sony. Very misunderstood and very few people actually understand it. Horrible name Sony gave it but i will clarify what Sony cannot do.

There are 3 settings for AFD and ONLY 3 settings. You basically can choose between these 3 settings. 1 of the 3 covers multi channel input and then 2 of the 3 is where you can make a choice.

OPTION 1 - AFD AUTO:
When you set your Sony to AFD AUTO you are telling the Sony to play the audio EXACTLY as what the source was encoded at. When a multi channel audio signal is being input into the receiver such as Dolby 2.1 and above. Dolby 2.0 will NOT trigger the AFD because it needs more than 2 channels to trigger the AFD.
***** This is critical to understand the following as most people screw this up. When you have it set to AFD AUTO and a multi channel signal is being input you CANNOT change the AFD settings. What this means is that if there is Dolby 2.1 and above or any codec that is more than 2 channels the Sony will automatically play the AFD at whatever the source was encoded at. Example 1: if you are playing a DVD or something that is enoded with DTS 2.1 or Dolby 2.1 then the source was only encoded with 2 channels and a sub channel. This means that if you leave your Sony set at AFD AUTO then you will ONLY hear sound out of your front 2 speakers plus the sub channel. The AUTO means the receiver will play exactly as encoded thus in this example only the front 2 speakers get sound. Example 2: if you are playing a DVD with Dolby 5.1 then you are stuck with a maximum 5.1. However, if you have fewer speakers the Sony receiver will only output to what you have configured in your speaker setup configuration.

There is an Exception, and I go into this below. You CAN artificially fake additional speakers beyond what is being input into the receiver by setting the AFD to AFD E-SURROUND. In E-SURROUND, as I go into below, if the audio signal is encoded with MORE speakers than you have configured AFD E-SURROUND will then use the settings you have set up in the GUI MODE->SETTINGS->SURROUND->ENHANCED SURROUND MODE. This section you can choose between Neural THX, Neo:6, and ProLogic II or ProLogic IIx. ProLogic II will only be shown if you have 4 main speakers and ProLogic IIx will be shown if you have 6 main speakers. I prefer Neural THX as it is more natural. But, this screen, as mentioned in more detail will trigger the additional speakes you have configured IF and ONLY IF the audio input from the DVD or other source is encoded with fewer speakers than what you have encoded. Read more below.

OPTION 2: AFD E-SURROUND:
This is probably the most used screen in my opinion. As mentioned above this section is set in your Sony receivers SURROUND->ENHANCED SURROUND MODE section. This section ONLY comes into play when you have your receiver turned to AFD E-SURROUND. What this section does is you are telling the receiver what you want to do when an audio signal coming into the receiver is encoded with LESS than the amount of speakers you have configured. All the options given: Neural THX, Neo:6, or ProLogic II or ProLogic IIx are all surround sound codecs that convert 2 channel audio into multi channel audio. as mentioned above I believe that Neural THX sounds more natural with better true surround sound decoding out of the flatter sounding 2 channel audio input.

Example 1: lets say you have an old CD being input that is ONLY 2 channel left to right stereo input. No modern multi channel audio encoding. If you were to leave the receiver set to AFD AUTO then all you would hear is just the front 2 speakers because that is what AFD AUTO does, play exactly as encoded. However, in AFD E-SURROUND, the codec you have chosen (either Neural THX, Neo: 6, or ProLogic II) will take that 2 channel CD audio and try to extract out portions of the audio and convert it to surround sound - simulated or "enhanced" surround sound and thus E-SURROUND. This works better for movies.
Example 2: older DVD that is Dolby 2.1. Older DVD's that are only Dolby 2.1 are still considered multi channel audio because it has the .1 subwoofer channel. As with the first example in AFD AUTO all you will hear are the front 2 speakers and the sub channel. But, in AFD E-SURROUND the audio signal will be broken up and some of the audio signal will be interpreted as possible areas to be moved to the rear speakers. If you have your speaker configuration set up as 2 front and 2 rear speakers in a 5.0 or 5.1 setting and you have your E-Surround set as either Neural THX or Neo:6 or ProLogic II then you will get some surround sound on the rear speakers. If you have your speakers configured with 2 front and 4 rear speakers for a 7.0 or 7.1 setup and you have your E-Surround set to ProLogic IIx then you will get some sound out of the very rear speakers.

OPTION 3: AFD MULTI STEREO:
This is the option I leave my sony receiver at because it gives me the best of all worlds.

AFD Multi Stereo does NOT look at your E-SURROUND settings at all. Instead this setting does 1 of 2 things. If you audio signal is coming in as a multi channel audio and your blue light appears then it acts just like AFD AUTO and plays the audio just as it was encoded. HOWEVER, where this AFD Multi Stereo comes into play is when a standard 2 channel audio signal is being input into the receivers. 2 channel audio could be linear PCM, 2 channel left and right stereo, or 2.0 Dolby or 2.0 DTS. When the receiver is set to MULTI STEREO and a 2 channel audio signal is input you are telling the receiver you want to simply DUPLICATE the front speakers audio output to the rear speakers. Basically, all left speakers sound the same and all right speakers sound the same. This might be the best option for basic AM/FM radio or even Satellite radio input where music does not have encoding for surround sound. Since all the left speakers are duplicates of each other and all the right speakers are duplicates of each other you are increasing your sound output because you are increasing the number of speakers that are playing the same music.

I hope this helps explain what the AFD settings are on the Sony. I have posted this for the last 2-3 years on forums just like this and have helped many sony owners understand what Sony cannot explain very well.

---

as for your settings in win7

rightclick sound icon > playback devices
either your HT system should show up here or it will be marked as hdmi. that should be default.
if you push configure it should give you 5.1 option

or is this what you did and it only gives 2.0?

have you tried connecting via your soundcard/onboard sound and a spdif optical or coax cable (if i remember correctly the unit accepted this)
 

Spiritos

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First of all a big thanks for your elaborate response! The link you provided is somewhat applicable to my set although I think Sony added some more features, but I will study it some more.

As for the Win7 settings: Yes, indeed this is what only gives me 2.0. It does show my receiver but alas no 5.1 option. It's difficult for me to find the culprit as there are 3 components to consider: Win7 settings/ MPHC settings-codecs / settings on receiver. Since I'm new to the subject it's a little too much to digest.

I suppose I should try the s/pdif (hadn't thought of it). Will do this evening or tomorrow.

I guess there's no way around educating myself about this since -as you mentioned- there are too many things to consider. If I have more specific question I will get back in another thread.

Tnx again!

 

Spiritos

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Just to finalize this thread: I finally got it working.

I reinstalled the Realtek High Def and AMD HDMI driver and other than that appaerantly there is a particular sequence in which I need to turn on my receiver.

When turning it on I need to select a soundfield manually (even though it's on the proper settting) then the DTS Sound comes through. It seems as a glitch in the OS but anyway, it works :)

Btw. I never got the Win7 settings to 5.1 (Still not visible) but I read somewhere this setting isn't in the signalchain anyway since it passes directly through the codecs.
 
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