Books on HTS

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  • 12-24-2003, 10:03 PM
    Books on HTS
    As a newbie to the technical advances in HT. I'm a little overwhelmed...coaxial, digital audio, center speakers etc. As a matter of fact I don't even know how to hook my directv satillite to all this stuff. Is there an easy to read book that will show me how to setup (integrate all these peices of equipment?
  • 12-24-2003, 10:34 PM
    I don't know of any books, but it really isn't that hard
    Just take a deep breath. If you have done a 2 channel audio hookup, you are fully capable of doing a full blown HT system. Although the rules have changed a bit, the principles haven't changed at all. All you have to do is think about signal flow and what needs to be done where.

    First off, a modern receiver is a miracle of engineering...even a junky one (there are a few here who don't think there is such a thing as a junky receiver) is an amazing piece of work. The receiver is the heart, mind, and brains of your system, the speakers provide the soul. If you have ever hooked up a cassette deck properly, you are fully capable of anything you will come across here. Now, your receiver will not only switch between components, it will switch the video of that component and send it to the TV, and do the Digital to Analog conversion to change the digital signal coming from a digital product (DVD, Digital Cable, HDTV, CD audio, or Digital Satellite) to analog so it can be amplified, sent to the speakers and enjoyed.

    Coaxial digital looks like a regular RCA patch cord (it essentially is) except the female receptical on the receiver is usually painted orange instead of red, white, or yellow (Red, Green, Blue for Component video). It is just another way to transport a digital signal from a source component to the receiver to be converted. The othere way is an optical connector. The technical name for it is TosLink (Toshiba invented it, hence the Tos part) which is also sometimes generically called "fiber-optic") Toslink ports usually have a little black plug over the top, although some newer units have little trap doors covering the hole. Here light is used instead of a direct electrical signal to get information to the receiver for conversion. Same thing different method.

    If you look at the back of your receiver, and start hooking things up one at a time, you will be amazed at how simple it really is. Any video source will need an audio and a video connection. The audio connection will be either analog (red and white plugs) or digital (into orange jack or Toslink/fiber-optic) and the video connection will be either the yellow coaxial (composite: lowest grade video), a funky multi pin S-Video plug (S-Video is better grade video), or Component video which is three RCA coaxial patch cords (colored Red, Green, and Blue). Each component will offer a selection of some or all of these. VCRs are analog only so you will not see a digital output (Exception is JVC's Digital VHS recorder, but not a common piece). DVDs nearly always offer all three video choices, and usually analog and Toslink optical outputs. More expensive players will offer all three. What you end up using will depend on your TV (does it have S-Video or Component inputs?) and sometimes switching convenience (you may choose to get a not as good picture to make switching between sources easier, ie: not having to switch TV inputs if you are changing from composite to S-Video or Component Video. Some newer receivers will actually convert the signal from composite or S to component which simplifies any switching choices.

    Center channel speakers are the ones placed on or in line with the vertical center of your TV, be it on the wall or on the floor in front of it (on a stand or angled up to the listener) This is the speaker that gets most of the dialog action, and anything that is happening "on screen". It is the hardest working speaker in an HT system outside of the subwoofer in an action movie, and getting it right is critical. You need one that is voice matched to you left and right main speakers. These speakers should be placed equal distances on the right and left from the center speaker to give the best and most seamless "panning" or going from one side to the other. By "voice matching" I mean a speaker that is sonically similar to your main speakers. Preferably the same brand from the same model line that is engineered to work with your main speakers. Don't be afraid to spend some money here.

    Hooking up Sat box? Do what I've told you to do. See what you have available coming out, choose what you want to use and hook them into the receiver. Then hook the "monitor output" to the TV so any other video you run into the receiver will be switched when you change sources. There are about 10,000 people here willing and able to help.

    Have fun, good luck, and enjoy...
  • 12-26-2003, 07:33 AM
    thanks, spacedeckman. that really helps.