Future resistant/Using an AV processor as an Audio processor for as long as possible - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 11-22-2013, 10:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Folks,

I'm looking for some technical advice on how an A/V processor's shelf/cabinet life can be extended... especially with Video/display technology changing much faster than Audio technology and formats...

The immediate question is:
I'm planning to get an Onkyo PR-SC-5508 (I know its an older model, but gotta stay within budget)... it doesn't have 4k upscaling or passthrough - for now that's fine with me...but down the road (say 3-4 years)... if I get a 4k TV or projector and if my HTPC can output 4k video - will I somehow still be able to continue to use a non 4k A/v processor as just an "audio processor" (surround decoding, DAC, base-mgmt, room correction, eq etc)?

my sources :- a HTPC, a game console, a set-top box
my storage media :- a NAS, portable Hard-disk etc...
I do/will not have any legacy sources like CD/Blu-Ray player, phono etc.

What equipment will I need... to continue using the audio processor?
Or is such a connection/setup going to be futile and the processor becomes an obsolete box to be gotten rid of?

will the Audio Return Channel of a future TV be sufficient to send whatever format Audio the TV may be receiving from all its inputs... in this case the TV becomes the "source selector and video processor" for all video-audio sources. If there are any sources with audio (but no video) those shall be connected directly to the audio processor...


The larger question is:

How do we extend the modular concept of "separates" to the "audio-video processor"... by having a "video-processor" (TV/projector, HTPC or other) separate from the "audio processor" (assuming it would keep the audio in synch with the video...)
that will allow us to replace/upgrade either as and when appropriate...

HDMI is likely to be around 3-4 years down the road - but probably as a legacy interface - so that leaves us with HDBaseT
...since AES3 (digital XLR, SPDIF, TosLink or Digital/Optical Co-ax etc can handle no more than compressed 5.1ch - they will not be sufficient...

What are the design parameters and input options for such a "relatively future resistant modular audio processor"?
An open and lively discussion and debate on this topic would be welcome...

Thanks for all ideas and responses...
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post #2 of 14 Old 11-23-2013, 04:31 AM
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Just as was the case with HDMI 1.3 AVR owners that didn't want to upgrade to an HDMI 1.4 AVR to pass 3D video by using a dual HDMI 1.4 BDP, so to would you use a dual HDMI 4K BDP to pass the video to the TV and the audio to the non-4K AVR or pre-pro. Also note that ARC can often be more trouble then it's worth with the configuration of simply connecting an optical cable from the TV to the AVR/pre-pro being able to pass DD 5.1 (eg. Netflix movies) where HDMI(ARC) can often generally only pass 2.0.
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post #3 of 14 Old 11-23-2013, 05:10 AM - Thread Starter
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@jdsmoothie... thanks... that's a great idea and a good work-around...for sources that can give dual HDMI out...

to handle other sources such as set-top box, HTPC and Game console - may be we just use a simple HDMI switch/repeater that will take a few HDMI inputs and give 2 HDMI replicated outputs? does such a device exist?

this works for a short term work-around...


and what about ideas for the other modular concept - keeping the Audio and Video processors separate?
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post #4 of 14 Old 11-23-2013, 11:03 AM
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As long as the device has HDMI for video and optical/coax digital for audio, you should be good to go. smile.gif

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post #5 of 14 Old 11-23-2013, 11:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Isn't optical/coax limited to lossy 5.1 formats?
I think HDMI or HDBaseT will be needed for the DTS Master HD and Dolby True HD or even uncompressed/lossless PCM
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post #6 of 14 Old 11-23-2013, 12:00 PM
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Blu Ray DVDs use a higher bitrate lossy DD/DTS which is likely indistinguishable for the majority vs. the HD lossless over HDMI which is why the configuration was suggested.

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post #7 of 14 Old 11-23-2013, 08:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank ... that sorts out one source - BluRay (which I'm not likely to have considered until now and the Oppo does look awesome...)

so what would I do for other sources like HTPC (hard drive movies/music, streaming video/music) and the Gaming console?

Almost all my collection is on harddrives...
as for the gaming console - I could skip it all together - if I can somehow integrate a Kinect like device with the HTPC...

so that leaves us with needing a solution for sending 4k video from the HTPC to the TV and the audio to the processor?
IS there a HDMI repeater jack of some kind that can do this?
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post #8 of 14 Old 11-24-2013, 04:04 AM
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I'm not aware of a 4K box yet, but there are 1080p HDMI to HDMI/optical converters available like the one linked to below that can extract up to 5.1 audio out of the HDMI input ....

http://www.amazon.com/ViewHD-Premium-Audio-Extractor-Converter/dp/B00AHS8LD8/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1385294543&sr=1-1&keywords=hdmi+to+toslink+converter

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post #9 of 14 Old 11-24-2013, 05:21 AM
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I can also say I have tested ARC and it was not a 'good' experience, quite honestly one of those features that sounds good on paper but introduces many more problems than they are worth.

I suspect there will be made 'boxes' that can accept HDMI inputs and split signals around, like the oppo's already can, but these are only rated for 4k pass through, I would wait and see a little while longer where 4k will land, we are still quite a way off having 4k Bluray discs. and all 4k displays sold now base the upgrade on processed 1080p (basically running a couple of photoshop sharpening\contrast enhancing filters on the fly).

Update\EDIT:
Although I would have to admit, these boxes already exist and are called AV receivers....

Affordable 4k tv's will come soon very soon, next year or so would be my guess, but real content will be at least 3 years away
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Originally Posted by intgenx View Post

The larger question is:

How do we extend the modular concept of "separates" to the "audio-video processor"... by having a "video-processor" (TV/projector, HTPC or other) separate from the "audio processor" (assuming it would keep the audio in synch with the video...)
that will allow us to replace/upgrade either as and when appropriate...

HDMI is likely to be around 3-4 years down the road - but probably as a legacy interface - so that leaves us with HDBaseT
...since AES3 (digital XLR, SPDIF, TosLink or Digital/Optical Co-ax etc can handle no more than compressed 5.1ch - they will not be sufficient...
I would be very suprised if they drop the HDMI standard anytime soon, the entire industry has married this connector thoroughly, and since the new HDMI 2.0 standard can handle 4k60hz and 4k 3d on old high-speed cables even, its sadly not going to go anywhere. at least not until they want to look into 8k or some other new high definition standard that multiplies the needed bandwith exponentially again.

I would also be very suprised if we see full market saturation of UHD\4k within 5 years minimum (that means live tv broadcasts in 4k and 4k bd discs in the discount bin on the supermarket)3

I suspect the manufacturers will spend the next few years focusing on 4k OLED, and once that starts saturating the markets they will look into possibly 8k, still a lot of prospective buyers are really on the fence about the added benefits of 4k, and will need both content and cheap displays to make the change, 8k will be even more so with even less native content available.

Personally, I think I would have gotten the Oppo 103, it can do almost anything the 105 can, and it does have analog 7.1 outputs and keep an eye out for a processor with HDMI 2.0 that should be able to handle most of whats going to happen the next 5 years.
I'm also seeing more and more enthusiasts dropping pro's all together and use regular AVR's and upgrade them every two years or so.
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post #10 of 14 Old 11-24-2013, 11:00 PM - Thread Starter
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@TorTorden...

Thanks for the comprehensive reply... that give me a good idea of how things are likely to play out...

My issue with not being able to get a cheap receiver is - I need balanced pre-outs (preferably in XLR or at least TRS jack)... because my Active speakers (Neumann KH-310, 270w total built-in amp) accept only balanced XLR input.

This is why I'm trying to either DIY a HTPC with some Lynx AES-16 type sound card and a multi-channel DAC that can give balanced out...
What are the pro-grade multi-channel DACs out there?

or I have to go with the Onkyo PR-SC-5508... or DIY an Audio processor
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post #11 of 14 Old 11-25-2013, 05:15 AM
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Very understandable problem, If I could I would probably go balanced myself, but I need a new fridge and get my heating fixed (I live in Norway and winter is coming) before I go further down the rabbit hole :P

Just out of curiousity I googled your speakers, and seems like I found the manual (5MB download) and at page 9 it has a connection use case for unbalanced audio, you simply need an RCA to XLR adapter, you won't get the full benefits of noise cancelation etc but it should play sound.

And the adapters should be peddled all over the place from 20$ to the usual million dollar cables, or if you or a buddy is mildly capable with a soldering iron it shouldn't be hard to diy some.

I'm not saying to not pursue a fully balanced signal path, but fully balanced audio isn't really needed in a normal home environment unless you are facing cable stretches in excess of 160 feet+ (aprox 50+ meters) per cable as far as I understand it, granted I'm neither an audio guru or an electrical engineer.

Best of luck onwards, and I hope you aren't as optionless as you have feared smile.gif
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post #12 of 14 Old 11-25-2013, 05:49 AM - Thread Starter
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@TorTorden - Thanks so much for taking the trouble to research my particular speakers... what is your impression?

I'm sorry for not mentioning that I do know about the RCA to XLR connections and even the diagrams and someone ready to set it up for me that way with a nice Rotel pre-amp...

but it would laughably defeat the purpose of getting these pro-grade studio monitors...

so... I'd rather go for a high-end DIY - HTPC with Audio processor like capabilities... (this will have balanced outputs but the HDMI inputs will be optional and will be only for un-encrypted HDMI using capture cards, Room correction will be a nice to have - not sure what is out there)

something similar to the Niveus K2 - which was around $10-15k back in 2006 - it had Lynx sound cards with balanced outs and was the considered the Ultimate HTPC - but has long been discontinued...

or contact one of the custom HTPC makers like Assassin PC and see what they can come-up with...

Folks - any other ideas for HTPC with Audio processor like capabilities?
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post #13 of 14 Old 11-25-2013, 06:34 AM
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No problem, just figured I didn't hurt to mention it just in case smile.gif

And I do aggree that maintaining a fully balanced chain if possible is worth the hassle (and getting it setup right is half the fun)

Best of luck,.
Hmm, as a side thought I checked the sherbourn site and it seems they are still selling the 7030, and quite discounted as well.
http://www.sherbourn.com/products/pt7030
This should be a fully balanced Processor with HDMI 1.4 inputs, it might not be very future proof, but at least it is current, and outside of 4k I'm not really seeing that much of a shift down the line.

Seems like the sale ends in two days though :\
Almost tempted myself, but no I really really shouldn't.....
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post #14 of 14 Old 11-25-2013, 10:16 PM - Thread Starter
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@TorTorden - yes the Sherbourn PT-7030 is a good deal but if I'm going for a processor I'd rather have Audyssey MultEQ XT32...rather than just Parametric EQ...

so I may revisit that ... provided I cannot do a DIY- Audiophile HTPC with balanced outputs...

I know in these things - obsolescence is built-in and is overall actually a very good thing for everyone...

that is why I wish to plan for the obsolescence by modularizing my setup...
- so that we can keep replacing the Audio card or the Video card as and when we/SWMBO/budget deem appropriate...

Since my speakers are gonna be around for a couple of decades... I could do all the decoding etc in the HTPC (What software will I need in the HTPC for doing all the decoding of all the Dolby HD, DTS Master HD encoding etc?)

and then connect a good multi-channel DAC that can take multichannel uncompressed decoded lossless digital signals and give balanced Analog audio output (through 3pin XLR)..
Does such a DAC exist?

How about the exaSound e28? Its precisely what I want but well beyond my price range... is there anything below US$1000?
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