Question on best way to connect two recievers - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 01-14-2015, 09:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Question on best way to connect two recievers

I've picked up an Onkyo TX-SR703 on Ebay, which I am going to use to upgrade my aging home theater system.

Currently, my Samsung Blu Ray DVD player is connected via HDMI to my Samsung HDTV. Since the Onkyo does not have HDMI inputs, I plan to plug the optical out from my Samsung HDTV into the optical input of the Onkyo TX-SR703. I also plan to plug in the optical output from my Tascom CD player into the Onkyo.


I then want to use the Onkyo as a "pre-amp" to to my existing Harman AVR 245, which I plan to use to drive my center and front speakers.

The Onkyo will drive the surrounds and the sub.


I want to output the Onkyo front and center channel signals to the Harman AVR 245 receiver, because I have a huge "open concept" living room and I want better control over the center and front channel volume levels when watching Blu-rays, the plan being to use one remote (Harman) to control the front and another remote (the Onkyo) to control the back of the room.



My questions:

If my goal is to have the best possible Dolby IIx Plus sound, do I connect the Onkyo to the Harman using the Optical output or use the Onkyo's 7.1 "Pre Amp" DAC outputs as inputs to the Harman?

Any reason it would be better to use the Harman as as the pre amp instead? I am choosing the Onkyo for the job because it is THX certified and the Harman is not.


Also, any opinions on whether the Dolby IIx format is the best format for Blue Ray and old school rock with these older receivers would also be appreciated.

Any other advice to use on this set up is appreciated.
Thanks for your help in advance!

Last edited by kvining; 01-14-2015 at 11:03 AM.
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post #2 of 11 Old 01-14-2015, 09:55 AM
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Any chance you could edit that and use paragraphs? It's hard to understand what you're trying to do.
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post #3 of 11 Old 01-14-2015, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Try that, my apologies.
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post #4 of 11 Old 01-14-2015, 11:37 AM
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I suggest using the analog preouts on your Onkyo to connect to the Harmon. I don't know if any signal processing by the Onkyo (such as PLIIx) is done to the digital output on the Onkyo.


Pro Logic IIx is probably the best mode to run 7.1 speakers with stereo or 5.1 sources. I suggest using the analog multichannel inputs on your Onkyo to connect your bluray player so you can enjoy native lossless and 7.1 channel sound.
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post #5 of 11 Old 01-14-2015, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kvining View Post

If my goal is to have the best possible Dolby IIx Plus sound, do I connect the Onkyo to the Harman using the Optical output or use the Onkyo's 7.1 "Pre Amp" DAC outputs as inputs to the Harman?

No. Receivers can't act as separate amplifiers.

Quote:
Any other advice to use on this set up is appreciated.
Thanks for your help in advance!

See if you can return the Onkyo and get a modern unit with HDMI to replace it. You can buy a modern AV receiver for under $200. Ignore the old Harman receiver or use it somewhere else.
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post #6 of 11 Old 01-14-2015, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kvining View Post
I've picked up an Onkyo TX-SR703 on Ebay, which I am going to use to upgrade my aging home theater system.

Currently, my Samsung Blu Ray DVD player is connected via HDMI to my Samsung HDTV. Since the Onkyo does not have HDMI inputs, I plan to plug the optical out from my Samsung HDTV into the optical input of the Onkyo TX-SR703. I also plan to plug in the optical output from my Tascom CD player into the Onkyo.


I then want to use the Onkyo as a "pre-amp" to to my existing Harman AVR 245, which I plan to use to drive my center and front speakers.

The Onkyo will drive the surrounds and the sub.


I want to output the Onkyo front and center channel signals to the Harman AVR 245 receiver, because I have a huge "open concept" living room and I want better control over the center and front channel volume levels when watching Blu-rays, the plan being to use one remote (Harman) to control the front and another remote (the Onkyo) to control the back of the room.
Sounds overly complicated. Your Onkyo has controls for center and surround already built-in, and has more than twice the power of the HK.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kvining View Post
My questions:

If my goal is to have the best possible Dolby IIx Plus sound, do I connect the Onkyo to the Harman using the Optical output or use the Onkyo's 7.1 "Pre Amp" DAC outputs as inputs to the Harman?
Actually, the best sound wouldn't be from PLIIx anyway, but ignoring that for a second, there's no reason to do what you're attempting.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kvining View Post
Any reason it would be better to use the Harman as as the pre amp instead? I am choosing the Onkyo for the job because it is THX certified and the Harman is not.
Many reasons why you don't even need or want to involve the Harmon. I'll explain below.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kvining View Post
Also, any opinions on whether the Dolby IIx format is the best format for Blue Ray and old school rock with these older receivers would also be appreciated.
For BD, you'll want Dobly TrueHD or DTS Master Audio, of course, your Onkyo can't do any of that, and neither of which can be handled via optical. That AVR is really getting long in the tooth, it's 10 years old! SO much has improved since then. Hope you got a great deal...like nearly free.

Anyway, all the Onkyo will know is Dolby Digital or DTS, both of which are multi-channel audio streams, and won't involve Dolby PLII. You won't, however, get the best that BD has to offer with that AVR.

Please allow me to re-wire your whole system...sorry.

Make your Onkyo the "hub", run all sources to it first. Let it decode the basic digital audio tracks on BluRay, and drive all speakers directly. Calibrate the system, though that AVR doesn't even have the entry-level Audyssey...sheesh. Wire the Monitor output of the Onkyo to your TV, and if you you use OTA, Optical or coaxial output from the TV to return whatever audio is unique to the TV back to the Onkyo.

A caution, a 2005 AVR is way out of date when it comes to HDMI specifications. You'll probably run into issues, especially trying to play BluRay. It's a real bottle neck. Only has two HDMI (probably v1.0) inputs, almost certainly has HDCP issues. Other than that, this is a 2005 analog machine, just doesn't work well with today's, or even yesterday's gear.

Ditch the Harmon, there's really no point. It offers no advantage, complicates setup and control, and has most of its value to you in terms of resale, which isn't a lot, but it's never going to be worth more than it is today.

You can use the Onkyo remote to handle all source selection, volume, and level balance issues. Once calibrated, it's my suspicion that you won't need to adjust surround or center levels much, if at all.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kvining View Post

Any other advice to use on this set up is appreciated.
Thanks for your help in advance!
Yes: sell all AVRs, and use the proceeds as a contribution to getting a current model AVR, probably another Onkyo for budget reasons. I'll bet you can just about break even, perhaps pay up a few $$, and you'll get a far more usable, and better sounding system. Older AVRs are just a pain to deal with in 2015, really not worth the trouble, even if they're free. The best deals are had by purchasing a unit that has been just recently discontinued. Get a new one with a warranty, unless you find another deal on a 1-year old lightly used unit. Older AVRs may handle analog and HDMI, but they don't translate one to the other, making your life a switching nightmare.

You'll be much happier in the long run.

One last possible "gotcha" is your TV. Based on the other gear mentioned, it may be older as well. Make sure it has an HDMI input at least, we've gone way past component and composite. If it's not a sort of current unit, it will also fight you. Current source gear, especially Bluray players, will not play well with very old TVs because of outdated HDMI handshake issues. It's quite rare to find a current BD player with anything except HDMI outputs.
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post #7 of 11 Old 01-15-2015, 08:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by audio2xs View Post
Sounds overly complicated. Your Onkyo has controls for center and surround already built-in, and has more than twice the power of the HK.

Actually, the best sound wouldn't be from PLIIx anyway, but ignoring that for a second, there's no reason to do what you're attempting.

Many reasons why you don't even need or want to involve the Harmon. I'll explain below.

For BD, you'll want Dobly TrueHD or DTS Master Audio, of course, your Onkyo can't do any of that, and neither of which can be handled via optical. That AVR is really getting long in the tooth, it's 10 years old! SO much has improved since then. Hope you got a great deal...like nearly free.

Anyway, all the Onkyo will know is Dolby Digital or DTS, both of which are multi-channel audio streams, and won't involve Dolby PLII. You won't, however, get the best that BD has to offer with that AVR.

Please allow me to re-wire your whole system...sorry.

Make your Onkyo the "hub", run all sources to it first. Let it decode the basic digital audio tracks on BluRay, and drive all speakers directly. Calibrate the system, though that AVR doesn't even have the entry-level Audyssey...sheesh. Wire the Monitor output of the Onkyo to your TV, and if you you use OTA, Optical or coaxial output from the TV to return whatever audio is unique to the TV back to the Onkyo.

A caution, a 2005 AVR is way out of date when it comes to HDMI specifications. You'll probably run into issues, especially trying to play BluRay. It's a real bottle neck. Only has two HDMI (probably v1.0) inputs, almost certainly has HDCP issues. Other than that, this is a 2005 analog machine, just doesn't work well with today's, or even yesterday's gear.

Ditch the Harmon, there's really no point. It offers no advantage, complicates setup and control, and has most of its value to you in terms of resale, which isn't a lot, but it's never going to be worth more than it is today.

You can use the Onkyo remote to handle all source selection, volume, and level balance issues. Once calibrated, it's my suspicion that you won't need to adjust surround or center levels much, if at all.


Yes: sell all AVRs, and use the proceeds as a contribution to getting a current model AVR, probably another Onkyo for budget reasons. I'll bet you can just about break even, perhaps pay up a few $$, and you'll get a far more usable, and better sounding system. Older AVRs are just a pain to deal with in 2015, really not worth the trouble, even if they're free. The best deals are had by purchasing a unit that has been just recently discontinued. Get a new one with a warranty, unless you find another deal on a 1-year old lightly used unit. Older AVRs may handle analog and HDMI, but they don't translate one to the other, making your life a switching nightmare.

You'll be much happier in the long run.

One last possible "gotcha" is your TV. Based on the other gear mentioned, it may be older as well. Make sure it has an HDMI input at least, we've gone way past component and composite. If it's not a sort of current unit, it will also fight you. Current source gear, especially Bluray players, will not play well with very old TVs because of outdated HDMI handshake issues. It's quite rare to find a current BD player with anything except HDMI outputs.
My TV is a fairly brand new Samsung 55" HDTV, it has all the bells and whistles. I currently use the optical output from the TV as my main input source to the Harman receiver. The Samsung Blu Ray, which is less than a year old, and DirectTV are hooked up to the Samsung TV via HDMI.

Are the 7.1 output jacks on the back of the Blu Ray digital or analog? If they are analog, won't using them mean that the digital outputs on the receiver will no longer work?

The receiver costs me 50 bucks on ebay, the guy lived a few miles from me so I beat the ridiculous shipping cost as well. It's a model I know, the Onkyos of this period were good solid equipment. While not the latest, it matches the technology of what I currently have.

I admit this is a low budget project, but I live in Texas where the price of oil just went into the toilet so I'm being a lot more budget minded these days. My plan is to get the most I can out of my ten-year old system and then buy a completely new set up as soon as good times return. I really don't want to buy any under-300$ receivers, they are junk these days if you ask me, when I do buy, it will be in the $499 and up range. I also want to replace my speakers too, my ten year old Klipsch S-series 7.1 system still sounds good but I've never been 100% happy with the sound quality of that series. My main problem is that I have an extremely large "open concept" living room with really poor acoustics, so this is an attempt to deal with that on a budget, thanks for the help!

Last edited by kvining; 01-15-2015 at 08:28 AM.
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post #8 of 11 Old 01-15-2015, 08:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post
No. Receivers can't act as separate amplifiers.




See if you can return the Onkyo and get a modern unit with HDMI to replace it. You can buy a modern AV receiver for under $200. Ignore the old Harman receiver or use it somewhere else.

I don't understand what you mean by "Receivers can't act as separate amplifiers", I've done it many times over the years, perhaps I misunderstand?
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post #9 of 11 Old 01-15-2015, 03:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kvining View Post
If my goal is to have the best possible Dolby IIx Plus sound, do I connect the Onkyo to the Harman using the Optical output or use the Onkyo's 7.1 "Pre Amp" DAC outputs as inputs to the Harman?
I suggest using the Onkyo's decoder and connecting the Onkyo's preamp outputs to the Harman AVR. i.e. just use the Harman as an amplifier with volume control.

Quote:
Any reason it would be better to use the Harman as as the pre amp instead? I am choosing the Onkyo for the job because it is THX certified and the Harman is not.
Since you have relatively efficient Klipsch speakers, I doubt that the difference in wattage makes any real difference, despite the size of your room. Doubling the power only increases the sound level by 3dB, which is just barely noticeable.

Quote:
Also, any opinions on whether the Dolby IIx format is the best format for Blue Ray and old school rock with these older receivers would also be appreciated.
Which surround-sound upmixer you use is strictly a personal choice. Try the various DTS Neo:6 and Dolby PLIIx settings to find which you like the most.

Purists tend to frown on the use of the various reverberation settings (like "Orchestra"), since they add things to the sound that weren't already there, but they can be fun to play with.

Quote:
Any other advice to use on this set up is appreciated.
Thanks for your help in advance!
Other things to consider are the TV's settings. You've probably already set these for use with the HK receiver, but I'll mention a few things for completeness.

Disable the TV's speakers, don't just mute them or turn them all the way down.

Use the TV's digital optical audio output when you connect it to the Onkyo AVR.

Some TVs can forward Dolby and/or DTS to the optical output from players that are connected to them (like cable STB or BD player). Some can provide surround sound only when you use the TV's internal tuner. You'll have to determine what your TV can provide. TVs often let you select either "Auto" or "PCM" for the audio on their S/PDIF (optical or coax) outputs. Select "Auto". That way you'll get Dolby surround sound whenever it's available. This setting also might tell the BD player that it's OK to send surround sound to the TV. PCM is limited to stereo. When that's selected it'll certainly limit what audio the BD player sends to the TV for forwarding.

I hope this helps a little.

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post #10 of 11 Old 01-16-2015, 03:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Selden Ball View Post
I suggest using the Onkyo's decoder and connecting the Onkyo's preamp outputs to the Harman AVR. i.e. just use the Harman as an amplifier with volume control.

Since you have relatively efficient Klipsch speakers, I doubt that the difference in wattage makes any real difference, despite the size of your room. Doubling the power only increases the sound level by 3dB, which is just barely noticeable.

Which surround-sound upmixer you use is strictly a personal choice. Try the various DTS Neo:6 and Dolby PLIIx settings to find which you like the most.

Purists tend to frown on the use of the various reverberation settings (like "Orchestra"), since they add things to the sound that weren't already there, but they can be fun to play with.



Other things to consider are the TV's settings. You've probably already set these for use with the HK receiver, but I'll mention a few things for completeness.

Disable the TV's speakers, don't just mute them or turn them all the way down.

Use the TV's digital optical audio output when you connect it to the Onkyo AVR.

Some TVs can forward Dolby and/or DTS to the optical output from players that are connected to them (like cable STB or BD player). Some can provide surround sound only when you use the TV's internal tuner. You'll have to determine what your TV can provide. TVs often let you select either "Auto" or "PCM" for the audio on their S/PDIF (optical or coax) outputs. Select "Auto". That way you'll get Dolby surround sound whenever it's available. This setting also might tell the BD player that it's OK to send surround sound to the TV. PCM is limited to stereo. When that's selected it'll certainly limit what audio the BD player sends to the TV for forwarding.

I hope this helps a little.
Thank you for your thoughtful response, I intend to take your advice. I'm going to tackle this this weekend, I will report back on how it all works out, thanks again.
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post #11 of 11 Old 01-16-2015, 03:32 PM
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You're very welcome.

Good luck!

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