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HDTV Home Theater Setup, Receiver or Amp, What Features?

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
Hi everybody, I just bought the LG 42LH90 HDTV and am looking to make a home theater system out of it. I have some questions however. I noticed that the 42lh90 has:
  • the XD Engine to upscale lower definition video
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 Decoder
  • and "Smart Volume" Auto Volume Leveler for those jarring commercial breaks
These features are very important to me. However, it does NOT have:
  • doesn't have the 6 speakers to give you DD 5.1 surround sound (what's the point of the decoder?) Instead it plays the DD 5.1 signal over it's 2 internal speakers using "SRS TruSurround XT"
  • doesn't have decoding for "Dolby TrueHD" or "DTS-HD Master Audio" which are formats being used in Blu Ray discs
I am trying to figure out what I need to get decent DD 5.1 surround sound and Blu Ray audio decoding. Many of the TV's features are repeated in Blu Ray players and audio receivers. What I am wondering is:
  1. If I turned off the internal speakers and sent the audio to a seperate home theater system with 6 speakers, would I lose the TV's "Smart Volume" Auto Volume Leveler function and have to get a receiver that has a similar function (Audyssey Dynamic Volume, Dolby Volume, Pioneer Auto Level Control)? Would it matter how the system is set up (Cable box to TV to receiver vs cable box to receiver to tv, optical audio cable vs HDMI repeater)?
  2. If I get a Blu Ray player that has "Dolby TrueHD" or "DTS-HD Master Audio" decoding (most of the newer ones do nowdays), would I also need a audio receiver that has "Dolby TrueHD" or "DTS-HD Master Audio" decoding or would the Blu Ray decoding be enough?
  3. How good is the XD Engine upscaling? Would it render DVD upscaling (in many newer DVD and Blu Ray players) worthless? Some audio receivers also feature video upscaling. For instance, the Harman Kardon AVR 2600 has "Faroudja DCDi" upscaling, meaning it upscales everything to 1080p, even HD cable channels which are always either 720p or 1080i (although I'm not sure if it needs to be analog cable or if digital cable over an HDMI connection will also work.) How much would this improve the picture?
  4. If you could get "Dolby TrueHD" and "DTS-HD Master Audio" decoded from your Blu Ray player, and there is nothing to gain from additional video upscaling in a receiver, and you could connect 6 speakers straight to the TV using a simple amplifier while retaining the TV's DD 5.1 decoding, would it make any sense to just skip the $200-$400 receiver and get some decent speakers to hook up to the TV using an amp?
post #2 of 2
so many questions...so little time

1. audio source to receiver, yes you would lose TV sound level function.
1a. yes, the receiver would need the feature "Dolby Volume", a sound leveling technology. It's is not available on all a/v receivers.
1b. if you feed audio to the TV and then feed it out the optical port, you would probably get a stereo downmix....and lose the DD5.1 capability. The DD5.1 decoder is part of the ATSC over-the-air tuner for broadcast TV capability, or the QAM tuner for cable TV....only this DD5.1 output is sent to the optical out connector on the TV.

2. For most entry level blu-ray players, YES, the receiver would have to handle audio over the HDMI cable and have the HD audio decoders built in. Some more expensive blu-ray players have built-in digital audio decoders and output to 6 or 8 separate analog pre-outs. Your receiver would have to have a provision for direct analog channel inputs to marry up with the blu-ray player.

3. no real comment...."usually" the TV upscalers are more than adequate for the purpose.

4. there is no way to feed 6 or 8 channel decoded analog to a TV, the TV only has a stereo pair of speakers, so what would it do with the signals ?

For a true home theater sound system, you need the video and audio "sources" feeding an audio/videl receiver. A single HDMI cable from the receiver to the TV feeds video to the TV.....the TV's internal audio is not used. The a/v receiver than decodes the digital audio sources and sends the amplified signals to a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker array
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AVS › AVS Forum › Audio › Audio theory, Setup and Chat › HDTV Home Theater Setup, Receiver or Amp, What Features?