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Please analyze my setup

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I'm new to home theater and this is going to be my first setup so I really don't know what I'm doing. After researching how to distribute HDMI sources to multiple zones I find myself pretty overwhelmed. Seems like splitting HDMI is a real headache with all the EDID, HDCP, ect.

What I'm basically trying to do is get my 6 HDMI sources to independently and simultaneously display on different zones (projector + 3 TVs). For example, I want to game on the projector and watch cable on one of the TVs at the same time). From what I gather, I can accomplish this with a 8x4 hdmi matrix but that's way out of my budget. Plus I would probably have issues with the lowest common denominator since I'm going to run 3D on the projector but the TVs are not 3D compatible. And I'll have audio issues with the projector running 5.1 audio and the TVs running 2.1. So I came up with the setup as illustrated below which I'm hoping will solve the common denominator problem. I figure if I add a 1x2 splitter right after each source the projector will get 3D without getting down converted or whatever its called. I don't know if this setup would work or if there's a more efficient way of doing this without getting a matrix switch. Hopefully you guys can chime in and help me out. Thank you.

HomeAudioSetup.jpg
post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by nthydro View Post

I'm new to home theater and this is going to be my first setup so I really don't know what I'm doing. After researching how to distribute HDMI sources to multiple zones I find myself pretty overwhelmed. Seems like splitting HDMI is a real headache with all the EDID, HDCP, ect.
What I'm basically trying to do is get my 6 HDMI sources to independently and simultaneously display on different zones (projector + 3 TVs). For example, I want to game on the projector and watch cable on one of the TVs at the same time). From what I gather, I can accomplish this with a 8x4 hdmi matrix but that's way out of my budget.

Problem with this is, what you've designed will be re-named "glitch city" once you actually try to use it. Every time a device output has an input attached or removed, you'll loose picture. I know the 8x4 is expensive, especially for one that works right, but that's really the only way this can work.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nthydro View Post

Plus I would probably have issues with the lowest common denominator since I'm going to run 3D on the projector but the TVs are not 3D compatible.
You'll have he lowest-common-denominator issue anyway. No way around it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nthydro View Post


And I'll have audio issues with the projector running 5.1 audio and the TVs running 2.1.
Perhaps not, as the downmix of 5.1 to 2.1 happen in the device, and is not a hand-shake function like video resolution and formats.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nthydro View Post

So I came up with the setup as illustrated below which I'm hoping will solve the common denominator problem. I figure if I add a 1x2 splitter right after each source the projector will get 3D without getting down converted or whatever its called.

Sorry, no, you haven't accomplished anything to help the denominator issue.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nthydro View Post

I don't know if this setup would work or if there's a more efficient way of doing this without getting a matrix switch.
Sorry, there's no good way that eliminates all your tech problems without costing a ton because of the need for a scaler...at each device.

If you don't try to solve the lowest-denominator issue, the 8x4 matrix is actually the best way to deal with this. But, you may go through this mental exercise. Ask yourself which combinations would be most used, which would be very seldom used, and reduce your need for splitting, routing or switching. Do you think you'll ever really need a WII on all 4 displays at the same time? How about grabbing a second cable box, BD player or Screencast, and eliminate the split/switch for them too? Perhaps you can develop the real-use model a bit more and simplify everything. True, you loose flexibility, but you may find the system nearly as usable, and much more stable and affordable.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by has7738 View Post

Problem with this is, what you've designed will be re-named "glitch city" once you actually try to use it. Every time a device output has an input attached or removed, you'll loose picture. I know the 8x4 is expensive, especially for one that works right, but that's really the only way this can work.
You'll have he lowest-common-denominator issue anyway. No way around it.
Perhaps not, as the downmix of 5.1 to 2.1 happen in the device, and is not a hand-shake function like video resolution and formats.
Sorry, no, you haven't accomplished anything to help the denominator issue.
Sorry, there's no good way that eliminates all your tech problems without costing a ton because of the need for a scaler...at each device.
If you don't try to solve the lowest-denominator issue, the 8x4 matrix is actually the best way to deal with this. But, you may go through this mental exercise. Ask yourself which combinations would be most used, which would be very seldom used, and reduce your need for splitting, routing or switching. Do you think you'll ever really need a WII on all 4 displays at the same time? How about grabbing a second cable box, BD player or Screencast, and eliminate the split/switch for them too? Perhaps you can develop the real-use model a bit more and simplify everything. True, you loose flexibility, but you may find the system nearly as usable, and much more stable and affordable.

Thank you sir for your help.

I guess you're right, I could probably limit the sources to the bare essentials. I know a 4x2 matrix is a lot cheaper than a 8x4. My only concern is I still have to figure a way to overcome the common denominator issue. Doesn't seem like there's a clear cut fix for it. I've seen someone recommend a 2nd receiver, would that help at all? Or perhaps I should go with component video instead?

And could I chain two 4x2 matrix switches? Or would that cause issues? Thanks.
post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by nthydro View Post

Thank you sir for your help.
I guess you're right, I could probably limit the sources to the bare essentials. I know a 4x2 matrix is a lot cheaper than a 8x4. My only concern is I still have to figure a way to overcome the common denominator issue. Doesn't seem like there's a clear cut fix for it.
The fix is a device called a scaler, which can re-size video for a particular device but look like a 1080p device itself. They aren't cheap, but some high-end AVRs have scaling in them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nthydro View Post


I've seen someone recommend a 2nd receiver, would that help at all?
Only if the AVR can do scaling, but again, that's on the top-end units.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nthydro View Post


Or perhaps I should go with component video instead?
You need HDMI with the BD player for sure, as HDCP will prevent play to component devices, unless you use a special HDMI > component converter.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nthydro View Post


And could I chain two 4x2 matrix switches? Or would that cause issues? Thanks.

Some issues, but won't help the lowest-denominator issue. Mostly it becomes a switching logic problem, with potential video glitches during switching. You really need a good control system to sort it all out.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by has7738 View Post

The fix is a device called a scaler, which can re-size video for a particular device but look like a 1080p device itself. They aren't cheap, but some high-end AVRs have scaling in them.
Only if the AVR can do scaling, but again, that's on the top-end units.
You need HDMI with the BD player for sure, as HDCP will prevent play to component devices, unless you use a special HDMI > component converter.
Some issues, but won't help the lowest-denominator issue. Mostly it becomes a switching logic problem, with potential video glitches during switching. You really need a good control system to sort it all out.

Man this just gets more and more complicated rolleyes.gif

I didn't know you couldn't use blu-ray at all without hdmi. I just figured it get scaled down to a lower resolution. Would the PS3 be able to play blu-ray without hdmi? I think mine only came with component cables and no hdmi. But regardless, even if I went component I wouldn't be able to display 3D over it right?

So is there any way I can get the best of both worlds and run some kind of component/hdmi combo? I'm pretty sure they don't make any matrix switchers or AVR that can dual output hdmi and component at the same time, do they?

And also what are the audio limitations of using TOSLINK vs hdmi

Thanks again for your help.
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by has7738 View Post

The fix is a device called a scaler, which can re-size video for a particular device but look like a 1080p device itself. They aren't cheap, but some high-end AVRs have scaling in them.
Only if the AVR can do scaling, but again, that's on the top-end units.
You need HDMI with the BD player for sure, as HDCP will prevent play to component devices, unless you use a special HDMI > component converter.
Some issues, but won't help the lowest-denominator issue. Mostly it becomes a switching logic problem, with potential video glitches during switching. You really need a good control system to sort it all out.

Oh I forgot to ask but if I do get a 2nd receiver would that at least fix the audio issues with the common denominator?
post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by nthydro View Post

I didn't know you couldn't use blu-ray at all without hdmi.

This was mandated by the Blu-Ray Association last year. If you pick up an "older model" BD player, it would likely have component video output at 720p/1080i.
Quote:
But regardless, even if I went component I wouldn't be able to display 3D over it right?

Correct. 3D only on HDMI, but again, the common denominator issue is going to play heavily when it comes to 3D support.
Quote:
So is there any way I can get the best of both worlds and run some kind of component/hdmi combo? I'm pretty sure they don't make any matrix switchers or AVR that can dual output hdmi and component at the same time, do they?

What I do is run a component video matrix for all the 'house' sources, so I get 1080i, 5.1 digital and 2-channel analog audio. Which is more than adequate for all set-top boxes (sat/cable), DVD and BD for non-critical areas. In the critical viewing locations (family room and theater), I just added local BD players directly connected with HDMI. For streamers and other digital sources, they're usually cheaper to just duplicate than to spend $$$ on HDMI matrix solutions. Meaning, spending $500 to share a $99 source isn't exactly the right path...
Quote:
And also what are the audio limitations of using TOSLINK vs hdmi

Toslink will carry 5.1 DD and DTS audio. It won't carry the "advanced audio codecs", used for best performance on BD media (or ripped server copies thereof), which includes DTS-MA and DD+. For cable/sat/Internet streaming currently, toslink will cover you 100%.

Jeff
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

This was mandated by the Blu-Ray Association last year. If you pick up an "older model" BD player, it would likely have component video output at 720p/1080i.

Ahh okay that makes sense. I have an older PS3 so that would explain why I recall being able to play blu-ray with the component output.
Quote:
Correct. 3D only on HDMI, but again, the common denominator issue is going to play heavily when it comes to 3D support.
Yeah it looks like if I want 3D I'm going to have to go through a lot of hassle. frown.gif
Quote:
What I do is run a component video matrix for all the 'house' sources, so I get 1080i, 5.1 digital and 2-channel analog audio. Which is more than adequate for all set-top boxes (sat/cable), DVD and BD for non-critical areas. In the critical viewing locations (family room and theater), I just added local BD players directly connected with HDMI. For streamers and other digital sources, they're usually cheaper to just duplicate than to spend $$$ on HDMI matrix solutions. Meaning, spending $500 to share a $99 source isn't exactly the right path...

That definitely makes sense and is probably the most cost effective route. Since I live in a studio apartment, all of my "zones" are close to each other.

One thing I'm wondering is with devices that have both hdmi and component output, is it possible to have both plugged in for alternate use? For example, with the PS3 or Xbox 360, if I do component output>component matrix>720P Plasma AND also do hdmi>receiver>3D Projector, will it work? I doubt I would be able to use them both at the same time but can I take turn using the outputs? I'm guessing I would have to turn of auto activation on the matrix and receiver. The reason I'm asking is cause I want to game on my 720P plasma and be able to game on the projector with 3D on. Which requires hdmi. I would check but I'm not home right now. Of course I could always plug and unplug them when it comes down to it biggrin.gif

BTW, is there any difference in quality with component 720P/1080i or HDMI 720P/1080i on my 720P displays? I know component is capable of 1080i which is the highest res for cable broadcasts. But my cable installer said I would get a better picture if I used the hdmi cable instead. I couldn't really tell the difference.
Quote:
Toslink will carry 5.1 DD and DTS audio. It won't carry the "advanced audio codecs", used for best performance on BD media (or ripped server copies thereof), which includes DTS-MA and DD+. For cable/sat/Internet streaming currently, toslink will cover you 100%.
Jeff

Gotcha. So toslink should be adequate for everything except for blu-ray. I don't really know what the advanced codecs you mentioned are but do they make a big difference in sound quality? I'm going to run budget 5.1 speakers (Energy Take Classic), will the advance codecs matter or will my speakers be the limiting factor?

Thanks so much for the great help!
post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by nthydro View Post

Yeah it looks like if I want 3D I'm going to have to go through a lot of hassle. frown.gif

Another reason to avoid 3D altogether... rolleyes.gif
Quote:
One thing I'm wondering is with devices that have both hdmi and component output, is it possible to have both plugged in for alternate use? For example, with the PS3 or Xbox 360, if I do component output>component matrix>720P Plasma AND also do hdmi>receiver>3D Projector, will it work? I doubt I would be able to use them both at the same time but can I take turn using the outputs? I'm guessing I would have to turn of auto activation on the matrix and receiver. The reason I'm asking is cause I want to game on my 720P plasma and be able to game on the projector with 3D on. Which requires hdmi. I would check but I'm not home right now. Of course I could always plug and unplug them when it comes down to it biggrin.gif

Most devices are "simultaneous output" - so HDMI and component (and composite) are all active. There are some exceptions, and some device-specific limitations (like not having 1080p enabled, for example).
Quote:
BTW, is there any difference in quality with component 720P/1080i or HDMI 720P/1080i on my 720P displays? I know component is capable of 1080i which is the highest res for cable broadcasts. But my cable installer said I would get a better picture if I used the hdmi cable instead. I couldn't really tell the difference.

In theory, yes, a digital source going to component and back to a digital display is going through a D/A and A/D conversion, whereas the HDMI path avoids those conversions. In practice, any difference you see is more likely due to differences in the display's input settings. My component input looked much darker than the HDMI - until I adjusted the settings...
Quote:
Gotcha. So toslink should be adequate for everything except for blu-ray. I don't really know what the advanced codecs you mentioned are but do they make a big difference in sound quality? I'm going to run budget 5.1 speakers (Energy Take Classic), will the advance codecs matter or will my speakers be the limiting factor?

Probably not a huge difference, although we'd like to think that there is... Certainly not like the steps from analog Dolby ProLogic to Dolby Digital 5.1... I wouldn't say the speakers are the limiting factor, though. But again, I solved that issue by simply dedicating a BD player to the main (theater/projector) zone. Sharing a BD player isn't ideal anyway (nor are game consoles), since they need either physical media to be inserted or have controllers that have to be within range. Going across the house to load a movie/game isn't my idea of "easy to use".

Jeff
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