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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a brand-spanking new Pioneer 50" plasma panel (pdp-5070) and an equally pristine up-converting Oppo 981 DVD player sitting at home, ready to rock.


I want to build a modest surround sound system to go with this video setup.


The system will be used 75% of the time for viewing DVD's, and another 25% for pure music listening. No/next-to-no television usage.


While I will be connecting the Oppo directly to the Pioneer for audio via HDMI, I want to connect the Oppo to the receiver (also via HDMI) to process all the nice audio formats through my surround sound speakers.


I'm looking to spend between $1000 and $1300 total for the receiver and the 5 piece speaker-array. So I guess I'm looking to spend between $600-500 for the receiver and $600-500 for the speakers, respectively.


The receiver need not do any video upconverting whatsoever, as I plan on using the Oppo and the Pioneer's internal scalers for all the video. (Unless people have bad experiences with this combo? Opinions?)


So I solely need a receiver with HDMI inputs that will do a sophisticated job of processing all the audio format from the Oppo and getting it out to the speaker array.


Any suggestions?


Thanks so much for everyone's time.


-Leandro


EDIT: I live in a studio apartment, and my viewing/listening room area is about 16 ft. by 16ft.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by leandro /forum/post/0


I have a brand-spanking new Pioneer 50" plasma panel (pdp-5070) and an equally pristine up-converting Oppo 981 DVD player sitting at home, ready to rock.


I want to build a modest surround sound system to go with this video setup.


The system will be used 75% of the time for viewing DVD's, and another 25% for pure music listening. No/next-to-no television usage.


While I will be connecting the Oppo directly to the Pioneer for audio via HDMI, I want to connect the Oppo to the receiver (also via HDMI) to process all the nice audio formats through my surround sound speakers.


I'm looking to spend between $1000 and $1300 total for the receiver and the 5 piece speaker-array. So I guess I'm looking to spend between $600-500 for the receiver and $600-500 for the speakers, respectively.


The receiver need not do any video upconverting whatsoever, as I plan on using the Oppo and the Pioneer's internal scalers for all the video. (Unless people have bad experiences with this combo? Opinions?)


So I solely need a receiver with HDMI inputs that will do a sophisticated job of processing all the audio format from the Oppo and getting it out to the speaker array.


Any suggestions?


Thanks so much for everyone's time.


-Leandro


EDIT: I live in a studio apartment, and my viewing/listening room area is about 16 ft. by 16ft.

You are going to find it difficult to split the HDMI audio and video this way. The HDMI copy protection stuff will likely get in your way.


However, there's an alternative. You can get an HDMI "pass through" receiver (or pre-amp/processor) that extracts the audio from the HDMI and sends along the original HDMI video signal, unchanged, to your Pioneer.


An example of this, although possibly out of your price range, would be the Anthem AVM-40 pre-amp/processor.


If you want to use such a setup to send 1080p video to your Pioneer (as from some HD-DVD or Blue Ray players), be sure the "pass through" receiver or pre/pro you buy is rated for that high a bandwidth of HDMI video signal.


You should look for a receiver or pre/pro with HDMI V1.1 or higher, and spec'ed to accept high bandwidth, multi-channel digital audio (PCM) over that HDMI connection -- for use with new, high bandwidth players such as HD-DVD or Blue Ray. Such a receiver will almost certainly also accept regular Dolby Digital and DTS "bitstreams" over the HDMI connection for standard DVD playback.


Please understand that the Oppo 981 player will not send out HDMI 480i -- only HDMI 480p. Thus although your Pioneer will be "scaling" the video, the Oppo itself will be "de-interlacing" the video coming off the DVD disc.


If you really want to depend upon scaling external to the player, and if your Pioneer will accept HDMI 480i input, you might want to consider the Oppo 970 instead -- set to HDMI 480i output.


Any pass through receiver you get will likely pass HDMI 480p just fine. But if you choose the HDMI 480i route, be sure the receiver is ALSO spec'ed to accept HDMI 480i and pass that through to the output as well.

--Bob
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Pariseau /forum/post/0


You are going to find it difficult to split the HDMI audio and video this way. The HDMI copy protection stuff will likely get in your way.

You mean I can't simply connect the Oppo to my plasma panel via HDMI, put the panel on mute, and connect the Oppo to my receiver via HDMI for audio? Will receivers not process the audio received from a player via HDMI if that receiver is not connected to the panel for video? If so, why not?


Quote:
However, there's an alternative. You can get an HDMI "pass through" receiver (or pre-amp/processor) that extracts the audio from the HDMI and sends along the original HDMI video signal, unchanged, to your Pioneer.

To reiterate, I wasn't going to connect the receiver to my panel at all.


Simply connect the DVD player to the panel for video, and the DVD player to the receiver for audio. (both via HDMI) Is there a fundamental issue with that?

Quote:
If you want to use such a setup to send 1080p video to your Pioneer (as from some HD-DVD or Blue Ray players), be sure the "pass through" receiver or pre/pro you buy is rated for that high a bandwidth of HDMI video signal.


You should look for a receiver or pre/pro with HDMI V1.1 or higher, and spec'ed to accept high bandwidth, multi-channel digital audio (PCM) over that HDMI connection -- for use with new, high bandwidth players such as HD-DVD or Blue Ray. Such a receiver will almost certainly also accept regular Dolby Digital and DTS "bitstreams" over the HDMI connection for standard DVD playback.


Please understand that the Oppo 981 player will not send out HDMI 480i -- only HDMI 480p. Thus although your Pioneer will be "scaling" the video, the Oppo itself will be "de-interlacing" the video coming off the DVD disc.


If you really want to depend upon scaling external to the player, and if your Pioneer will accept HDMI 480i input, you might want to consider the Oppo 970 instead -- set to HDMI 480i output.


Any pass through receiver you get will likely pass HDMI 480p just fine. But if you choose the HDMI 480i route, be sure the receiver is ALSO spec'ed to accept HDMI 480i and pass that through to the output as well.

--Bob

It was my understanding that even though my panel (Pioneer pdp-5070) could accept 1080p, that it's native resolution was 720p. So I intended to set my Oppo upconverting player's output to 720p and pump that directly into the panel via HDMI. This was in an effort to minimize scaling requirements on both the player and panel, as well as bypassing the need to potentially downgrade the video signal even slightly by sending it through a receiver.


Is this not the optimal way to do things?


Thank you all so very much for you help with this!


-Leandro
 

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Well the Oppo 981 only has one HDMI output, right?


Your Oppo isn't going to make it easy to drive two separate HDMI devices (i.e., the display for video and the receiver for audio) via two separate HDMI paths because it would have to set up copy protection for each path. HDMI audio and video aren't supposed to be split out that way.


If, on the other hand, you run HDMI to the "audio input but video pass through" receiver and then HDMI from the receiver to the display, the copy protection will be established (by the Oppo) all the way through the receiver to the display. That will work.


Alternatively you can send HDMI direct to the plasma from the Oppo and then optical digital audio from the Oppo to the receiver. That too will work for standard DVD audio (Dolby Digital or DTS) and normal CDs. But that will not work for full quality audio from DVD-Audio or SACD discs.


Having the Oppo 981 scale DVD to HDMI 720p is indeed a reasonable way to go to drive your Pioneer plasma whether or not the receiver is in the middle. The native resolution of your Pioneer plasma, i.e., its physical pixel matrix, is actually 1365x768p, so the plasma will then have to scale that 720p input signal AGAIN to its native 768p.


But you could also try HDMI 480p from the Oppo (perhaps through the receiver) to the plasma. That will result in only one scaling pass (i.e., inside the Pioneer) and you might like that result better as the Pioneer plasmas have quite reasonable internal scalers. Either way, the de-interlacing will be done inside the Oppo 981.


Just be sure you "calibrate" the basic Blacks/Whites/Colors/Sharpness levels in the Pioneer BOTH WAYS before you compare them. A calibration DVD such as Avia or Digital Video Essentials (DVE) is your tool of choice for this.

--Bob
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Pariseau /forum/post/0


Well the Oppo 981 only has one HDMI output, right?

Crap, you're right. I was under the mistaken impression that the Oppo had -2- HDMI outputs, when in reality it only has the -1-.


In this case, what are some good receivers in the 500-600 dollar range that will pass through the digital video feed from my HDMI, but separate out the digital audio for processing? I know Yamaha, Denon, and Onkyo are often cited as good brands here.

Quote:
Your Oppo isn't going to make it easy to drive two separate HDMI devices (i.e., the display for video and the receiver for audio) via two separate HDMI paths because it would have to set up copy protection for each path. HDMI audio and video aren't supposed to be split out that way.


If, on the other hand, you run HDMI to the "audio input but video pass through" receiver and then HDMI from the receiver to the display, the copy protection will be established (by the Oppo) all the way through the receiver to the display. That will work.

Will it not downgrade my digital video signal to pass it through the receiver like that? I'm concerned that many HDMI-capable receivers also have upconversion functions, and I don't want the receiver to screw around with my digital video signal, just pass it right through. Is there a way to determine what receivers are good with this particular issue and which ones are not?

Quote:
Alternatively you can send HDMI direct to the plasma from the Oppo and then optical digital audio from the Oppo to the receiver. That too will work for standard DVD audio (Dolby Digital or DTS) and normal CDs. But that will not work for full quality audio from DVD-Audio or SACD discs.


Having the Oppo 981 scale DVD to HDMI 720p is indeed a reasonable way to go to drive your Pioneer plasma whether or not the receiver is in the middle. The native resolution of your Pioneer plasma, i.e., its physical pixel matrix, is actually 1365x768p, so the plasma will then have to scale that 720p input signal AGAIN to its native 768p.


But you could also try HDMI 480p from the Oppo (perhaps through the receiver) to the plasma. That will result in only one scaling pass (i.e., inside the Pioneer) and you might like that result better as the Pioneer plasmas have quite reasonable internal scalers. Either way, the de-interlacing will be done inside the Oppo 981.

Yes, my goal is to make sure that the setup results in only one scaling pass to minimize distortion of the digital video signal, which I have read can easily happen with HDMI connections.

Quote:
Just be sure you "calibrate" the basic Blacks/Whites/Colors/Sharpness levels in the Pioneer BOTH WAYS before you compare them. A calibration DVD such as Avia or Digital Video Essentials (DVE) is your tool of choice for this.

--Bob

I was planning on using D-Nice pre & post break-in settings for my TV and the Oppo. Is a calibration DVD necessary on top of this?


Thank you so much for your help, Bob.


And anyone else with thoughts, please don't hesitate to share.


-Leandro
 

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I don't have any specific receivers to suggest in that price range.


You should also be checking out the various features that receivers have, or don't have, as regards HDMI audio input. Understand that some "pass through" receivers, particularly the least expensive, don't even accept HDMI audio input. They just pass it through without ever using it!


The "future proof" receiver sticky thread at the top of this forum may help.


If your receiver is spec'ed to "pass through" the HDMI video --without scaling or de-interlacing it -- then there will be no change in video quality passing it through the receiver. Be aware that the receiver will have an upper limit on what resolution it can pass through. For example, not all will pass through the 1080p signal generated by some HD-DVD or Blue Ray players. All should be just fine for standard DVD and HDTV resolutions however.


Receivers of different price points will also have different restrictions on their ability to "overlay" their own On Screen Display graphics -- volume settings and such -- on HDMI output. Some won't do it at all. Some will do it for only certain video output resolutions.


Also be aware that many cable TV HD set top boxes, and some satellite boxes, have a bug that causes them to give up on HDMI output the moment they discover they are not DIRECTLY connected to a TV. This is a bug in the set top box's implementation of the HDMI copy protection protocol -- not a bug in the receiver or the TV despite what many cable companies still claim.


I suggest you get a calibration DVD and get familiar with it. The "D-Nice" settings are certainly useful, but the calibration DVD will help you understand what they are doing to the imaging, and will give you some basis for any further adjustments you want to make.

--Bob
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Bob,


Wow, thanks for the really quicky reply.


So let me repeat this as I understand it, just so I can make sure I have this straight:


* any "pass through" receiver will simply pass HDMI audio & video through the receiver to the panel, and not pull out the audio to process and output through my speaker array, correct?


* can a "non-pass through" receiver (a receiver that can accept HDMI audio & video as well as -process- it before sending it to the panel and speaker array respectively) be set-up such that it will process the audio, but not try and process the video, even if it has upconversion features?


Thanks again.


-Leandro
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by leandro /forum/post/0


Bob,


Wow, thanks for the really quicky reply.


So let me repeat this as I understand it, just so I can make sure I have this straight:


* any "pass through" receiver will simply pass HDMI audio & video through the receiver to the panel, and not pull out the audio to process and output through my speaker array, correct?


* can a "non-pass through" receiver (a receiver that can accept HDMI audio & video as well as -process- it before sending it to the panel and speaker array respectively) be set-up such that it will process the audio, but not try and process the video, even if it has upconversion features?


Thanks again.


-Leandro

Not quite.


There are receivers that "pass through" everything on the HDMI. Using such a receiver means that you can't get audio into the receiver via HDMI. You have to use some OTHER style of cable to get audio into your receiver. The receiver acts only as an HDMI "switch" -- selecting an input to go to the output.


There are also receivers that "pass through" the HDMI video, but EXTRACT the HDMI audio and use it much as any other digital audio source. This is the type of receiver you are probably looking for.


Then there are receivers that extract both the video and audio, use the audio as a normal digital audio source, and process the video in some manner before sending it out again. Typical processing would include de-interlacing and scaling. Other processing would include things like sending non-copy-protected HDMI video out on Component video outputs or overlaying On Screen Display graphics on top of the HDMI video output.


You should *NOT* assume that you can completely disable all video processing in this last type of HDMI receiver. Check the owner's manual. Typically such receivers are ALWAYS set to convert the incoming video into whatever you have specified as the one, best output format for your display.

--Bob
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Pariseau /forum/post/0


There are also receivers that "pass through" the HDMI video, but EXTRACT the HDMI audio and use it much as any other digital audio source. This is the type of receiver you are probably looking for.

Precisely.


That is exactly what I am looking for. Do you have any suggestions in the 500-600 dollar price range for a receiver of this type?


My understanding is that the Pioneer VSX-1016 is this type of receiver, and should be able to handle all the fancy audio formats that my Oppo would throw at it (SACD, etc.)


If that accurate?


Thank you!


-Leandro
 

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It is my understanding that the 1016 doesn't extract sound from the hdmi. You would have to run another audio cable to the 1016 from the dvd player for surround sound. You may want to look at onkyo's 604 and 674 receivers that can use the audio from an hdmi source.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by AZRX /forum/post/0


It is my understanding that the 1016 doesn't extract sound from the hdmi. You would have to run another audio cable to the 1016 from the dvd player for surround sound. You may want to look at onkyo's 604 and 674 receivers that can use the audio from an hdmi source.

I checked out these receivers on Onkyo's site.


Would it be accurate to say that:


the 604 outputs HDMI video to the panel -without- upconversion, and processes HDMI audio.


the 674 outputs HDMI video to the panel -with- upconversion, and processes HDMI audio.


?


Thank you!


-Leandro
 

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You are right in the sense that the 604 and 674 both pass video and processes audio via hdmi. The advantage of the 674 is that all the inputs to the reciever(component, s video, hdmi, etc....) are "upconverted" to a digital signal and passed via a single hdmi cord to you tv. The 604 requires the same cable to your tv as you have used to connect it to your receiver. If you have hdmi and component cables running to your receiver you need one of each running to your tv to see images from each with the 604. You may also want to look into the panasonic xr57 if you only need one hdmi input and are not passing a 1080p signal. I want to emphasize that I don't have any of these receivers so for definitive info on them try posting in the threads dedicated to them in order to get actual owners opinions and info.
 
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