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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(My HT components interact with each other, but this forum seems to be organized by component, so I put this post here, even though it isn't only about the TV.)

OK... I had a 1999 vintage Toshiba 56in. 16:9, a very early JVC progressive-scan DVD player, and a Denon AVR-3600 receiver, so old that it says AC-3 instead of Dolby Digital, and I used it for a few years with laser discs while waiting for DVDs to be invented. (Laser disc player now long gone.)

Time to upgrade! Why? Because I upgraded my computer to a Mac G5 with an integrated 20in. display that's so good that, by comparison, my TV started to look blurry. I was never happy that it required occasional convergence adjustments, with an awkward and frustrating interface. After a while I would just give up, knowing the convergence wasn't quite there yet, but no longer really caring. (I got the TV in late 1999, and it's given me 6 years of great performance, so I'm not complaining, merely justifying.)

I'd been sold on DLP-based projectors for several years, and had had great experience with Samsung components, so I decided that the Samsung DLP rear-projection that was just coming out a few years ago when I went to the CES show in Las Vegas must surely by now be in its 2nd or 3rd iteration, and it was time to buy. I like DLP because: (1) no convergence adjustments, (2) very bright, (3) amazing technology that appeals to me, and (2) no burn in issues. The new Samsungs have 10,000+ RPM 7-segment (or something like that) color wheels, so rainbow problems should be minimized. (And, I have never seen any on my system.)

There's a great store nearby that I do my best to keep in business (Listen Up in Boulder), so off I went and bought a Samsung 5678, which is a rear-projection 56in. DLP that can project a 1920-by-1080p image. Never mind that there is no such thing as a 1080p source--it seemed that as long as I was upgrading, I might as well get the latest.

Oh yeah... no point in getting this TV unless I was going to drive it digitally, which I can now do, since the industry has finally agreed on a way to digitally connect DVD players to TVs while satisfying their needs for copy-protection (HDMI with HDCP is what I'm referring to). That meant a new DVD player, too, and the salesman said he had just gotten in the Denon 1920, which was the lowest cost Denon with a Faroudja scaler.

(I was optimizing my system for DVD playback. I don't have HDTV and have no plans to get it, and the only other source I use is standard Dish satellite, which is fine for when I watch TV.)

This gave me the idea that I would set the DVD player to 1080i and give that to the TV, so that the TV has the easy job of just going from 1080i to 1080p or whatever it thinks it needs to illuminate its pixels. Two reasons for this thinking: (1) I knew of the name Faroudja, and liked the idea of having Foroudja do the scaling, since that's what they do, and (2) in theory, the closer to the original digital bits the scaling is done, the better.

The 1920 has other nice properties: Plays JPEGs and MP3s, lots of recordable CD and DVD formats, DVD-Audio, and SACD. And, get this: Not only bass management for DVD-Audio and SACD, but a full-blown set of menus for speaker configuration (large, small, none), timing (distance), and level... just like my AVR-3600, but in the DVD player! (The first generation or two of DVD-Audio/SACD players lacked bass management.)

My AVR-3600 only had two analog inputs, but I put that limitation aside, since DVD-Audio and SACD were very secondary considerations. (More about that later.) It did occur to me that I had inadvertently bought some SACDs when I upgraded my Rolling Stones collection, since the remastered Stones CDs are hybrids.

I wanted to see the DVD player connected digitally to the TV, which is far from a standard setup, or even a common request, even at Listen Up, and it took the salesman an hour or so to figure out how to do that. I went home to do my computer work, for which I get paid by the hour, to try to pay for this new system. He called me back when he was ready. Turned out to be a front-panel button that turns on HDMI.

The picture was spectacular... my idea was going to work!

So, a bit of price negotiation, and the TV was to be delivered on Wed. (a few days away). Great! I took the DVD player and the HDMI cable with me. The cable cost about a third of what the DVD player cost.

Wednesday came, the TV arrived exactly on time, and I proceeded to set it up, promising my young and, therefore, impatient daughter that we would watch the Pooh Heffalump movie as soon as I was finished. Or, since I'm not sure HT setup is ever finished, when I had it sort of ready.

So, I plugged things together, skipped the speaker setup, and started the movie. No picture from the DVD, and none from any menus, either. HDMI problems, I thought. So, on went a component cable so I could see something, which I did, but nothing related to HDMI. Fooled around a bit while saying "We'll start Pooh soon!" a few times, and suddenly HDMI started to work. You see, the connectors don't seat very firmly in the sockets, and the expensive cable I bought is very heavy, so you have to set things just right to get contact.

Well, with an uncalibrated TV (I will use my Avia disc later, when I get a chance), the picture was fine, my daughter was happy, and I knew I had made the right choice.

Later I watched one of my own movies (Saving Private Ryan), and then I experienced first hand something I had read about on this forum: lip sync error. Terrible!

So... back to Listen Up to replace the AC-3 AVR-3600 with a new AVR-2805, which has lip sync correction. Also, enough analog inputs for multichannel DVD-Audio and SACD. And, an automated speaker setup using a supplied microphone. No more sitting there with my Radio Shack sound-level meter pressed against my nose!

I had bi-wired my center and fronts (B&W) before, since the AVR-3600 supported this directly (although not with bi-amping), but the 2805 had only one pair of connectors per speaker. Since the wiring was already there, I kept it and just joined the cables with a weird banana plug arrangement at the receiver end. I'll make this a little better when I get time.

Gee... I have some SACDs, and everything I need to play them, so why not give it a try? My Rolling Stones hybrids were (only!) stereo, so I bought the remastered Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd), which I understand from the web is a great mix. I didn't have an un-remastered CD version of it anyway, so why not?

Again, I skipped the speaker setup (in the DVD-player--the Dolby Digital speaker setup in the receiver I had done the automated way, and that worked great), put in DSOTM, and... just stereo. Turns out that getting multichannel is a button on the remote not represented in any setup menu.

If you haven't heard SACD (or, I guess, DVD-Audio), you need to. I have never heard anything even close to this wonderful. The Stones stereo hybrids sounded sensational, too. Wow! I am seriously buying SACDs. If this turns out to be an addiction, I will have to set aside time to work on a regular basis.

So, the system is mostly adjusted, it's everything I wanted, and, now that I've discovered SACDs, much more. (I have a Telarc multichannel SACD of the 1812 Overture on order... can't wait!)

Lessons learned:

1. If you're buying a new digital TV, you'll want a digital connection to your DVD player, so include that upgrade in your budget.

2. Samsung makes nearly identical DLP rear-projection TVs in four sizes (50, 56, 61, and 71), but the only difference is the screen size. So, there's no point in buying a big TV and then moving your chair back. You might as well get a smaller version and move your chair up. You choose a big size only if (1) you can't move the chair, because it's really a couch that needs to be in a certain place, or (2) you're not the only one watching. My HT is a single-purpose room designed for two and, rarely, four viewers, so 56 in. was the right size. I sit very close to the TV, far too close for a standard TV, but just right for a 1080p DLP with a high-quality source.

3. You're probably going to have lip sync problems, so you'll have to buy a separate correction box ($200+, last time I looked) or upgrade your receiver. If you're lucky, like me, you've been enjoying Dolby Digital (I mean, AC-3) for nearly 10 years, and it's time to do that anyway. Budget that in, too.

4. Denon manuals are terrible. (I have some experience trying to explain technical things, having written computer programming books, so I can appreciate the challenge.) True, I could do much better, but the reality is that these are the manuals you're going to get. How the average, or even way above average, person can figure out how to connect one of these systems is beyond me. Things have gotten very complicated: Speaker setup in the receiver AND in the DVD player! Dolby Digital, DTS, DVD-Audio, SACD, PCM CD. Having an expert do it I suppose is a possible answer, but how do you know that the expert did it right? And, if a switch or setting gets changed, will you know how to check and how to reset it if an expert did it all for you? I think the industry has seriously fouled this up. Not my problem, though... I have a Masters in engineering, another one in computer science, I like puzzles, and have a 3-digit IQ. With that, I understand nearly 80% of what Denon is trying to tell me about my system.

5. I played DSOTM too loud and the Denon 2805 receiver decided to quit at a certain point. Turned on fine after a time-out, with no damage to anything, but I guess I have to turn the volume down a bit from now on.

6. The test tones in the Denon 1920 DVD player are too soft for me to hear, and I don't think my Radio Shack meter will like them either. Haven't yet figured out the problem. (Ideas, anyone?) My Telarc 1812 Overture SACD has test tones, so I'll use those. (I'm not talking about the receiver here... its test tones and automated setup worked perfectly.)

Well, sorry for the long post, but, heck, you're still reading, right?
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