Rack Attack II: Legacy Connections
Last week I greeted the somewhat tardy arrival of Blu-ray and HD DVD to my rack. Happy happy joy joy, as Ren & Stimpy would say, but what to do about my reference receiver? My beloved Rotel RSX-1065 (and its seven-channel equivalent, the 1067) has no HDMI inputs. And regrettably, Rotel tells me it has no immediate plans to update its receiver line for HDMI. That means there's no way to get the new surround codecs into the receiver by a digital path at full resolution. As the magazine's audio editor, I am more than eager to hear lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. I'd also like to plumb the potential of the new & improved lossy formats, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD High Resolution Audio. The only way to get them into the Rotel at full resolution was via the receiver's 5.1-channel analog inputs, relying on the player's built-in surround decoder. That took care of the Pioneer BDP-HD1 Blu-ray player, and I threw in a digital coaxial connection to continue feeding the receiver's old-style Dolby Digital and DTS decoders. But even if I'd been willing to swap six analog cables from player to player, the Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD player has no 5.1 analog-outs! I had to settle for the digital optical interface, which handles the new codecs at reduced resolution as a backward-compatibility move. This introduced me to a quirk of Toshiba's HD DVD players, which is that they convert Dolby Digital Plus into PCM and then transcode it into DTS. Thus the optical connection lights up the DTS indicator on my receiver even when I'm not playing a DTS soundtrack. Having at least temporarily licked my connectivity problems, I set about upgrading the firmware in both players. Details next time.