B&K Upgrade, Video Degradation, Improving Audio
I currently have a B&K AVR507 S2 receiver. It is a great receiver, but it does not have HDMI, DTS-HD, or Dolby TrueHD. When I purchased this receiver, I was told I could upgrade when possible. Now, B&K says this is not possible and is willing to give me a $1000 credit toward a new B&K. What can I do to get these features or do I have to buy a new receiver?
There's no way to upgrade the receiver to add HDMI or, by extension, advanced audio decoding, because it would require changing the hardware configuration. A $1000 credit toward a new B&K receiver is generous, and the current AVR707 (7.1-channel) and AVR705 (5.1-channel) do have HDMI, but as far as I can tell from the company's website and owner's manual, they do not decode DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD. They have multichannel analog inputs, and they can accept PCM via HDMI, so you can get high-res audio from a Blu-ray player into the AVR in either of those ways. However, you need a player that has multichannel analog outs and/or can decode DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD to PCM.
On the other hand, the AVR707 lists for nearly $4800 and the AVR705 for $4500, so even with $1000 off, you'd still be spending well over $3000. There are plenty of great AVRs that cost a lot less than that and provide all the advanced audio decoders. Take a look at the Integra DTR-9.9 ($2600), Pioneer Elite SC-07 ($2200), Pioneer Elite SC-05 ($1800), and Onkyo TX-SR806 ($1100).
Digital All the Way
I own a Panasonic PT-AE3000U projector, and I just upgraded my receiver to a Pioneer Elite SC-05 for the DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby TrueHD, and PCM decoding. I prefer to have the receiver do the decoding or have my Panasonic DMP-BD55 Blu-ray player decode to PCM and send via HDMI to the SC-05. In my tests, the sound quality is certainly better this way than it is using the 7.1-channel analog outs on the BD55 to the 7.1-channel ins on my older receiver. I assume that's because the analog inputs bypass any speaker, EQ, or processing settings.
I've heard that running video signals through the receiver can degrade the video quality. If I use the HDMI switching capability of the SC-05, will I notice any video degradation? If I want optimal sound quality, I don't see any way around using the SC-05 as a HDMI switch because I would only get lossy Dolby Digital or DTS if I ran the HDMI signal directly to the projector and used the player's coax digital out to the SC-05 for audio.
Richard W. Zeddun
Some receivers do, in fact, degrade the video that passes through them, but the SC-05 is not one of them, so no worries there. You are correct that the only way to hear the advanced codecs in all their glory via HDMI is to send them as bitstreams or decoded PCM from the player to the receiver. That's certainly how I'd go in your case.
I have a new Samsung 1080p TV and want to improve the sound system not only for the TV but for music as well. So I bought a Boston Acoustics Tvee (2-channel soundbar with wireless subwoofer), but I can't play my music through it. Then I bought a new receiver to accommodate 5.1-channel surround sound, but I don't have a Blu-ray player yet. What I really want is to keep my two large JBL tower speakers and get a new front speaker to put next to the TV and a wireless subwoofer. What should I buy to make that work?
Since you don't specify the model of your JBL speakers, I can't make specific product recommendations. I would see if JBL makes a center-channel speaker that tonally matches your towersperhaps from the same product lineand put that under the TV.
Are you sure you need a wireless sub? I have no experience with such products specifically, but in general terms, wireless audio is not as reliable as a wired connection, especially if the wireless frequency is shared by other devices such as cordless phones and WiFi networks that might interfere with the signal. Wireless subwoofers are not all that common, but a few companies offer them; for example, JBL makes the ES250PW, which I haven't heard, so I can't attest to its quality.
I would also get some surround speakers, again from JBL to match the fronts as closely as possible, to complete the 5.1-channel package. This is very important for getting maximum enjoyment from movies.
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