Cracked Screen, Bitstream Indicators, Ceiling Speakers

Superkid
I recently bought a 58-inch Samsung plasma for only $1200, and I loved it—that is, until my 4-year-old threw a small toy and cracked the screen. This totally disabled the TV; it would not even turn on. Is it normal for plasma screens to crack so easily, and if so, are LCD TVs more durable? Thank goodness I was able to return the TV and get a full refund, but I do not have the money to take another chance like that. I have a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old in the house, so what should I do to protect the TV?

Eric Manley

Wow, you must have an exceptionally strong 4-year-old, or the toy was especially heavy. I've never heard of this before, and I don't know if LCD screens are more durable than plasma in general. In both cases, the screen is made of glass, which can certainly be broken. My best advice is to prohibit the kids from playing with heavy toys in the TV room; keep a bunch of stuffed animals in there for them to play with. Another partial solution is to put the TV in a cabinet with doors you can close. Of course, this would protect the screen only when you're not watching it.

Perhaps an LCD TV intended for outdoor use might be a potential solution, since they must be able to withstand the elements. Pantel, SunBright, and Runco are among the companies that make them. However, these sets are typically more expensive than conventional models, and I don't really know if they are more resistant to breakage from incoming projectiles.

Light Me Up
I recently purchased a Panasonic DMP-BD35 (based on HT's review) as well as an Onkyo TX-NR906 A/V receiver, and everything goes through the Onkyo via HDMI. I have selected the bitstream output on the Panasonic, but there is no indication of DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD when I play a movie with one of those formats.

I spent an hour on the phone with Onkyo's customer support, who had me reset the receiver, losing all of my programming. Still no joy. In the end, the representative blamed the Panasonic player and told me to call them. To date, I have not received a response from Panasonic.

All the settings on the Onkyo seem to be correct according to the rep I spoke with, and the Panasonic settings are very simple. I'm at a loss as to what to do next.

Perry Allen

The TX-NR906's front panel does include dedicated indicators that should light up when it receives a DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD bitstream via HDMI, though they appear to be very tiny. Have you tried pressing the Display button on the remote or front panel? According to the manual (p. 72), pressing this button repeatedly cycles through several pieces of information in the main front-panel display, including the audio format being received. I have no idea why the dedicated indicators aren't lighting up, unless you have somehow not selected one of these formats in the disc's audio menu.

In any event, I generally recommend letting the player decode the audio and send PCM to the AVR. This allows you to hear the secondary audio (commentaries in inset windows, menu sounds, etc.), which is not sent with DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD bitstreams. Also, I'd be curious to see if the PCM indicator on the AVR's front panel lights up in this case.

Update: Readers Matt and Frank found a likely cause of your problem buried in the footnotes on p. 8 of the player's manual—a parameter called BD-Video Secondary Audio must be set to "Off" in order to send the full DTS-HD MA or Dolby TrueHD bitstream. If it's on, the player will send regular DTS or Dolby Digital, not the high-res formats, which could well be why the indicators on your AVR are not lighting up. It's unfortunate that users must set this manually, but there it is.

Think Again
I am updating my family/TV room and considering two options. We listen to music as well as watching movies and TV, and I want to get the best imaging. I must use in-ceiling speakers because there is no wall for box or in-wall speakers

Option 1: three B&W CCM 818s for the front and center channels, two CCM 816s for the surrounds, and a Velodyne Optima 8- or 10-inch subwoofer.

Option 2: two CCM 818s for the front left and right, a B&W CMC center just under the screen, 2 CCM 816s for the surrounds, and a Velodyne Optima 8- or 10-inch subwoofer.

Philip Cody

I would not recommend either of the options you specify. In-ceiling speakers are simply not going to provide good imaging, especially for movies, since they are so far from the screen. They're great for ambient music, but not for serious listening or movie watching.

Even if you can't accommodate bookshelf or in-wall speakers, have you considered freestanding speakers, at least for the front left, right, and center? If you want B&Ws, I would think about one of the CM models for the front left and right with the CM Center. Using in-ceiling speakers for the surrounds is far less problematic than using them for the front channels, so you're okay with the CCM 816s in those positions.

If you have a home-theater question, please send it to scott.wilkinson@sorc.com.

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COMMENTS
Nathan's picture

Scott, Even though modern televisions use glass panes, they are quite thin(especially compared to the old CRT's). My kids have not broken my plasma yet but it's only a matter of time. I can't say for sure but the glass on flat panel displays seems more thin than picture frame glass(my kids have already broken several of those).

Jarod's picture

My wife has a friend who has a 4 year old boy who broke a 46inch Sony LCD with a toy as well. They had just bought it too. LCDs will break too. I agree with Scott by sticking with a plasma and only allowomg plush animal toys in the room where the tv is. I myself get scared when a child enters my home theater room. If you do most of your tv watching in a room that has lots of light, and LCD could be an option then.

Warren's picture

Thanks to all for the advice on the breakable, non childproof plasmas. I have decided not to have kids now.Warren

Derek's picture

For the $1200, get a Vivitek, Optoma or Epson projector. You'll get 100+ inches and if the kids break that screen, Heaven help you...

Nate's picture

Philip, I just helped my brother design a killer system for his house. If your going B&W I would go for a HSU subwoofer. We loaded his system with B&W's and a nice pair of HSU VT-3 MK3's. Now depending upon the size of your room you might want a smaller sub but for the money nothing I have ever seen even touches the quality of the HSU subs.

Jerry Gascey's picture

Is there a good website to go to to find out more information about in-ceiling speakers. I have a system at home that uses in- ceiling speakers. Even though this configuration isn't the best when it comes to movie listening this is what I have and I am ok with it. The system came with the house that I purchased almost five years ago. The system consist of five 6 1/2 ONq in-ceiling speakers, a 10 inch velodyne subwoofer and a Onkyo 606 receiver. I just want to continue to tweak my system for optimal performance and learned about upgrading my system in the future.

Chuck109's picture

Jerry i spend lat nights look for the Dream HT system. If you go the galleries and or blu-ray.com and surf Community you will get an ideal for up grades and killers system. Good luuck

Matt Wright's picture

On the Panny bluray player, you have to make sure you have secondary audio turned off as well as setting it to bitstream. If you leave secondary audio on you will not get True HD on your receiver.

Frank's picture

To elaborate on what Matt just wrote (which was what I was going to write :)), if you have secondary audio turned on and bitstream turned on, you will not get any hi-def lossless sound, just lossy DD or lossy DTS or down-mixed PCM. (See Panny's manual, p 8.) So bitstream on and secondary audio off is necessary for your receiver to be lit up correctly.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Matt and Frank, great info; thanks! I looked at the Panny manual, but I obviously missed that little tidbit. I still recommend letting the player decode the audio, but if you want to send bitstreams, it's vital to know what you just taught us. Thanks again!Jerry, as far as I know, the only websites with info about in-ceiling speakers are from companies that sell them...for example, JBL, Polk, Pioneer, Atlantic Technology, SpeakerCraft, and Klipsch. You might also try asking around the forums, such as avsforum.com.

baald's picture

re ceiling speakers: though they are not *in ceiling* speakers, thiel's ceiling mount speakers have gotten great reviews including for their imaging. i believe martin logan is also marketing a speaker for in-ceiling that purports to image though i haven't seen any reviews on it.baald

Daryl Wall's picture

Phil, as a B&W dealer and system designer I have an admittedly biased opinion, but I don't think you should discount the idea of in-ceiling speakers out of hand. As a matter of fact I have used the 818s in exactly the configuration you have described on a number of occasions with great success albeit with REL and Sunfire subs rather than Velodyne. Have you considered the new CI series B&Ws? The CCM 7.3, 7.4 AND 7.5s are all terrific speakers designed specifically for the application you have described. The 7.5s are even a little less money than the 818s. If you want to chat about it I can be reached at "daryl@sounds-of-music.com"Good luck.

Geoff's picture

Regarding a kid breaking a screen, the solution is simple. Train them not to throw stuff around in the house. It's worked for many millions or parents over the years who didn't want their expensive possessions ruined. I'm rather surprised that a full refund was given when the TV clearly wasn't defective - I guess that's one of the reasons why things are as expensive as they are these days (we all pay for the mistakes other people make).

ed's picture

Re the kid breaking the TV. There is an application called "Parental Responsibility" that is available for most households. It enables "Kids" to be "Kids" and "learn" as well as "Adults" to be "Adults" and "teach" how a home should be used. In use for thousands of years it never stymied growth in any way as people were brave or adventurous enough to visit space,develop medicines and nuclear weapons,fight multiple wars and produce all of the many great "inventions" including TV that we enjoy. Please use the "Application" Your son will appreciate it especially if he has to interact with others including "Law Enforcement" when he leaves your home.

Maxx Flash's picture

Yeah was a little shocked at the full refund crap as well! Parents just need to train their damn kids to be civil and not terrors throwing their crap toys around! No disrespect. ;)

Gregor Samsa's picture

I'm with Scott. Next time you get the inclination to purchase in wall/in ceiling speakers, have someone strap you to a chair until the urge passes. You will pay more money for inferior sound - a lose/lose proposition. If this is domestically controversial, remember, you get to make SOME of the decisions. If this is not the case in your household, you have more problems than can be solved on a home theater forum.Oh yeah. An all those people who think that you can simply apply sufficient parental discipline and keep your toddlers in line has had inadequate recent contact with one.

Hans's picture

My 3 year old son threw the remote on the LCD screen, a Samsung 36" and it cracked the screen as well and disabled the TV. So LCD screens are probably as easy to crack as the Plasma.. -Hans

Darryl's picture

Boston Acoustics has some very good in ceiling speakers and "in floor" subs as well. I am very pleased with the performance of mine over the past four/five years since installed.

Matt's picture

Re the kid who broke the tv, this really bothers me on multiple accounts. Why should we have to bear the brunt of higher product costs because you can't keep your kid from throwing stuff?My brother's kid is an undisciplined little bugger, too. He has already thrown rocks at my friend's RPTV, having received ZERO discipline for that little stunt (I'm surprised he didn't get a "great throw!" atta boy). Fortunately for my friend his RPTV had a plastic screen. That's more than I can say for my KURO. Needless to say the kid has only been in my house once in his 3 1/2 years on this planet. God forbid my brother "deprive" his little darling from doing anything he wants.

Laszlo Szerenyi's picture

It is great to see some of the responses regarding the "kid" from a parents' responsibility point of view. I was happily surprised! There is hope yet when folks "dare" to suggest that parents teach and discipline their little darlings. Thanks to all of you who expressed this point of view!wj4uni

Scott's picture

Gregor, There's something about your post that bugs me. But I can't quite figure out what it is.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Gregor, that last comment is from a different Scott, not me.

ENRIQUE's picture

Let me tell you, I have three kids 17, 6 & 3 yrs and none of them where allowed to come within two feet of my electronics. Guys with undisciplined kids STOP making excuses for them.

Eric's picture

In the same vein as the little kid throwing toys, I never grew up and defaulted on my home because I didn't do my homework and bought an overpriced home at the top of the market that I could barely afford at the time. Thanks for bailing me out America.

jedamme's picture

I recently swapped my ML Prodigy/Sunfire/CRT front set up for B&W 818/Pass Labs/Plasma rig. What I got in return was A LOT of floor real estate, a more functional living space, and pretty freaking good sound. Though not quite the same as the original monster system - my priorities have changed, and I am more than pleased with the results. The in-ceiling B&W's will knock your socks off!

Sealman's picture

This is a response to Ed's post about "Parental Responsibility".All I can say is BRAVO! Very well put Ed!

Colin Robertson's picture

Admittedly late to the party here, but I would second the suggestion to Phillip to use Thiel Power Point ceiling mounted speakers. They will likely be the best solution for when ceiling mounting is the only option. They also offer a in-ceiling speaker that's excellent, if you absolutely have to have something that discreet.

John Dixon's picture

OK - I am really late to this thread, but...Paradigm makes some very good in ceiling speakers that are angled to fire more out into a room towards the seating area. Have used them in a couple of installs with grate success. Triad also has some nice angled in ceiling speakers with their own back box enclosure.

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