Upgrade Dilemma

I currently own a Yamaha RX-V661 A/V receiver, and I play DVDs and Blu-rays on a PS3. My receiver is only compatible with HDMI 1.2a. Is it true that the PS3 decodes Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio and sends them losslessly to my receiver? I ask because I just bought a new house, and I am setting up an entry-level home theater with a projector. I am stuck between buying new surround speakers or a new AVR such as the Pioneer VSX-1021 or Onkyo TX-NR609. I currently have some outdated Bose speakers that I use for surrounds and rears, and I would like to upgrade them to match the Klipsch speakers I have for my front left and right, center, and powered sub.

Jerry VanOort

Yes, the PS3 decodes Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio lossless audio formats and sends them as PCM data via HDMI to your receiver, which can accept them in that format. If you have the original PS3, it cannot send Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD bitstreams, but that's no problem, since the Yamaha AVR cannot decode them anyway. (The newer PS3 Slim can send Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD bitstreams, but that doesn't matter in your case.) So I would definitely replace your surround speakers to match the Klipsch fronts, which is very important in order to maintain a consistent tonal character throughout the entire surround soundfield. Then, when your budget permits, upgrade the AVR; both models you mention are great choices.

If you have an A/V question, please send it to askhometheater@gmail.com.

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COMMENTS
Goyoishere's picture

I was also considering upgrading my Blu-ray player. I currently use the PS3 to play blu-rays and I am considering the investing in the Oppo BDP 95. Would I see a difference in movie watching making this switch?

K.Reid's picture

While the Playstation is no slouch in the video department, the OPPO has superior video processing capabilities via its Marvell Qdeo video processora among many other features. If asked would there be a "night and day" difference on real world program material, I would say no as I own both units.

The Oppo is 3D capable and has dual HDMI outputs, which is a great feature. If you have a 3D HDTV but your receiver is not 3D-ready/capable, one can run separate HDMI cables dedicated for video and audio - one to the TV and another to the A/V receiver for audio.

The most substantial benefit for the OPPO BDP-95 is the sound quality. If you like to listen to 2 channel stereo or multichannel music, the Oppo is incredible as it uses SABRE32 Reference Audio DAC and a Rotel custom toroidal power supply. The audio is vastly superior than anything I can think of in its price range...and some would suggest well above its price range.

Home Theater reviewed it and its sister publication Stereophile rated the unit class A+ for its sound quality.

Bottomline - You would be well served by purchasing it. If you decide to buy it, be sure to get a quality HDMI cable and good interconnects such as Audioquest, TaraLabs, Cardas or Analysis Plus. I've also had good success with BetterCables.com and their locking HDMI cable. Good Luck.

aopu.mohsin's picture

Thanks K.Reid for your reply. I have always wondered and stayed in dilemma for a very long time until recently whether or not cables make any difference. With my recent personal experience, I do hear noticeable difference between low-end and high-end cables. And sure enough, I replaced (rather threw away) all my low-end/factory-made cables with mostly Audioquest, Kimber, Moon Audio cables for my analog/headphone connections. However, for my digital connections, I still use Monoprice HDMI cables. And I wonder, if you have had the chance to compare any HDMI cables for better performance! I doubt it would make a huge difference, but can't say for sure since I haven't tested them personally.

Any suggestions?

mailiang's picture

I also use Monoprice, as do many industry pros from the various forums I belong to, and the consensus is that they still offer the best bang for the buck.

Ian

jnemesh's picture

Hi Jerry, I agree with Scott. Your PS3 decodes lossless audio just fine and converts it over to PCM that your current AVR can play back. There would be little benefit to upgrading your AVR right now, if Blu-Ray sound quality is your main concern. Your speakers are probably your best investment when it comes to home theater! Unlike AVRs and source equipment, speakers never really go obsolete! So, seconding Scott's opinion, I would say to put your money into new surrounds, and either sell the Bose speakers, or put them to use in a second zone.

Also, while I agree with the two other posts that the Oppo Blu-Ray player IS superior to the PS3 in terms of picture and sound quality, I think that in your system, you could probably find better uses for the money.

One of the most important things you can do is to upgrade your power! I would make sure you have a good power line conditioner and battery backup for the projector, if you dont have one already. One power outage while your projector is in use, and your lamp is FRIED! (if power is cut, your projector cant keep the fan running to cool down the lamp properly and the heat will almost instantly burn the lamp out!) So spending a couple hundred on a UPS would be an excellent investment, and will definitely save you money on lamps in the long run! (you will also have to install something like a Panamax MIW-POWERKIT-PRO or Mid-Lite A2GESR kit to get power from the UPS to the projector if it is mounted any distance away from your equipment rack or shelves. Do a Google search to find these products to see what I am talking about)

After you have good speakers, good power products, good cables, a good universal remote/control system, a good screen, projector, and a new AVR, THEN I would worry about upgrading the Blu-Ray player from your trusty PS3...not before!

Goyoishere's picture

Thank you K. Reid. It's great to get an unbiased answer to this question who is not a salesman. It's great to meet someone who owns both and has first hand knowledge and understanding of both products.

K.Reid's picture

AOPU.Mohsin, I have not done any A/B comparisons between HDMI cables. I can tell you that Home Theater Mag Senior Video and Technical Editor Tom Norton had a nice write up on HDMI cables in the August or September 2010 issue.

HDMI now has two broad classifications as Tom indicated in his article - Standard HDMI and High Speed HDMI. As long as your HDMI cables are classified as "high speed", you will have support for 1080p 60, deep color and 3D. As long as the cables have the aforementioned specifications, then it is likely you will not see any substantial difference in picture quality.

While selecting the appropriate HDMI cables is a significant concern, I recommend focusing on obtaining the best picture quality from your display. To that end, purchasing the BluRay edition of Video Essentials or Spears & Munsil test disc will aid any budding home theater enthusiast or videophile get the basics right.

Jarod's picture

I buy most of my cables from Monoprice and you can't go wrong with them. Quality cables for really cheap.

jnemesh's picture

Cheap cables...they are a tempting option. They are usually the default, impulse choice, and most of the time, they work just fine. However, when it comes to HDMI cables, you really do get what you pay for. There is USUALLY no issue with 3 foot or 6 foot cables, use the cheap ones if they seem to be doing the job. Where a cheap cable fails (hard), is when they try to make one in 9 foot or longer lengths.

Some will argue that since the signal is digital, cables dont matter...I couldn't disagree more! If your TV can't figure out if the bit is a 1 or a 0, it makes an educated guess. This is called error correction. It will allow a degraded signal to still play, but you are not getting the best possible picture or sound. Unfortunately, short of testing your cables on a $10,000 certification tool from Quantum, there is really no way of knowing if your cable is delivering what the packaging promises.

I will say that I, personally, have tested the $5 and $10 cables in a variety of brands, and ALL of them fail to pass 100% of the signal without errors. Some have problems with the DDC information, so you have problems with the HDCP and EDID "handshake" between your devices (which can cause all kinds of weird behavior from connected equipment), others will sync with your display just fine, but then degrade the picture...and it is not noticeable until you put a GOOD cable on the same source. Others just flat out dont work at high resolution...black screen (but those are rare...it would be EASY to sort the good from the bad if all of the bad cables just didnt work!).

Your best bet is to try a better cable for yourself and then judge if it is worth the asking price. Better retailers will give you a 30 day return on your purchase. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS! Try the cables...if you can see or hear a difference, keep it! If you dont, then return them!

You have probably seen that you can pay anywhere between $5 and $500 (or more!) for an HDMI cable. Your best bet is to budget your cable purchases based on how much you spent for the rest of your gear. Is a $500 HDMI cable worth it? Maybe, but NOT on a $600 TV set! However, to someone with, say, a $12,000 JVC 4k projector, it may totally be worth the money to get the very best performance. Use your head, keep it balanced, and do your own evaluations and comparisons to find the right product for you. Good luck and have fun!

albert26's picture

It appears that you r the smartest person on this Monoprice retard rant,,I ve done nothing but service & replace those junk cables
All my client's have a liftime warranty with a Wireworld,
STRAIGHTWIRE,OR MIT product,,and they start at $24oo,,,,,,,,,,
But I do have to say that I have purchased goods from Mprice
but not in vein Interconnects that Video or Audio come from,,
Good luck kids
Brian
www.Floridahometheatersplus.com

hramis's picture

You actually have clients--or "client's"? And they spend $2,400 on a cable that carries digital information? Holy Hannah... At least now I know to stay away from Parkland.

michaelalanlittrell@yahoo.com's picture

I have an older Sony XBR LCD TV and an older, but very nice Sony BDP-5000ES Bluray Player. I have have been using Belkin, Apple (totally sucks!), Microsoft XBOX (for HD DVD), and some other no name HDMI Cables. I got curious and recently bought a Monster Cable THX 1000 HDX HDMI cable (the version I bought is discontinued, has orange metallic connectors, and was on sale at Fry's Electronics). I got curious because the price was cheap and the cable was THX certified. To test the quality of the cable, I ran the cable direct from my Bluray player to my TV and guess what? There WAS a difference. Better color saturation, deeper blacks, and more importantly better detail and dimensionality. Truth be told, you can replicate the color saturation and black level by adjusting the controls on your TV or Bluray player, BUT you can not adjust for detail level or dimensionality. I am definitely going to get another Monster THX HDMI cable while this retailer has them in stock. I am not a salesman and don't work for the brick and mortar store. Another brand of cable may work just as well, but I CAN tell you that a well made HDMI cable DOES make a difference.

mailiang's picture

I agree that for long cable runs, there is probably a difference, but cost doesn't always justify quality. I have bought all sorts of cables and found that even some brand name products are are not as good as the ones I get from MonoPrice and Parts Express. They are very good quality, 24 AWG or higher, ATC certified and CL-3 rated for in wall installations. They also come with a lifetime warranty. For standard lengths (up to 12 ft or so) I strongly recommend them. See link below for more details on this subject.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2385272,00.asp

Ian

michaelalanlittrell@yahoo.com's picture

Watched Avatar last night with the HDMI cable I mentioned in my earlier post and simply a more enjoyable viewing experience. Picture quality in some scenes was amazing, like looking at the real thing instead of a display device.

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