Oppo, Task Lights, Best Connections

Oppo vs. Oppo
What is the difference between the Oppo BDP-83 and BDP-83SE? I have HDMI capabilities, so should I go with the 83, considering the price difference?

Tom Marshall

The only difference between the two models is that the 83SE has an improved analog-audio output and power supply. According to the company, it's recommended for audiophiles who prefer analog audio. If you're going to use the HDMI output—which is what I use—there is no need to spend the extra money on the 83SE.

Tsk Tsk on Task Lighting
I am building a home theater in my basement. I intend to put small recessed lights above the seating area pointed directly down on the seats for reading, using remotes, etc. Do I need to be concerned about where I place these lights in front of the projector? Light from the fixture crossing the path of light from the projector should not have any impact, right? I only need to worry about stray light being directed toward the screen, correct?

Aaron Kepler

You are correct that intersecting light beams have no effect on each other. However, having a task light directly above you will have a big impact on your perception of the projected image by causing the irises in your eyes to close down much more than they would in a dark room. Also, the light from above will reflect around the room, especially if the walls, ceiling, and floor are light in color, and some of it will end up reflecting from the screen, all of which will make the image look more washed out than if all lights are off.

If someone wants to read while someone else wants to watch a movie, the reader should go to another room. As for remotes, I recommend getting an illuminated universal model, such as the Logitech Harmony One, which is my favorite universal remote. There's nothing wrong with installing task lighting in a dedicated home theater, but I would certainly keep it off during the show.

You Didn't Hear It From Me
I am planning to buy a satellite box that is capable of receiving HD channels with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. I am also planning to buy a home-theater system for viewing these channels. I have searched the Internet and found the best approach is to connect the HDMI out of the satellite box directly to the HDMI in of the TV for video display and the optical digital-audio out to the home-theater system.

I have the following questions:-

1. Considering that the HDMI out of the satellite box also carries Dolby Digital 5.1 along with the video, will I hear anything from the flat-panel TV speakers? If yes, I will have to mute the TV volume.

2. If I buy a home-theater system and connect the HDMI out from the satellite box to the HDMI in of the receiver, will the receiver decode and pass 5.1 channels to the speakers? For video, I will connect the HDMI out of the receiver to the HDMI in of the TV. In this case, will the HDMI out of the receiver carry any audio channels? If yes, then I will have to mute the TV volume.

3. Are there any flat-panel TVs that can display HDMI video and output Dolby Digital 5.1 to the speaker system? Or maybe accept an HDMI video input and optical S/PDIF input? If yes, how does the speaker system connect to the TV? Can you suggest some flat-panel TVs that have this capability?

If such a scenario is not possible, can soundbars be of any help? Then I would have to buy only a flat-panel TV and a soundbar and not a complete HT system.

Karan Sharma

I don't know where you read that the best approach is to connect the satellite box's HDMI out to the TV and digital-audio out to the receiver, but it certainly wasn't anything I've written! This will work, but it's not the most elegant solution. If you get a full multichannel home-theater system, all you need to do is connect the HDMI out from the satellite box to the HDMI in of the receiver and the HDMI out from the receiver to the HDMI in of the TV. The receiver will decode the audio and send it to the speakers while the TV displays the video.

The question of whether or not the receiver passes HDMI audio to the TV is an interesting one. As far as I can tell, some receivers do and some don't. Also, some have an "audio passthrough" control that lets you control whether or not they do this. If you get a receiver that passes the HDMI audio without the ability to disable it, you don't have to mute the TV's speakers—virtually all TVs have a control that lets you disable the internal speakers.

Connecting the satellite box directly to the TV and using an external soundbar is another viable option, especially if you don't want to deal with multiple speakers. Most TVs have an optical digital-audio output, and as far as I know, the Dolby Digital bitstream coming in via HDMI is redirected to the optical output, which can be sent to an external soundbar. However, the soundbar must be powered—that is, it must have its own amplification—and a Dolby Digital decoder for this to work. There are many choices here, including soundbars from Aperion, Denon, Marantz, and Yamaha.

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

Ryan's picture

I tried performing the HDMI to TV to reciever (old) trick till my new reciever comes in and I can tell you that Panasonic Plasma do Not output 5.1 through the optical audio out port. The TV downmixes the signal to stereo. I ended up connecting component video and tos link cable to the reciever then to the TV till I recieve my new toy.

Ron's picture

It is OK to connect the HDMI connection through a AVR then to the monitor BUT because generally cable and satellite STBs offer only "legacy" HDMI connection capabilities(not 1.3) and audio, in this set-up can be suspect, my recommendation would be to connect the coax or optical from the STB to the AVR for audio regardless. Also, generally speaking, HDTV is 1080i anyway so if one is still having problems with the "handshake" issue(which is the case with some AVRs), you might as well connect component since it probably won't make any difference in picture quality and you avoid the hassle.

sherryww's picture

The receiver will decode the audio and send it to the speakers while the TV displays the video