Audyssey, Adaptors, Screen Doors

Feature Confusion
I have an Integra DTR-5.8 receiver. The owner's manual mentions Audyssey as a way to initially set up the speakers. I was wondering if you could tell me more about the feature that matches the sound level of TV programs and commercials.


You're talking about two different things, both from Audyssey. The DTR-5.8 has Audyssey 2EQ automatic setup, which adjusts the receiver's settings to optimize the sound for the speakers and room. Unfortunately, it does not have Audyssey Dynamic Volume, the function that evens out the volume between TV shows and commercials. Dynamic Volume was only recently introduced—long after Audyssey's setup routines—so an older receiver such as yours wouldn't have it.

Adapt or Die!
I have the Altec Lansing ADA995 sat/sub speaker package with a built-in amp in the sub for all the satellites. The sub has a permanently attached cable with three 3.5mm stereo miniplugs that normally connect to a computer sound card. I have been searching for an adapter or receiver that will let me use these speakers in a home theater system. It would be for a small bedroom setup with a 26-inch LCD TV and a Toshiba HD-A3 HD DVD player connected via HDMI.


First, you need three adaptors, each with a female 3.5mm stereo connector on one end and two male RCA plugs on the other end—typically, the two RCA plugs are color-coded red and white. Such adaptors are inexpensive and easily available at a store like RadioShack.

Next, you need an A/V receiver with so-called "pre outs"; many receivers these days have this feature. You could also use a dedicated preamp/processor, but that seems like overkill for a small bedroom system. Connect the HD DVD player to one of the receiver's HDMI inputs and the receiver's HDMI output to the TV. You can also connect any other HDMI and analog sources to the receiver as you acquire them.

Finally, connect the 3.5mm miniplugs on the sub's attached cable to the adaptors, and connect the RCA plugs on the adaptors to the pre outs on the receiver in the following order (red plug to right channel):

Green: front right and left
Black: rear right and left
Yellow: center and sub

In the last case, I don't know if the red plug is center or sub; you'll have to try it both ways to see which is correct.

Looking Through a Screen Door
I have gone to Best Buy many times to look at flat-panel TVs, but one thing really bothers me when I see them—the screen-door effect. No matter where I stand, I can see the pixels on the screen, and it really bothers me that the images look a little "fuzzy" on the edges. When the LCD-versus-plasma battle was raging, I really liked the plasma picture because it had little or no screen-door effect. Unfortunately, it appears that plasma is going by the wayside for the new LED TVs. However, it appears that the screen-door effect is just as prevalent on both LCD and LED TVs. Is there an HDTV that does not have a screen door?

Chris Nucho

First of all, let me clear up a misconception. So-called "LED TVs" are more correctly called LED-backlit or edge-lit LCD TVs. They are nothing more than LCD TVs with a different type of illumination—LEDs instead of fluorescent lights—but the image-generating screen is exactly the same in both cases. So if you see the screen-door effect on conventional LCD TVs, you will see it just as much on LED-illuminated LCD TVs.

Personally, I don't see the screen-door effect on many LCDs these days, but if you do, so be it. I agree that plasma is better in this regard, so that's what I'd recommend for you. If you can find a Pioneer Kuro set, grab it! Otherwise, Panasonic plasmas are generally very good.

Update: Readers Erik and Jim point out something I failed to mention—the ability to see the screen-door effect depends on how far you are from the screen. If you are close enough, you can see the pixels on any digital display. But at the optimum distance—which depends on the screen size and resolution—most people won't be able to see the screen-door effect.

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Erik in Wisconsin's picture

It seems to me the answer doesn't really hit the nail on the head. The screen door effect is present on both LCD and plasma. How much you see it depends more on picture resolution and viewing distance. It is much more noticeable at close viewing on a 720p set than on a 1080p set. However, if you sit close enough, you will always see it regardless of screen type or resolution (just smaller grid squares on the 1080p). If you sit far enought away (10 ft or so), your eyes will not be able to resolve that level of detail and you won't see it at all -- again regardless of screen type or resolution. So you need to determine your viewing conditions and pick the combination of variables that satisfies you. I have a 50-inch 1080p Samsung plasma and sit about 7-8 feet away. Picture is beautiful and I see no screen effect. Started out sure I would buy LCD, but after nearly a year of detailed comparisons using my DVDs in stores, I chose plasma for best color and best overall rendering of picture/action.

Jim in Wisconsin's picture

I have a 50" 1080p plasma (Panasonic TC-P50V10) and I have to be within 3 or 4 feet of the screen to resolve the space between pixels. My normal viewing distance is 7 feet so I don't see it at all under normal viewing conditions.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Erik and Jim, you are entirely correct; I should have said in my response that if you sit close enough to any pixel-based screen, you will see the individual pixels and thus the screen-door effect, but at a normal/optimum seating distance (which depends on the size of the screen), the screen-door effect should not be visible. In fact, I'll update my response accordingly. Thanks for making this important point!