Correction, PIP, Volume Settings

In the last two installments of Ask Home Theater, I wrote that the Sony STR-DA4600ES and DA5600ES A/V receivers can convert HDMI sources to 1080i component video for a remote room. My source at Sony was confident about this, and I took his word for it. However, reader Dan couldn't find anything about this feature in the DA5600ES manual. Was my Sony contact wrong?

Yes, he was. After further investigation, it turns out that the 4600ES and 5600ES do not convert HDMI sources to 1080i component for the remote zone; only component-video sources can send high-def video to the remote zone, and HDMI sources cannot be sent to the remote zone no matter what their resolution. I'll update the appropriate entries, but I thought it was important to point this out here as well. I regret any confusion my previous responses might have caused.

Side by Side
We currently own a Hitachi 50-inch rear-projection TV. It has been a great television, but it's time to upgrade, so we are looking at 60-inch LED-backlit LCD flat panels. I have discovered that split-screen PIP with dual tuners is fast becoming a feature of the past. We use this feature every week. I watch sports on the left and my wife watches whatever on the right. Can you give me any ideas about televisions 55 inches and up that can do a split screen? Preferably full-array LED backlight as per your previous suggestions.

Randy Wood

I'm afraid I don't know of any current-model TVs that can do a split screen with two different programs; if readers know of any, please leave a comment. Dual-tuner PIP is disappearing from TVs primarily because that functionality is now found in satellite and cable boxes, so many TV manufacturers have decided it's not needed in the display. I don't know if any cable or satellite boxes offer split-screen; I think most show the second program in a smaller inset window.

Personally, I wouldn't want to share the TV as you describe. For one thing, each image is either cropped or squeezed to fit half of a 16:9 screen. Then there's the issue of audio—how do you both hear your respective programs without the other?

Too Loud
I have a Demon AVR-2808, and I have a question about the volume. I usually listen to movies with the volume control set to -15. Is 0 considered reference level? When I run Audyssey, does it matter where I have the volume set before I start calibration?

Mark Wilson

After calibration, a volume setting of 0 is indeed reference level, which is defined as 75dB SPL for the home. I'm not surprised that you listen at 15dB below that; reference level is very loud.

When you run the Audyssey setup routine, the volume control is bypassed, so it doesn't matter where you set it before starting the process. However, I recommend setting it fairly low, so when the calibration is done and you return to regular program material, you don't get blown out of your seat.

If you have a home-theater question, please send it to

Jack 's picture

Acoustic panels really help in dialog section and every thing else.When i installed them in my media room i no longer listen at reference levels.

Justin Nealis's picture

A bummer about the Sony Cat5e output - I had really hoped they set the standard for multizone in this HDMI age, but it seems they're still nervous about stepping on the toes of the copyright holders.Regarding the question on PiP, I know for a fact that the high-end Dish Network HD-DVRs have both a PiP and PBP (Picture By Picture) mode. In addition, Dell Ultrasharp monitors still retain the PiP/PBP suite of controls, and with their multiple HD inputs (and black levels and color accuracy), they can make great displays in Bedrooms or Offices where a smaller screen size is preferable and Set Top Boxes or AVRs are used. Price and size are issues, though, as my U2410 (24" LCD) still runs $500 - for that, you can get a decent 32" LED TV.

David Vaughn's picture

I'll second Jack's remarks. Acoustic panels is one of the best upgrades I've ever made in my home theater.

Paul M.'s picture

A clarification is needed. When referring to reference levels in film and home video, it's important to note the item you are referencing. Reference level in Film and Home Video applications is the same; i.e. a digital level of -20 dBfs=85 dBc SPL. The 75 dB to which you are referring is the SPL level to which you calibrate the internal test signals of the receiver.

Adam's picture

@Randy,I work in a custom retail outfit that has quite a bit of foot traffic, and in the last year and a half I've been given the PIP challenge from THREE CLIENTS. Even in before 2009 though, I think make only 5 times in the whole of 2008. Unfortunately its just fading out.With keeping thought of both you and your wife, have you thought about doing a separate scree? say an inexpensive 42" plasma for like 500 or 600? Or do a small Mitsubishi Unisen set with the sound bar. That bar is EXTREMELY flexible in its audio capacity, and can pretty much be "beamed" so that only the person who wants to hear it needs to. If there's a place near you that is KNOWN for its Mitsubishi sales, you should be able to get a good demo on their audio.Just some food for thought.

rachat de credit's picture

I love browsing your site because you can always bring us fresh and cool things, I think that I should at least say a thank you for your hard work.- Henry