Will Running Video Through My A/V Receiver Degrade Picture Quality?

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  Q I own a Panasonic TC-P60ZT60 plasma TV. I also have a Pioneer SC-1323-K A/V receiver, the first I’ve owned with HDMI connections.

  Here’s my question. Having dialed in the Panasonic’s internal settings to my satisfaction, am I losing picture quality by routing video sources through the receiver instead of connecting directly to the TV? Some receivers are praised based on the video processing chips they use, but do these actually do anything to improve picture quality when the source is HDMI? I’m using a Comcast cable box and a 1080P Roku to stream home movies from a PC located in another room. I also watch DVDs on rare occasion through a standard DVD player.—Rich Wegrzyn     

A It’s true that some receivers can degrade picture quality, though higher-end models such as the Pioneer SC-1323-K typically pass the video tests they are subjected to in the course of Sound & Vision’s A/V receiver reviews. And the SC-1323-K has Qdeo video processing, which is one of the better solutions out there.

A point to take into consideration before you stress too much over ruining your Panasonic’s pristine picture is the quality of the sources you are using. Just because these are connected via HDMI doesn’t mean they don’t require help in the video-quality department. For example, most high-def programs on cable TV are 1080i resolution, and these can benefit from the Qdeo processor’s high-quality deinterlacing and scaling. And both the signal coming from your cable box and the PC video being streamed to the Roku should get a quality boost from Qdeo’s noise reduction and detail enhancement.

Your DVD player, too, may benefit from the Pioneer’s internal deinterlacing and scaling. And since the SC-1323-K’s video capabilities allow you to adjust parameters such as brightness, contrast, and color, you can tweak those on a per-source basis and then not ever have to worry about picking up the remote to switch picture modes on the TV.