Please help me understand - setting up LCD, bluray, sound

hydraSlav

Standard Member
Hi, i am new here, but have been reading a lot on these forums trying to plan out my setup. Unfortunately, the more i read, the more i get confused :(. I am sure you've all read the same questions a hundred times, and my answer probably lies somewhere here on the first page, but PLEASE help me understand :lease:. Also, please keep in mind that i am not an audio/video-phile, so i am not looking as much for a perfect quality, rather for most versatility/usability.

So, i am buying a 42' LCD (that's all i wanted in the beginning). Since i am going to fork out $900 for a 1080p TV, i might as well get a bluray player and 5.1 sound system (nothing fancy, just ability to put out 5.1 sound).

Here was my plan:
- 42' LCD
- Bluray player connected to LCD
- Reuse my existing computer 5.1 speakers and plug them into the bluray player.
- Connect my PC from another room to the LCD (not for quality video, but for control purposes), and the speakers connected to the PC's sound card, so i can listen to my MP3s (from my computer) while being in the main room
(Total cost ~ $1200)

But then i start reading these forums:
Bluray players needs to support audio decoding
Seperate sound amplifier
Home theater AVR
HDMI cable length restrictions/price
HDCP problems between video cards and monitors
Bluray software on PC's don't play back 5.1 sound (if i get a BD-ROM)

Now everything together is coming up to over $2000, plus a TV stand.... this is way over what i planned for.

I am more confused now then before i started :confused:

- Why can i not connect my PC's 5.1 speakers directly to the Bluray player? This is my main question. Why the need for all these special home-theater systems and seperate amplifiers and AVRs? I am not building a mini-theater in my room. All i need is to play 5.1 sound while watching movies with a few friends. Will i be strugling to hear sound from the speakers without the amplifier, or is the amplifier only needed to make the house shake? Don't most PC 5.1 speakers already have an amplifier in the subwoofer anyways? It's an appartment building, so it's not like i can crank it up anyways.

- Sound over HDMI. So i hear HDMI 1.3 supports sound and video on the same cable... but where does that fit into my system? I can connect HDMI from the bluray to the LCD, but the LCD only has 2 speakers. Is there an "out" HDMI from the LCD that then goes into the sound system? I haven't seen PC speakers with HDMI input, so can i use the Digital Audio Out (TOSLINK?) from the TV to the speakers, thus the sound will go from the bluray, via the TV, into the speakers, for full 5.1... right?

- PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional Series SB0886 - Sound Blaster - Get the Pro Gamer's Choice for Sound
What is the best way to connect my PC's sound card to the speakers that are about 50feet away? I already have a splitter cable for the 4 1/8" mini-jacks. What's the audio cable called that goes into these? And will it run 50 feet or will i lose all sound quality? I don't need crystal clear sound, but if it's going to have audible cracks/hissing, thats a problem. Is it better to run those 4 long cables, or get 1 TOSLINK cable for 50 feet (if my speakers have an optical in)? I asume TOSLINK can support 5.1 sound, right? I am looking at price here first.

- Most bluray players are ~ $250. I was considering maybe getting a BD-ROM drive for my computer instead (~ $150). Then i would need to connect my computer's DVI output to the HDMI on the TV thats 50feet away in another room. Is this feasible? I've seen some expensive 50feet DVI/HDMI cables, and i've seen some cheaper ones. I was also looking at "baluns" that can send this signal over cat5e/cat6 cables.
Once again, i found some of these quite expensive (around 300-500 range), and then i found these for only 130
Legend Balun Point-to-Point HDMI to CAT-5 1080i HDTV Extender [Balun HDMI to CAT-5] - $129.00 Canada : electronicsforless.ca : Always fast, always easy!
Does anyone have any experience with these? There are HDMI/HDMI baluns, and there are HDMI/DVI baluns (which seem much more expensive). Can i not have HDMI/HDMI baluns for the 50-feet length, and then use a regular HDMI/DVI cable on one end?

- How would my sound be processed if i have a BD-ROM? I thought i would get regular 5.1 from my soundcard, but apparently standard blu-ray player software that comes with these drives cannot reproduce 5.1. I'd have to pay extra to get the "pro" software (that's another ~ $80).

- Why do i need to connect the standalone blu-ray player to the home theater's AVR? I read in a few places that the players cannot decode the 5.1 sound, so they pass it to the AVRs for decoding? But on the player i was looking at, it says "TrueHD surround sound decoding"
Future Shop: TV & Video: Blu-ray Players: Samsung Blu-ray Disc Player (BDP1500)
So i don't need the AVR for decoding with this player, right?

- If i have the standalone blu-ray connected to the LCD, than my computer to LCD connection does not need to support 1080p. But i still want to get the biggest resolution (1024x780 is too small for a desktop). Can i get 1080i over the DVI/VGA connector or maybe component video?

- Finally, unrelated to these forums though, do wireless mice/keyboards have to point at the receiver? Or the can receiver be anywhere in the room? Also, will this wireless work through the walls? The total distance i need is about 25feet with an appartment wall in between.

Thank you all for the answers
 
Last edited:

Phlog

Active Member
Hi,

I can't answer everything you've asked - on prices do note that this is a UK-oriented forum, so people here will mostly be unfamiliar with the kit available in Canada.

" ... Why can i not connect my PC's 5.1 speakers directly to the Bluray player? This is my main question. Why the need for all these special home-theatre systems and separate amplifiers and AVRs? ..."

You can - so long as the blue ray player has 5.1 analogue outputs. Some players do, but they are generally the more expensive ones.

If you connect a blue ray player direct to a TV it will automatically provide a stereo down-mix of whatever disc you are playing. So any output from the TV will remain stereo - and not 5.1.

DVI outputs can provide full resolution video (but not audio of any sort) only so long as they are HDCP enabled.

I believe component outputs can go up to 1024i only - but you'll need to double check that.

If you want full resolution audio and video from your blue ray player you need an intermediate AV amplifier which will split the signal: passing the the video to the TV, and decoding the audio.

Hope this helps.
 

davepuma

Distinguished Member
- Why can i not connect my PC's 5.1 speakers directly to the Bluray player? This is my main question. Why the need for all these special home-theater systems and seperate amplifiers and AVRs? I am not building a mini-theater in my room. All i need is to play 5.1 sound while watching movies with a few friends. Will i be strugling to hear sound from the speakers without the amplifier, or is the amplifier only needed to make the house shake? Don't most PC 5.1 speakers already have an amplifier in the subwoofer anyways? It's an appartment building, so it's not like i can crank it up anyways.

The clue is in the question. They're PC speakers and simply not designed for home cinema use. That said, some can providing they have the correct inputs i.e. digital audio (optical/toslink or digital coax) for DD5.1/DTS or multi-channel analogue inputs providing your bluray player has multi-channel analogue outputs. To summarise, it's case of choosing equipment that is compatible.

Sound over HDMI. So i hear HDMI 1.3 supports sound and video on the same cable... but where does that fit into my system? I can connect HDMI from the bluray to the LCD, but the LCD only has 2 speakers. Is there an "out" HDMI from the LCD that then goes into the sound system? I haven't seen PC speakers with HDMI input, so can i use the Digital Audio Out (TOSLINK?) from the TV to the speakers, thus the sound will go from the bluray, via the TV, into the speakers, for full 5.1... right?

No. You need an amplifier that supports audio over hdmi, which can be in two forms, bitstream (v1.3) and lpcm (v1.1 upwards). I suggest you have a read of this. TV's only support 2.0 PCM so if you connect your source directly via hdmi, you're limited to 2.0 channel stereo which can be mixed to give you a pseudo surround sound effect such as dolby pro logic 2 etc. However, that is dependent on whether your TV outputs audio from external sources over its audio output. Not all do and some are limited to passing audio from their built in tuner only. To summarise, to get true surround sound, you need to connect directly from source to the amp.

PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional Series SB0886 - Sound Blaster - Get the Pro Gamer's Choice for Sound
What is the best way to connect my PC's sound card to the speakers that are about 50feet away? I already have a splitter cable for the 4 1/8" mini-jacks. What's the audio cable called that goes into these? And will it run 50 feet or will i lose all sound quality? I don't need crystal clear sound, but if it's going to have audible cracks/hissing, thats a problem. Is it better to run those 4 long cables, or get 1 TOSLINK cable for 50 feet (if my speakers have an optical in)? I asume TOSLINK can support 5.1 sound, right? I am looking at price here first.

Do you really want 50ft of cable trailing through your home? I would personally look at a wireless streaming solution such as logitech squeezebox (providing you have a wireless network etc.). However, you would need 3.5mm to phonos etc. Check the PC sound card forum.

Most bluray players are ~ $250. I was considering maybe getting a BD-ROM drive for my computer instead (~ $150). Then i would need to connect my computer's DVI output to the HDMI on the TV thats 50feet away in another room. Is this feasible? I've seen some expensive 50feet DVI/HDMI cables, and i've seen some cheaper ones. I was also looking at "baluns" that can send this signal over cat5e/cat6 cables.
Once again, i found some of these quite expensive (around 300-500 range), and then i found these for only 130
Legend Balun Point-to-Point HDMI to CAT-5 1080i HDTV Extender [Balun HDMI to CAT-5] - $129.00 Canada : electronicsforless.ca : Always fast, always easy!
Does anyone have any experience with these? There are HDMI/HDMI baluns, and there are HDMI/DVI baluns (which seem much more expensive). Can i not have HDMI/HDMI baluns for the 50-feet length, and then use a regular HDMI/DVI cable on one end?

I prefer stand-alones. I have a hcpc in my bedroom which plays SD DVD no problem but I've seen my mate's custom built hcpc stutter and stammer (Vista probably!!!) and to be honest, I wouldn't bother with a PC for a bluray solution, particularly if it's in another room. If you do want to go down this route, the PC forum is obviously an obvious start. DVI doesn't carry audio. I can't comment on particular balun setups, especially Canadian ones but I do know that they can work. Check sites such as hiddenwires and perhaps ask in the custom installers forum.



How would my sound be processed if i have a BD-ROM? I thought i would get regular 5.1 from my soundcard, but apparently standard blu-ray player software that comes with these drives cannot reproduce 5.1. I'd have to pay extra to get the "pro" software (that's another ~ $80).
Again, more PC orientated, so I won't try to answer. My mate uses power dvd ultra and multi-channel analogue output to his amp which does work.

Why do i need to connect the standalone blu-ray player to the home theater's AVR?

So you can amplify the audio, simple as that!!

I read in a few places that the players cannot decode the 5.1 sound, so they pass it to the AVRs for decoding? But on the player i was looking at, it says "TrueHD surround sound decoding"
Future Shop: TV & Video: Blu-ray Players: Samsung Blu-ray Disc Player (BDP1500)
So i don't need the AVR for decoding with this player, right?

If your player does the decoding, you can pass LPCM audio over HDMI or converted to analogue and output over multi-channel analogue to the amp providing your player has multi-channel outputs e.g. Sony S550. Check Master List Of Blu-ray Players for a list of the current players and their features. UK site but I would imagine the information will be applicable to players over the pond. AVSForum might be worth a look too.

Finally, unrelated to these forums though, do wireless mice/keyboards have to point at the receiver? Or the can receiver be anywhere in the room? Also, will this wireless work through the walls? The total distance i need is about 25feet with an appartment wall in between

Depends on the technology employed. I use a viewsonic wireless mini keyboard (looks like a laptop) and it works a treat from several rooms away (modern house with plasterboard walls).
 

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