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Video Connections: Theory and Practice

Discussion in 'Plasma TVs' started by plasmattack, Oct 7, 2002.

  1. plasmattack

    plasmattack
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    I've read postings from several of these forums and there appears to be little consensus on how best to wire up a typical combination of AV gadgets.

    Let's consider some generic items: plasma monitor, AV amp and four AV input devices (DVD player, digital satellite receiver, VCR and PlayStation 2). Suppose the DVD player's best output format is component video, the STB's is RGB (via SCART), the VCR's is composite (via SCART) and the PS2's is also composite. I guess this is a common scenario, so how does the majority wire it all up?

    Suppose the plasma TV is a Panasonic series 4 and has the following video inputs: component x 1, VGA x 1, S-Video x 1 and composite x 1. So, the DVD player could be wired directly to the TV. But what about the STB? It's best output is RGB (which can be converted to component video) but I see no point in reverting to an S-Video output just because the TV's component input is already taken by the DVD. I understand that RGB-VGA is possible but that "Just" mode is subsequently not possible. Also, which composite source should be connected to the TV because, directly, only one connection is possible (without resorting to some interim switchbox - yuk)?

    Whichever way I look at this, the only answer I arrive at is to use the AV amp for video switching, using both the component and composite monitor outputs to feed the TV. After all, the Denon AVR3802 (for example) has two component inputs coupled with a host of composite and S-Video inputs (i.e. all the video input connections I need). And yet there seems to be a general reluctance within the AV community to use an AV amp for video switching.

    Any thoughts will be well received. I'll see where we go with this before posing part 2 of the question...
     
  2. RobsterD

    RobsterD
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    Plasmattack,
    I'm using a Denon AVCA1D for all my video switching without any problems.Sky + and DVD are fed by component and my PS2 is via S-video,picture quality is superb the only downfall is all those damned remotes cos I've still not gone the Pronto route
     
  3. plasmattack

    plasmattack
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    Er... (Nothing to do with plasma) How do you get S-Video out of a PS2? My box only has composite out.
     
  4. Jon Weaver

    Jon Weaver
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    Don't forget that the common Plasma discussed here (Panasonic/Toshbia) 'shares' the Composite/S-video input.

    So.. if you connect your VCR to the only possible connection (composite).. There is no possibility for S-video!

    My current Amp doesn't have componant switching, so I can't really use that.

    However, my DVD player has 2xSCARTS which allow my STB to 'pass-thru' the DVD player when its off.

    I currently only use one (RGB) SCART on my TV for DVD/Sky, so I can continue to do this if/when I finally get a Plamsa.

    My only decision is then whether to go down the VGA route (no 'just mode', but leave the Componant available for a future DVD upgrade) or Componant.

    My VCR will go into the composite which leaves my PS2 and/or Xbox (which I currently don't use on a big TV).

    This has actually helped me answer my own question, as I know the Xbox can output Componant.. So, I would be tempted to go down the VGA route (forgetting that I can't do 'just') and connecting my Xbox into the Componant input (should i have the desire for large screen game play).

    However, its a bit sad that with only few boxes, I have already used all my inputs.. This is almost a repeat of the situation that I had some 15 years ago when i started getting into AV kit.
     
  5. plasmattack

    plasmattack
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    So, Jon, the impression I get is that if your amp had video switching capability then you'd use it, right?
     
  6. Jon Weaver

    Jon Weaver
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    Hmm.. Well.. I always said that I wouldn't use the video switching capability as I couldn't see a real benifit

    This is especially try for me, as I don't use my Amp all the time (I normally watch 'normal' TV (i.e Sky) through the built in TV speakers)

    BUT.. In light of the fact that if/when I get a Plasma, I would have to use the amp to get sound and would therefore have to change inputs on the amp, it makes sense that I would use the video switching capability.

    So.. Yes.. If i had a Plamsa, multiple componant devices and an Amp capable of componant switching, I think I would...
     
  7. MarkHudds

    MarkHudds
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    Rather than use the supplied PS2 AV out plug to 3 RCA for composite & L/R audio, you can get alternative cables:-

    PS2 AV out to svideo plug & L/R audio

    PS2 AV out to 5 RCA for component video & L/R audio

    Personally I don't bother with the RCA's for audio as I use the digital optical connection.

    (try www.euronetwork.co.uk for the component lead - much better picture and cheap(ish) too!)

    Mark.
     
  8. plasmattack

    plasmattack
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    Jon, Mark, I believe we're getting somewhere. It seems I can get component video output from a DVD, my STB and my PS2. However, the Denon AVR-3802 has only two component inputs (which, as far as I can tell, is a bit of a luxury so it's doubtful there are amps out there with three or more component inputs).

    I could, therefore, downgrade one of the video sources to S-Video output. However, Jon's point about a shared composite/S-Video input on the Panasonic plasma means that I cannot connect each of the amp's three monitor outputs to the TV - which in turn means that I would be wasting my time connecting three types of video signal to the amp. I would have to further downgrade the S-Video output to composite.

    Is this really the only way forward or is there some way that I can connect all three component sources to the amp?
     
  9. MarkHudds

    MarkHudds
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    Plasmattack,

    You can get AV amps with three component inputs - take my Pioneer AX10 for example :O)

    Back to your connections ... I would connect your 3802 component monitor out and the svideo monitor out to your plasma (2 leads). Connect the DVD and STB to the 3802 via component and use svideo for PS2. Any source requiring a composite connection can be hooked up to a svideo connection on the 3802 by using a fantastic gadget from Keene which converts a RCA plug to svideo and vice versa (only about a tenner)...

    Regards, Mark.
     
  10. plasmattack

    plasmattack
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    The words "nail" and "head" spring to mind! Thanks very much.
     
  11. symanski

    symanski
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    Just to add, for your plasma and the Digital TV, best to either use an RGB to Plasma VGA unit or RGB to Component converter (for "Just" mode). If you don't, you're not getting the best out of your system.

    Where possible, avoid composite video. If you have to, then either have it switched via the amp or direct to the plasma screen. You can clean up a composite signal, and your plasma will do it's best, but no adaptor can realy make S-Video from composite - no matter what anybody tells you! If an external composite cleaner was available, it would be well over £100! It is difficult to clean up, and you'll have seen TV with "3-line digital comb filters" before that does this very job. Anything less is not worth bothering with.

    Maplin does an adaptor for £5. It's not really S-Video you get, so please don't think it really is S-Video quality you'll be getting.

    For the XBox, you'll have the option of RGB with the Advanced SCART lead in the UK. US XBoxes support component, which could be directly connected. Again, the RGB would need interfacing/conversion for you to connect to your screen.

    All the best,

    Dr John Sim.
     
  12. plasmattack

    plasmattack
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    John,

    I think Mark made his suggestion on the basis that the only source I would be outputting using composite is my VCR. I realise that a passive composite/S-Video converter is not going to give me S-Video but, crucially, it means that I can attach the VCR to an amp's S-Video input.
     
  13. symanski

    symanski
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    plasmattack,

    I get a lot of calls about such adaptors from people who think you can get true S-Video from them, and then go further to ask if I can do one for RGB. I've also heard some very negative comments on similar adaptors.

    Very much the case that if you've got a low quality signal, there's very little you can do to bring it up in qualitative terms.

    I use a trick in my A/V system where I route composite through the S-Video path of my amp. My TV is able to take S-Video and Composite in via the same SCART connector, so on the TV I just tell it if it's composite or S-Video to expect. Works a treat. I've already tried similar on the Panasonic plasma, but unfortunately this didn't work.

    All the best,

    John.
     
  14. plasmattack

    plasmattack
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    Hi, John. I'm not quite sure how to take your reply. For what it's worth, I'm not trying to upgrade my VCR output in any way, it's just that by using a composite/S-Video adaptor I can physically connect the VCR to an amp's S-Video input (and consequently route the signal through to the amp's S-Video monitor output - this is advantageous because of apparent limitations with the Panasonic's composite/S-Video inputs, so I'm told).

    I am assuming that if the VCR's composite output is somehow worsened by the adapator then it won't be too much worse. After all, this is a composite output we're talking about. Maybe you have a view on this.
     
  15. MarkHudds

    MarkHudds
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    The Keene composite to svideo (and vice versa) adaptor is a handy solution to a common connection problem when it comes to av amps.

    It will not magically convert composite to svideo, however it will not worsen the composite video signal routed through your amp to a svideo monitor output.
     
  16. symanski

    symanski
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    I've heard very negative comments about such adaptors, making the ouput worse than, well, composite video. And I do get calls from people asking if I can change the composite video to RGB as RGB is better quality!

    All the best,

    John.
     
  17. TimD

    TimD
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    I've got a Panasonic TH-42PWD5UY plasma display on order.

    At the moment I have a Pioneer DV-717 DVD player, which I'll probably upgrade once PAL progressive scan become generally available.

    In the meantime, can I use one of these cables to connect my DVD player to my plasma display?

    According to the "Plasma Cable Advice" link on that page, and the spec of the plasma I have on order, it ought to work...

    Basically I don't see the point in spending over 100 quid on a RGB->VGA converter, when I'll be upgrading to a player with component output in the not-too-distant future.

    What kind of picture quality would one of these leads give me? Better then S-Video -> S-Video?

    Cheers,
    Tim
     
  18. symanski

    symanski
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    From my experience with the Panasonic screens, if you do you've limited your inputs to one. If you opt for an adaptor, such as the Plasma VGA unit, then you have RGB, Component and S-Video/Composite input possibilities. That's the advantage.

    Then, consider what you ultimately want from your system. If you've got Sky, where would you connect this in?

    All the best,

    John.
     
  19. TimD

    TimD
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    I'm not sure what you mean, surely the RGB->Component cable just takes up the component inputs?

    I have a sky+ box, so my plan was to connect sky+ S-Video -> S-Video and DVD RGB -> Component using one of those IXOS cables.

    In the medium term, I'll be replacing my DVD player for one with component outputs.

    I'm not suggesting that the converter box isn't any good, just that for me, it's maybe not a great investment for 6 months or so use (especially as I've just splashed out 3.5k on a new plasma)...

    Cheers,
    Tim
     
  20. symanski

    symanski
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    OK, you've spend 3.5k and you're not willing to spend a fraction of that to connect up your screen to get the best out from it? It's like buying a Ferrari and not using Shell's Optimax petrol!

    Seriously, the SCART to component leads you refer to, you'll have use the composite video input as well as the RGB. Therefore, you've already used the input that you intended to use for Sky + - the composite and S-Video is ONE input. So you now have a screen that you can only connect one device to.

    But with Sky + you can connect up via RGB, again the best option. To do this, you want to use one of the other inputs, such as the VGA input that's normally used for a PC. So now you can have RGB via the VGA input, component input you still have the S-Video/composite input free for use with anything - XBox, PS/2, Game Cube, VCR.

    All the best,

    John.
     
  21. TimD

    TimD
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    Uses the composite? I don't pretend to be an expert, but as far as I can tell, those leads have RG&B BNCs, and a composite sync BNC. The composite BNC fits on either of the H or V sync connectors.

    According to the pdf spec sheet I have for the display, both the H and V sync BNCs can take a composite sync as well, so I don't have to use the composite input at all.

    Why should that prevent me from using the S-Video input?
     
  22. symanski

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    With the 3 & 4 series plasma, you use the composite sync with the RGB, and since composite is tied in with S-Video, you then can't use that input. I haven't looked at the 5 series yet, which may have different requirements

    If you want to use the component input, then since it's shared with the RGBHV terminals you've already use that input. So, back to requiring a RGB to Plasma VGA unit to go in via the PC input.

    All the best,

    John.
     
  23. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    TimD

    Just to confer with John's advice - if you go for an RGB with Composite sync on the Panasonic display you have used up all of the inputs available; other than the VGA port.

    Also we do find many DVD players and Set Top Boxes output too low a voltage and to unstable a signal for the Plasma to sync to and again John's converters eradicate this problem.

    Best regards

    Joe

    PS 5 Series displays are no different in this respect to 4 Series Displays.
     

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