Wanna buy a surround sound system really need help!

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by generalf, Jan 20, 2008.

  1. generalf

    generalf
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    Hi there, I really really need help.
    Firstly I am a beginner at this and just want to get my system performing the best that it can be but I have lots of questions about the overall set up of my stuff.

    I have the following:

    Toshiba Regza 37 inch C Series LCD TV (this has 2 x HDMI inputs, 1 x Component Video input, 2 x scart sockets, 1 x standard Video and audio input, Digital audio out socket, DVB Common interface (?) and RGB/PC in socket). Phew.

    I also have :

    Sky HD
    Xbox 360
    PS3
    Ultimate Karaoke/multi region standard def machine.

    I am away from home right now but want to sort out the connections so I can get it all geared up for my return.
    I think I know the best way to set these items up for the picture but I want to get a surround sound system to go with all of this and don’t know what to look for/how much to spend or what connections I will need to get the best out of the kit Ive got.

    I was going to set up everything as follows:

    Sky HD = HDMI lead straight to HDMI 1 on TV
    PS3 = HDMI lead straight to HDMI 2 on TV
    XBOX360 = Xbox HD lead straight to component video input on TV
    Karaoke machine in standard def straight to Scart 1 on TV
    Laptop to RGB/PC in on TV

    Then I want the sound to come out in the best quality in the new kit and I have noticed the ‘digital optical out’ socket on my TV and I’m thinking can I just hook that socket up to a speaker system so whatever is on screen comes out of the new surround system?
    If so then I think that would be fine because I wouldn’t use more than one item at a time and therefore which system is best for that?

    Also I notice that the PS3 and Sky HD ‘Digital Optical out’ sockets on them and so I presume I could attach these items directly to a surround sound set up – would this make it better quality ? and if so what do you recommend that will do this job also?
    The xbox 360 does not have the digital optical out socket so is this just connected to the separate amp with the coloured cables?
    I am really stuck and need help – I just don’t understand also why you would plug a PS3 into an Onkyo (?) amp for example surely just the sound is for the amp – I am also not at home but I have all the diagrams of my kit in front of me and am rady to buy something online for my arrival when I get home.

    My budget is around 300 quid 400 tops and just to complicate matters further I want it black with small speaker that are subtle……..Am I pi**ing in the wind?
    Should I give up now? I really need some help…….
    Please help me with some nice simple advice…….
     
  2. MarkTaylor

    MarkTaylor
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    As always there are some subtle problems between you and the ideal set-up.

    Running everything into the TV and then having a single optical out would be great except for the following :

    Sky HD does not send 5.1 across the HDMI cable it only sends stereo so you have to use the optical out for 5.1 from the Sky HD box.

    The PS3 will only send the new HD sound formats across HDMI and optical does not have the bandwidth to carry them so that is why you would connect the HDMI cable from the PS3 via a suitable amp, but if you don't want to use HD sound formats then that would not be a problem.

    The component link from the Xbox only carries video not sound so you'll need to use the optical output that really should be there on the back of the component out cable connection.

    If the budget is £3-400 including speakers then it is going to be a tight fit as most cheaper systems tend to be poor with regard to the number of inputs they offer.
     
  3. davepuma

    davepuma
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    You will have to connect your audio sources direct to the amp/home cinema system to get DD5.1/DTS etc. as connecting them to the TV and running a single cable will get you 2.0 channel stereo mixed to give you pseudo surround sound like DPL2/DTS:Neo6. Terrestrial TV, both analogue and digital freeview only output 2.0 channel stereo and the TV can only accept 2.0 channel stereo from analogue inputs or PCM via HDMI. The Xbox 360 does have a digital optical output from the back of the AV Component cable socket in addition to analogue audio output, so you can get DD5.1 from it via optical.

    So you are looking at a receiver/home cinema system that has at least 3 optical inputs. You don't really need to connect the TV up as, as you have Sky HD you have two sky tuners, one for recording and one for watching. I doubt you will ever use the TV's freeview tuner other than for 'quiet' watching with the amp off. Most budget receivers/systems have 2 optical and 1 coaxial so you would need to convert one of the optical outputs to digital co-ax. This can be achieved with a converter box, Maplins sells them.

    I would suggest having a look at 2nd hand, as there are plenty of bargains around with people changing their amps for HDMI models. If you go new, the Cambridge Audio 540R V2 can be bought from Richer Sounds in store for £150 using a voucher (do a search on here). For speakers take a look at the Jamo A102 HCS5 as they're flying off the shelves or the Mordaunt Short Premiere 5.1 package. Both these speaker packages can be bought new for around £190 - £200. For a few more quid, the Sony 910 would allow you to experience HD audio from the PS3, which is obviously worth considering. The 910 also has 3/1 HDMI switching, handy if you add more HDMI sources in the future.
     
  4. rwniel

    rwniel
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    There's certainly no reason to give up now, just take your time in considering your options. Your starting point should be to figure out what connections you need;

    Sky HD - hdmi for video, optical digital connection for surround sound (- even though hdmi often carries sound as well, in the case of the Sky HD box it only outputs stereo sound over this connection rather than proper surround sound).
    PS3 - hdmi carrying video and sound (if the amp can accept it, or separate optical digital otherwise)
    XBOX 360 - component connection with optical for surround sound. If you're using the standard Xbox 360 component cable, then there's a socket for an optical digital surround cable on the output socket itself (i.e. where the component cable plugs into the Xbox 360).
    Karaoke machine - you'd have to check what sound output is possible, preferably separate from the ones that go through the scart connection. Possibly it'll have a pair of RCA phono connections which then means you can use a cable like this one.
    Laptop - it sounds like you're connecting it to the television via a 3.5mm stereo socket - in that case you'll require a cable like this to connect your laptop to the amp part of your surround system.

    There's a couple of ways you can hook things up - it aids switching if you have sound and video going through the amp. But because you have a number of non component and hdmi sources it would probably be better in your case to hook those sources for video directly to the television (karaoke machine and laptop) and then just leave the sound to be managed separately. In answer to your other question about using the digital optical out socket on your television - you would have to see what it was capable of outputing as sometimes these only output stereo despite being a digital connection.

    So I make it that you'd need either;
    Three optical connections and probably a couple of stereo inputs for the Karaoke machine and the laptop OR an amp that has hdmi able to take video/sound (for the PS3) and two optical source inputs.

    Despite your budget being tight, my suggestion would be the Sony STR-DG910 partnered either with the Tannoy EFX5.1 speaker package or the Canton Movie 60CX (check out the speakers powerbuy forum on this site for details of the latter. Jake is very helpful if you have any specific questions about them; either post them there or PM him directly). You'll need to add speaker cables of course - something like the Gale symphony 100. In fact, it may be worth a visit to a Richer Sounds store anyway to see what kind of deal they'd offer you for a complete package including cables for your sources.

    Robert
     
  5. generalf

    generalf
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    Thanks for your advice......I really appreciate the time and trouble you have gone to assist me.
    I think I know what I have to get now and now its a question of shopping around....If the budget was a little higher maybe 5/600 quid including speakers do you have any other recommendations?
     
  6. rwniel

    rwniel
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    £500-£600 would open up the popular Onkyo SR605 AV Receiver/Jamo A102 surround speaker package as an option or with more conventional speakers the Mordaunt-Short Avant Premier (- both speaker packages would also be a good match for the Sonky STR-DG910). I think the latter are a bargain now you can find them for about £200 if you look around, although you need to make sure you can accomodate their larger size. You could also consider one of the more expensive Canton movie speaker packages as there's a noticable improvement as you move through the range. Speaker-wise you might also want to audition the Kef KHT 1005's as again they're a popular choice.

    Robert
     

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