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#229340 - 11/10/08 06:53 PM Nine Questions (With Subparts)!
Skimble Offline

Registered: 01/03/06
Posts: 24
I have a number of questions about my home theater setup. I have done a lot of reading, but I'm never real confident I'm understanding everything. So, I thought I'd just ask my questions my way and see if I can get help.

Last time I did a home set up, folks on this site were really helpful. So, thanks in advance for your help. And, I apologize for having so many questions (and being longwinded). Any thoughts you have on any of these will be appreciated. In other words, please don't be frightened by the number of questions--I'll take responses to any that I can get and be appreciative for those.

My Situation

I am not quite a newbie, but I nonetheless pretty much am clueless. I had a basement set up at my last house, but my wife and I just moved and we are having the basement redone. (Not starting from scratch, as the basement currently is finished, but we are having a fair amount of work done.) So, I am trying to figure out how to do the home theater again. Not sure I got it 100 percent right last time. Since virtually all wires will be in-wall, I want to be sure I get everything right.

My Equipment

Panasonic 50" plasma: 50PX50U
AVR: Pioneer VSX-72TXV
Gaming/DVD: PS3
Axiom Audio Speakers (5.1): EP350 Subwoofer
VP150 Center
M60ti Towers
QS8 Surrounds

I have HDMI from the PS3 to the AVR and from the AVR to the TV.
I have component for video from the cable box (Comcast cable) to the AVR, and optical audio from the box to the AVR. Not sure whether to run the cable signal from the AVR to the TV using HDMI or component (more on that later).

The Basement

Here is my thinking on the room. I made a lovely powerpoint picture, and imported it into Word, but I can't figure out how to post it. So, I'll try to describe the room. Not sure all of it is necessary . . . .

Basically, the basement is divided into two sides. One side is about 22 feet long, and 14.5 feet wide. The other side is about 20 feet long and also is 14.5 wide. The two sides are divided by a wall (14.5 foot, obviously), with an opening of about 5 feet in it. The opening will be just that, an opening (i.e., no doors between the two sides).

The home entertainment stuff will be in the side of the room that is 20 feet long and 14.5 feet wide. That room is not a perfect rectangle. Basically, I will have the TV on a wall that is about 15 feet long, and divided by a fireplace (the TV will be over the fireplace. I plan on having the couch on the wall facing the TV, and another chair in the room. Not a whole lot of flexibility on the wall the TV is going on, etc., as there are factors beyond just perfect hometheater to consider.

My Questions

(1) I am planning on getting a 30' HDMI cable for the connection between the DVR and the TV (as noted, the HDMI will be behind the wall). I am not 100 percent sure about the actual length of the run, but this will give me some flexibility to get the chord and make last second decisions on where things go.
(a) Is there a particular brand and type of HDMI cable I should look at? I currently have monoprice HDMI cables that work fine, but they are quite short. In looking at the Bluejeans site I could not tell whether there is something more to the question than just getting a 30' cable from monoprice.
(b) Do I need to be concerned about the 30' length causing problems?
(c) Should I get 1.3 instead of 1.1?

(2) I think my speaker wire for the back speakers could be about 31' when all is said and done. I was going to get 12 gauge, as the price difference between 12 and 14 seems de minimis, and again I'd like to err on the side of caution. I used 12 gauge in my last basement, but I don't recall the length of the runs.
(a) Again, any particular brand have any particular benefits (bluejean vs. monoprice)?
(b) Within the brands, any particular type I should get (there seems to be some differences in the wires)?

(3) Any particular cord safest/best for the sub? Length of the run will depend on where I put the AVR, so it could be quite short or pretty long. At my last house I had problems with hum. I think I used just a basic RCA cord and ended up adding some thing to the end (that the nice folks at Axiom recommended) that helped with the hum problem.

(4) I was going to put my back speakers on the stands Axiom sells for them? Any advantage or disadvantage to that? (Part of the reason I may do it is because our new house is a rowhouse, so we share a wall. They are old houses (100 years old), so we are not talking about paper walls or anything, but I want to err on the side of not being an irritant.)

(5) Based on the description of the room above: How far should the couch be from the tv (as noted, 50" plasma). In other words, should I not have it against the wall, or do I need the full distance to be adequately far from the TV.

(6) My DVD player broke in the move. It was a Sony 400 disk changer. In reading up on things, I came to learn that the PS3 is actually a good bluedisk player. (I did not own any bluedisks until Saturday, when I figured I would check things out. Nice picture with the BD.) Sounds like it may be o.k. on the SD disks as well. When I watched an SD disk on the PS3 yesterday (the first time doing that), it seemed comparable to the Sony I had. The questions I have are these:
(a) I was going to replace the Sony disk changer with one of the new Oppo SD players. Will the Oppo players have a noticeable improvement in PQ and SQ relative to the PS3?
(b) If so, with my setup, which of the Oppos would you suggest? I am not a real audio- or videophile, but do like quality on both fronts.

(7) This one drove me nuts. My recollection at my last house is that when I watched HD channels the screen was not blackboxed. Until yesterday, since we'd moved, HD channels were blackboxed. Yesterday, after talking to my friends at Comcast cable, I realized the cable box was set for 480p (I think it was 480p). The Comcast folks couldn't actually figure the problem out (they just had me check to be sure it was set to 16:9, and it was), and didn't know what 480p was, so I decided to see if I could change it to 1080i. I did, and the screen is no longer blackboxed. The question I have is whether that is the best way to go, or should I set it to a lower output and let the TV (AVR) do the scaling? The picture is nice the way it is set, but for some reason when things are moving there is something weird in the picture.

(8) As I've been playing with all this stuff (at least I think as I've been playing with it), a new problem appears to have resulted. It's possible I just never noticed before, but I don't think so. Basically, on the TV there are "lines" of sorts that are running through the picture. "Lines" is not a great description, as it's more like a narrow band of fog horizontally across the TV). The narrow band starts at the bottom of the TV and makes its way to the top of the TV. It then seems to recycle and start at the bottom again. It is barely noticeable at times (e.g., when the screen is bright), but it is pretty annoying at times. It does not seem to happen with the blueray or standard disks from the PS3, just from the cable box. I've tried three different sets of cables (all from the cable company) from the cable box to the AVR, and none help. I've also tried different HDMI cords from the AVR to the TV. Again, no help. When I change the input on the TV to component the problem seems to disappear (though I am not yet certain if it disappears completely). So, now I have both HDMI and component running from the AVR to the TV, and use the HDMI input when using the PS3 and component when watching cable.
(a) Is it really necessary to use component from the AVR to the TV when it is component from the cable box to the AVR? (I don't recall having it like that at the last house).
(b) If not, any thoughts on why I may be having the problem?

(9 Finally, I didn't have wall plates installed at the last house.
(a) Any disadvantage to using them?
(b) How do they work? In other words, does the contractor have the speaker wire connected to the plates inside the wall, and then I can just use banana plugs and run a short wire from the plate to the speaker?

#229347 - 11/10/08 07:22 PM Re: Nine Questions (With Subparts)! [Re: Skimble]
RickF Offline

Registered: 02/26/05
Posts: 5210
Loc: Vero Beach, Florida
I'll chime in on a couple of your questions. This is how I did all of our in-wall wiring/cabling for our room...

#1. I have a 40' run of Monoprice HDMI cable and found they had the best price and their quality is as good as anybody else's and no, you will not have any issues with that length as long as you keep a foot and a half or so of parallel runs from electrical wiring and make a 90 degree cross whenever you need to cross or pass electrical wiring. (This goes for all A/V wiring and cabling).

#2. I used all 12 ga throughout our room, that would be my suggestion but 14 will be fine.

#3. I bought a spool of Tributaries RG6 and made all of my subwoofer runs with that and terminated the ends with wall plates and RCA plugs ... again, long runs will not affect SQ.

And #9. I found the wall plates to be much easier to use and makes for a much cleaner installation, just 'plug and play' and yes the speaker wire can be connected to the backside of the plate and banana plugs can be used on the front side. Some installers like to hang the bare speaker wire out of the plate for a straight connection to the speaker but I used the banana plug wall plates.
Our Room


#229350 - 11/10/08 07:30 PM Re: Nine Questions (With Subparts)! [Re: RickF]
RickF Offline

Registered: 02/26/05
Posts: 5210
Loc: Vero Beach, Florida

If you *think* at sometime in the future you *may* want to add components to your system go ahead and put the extra wiring or cabling in now (and then some more) because you never know. I added quite a lot of extra wiring and cabling in our room but now I wish would have added more ... Cat5 is one of 'em.
Our Room


#229354 - 11/10/08 08:05 PM Re: Nine Questions (With Subparts)! [Re: Skimble]
SRoode Offline

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 1277
Loc: Fishers, Indiana, USA
 Originally Posted By: Skimble

(4) I was going to put my back speakers on the stands Axiom sells for them? Any advantage or disadvantage to that? (Part of the reason I may do it is because our new house is a rowhouse, so we share a wall. They are old houses (100 years old), so we are not talking about paper walls or anything, but I want to err on the side of not being an irritant.)

EP350 and M60's? You will be irritant if you want to... The surrounds will be like a spit in the ocean.
2 M80s, 1 VP180, 4 QS8s, 2 EP800s, 4 Algonquins, 2 M3 VaSSallos, 1 AxiomAir N3

#229356 - 11/10/08 08:36 PM Re: Nine Questions (With Subparts)! [Re: Skimble]
michael_d Offline

Registered: 07/23/04
Posts: 4195
Loc: Up yonder
#1 - HDMI cables shouldn’t be confused with speaker cables. Quality does make a difference. When you exceed 25 feet, you need to make sure you get a good cable. It’s been a while since I’ve done any hard looking at HDMI cables, but do not go cheap just for the sake of doing that. There is also an awful lot of marketing out there with HDMI cables, so be wary. I recall seeing a few HDMI cable shoot outs with real test data, but I can not find them. I’m sure someone else has a few book marked. One report was mixed as far as price of each cable, but it most definitely proved that quality does matter, greatly. I use Blue Jeans, and it is 35’ in length. It works fine when I use my video processor, but if my AVR is pushing the signal, there is a noticeable difference in video quality. My video processor has a higher output boost than the AVR, which is why it works OK and the AVR does not.

#2 – You are OK with cheap here. Monoprice or Blue Jeans both make great cables. I would go with their sealed 12 gauge.

#3 – I use the Axiom cable. Not exactly the cheapest, but they sure are pretty. No need to go high end here any more than with speaker cable.

#4 – You want the backs and surrounds to be about five feet off the floor. You may be stuck putting them on the wall. I doubt they will be any less irritating to your neighbors on stands or on the wall. Neighbors can be perpetually annoyed at anything, or they might just want to come over and watch movies with you…….

#5 – Personal preference here. Some folks like a 1:1 ratio and others like 1:2 ratio. I like 1:1.5 myself. I sit 12’ away from a screen that’s 8’ wide.

#6 – For SD only, I’d suggest you look at the Oppo 980. For BR, I’d suggest the Panasonic BD55. It is getting rave reviews. I have the BD 30 and love it, so I can only assume that the 55 is even better.

#7 – Sounds like you have automatic pillerbox turned off. Your 2.35 movies are being stretched vertically to fill the screen and 4:3 movies / shows are being stretched horizontally to fit the screen. Might want to see if you can find that function in the cable box and turn it on. Select the 1080i option as well so that HD channels are not down rez’d.

#8 – I’m not familiar with our AVR. Does it have HDMI? If so, I’d just stick with that and let the AVR convert the Component to HDMI. Hard to tell what exactly is happening with the lines you describe. It sounds almost as if you had a CRT, but you obviously don’t…. That one may take some time to figure out.

#9 – Ya, the cables terminate on adapters that mount to the J-boxes. Then you use bananas or spades or whatever type of adapter you install. They are not hard to install. Anyone can do it.

#229358 - 11/10/08 08:58 PM Re: Nine Questions (With Subparts)! [Re: michael_d]
Joe_in_SC Offline

Registered: 02/16/04
Posts: 309
Loc: Charleston, SC
A couple of comments:
I have basically the same TV, and I sit about 11 ft. away. The picture looks awesome at that distance.

Putting the TV above the fireplace is not the best location, although it may be your only option. The heat from the fireplace could shorten the plasma's life.

If you get a better picture from component vs. HDMI, by all means use that. The picture quality is pretty close to the same, the downside being that you also need to run audio cables. Not a big deal for a better picture.

As for the letterboxing, there are settings in the cable box, TV and maybe the AVR that could cause this. Make sure they're all set for 16:9 or widescreen without any zoom or justification.

Hope this helps. Stick with it and you'll eventually get everything working the way you want.

Edited by Joe_in_Ct (11/10/08 08:59 PM)
I started out with nothing & I've still got most of it left
M60 VP160 QS8 EP350
M22 VP100

#229366 - 11/10/08 10:11 PM Re: Nine Questions (With Subparts)! [Re: Joe_in_SC]
fredk Offline

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 7786
Loc: Canada
On #5, I sat as close as 6' from my 50" rp without getting that 'too big' feeling. I am now about 7.5' from the screen

Blujays1: Spending Fred's money one bottle at a time, no two... Oh crap!

#229380 - 11/10/08 10:34 PM Re: Nine Questions (With Subparts)! [Re: fredk]
RickF Offline

Registered: 02/26/05
Posts: 5210
Loc: Vero Beach, Florida
Here's a nifty Viewing Distance Calculator that can give you some ideas of about how close you may want to be seated to the screen.
Our Room


#229396 - 11/11/08 12:00 AM Re: Nine Questions (With Subparts)! [Re: Skimble]
JohnK Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 10621
SK, long time no hear, so welcome back. I'll just touch lightly on your question (1). The difficulty in judging HDMI suitability arises because three factors are involved: the strength of the output from the sending component, the loss in the cable, and the sensitivity in the receiving component. Because of variations in the other two factors it's possible that a certain gauge cable will work perfectly at a certain distance in some setups, but might show some sparkles in the picture in others. In general, it can be said that for a run of around 30 feet the 24 gauge cable should be selected rather than the 28 gauge which is fine up to maybe 20 feet. If you haven't read it, Blue Jeans Cable has an excellent discussion on this in their Tartan Cable section .

In any case there doesn't appear to be any good reason to pay more than about $30 for a 30 foot 24 gauge cable either from Blue Jeans Tartan or similar from MonoPrice. There's no mysterious "quality" factor unrelated to signal strength loss which justifies spending maybe ten times as much.

If the HDMI is to be run in-wall MonoPrice makes the useful suggestion that the cable be tried first before being installed in the wall to assure that it's suitable for the conditions.

Enjoy the music, not the equipment.

#229407 - 11/11/08 12:32 AM Re: Nine Questions (With Subparts)! [Re: JohnK]
avdude Offline

Registered: 06/03/07
Posts: 118
Loc: Ont, Canada
I'm no expert, but I had a Oppo and a PS3.. I sold the oppo as the PS3 does an excelent job upscaling Sd. It has many other funtions such as media server,gaming console, etc. Dollar for dollar it's one of the best buys in the BD player department..
Pio VSX1018,LPA-1,M60,M3,Qs8,Vp150,HSU VTF3,,Pio 5080,PS3..

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