Bought a new TV, now what? with audio & blu ray?


Hello fellow Audiogoners,

I need some education and insight to point me in the right direction. I've done some research on my own, but would like some direct responses to some questions I have.

Like a lot of you folks, I'm a 2-channel analog junkie more than a HT guy. I just bought a Pioneer 6020FD for my modest home theater system, which consists of older NHT speakers and dated, but still great ROTEL separates. Up until now I enjoyed movies on my old 36' Sony CRT, so I never concerned myself with HDMI, Dolby tryHD, etc. As of now, I am not looking to purchase a new sound processor.

Regarding blu ray, I am under the impression that if I use a simple digital coax to my receiver, which decodes only DD and DTS, I will not get any Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD audio. My sound processor does have analog inputs, but via DB-25 connectors, which will bypass all but the master volume control. If I get a blu ray player that decodes the HD audio signals and use the analog connectors, will I be able to enjoy these formats?

Given the above, what blu ray players would be good for me? (under $300, preferably closer to $200). I don't need a universal player, just one that will play blu ray and upsample DVD's well.

Another question...
What do you folks commonly connect (audio) your HD cable box to you system? digital connections?

Thanks.
drewyou
Regarding blu ray, I am under the impression that if I use a simple digital coax to my receiver, which decodes only DD and DTS, I will not get any Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD audio. My sound processor does have analog inputs, but via DB-25 connectors, which will bypass all but the master volume control. If I get a blu ray player that decodes the HD audio signals and use the analog connectors, will I be able to enjoy these formats?
Lossless surround such as TrueHD and DTS-HD MA require too much bandwidth to be transmitted *digitally* over SP/DIF or Toslink. But your sound processor has 5.1 analog inputs via a DB25 connector. If you get a Blu-ray player with internal TrueHD and DTS-HD-MA processing and a back panel with at least 5.1 RCA analog outputs, you can indeed enjoy the benefits of lossless hi-def surround with your current gear.

To do so you will need to acquire two things:

1: A Blu-ray player with internal decoding of both Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio
2. A special cable that has six color-coded RCA connectors at one end and a DB25 connector at the other. A few years ago, many cable companies made them, but as the number of surround components to use DB25 has dried up, so have the cables. A few remain; they're just not as easy to find.

You can get a DB25-to-multiple-RCA cable from this selection, available in lengths from 3-50 feet. You'll probably want a 3- or 6-foot one.

A good example of a Blu-ray player that fits your budget and analog output requirements is the Panasonic DMP-BD80. It has internal processing for the lossless codecs and a back panel with 7.1 analog outputs (in your case you ignore the extra rear surround channels). Just get a cable like the one in the link, and connect the RCA end to the Blu-ray player's outputs and connect the DB25 plug to your surround processor.
Great Hi-rez sound from the analog outputs from a $200-300 BR player seems doubtful at best to me compared to what your Rotel should be capable of. If it were me I'd use the standard dolby/dts through your digital connection to your cuurent AVR.
Srwooten is wrong, even poorly implemented DTS HD MA and Dolby TrueHD will sound better then DD and DTS, the Pannie Johnny recommends is a solid player and it will get you into the new codecs for cheap.
07-08-09: Srwooten
Great Hi-rez sound from the analog outputs from a $200-300 BR player seems doubtful at best to me compared to what your Rotel should be capable of.
Nope, for two reasons: economy of scale and high resolution source trumps lower-rez plus processing.

Panasonic can build a $300-350 Blu-ray player that performs to a high level. A $300 Blu-ray's picture is certainly better-looking than that of a $5000 std-def DVD player. The same goes for the sound. The Rotel's higher build quality can't overcome the fact that it's decoding a very lossy surround scheme while the Panasonic is putting out a lossless signal.

When Wes Philips in Stereophile reported on hearing Dolby TrueHD processed through an Onkyo AV receiver a couple years ago, he stated that it was the best-sounding surround playback he had ever heard. Wes is no stranger to expensive, esoteric gear, and yet a lossless source, even when played through a mass-market receiver, trumped std-def DTS or Dolby Digital he'd heard through cost-no-object components.
Great comments Johnny. I checked the website for the DB-25 cables. Any info on how I determine what RCA cable corresponds to which channel?
I have another question...

With a blu ray player such as the panasonic BD80, if I want to watch a DVD, do I need to connect to my sound processor with a digital cable (coax/optical) along with the 5.1 analog connections? Or will the analog 5.1 connections allow me to listen to standard Dolby Surround and DTS formats as well.
There is a THX color code for the six channels; here it is according to this HTGuide forum discussion:

BLUE------Front Left
GREEN-----Front Center
RED--------Front Right
BROWN----Subwoofer
BLACK----Left Surround)
YELLOW---Right Surround)

When using the Blu-ray for std-def DVDs, you *may* get a little better sound by letting the Rotel do the digital processing, but you never know until you try.

My Oppo DV-980H has pretty good internal processors, and I use them for SACD and DVD-A, but I also connect a coax SP/DIF to my Boston Acoustics AVP7 (originally $2K) for CDs and sometimes for regular DVDs. I think the Boston sounds a little better for CDs.

But inexpensive audio components keep improving, and with the Panasonic, you won't know until you try both ways, and even then, it'll be close.
When Wes Philips in Stereophile reported on hearing Dolby TrueHD processed through an Onkyo AV receiver a couple years ago, he stated that it was the best-sounding surround playback he had ever heard. Wes is no stranger to expensive, esoteric gear, and yet a lossless source, even when played through a mass-market receiver, trumped std-def DTS or Dolby Digital he'd heard through cost-no-object components.
When Wes Philips in Stereophile reported on hearing Dolby TrueHD processed through an Onkyo AV receiver a couple years ago, he stated that it was the best-sounding surround playback he had ever heard. Wes is no stranger to expensive, esoteric gear, and yet a lossless source, even when played through a mass-market receiver, trumped std-def DTS or Dolby Digital he'd heard through cost-no-object components.
When Wes Philips in Stereophile reported on hearing Dolby TrueHD processed through an Onkyo AV receiver a couple years ago, he stated that it was the best-sounding surround playback he had ever heard. Wes is no stranger to expensive, esoteric gear, and yet a lossless source, even when played through a mass-market receiver, trumped std-def DTS or Dolby Digital he'd heard through cost-no-object components.

Johnnyb53-
I have been looking for this article with no success. Can you let me know exactly where it is so I can look into it.
Thanks-
Steve

PS - Sorry for my last mis-post!
Kennyt
To disagree is one thing, to just say I am wrong is vain.
Johnnyb53-
I have been looking for this article with no success. Can you let me know exactly where it is so I can look into it.
Thanks-
Steve
This one should do: http://www.stereophile.com/news/072907dolbytrue/index.html. It's Wes's account of his first encounter with Dolby TrueHD two years ago at a Dolby TrueHD demo using a Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD player through an Onkyo TX-SR605 receiver, of which he wrote,
It was about the time I realized that the Martin guitars played by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds on Live at Radio City sounded mighty like, well Martin guitars, that I stopped the show. "What are you playing?" I demanded. "This is some of the best multichannel sound I've ever heard."

Notice, he was so taken by the sound that he stopped the demonstration to ask that question.
"What we're hearing right now is 24-bit 192kHz PCM delivered over HDMI to the receiver." Quoted from the article.

Thanks for posting a link to the article.

This is NOT from the Bluray players analog output, but the HDMI, which is what concern was (is).

My post was:
Great Hi-rez sound from the analog outputs from a $200-300 BR player seems doubtful at best to me compared to what your Rotel should be capable of.
My post was:
Great Hi-rez sound from the analog outputs from a $200-300 BR player seems doubtful at best to me compared to what your Rotel should be capable of.
And I say that even mid-fi gear decoding a lossless surround source will sound better than higher-end equipment decoding lossy surround. A Blu-ray player's output through SP/DIF is downconverted to DD or DTS, both lossy compression schemes. I seriously doubt that the decoding capability's of Onkyo's mid-line AVR from two years ago is significantly better than the internal decoders of today's Blu-ray players. Ergo, lossless surround processed internally and passed via the analog connections to the Rotel's analog surround will outperform the Rotel decoding an inferior digital surround source.

At the time Wes wrote that, he had no doubt heard most of the cost-no-object, SOTA surround processors for DVD-based DTS and Dolby Digital. Yet this Toshiba HD DVD player feeding an Onkyo receiver blew him away, expectations to the contrary.
After doing some research... I ordered the Oppo BD83. Yeah, above my original budget. I'm excited to see how it performs.
Congrats! Keep us posted!