how should i move forward...blu-ray etc...?


my gear is pretty old school but looks and sounds stellar...theta casanova, lexicon rt-10, kell fpb600c, krell kav 3250, wilson wp7's and watch center/surrounds assorted great cables mostly mit, and screen is runco pl50-hdx with vivix proc...so it seems the new technology has plateaued and it may be time to test the bluray waters...

i am reluctant to get away from my 5.1 standard dolby dig/dts world but i am very curious about the new hd formats. what are some cheap (ha ha) ways to test the waters with the stuff i have?

first post here but have been lurking and really respect some of the minds that type here...
richard_stacy
also have dtv hd dvr and not as significant to this topic a thiel sw1 sub.

wonder everyday how i can get the most out of all this stuff...
Rich,

The Bluray pic (1080P) is outstanding, though 1080i not a slouch but to get the best, 1080P is the way to go. I think you can stay w/1080i until you upgrade the display and you wouldn't be too dissapointed BUT it's the new audio codecs that will make you want to upgrade the soundsystem. You may be able to get a blurayplayer where the analogue outs into preamp will give you the new codecs. Cost of entry-a bluray player and a few cables. The difference is staggering. I'm sure some of te guys (and gals) here can recommend a bluray player which encodes the new codecs and pass them trhough the analogue out. I have a pioneer elite and an LG, but not sure if it encodes it as I use HDMI out into a new receiver.
I agree with Rich. I would buy a new BR player with decoding of the new formats and run that into the theta if possible. You have a great system!
that seems to be what i am reading guys. i am not exactly sure how that works or if the theta is capable. any further detail out there would be appreciated. thanks for the input so far.
finally posted my stuff in the systems forum (opinions)...feel free to have at it! it's kind of a crazy way to rig it up but works for us.
Hello Rich, all this talk on the 'Gon about the new audio codecs really has me in a state of deja' vu. The same sort of thing happened when Dolby Digital and DTS began to replace Pro Logic in the late '90's. Back then, as now, if you had spent good money on an otherwise great-sounding receiver/processor just before DVD came out and it lacked the latest processing ablity or the "Dolby Digital-ready" analog 5.1 inputs, you were SOL if you wanted to try the new DD/DTS formats without replacing your processor.

Fortunately, in your case your Theta has a set of 5.1 analog inputs. If you are not using them for multichannel SACD/DVD-A music from your Lexicon universal player, then you could buy a Blu-ray player which decodes the new formats in the player and hook it up via 6 analog interconnects. You could try the Sony BDP-S550 for less than $400 to see if the new lossless codecs rock your boat. For higher quality and more money, you could consider the Sony BDP-S5000ES, Marantz BD8002 or similar at around $2,000. All of these Blu-ray players will let you configure for a 5.1 system and will downmix a 7.1 soundtrack to suit your system. Of course you can still enjoy old-school DD/DTS from your Lexicon digitally connected to your Theta via a digital coax or toslink cable.

You may also wish to contact your Theta dealer regarding possible upgrades for your Casanova as it has an "open architecture" which should allow you to have it upgraded to decode the new lossless codecs and HDMI connectivity if/when Theta decides to offer it.

Good Luck! -jz
I own a Projector and the Lexicon RT10, while I dont have Blu Ray I do have HDDVD and I can tell you in my case the RT10 still was about equal enough to HDDVD to really be surprised, its an awesome DVD unit.
I only have a 720P Projector so maybe I cant see everything 1080P has to offer but all the same the Lexicon looks awesome still. I intend to go Blu shortly and do Multii RCA with a Blu player that has internal decoder because like you my Pro (Rotel 1068) isnt HDMI (Projector is though)
BTW you have a nice set-up! And welcome to the 'gon!
pardon my ignorance but i am having a hard time thinking this through. so if i do that, what will i be missing from actually having the true hdmi connections from player-proc-tv...
great input guy's and thanks for the comments on my stuff too!
If you can go all HDMI its a simple 1 wire connection but you can do HDMI straight to Pro (and sometimes even Component video) and run Multi channel RCA connections from a Blu Ray with internal decoder and get same results.
Just more wires, hassle and remotes is all.
chad i am comfortable with wires! that used to be such a big part of all this. i suppose i was under the impression that the quality would not be as high with this type of set up...
The only difference will be based on wires. Because HDMI keeps things digital the quality of the cable, IMHO, really isn't that important as you shouldn't have much interfere with a digital signal. However, with separate analog inputs the signal can very much be played with by RIF so you need good shielding.
Richard your all set! Cheers
I was all set to recommend a Blu-ray player with internal TrueHD and DTS-HD MA decoders, but there's just one thing, and correct me if I'm wrong:

The Theta Casanova does not have line level analog 5.1 or 7.1 inputs.

If it does, then by all means connect the Blu-ray player's multichannel analog outputs to the Theta's multichannel inputs.

If the Theta doesn't have these, then we're looking at a new player *and* a new pre/pro.
the analog input card is 6 stereo rca inputs for line level analog output devices, one pair of analog tape outs for recording and one pair to route to a 2nd zone which is controlled separately from the main analog output levels.

there is also a video card with 6 composite rca inputs that can be switched with any audio inputs and fed to the main video out. 4 svideo inputs, also mapable.

???
02-09-09: Richard_stacy
the analog input card is 6 stereo rca inputs for line level analog output devices,
Right. That's what I thought when I went to the Theta website to read up on the Casablanca. Multichannel input is limited to SP/DIF, AES/EBU, and optical digital multichannel. These digital links don't have the bandwidth to pass along lossless multichannel data. And the Casablanca's analog input is limited to stereo pairs.

So no, your Theta Casablanca can't decode, nor even pass along the lossless multichannel surround schemes from Blu-ray.
Why cant it pass the signal from an internal Blu Ray decoder?
Original post states Casanova, not Casablanca processor.. Isn't the Casanova model slightly different than the Casablanca on which it's based? Unless I read their website incorrectly, it looked to me like the Casanova has analog ins, "two pair analog L/R, plus one pair rear L/R, a center and sub... Of course this may have been an optional card which your particular unit lacks..
guys thanks for the discussion first of all!

mine is configured as i wrote...here is how the manual reads describeing that portion of the rear panel layout:

analog input card. six stereo rca inputs are provided for any line level analog aoutput device such as vcr, laserdisc, cd and dat players, phono preamp, eternal d/a converters, tape deck, am fm tuner etc. there is one pair of analog tape outs for recording purposes and one pair to route to another area (zone 2). the zone 2 output is controlled seperatley from the main analog output levels.

goes on about video input card and digital input card...

i also emailed theta this morning to see what they suggest...i will post what they say as well..

great discussion so far!
oh and yes, it is a casanova, not casablanca but sounds like the same configuration...
if you go to theta's site and library, product manuals, casanova, owners manual pdf page 16 shows the exact rear panel layout i have.
02-09-09: Chadnliz
Why cant it pass the signal from an internal Blu Ray decoder?
Because it doesn't have an analog 5.1 or 7.1 channel input. You can only connect a coax or Toslink digital link, or an analog stereo pair from a new Blu-ray player with internal decoding to the Theta Casablanca.
02-09-09: Richard_stacy
if you go to theta's site and library, product manuals, casanova, owners manual pdf page 16 shows the exact rear panel layout i have.
I did that, though I found the back panel diagram on page 7. At any rate, there is no multi-channel analog input and no HDMI input, so there's no way to get a lossless surround signal from a Blu-ray player into your Casablanca.

To illustrate what I'm talking about, look at the back panel of an Outlaw 990 AV Pre/pro here. Just to the right of the eight XLR inputs are two sets of color-coded RCA jacks, delineated by two white rectangles. The upper rectangle has 9 RCAs and is labeled "PREAmp Out," Your Casanova has an equivalent 5.1 channel output that's sent on to your amplifier(s).

The lower rectangle has 8 RCAs and is labeled at the bottom, "7.1 AUDIO IN." The 8 jacks are L, C, R, LS, RS, LRS, RRS, and Subwoofer. This 7.1 "Audio In" grouping (or at least a 5.1 Audio In grouping as many pre/pros and AV receivers have) is what you need at a bare minimum to get the lossless surround signals off an appropriately equipped Blu-ray player.

I have a Boston Acoustics AVP7, which is based on the same pre/pro as this Outlaw, and I use its 7.1 analog inputs this way to extract an uncompressed 5.1 surround signal from my SACD/DVD-A player with internal decoding. When used this way, the pre/pro simply functions as an 8-channel line stage.
johnnyb thanks, what i was afraid of. i'm pretty sure that is correct. was not sure if the digital input formats would work but i guess not. oh well!
it really is hard for me to imagine things sounding that much better anyway. i have yet to hear movies sound better than they do in my home with the exception of a demo theater room the old store i used to haunt had with all the best gear they had and it was just dolby digital/dts 5.1.
i cannot believe some of the setups guys on here have!! but most of them are still the same old formats too, just monster gear to play through. fortunately, i don't know any of them so i do not have to hear them and come home thinking mine sounds bad.
it is just that damn bug inside that tells me i can get better. then sometimes i wonder if i should just get a damn current receiver, 5 or 7 $1000 speakers, a nice little sub and sell all my gear...AAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
02-09-09: John_z
...Unless I read their website incorrectly, it looked to me like the Casanova has analog ins, "two pair analog L/R, plus one pair rear L/R, a center and sub..." Of course this may have been an optional card which your particular unit lacks.
Where on the Casanova product page does it say that?
Oh I thought he had multi channel inputs I guess I read wrong so sorry if I steared you in wrong direction.
Richard: In response to your most recent post, here's my take on the subject:

You have the state of the art for the previous generation of home theater surround. What surprises me a bit is that Theta didn't include a 5.1 or 7.1 channel analog pass thru. Many receivers and pre/pros included this feature to help "future-proof" their units against new codecs.

Here's what Blu-ray brings to the table:

First of all, the picture. It doesn't matter what whiz-bang video up-converter or $25K Faroudja outboard processor you use, the best that will do is make 480p watchable on a large screen. At its best it may fool you into feeling like you're watching a 35mm print in a theater from 15 rows back.

With even a $300 Blu-ray player feeding a state-of-the art 1080p/24 digital transfer to a 1080p 120Hz HD video display, you will get a picture that exceeds the sharpness and brilliance of just about any movie theater you've ever been in, and will equal the most advanced theater DLP-equipped digital projection systems and even IMAX.

Concerning surround sound, we have been listening to compromised surround channels for so long we've gotten used to it, letting the L-C-R and subwoofer carry the load when it comes to boom and sizzle. In truth, the surround channels don't sound all that real in DD 5.1 and garden variety DTS because they have so much lossy compression.

So how much better is uncompressed surround? About a year ago Wes Philips of Stereophile reported on hearing Dolby TrueHD at a hi-fi show. It was uncompressed surround sound and was powered by an Onkyo A/V receiver. Yet he said that it was the best surround sound he had ever heard. With uncompressed surround channels, the soundfield comes alive. Images, motion, and direction all come alive in a way that the lossy surround simply cannot.

If you upgrade to 1080p and lossless surround, hang onto your Krells and Wilsons; you can't really do better than that. It's unfortunate that the Casanova doesn't have a multi-channel pass-through. Maybe the thing to do is get a 1080p display, a Blu-ray player with internal lossless decoding, and then pick an inexpensive temporary solution for the pre/pro.

I can see taking one of two paths here:

1) You could buy a used or closeout previous generation pre/pro that has the multi-channel pass-through. Because Outlaw Audio is soon going to have an HDMI 1.3a-capable pre/pro, they're blowing out their very excellent 990s at $699, and those have an excellent 7.1 analog pass through.

2) You could buy an Onkyo A/V receiver with full HDMI 1.3a support, one that has 7.1 preamp outputs, use it as a digital surround pre/pro. You can get the Onkyo TX-SR706 from Amazon for $550 shipped, and it does indeed have the 7.1 channel pre-outs so you can use it as a pre/pro to feed your Krells. The next Onkyo model down does not have the pre-outs.

This would be a $500 solution that would hold you until Theta, Lexicon, Esoteric, or one of the other high end big boys comes out with a pre/pro that incorporates all the HDMI 1.3a switching, extracting, and decoding features.

One other alternative: You might call Theta to see if their new Six Shooter, which is a no-compromise 6-channel line level switcher, would work with the Casanova.
johnnyb you really have been a great help along with the rest of you guys. certainly a pleasant welcome to this forum. i never realized such an incredible resource like this existed! i always just used audiogon to buy/sell/browse and lust.

it would be interesting to hear how one of those receivers sounded as a pre pro with not just blu ray but standard dvd and 2 chan audio. i may play around and compare and see if there is a difference...maybe the old casanova has just been out grown...?
Oops, I was looking at specs for the 6 analog OUTputs for decoded DD/DTS.. My bad... Johnnyb53 summed things up nicely. -jz
02-09-09: Richard_stacy
johnnyb thanks, what i was afraid of. i'm pretty sure that is correct. was not sure if the digital input formats would work but i guess not. oh well!
it really is hard for me to imagine things sounding that much better anyway.
Oh, I just remembered: Even if you send the audio from a Blu-ray player to your Casablanca over a coax or Toslink digital cable, in many cases is WILL sound better than the digital feed coming off a garden variety DVD.

Why? Because the Blu-ray player downconverts the uncompressed multichannel signal to send over the digital link, and this bitstream comes at two to four times the transfer rate that comes off a regular DVD. In many cases it downconverts to DTS, which is less lossy than Dolby Digital.

So even though it won't be lossless, it *will* be an improvement. This is how I run mine. I use a PS3 for Blu-ray. It has Toslink, HDMI, and analog stereo outputs, but no multichannel ananlog outs. So I use the Toslink into my Boston AVP7 and it sounds really good--incrementally better than most of the DVDs I've watched.
so that sounds pretty simple johnny, just run 1 toslink from blu-ray to digital input on the casanova...what would i use to run video then to the runco. the vivix has only one pass through and i use it for the hd dtv box..?
02-10-09: Richard_stacy
...what would i use to run video then to the runco. the vivix has only one pass through and i use it for the hd dtv box..?
What physical format is the pass-through--component or DVI? I couldn't find any pics of the back panels of the two units.

Without more info, I'm assuming the VIVX only outputs composite, S-video, and component video, right? But the Runco display itself accepts DVI as well. If that's the case, directly connect the Blu-ray player to the PL 50-HDX. Use an HDMI-to-DVI cable such as this or this, bypassing the VIVX altogether.
johhny not sure what the format of the pass through is, they call it hdx looks like rs-232, may be proprietary.
the only output on the vivix is component. inputs are composite, component, svideo and an rs232 for controllers.
there is a dvi input on the panel which they describe as...use to connect a computer. does not support the display of copyguard-protected video signals.
2-10-09: Richard_stacy
...
there is a dvi input on the panel which they describe as...use to connect a computer. does not support the display of copyguard-protected video signals.
According to this 12/2002 review of the PL 50-HDX at this page:
They ... include a DVI (digital video interface) input fully compliant with HDCP (high-bandwidth digital content protection) protocols for future copyrighted HD sources. By incorporating DVI HDCP, the PL-43HDX and PL-50HDX are compatible with forthcoming high-definition DTV tuners equipped with digital-direct outputs in this format.
In other words, HDCP is made to *pass* copyrighted hi-def video signals. That's how HDMI works, and HDMI has a pin-for-pin video compatibility with DVI. I suspect Runco added this DVI input to the monitor to help "future-proof" it for emerging digital video standards. They didn't include it in the VIVX switching, but they provided it on the monitor. The VIVX II *does* have 2-in/1-out DVI switching.

That would be a way to upgrade switchability without ditching your Runco display. But again, with an HDMI-to-DVI cable, you probably won't have to.