Q&A # 188 - July 12, 2000
Q I want to buy a front projector for my home theater. There are a lot more choices in the computer magazines than the A/V magazines. Will a projector made for computers work as well as one made specifically for home theater?
A The projectors you see in computer magazines are made for people who want to project computer display images on screens for large audiences at seminars and committee meetings. They are industrial projectors, and are all either DLP (Digital Light Processor made by Texas Instruments) or LCD types rather than CRT. DLP and LCD projectors are much lighter than CRT projectors, and for portability, this is important. Home theater companies take the industrial projectors and add signal processing that gives you the line doubling needed with interlaced sources. The color quality is also tweaked. So, the industrial projectors, as is, are not suited for home theater. It appears that CRT projectors are being phased out in favor of DLP projectors. However, DLP right now cannot resolve 1080i, so if you were watching The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, which is broadcast in 10801, it would be "scaled" down to a lower resolution. On the other hand, DLP is so bright, you can watch it without having the room completely dark. Probably within 5 years, DLP chips will be available in 16:9 shape, with complete HDTV resolution capability, and that will be the end of CRT projectors. Within that same time frame, if we can get plasma screens at least 6 feet in width, with HDTV resolution and top notch color quality, at $20,000 or less, all projectors may go the way of the Dodo.
Q I have Yamaha RX-V990 receiver, Pioneer DVL-700 DVD Player, Yamaha AC-3 decoder DDP-1, and Millennium 2.4.6 DTS decoder. I can play back DTS laserdiscs with the Pioneer DVL-700, but I can't play back DTS DVDs. Why? Should I purchase a DVD Player with DTS built-in for DTS DVDs?
A Your Millennium DTS decoder needs an upgrade chip that is available from 5.1 Marketing. The chip is $20 and the URL is http://www.5point1.com/order.html . However, the DVL-700 will not output DTS bit streams from DVDs anyway, although it will do so from DTS CDs and from DTS LDs. So, you will need a new DVD player to go with the Millennium upgrade chip, for DVDs. All the new DVD players now seem to have DTS compatibility.
Q When are you guys going to continue with the DVD machine testing? Will you be testing the various progressive DVD players - in particular the Toshiba 5109 and the new Pioneer 434?
A When we ran the tests, we had about 15 DVD players along with an Audio Precision and Tektronix equipment. We are still analyzing the data. It is quite complex, but very enlightening. No other magazine - on or off the Internet - has gathered the type of data we did. What we are doing now is sending more players to colleagues in other parts of the country who have the testing equipment on hand (we borrowed the equipment for our tests). Unlike other magazines, we are going to present the info in ways everyone can understand, and it is taking longer than I had hoped, but it will eventually be published, so be patient.
Q Toshiba has begun pushing both ColorStream Pro (SD-5109) and Super ColorStream Pro (SD-6200) in their DVD player line. Since I am purchasing the TW56X81, I am curious to know the specific differences between the two outputs.
A ColorStream Pro and Super ColorStream Pro are component video and progressive line scanning. Super ColorStream Pro is marketed as upsampling the chroma channels from 4:2:0 to 4:4:4. We will discuss this in more detail with the DVD player reviews. I have the Toshiba SD-6200 now for review, and it is excellent. I plan to get an HDTV in the next couple of months and use the progressive scanning output of the 6200 player into the HDTV. It will make a big difference in watching DVD movies, even though HDTV programming from satellite and cable is sparse.
Q I am building a set of speakers primarily for Home Theater. They will be 4 ohm speakers and the rest in the system are going to be 8 ohm. What problem does this cause? My center channel is a Paradigm CC-350 and my surrounds are el cheapo, soon to be replaced by Paradigm ADP-350 or homemade dipole which will also be 4 ohm. My sub is the Paradigm PDR-10.
A If your receiver is not very big, you could experience some amplifier clipping. If you have a big receiver, or if you have an outboard power amplifier rated into 4 Ohms, the only thing you might find is the need to adjust the volume controls to the various channels more than you would if they were all one impedance.
Q I am in the process of purchasing a Mitsubishi projection 4X3 HD ready, DVD, and Receiver/Speaker package. My salesperson strongly recommends buying approximately $250 in cables to attach my C/band and digital satellite as well as everything else. Is there any REAL answer to the merit of such a purchase? I can afford it but should I?
A The cables that come with hi-fi components are terrible, so you will definitely want to buy some good ones, unless you already have a drawer full somewhere in the house.
Q I have an architect designing a family room which will also be a home theater room. We are considering a vaulted ceiling. Is this going to interfere with acoustics to a significant amount? Would a flat ceiling be better? I presently have a bedroom surround system with what is called a tray ceiling, and the acoustics are terrible. It sounds as if some frequencies are cancelled. Please guide me to some answers.
A All rooms used for audio need to have treatments regardless of their shape. The initial design depends on your priorities. The vaulted ceiling will work OK, but since it will produce some reverberations, consider putting some acoustical tile up there. You will also need corner absorption panels. It will be difficult to do all of this without having the room look like an auditorium, but your listening enjoyment will make up for it. The same applies to your bedroom. Try some acoustical room treatment. To experiment, you can put pillows in corners and blankets on the walls. When you find the right combination, then you will know what types to buy.
Q I want to build a home theater system. I boxed myself in by installing Advent (4-6 ohms) in-the-wall speakers a few years ago. I have a 50" television. The home theater system will be for TV, VCR, DVD (not stero/music). Do you know of any receivers that accept rear channel speakers at 4-6 ohms with the other speakers at 8 ohms? Is there any way to increase the Advents to 8 ohms? Why do dealears not recommend using the TV output on a receiver for use of the TV's speaker for center channel in surround sound?
A All receivers will accept the 4 Ohm speakers in the rear and 8 Ohm speakers in the front. You will probably need to adjust the rear channel volume to make up for the fact they will be drawing more wattage than they otherwise would. There are several reasons not to use the speaker in your TV for the center channel. One is that TV speakers are not very good. Secondly, you would damage your TV's amplifier and the receiver's amplifier if they were both connected to the TV speaker. You could, I suppose, disconnect the TV speaker from the TV amplifier and just use the receiver's amplifier, but because the quality of the speaker is so mediocre, this is not worth the trouble.
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