My Home Theatre

It’s been a hiatus… I’ve been a bit busy lately, it’s summer time and all… I’ve been enjoying the beautiful weather with my family but I feel like I’m due, so here we go!

Home Theatre! This topic interest me big time, ever since I bought my “new” house 5 years ago I had been planning to do something nice in terms of an entertainment space. The space I had in my mind was a bit different then your typical audio/videophile types dream of but it’s what I dream’t of at this stage in my life.

I will be the first to admit that this post is late to the game, and I anticipate to upgrade my projector and receiver to native 4k within the next 6-8 months. I have my eye on you Optoma UHD60!

Coming from my previous house (a shoebox) I had a big room to actually call my mancave, a 25’x16′ room. The picture below is pretty unflattering… and it only shows the room from one angle, but this is all I could find for the time being… This was a couple days after we moved in. In hindsight I should’ve taken more before and after photos for this project.

mancave_before-1

Here is the original conceptual design of what I envisioned the room to actually become.

mancave-schematic

First step was to build the A/V closet and shelving, the closet did not exist originally so I had to rip out some drywall and attach into the existing framing. Here is a before picture of where I put the closet in.

AVcloset-before

Here are some pictures of the AV closet build out. The shelf design I found on another site, if I can find it again I will give them a kudos link, man is it a solid design – homemade shelf that can hold a ton of weight and gear. All of the supplies for the shelf I purchased at Canadian Tire and Rona. All of the cabling, connectors, wall plates and in ceiling speakers I purchased through Monoprice.

 

Here are pictures of what it looks like today, don’t mind the mess I have a few kids.

Projector Mount

If you look at the projector mount picture below you’re probably saying wow that’s a crazy mount is this guy a nutcase? Actually it’s pretty much mandatory in my mind to design something like this if the projector is going to be installed in a basement like setting.

When I originally mounted the projector I was truly a newbie… I affixed it directly on the floor joists, what a mistake. The feedback was vicious and the projector was bouncing like no tomorrow… and when it started to bounce it really didn’t recover quickly since there was nothing to absorb the movement that reverberated off the joists.

This is something I came up with through trial and error, this works for me, it doesn’t eliminate movement entirely, if my kids are bouncing off the walls upstairs it will shake, but it’s absorbed quickly by this design and I can rest well knowing that my investment is safe. To date I have almost 5000 lamp hours using this rig and the projector and lamp still lives on.

I used a large piece of MDF that spans three joists, I tapped into the joists using 2 1/2″ wood screws. From there I lined up where the projector was going to be mounted and penciled in four pilot holes where the bolts were going to be installed. These four bolts affix the actual mount to the MDF base, they are 3/8″ in width in my application, the bolts are fairly long I believe around 3 1/2″. I used several washers, rubber grommets and springs as you can see from the photo, these items are doing a lot of the hard work to minimize any vibration and impact.

projector-mount

Projector

At the end of 2012 I was on the hunt for the right projector for me. I didn’t want to spend a ton but I wanted a projector that was a good bang for the buck, but mandatory was good input lag and 3D. I stumbled across the BenQ W1070 Home Theatre DLP Projector. It’s a great unit, I’ve been using it now for almost 5 years, so it’s done really, really well… no issues whatsoever.benq_w1070

 

Screen

I went the Do-It-Yourself route. After abundant research I ended up using the following for the screen paint:

Sherwin Williams ProClassic Smooth Enamel Satin Finish Extra White – 6260 UNIQUE GRAY. I don’t believe Sherwin Williams carries this formulation anymore.

Down the line I believe I will switch to an actual screen for my next projector install. Don’t get me wrong the paint is great and a money saver, but I found that it cannot cover imperfections in your actual drywall. If you look close enough you can pick up on these subtle things while the unit is on.

I used a somewhat dark color for the rest of the wall around the screen. Sherwin Williams Classic 99 Satin Finish Extra White – 6549 ASH VIOLET.

The screen is approximately 110″ measured diagonally.

Screen Frame

I used 2 1/2″ MDF trim I mitered the corners at 45 degrees and installed L shaped hinges on the back side. I primed and painted with flat black paint and used brad nailer to affix it to the wall.

Speakers

I opted for a 7.1 configuration, the front and center speakers I got a sweet deal on from Newegg, they were on clearance dirt cheap… I could not pass it up. I picked the JBL Studio 1 Series Studio 190 Front and Center speakers. For the subwoofer I went with the Klipsch KW-100, for the sides I went with Klipsch RS-62s. For the in ceiling I went with Monoprice 6-1/2 Inches Kevlar 2-Way In-Ceiling Speakers.

The in-ceiling speakers I cut a plywood template to hold the speaker since I have a drop ceiling with soft fiberglass tiles. The plywood template fits into the 2’x2′ grid and the grid take the weight of the speaker and not the tile.

For the Klipsch surround speakers, I mounted the speaker to a stud on opposing walls using a single screw.

I am not an audiophile but they sound good to me, most would recommend not mixing and matching, but really for me I was going with the best value/deal at the time as speakers can be really expensive for something better then bottom of the barrel.

AV Receiver

For the receiver I went with the Onkyo TX-NR616, I had never purchased an Onkyo before but I can say I have been really happy with it.

The receiver can not fully power my front speakers in it’s current 7.1 configuration, if I used 5.1 it can power them fully, but the sound is still good, I don’t pump it too often… just something to keep in mind if you are purchasing an AV unit.

The one issue I have had which seems to be some kind of glitch where HDMI switching stops working after the projector is turned off, it doesn’t happen all the time… it is a random thing. Simply recycling power on the receiver corrects the issue.

IR Repeater

For extending my IR remotes (satellite receiver, AV receiver, etc…) I went the cheap route. I picked up a USB powered IR repeater from Amazon – Neoteck IR Repeater Infrared Remote 1 Receiver 4 Emitters Control Kit. I just plugged it into my AV receiver’s USB port to get power, and I installed the IR receiver discreetly along the edge of my drop ceiling. It’s cheap but it does the job and I can close my cabinet if need be and not have to fight with pointing remotes directly at the device.

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Pioneer VSX-1123-K

New for 2013 is the VSX-1123-K flagship non Elite series receiver from Pioneer. Airplay, HTC connect, Push Play for Android from the iControlAV2013 app, DLNA, MHL, Pandora and Internet radio. And that’s just scratching the surface. It has a plethora of codecs it can play, lossless audio formats, upconverts sources to HDMI and 4K resolutions, Audio Return Channel and 3D capable. It has two HDMI zones, two Audio zones, 90 watts per channel for 8 ohm impedance speakers and 165 watts per channel for 6 ohm impedance speakers. I would take the wattage with a grain of salt however. This also has the A/B Class amplifiers.

IMG_20130512_151054

First before I begin I think I need to cover Pioneer MCACC a bit. MCACC stands for Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System, and it is a piece of software built into the receiver which optimizes the sound for your room. You plug in a mic that comes with the unit and set it up at ear level where you would sit and listen to your music, movies and other audio sources. It will adjust the system sound and generate the best acoustics and listening levels for your room. Your first run you want to run MCACC in Full Auto, ALL CH ADJ, with the following speaker settings, either Normal(SB/FH), Normal (SB/FW), or Speaker B. Unless you have THX speakers set that option to no. Also for the above setting you need to to have at least a 5.1 system. I set my receiver to Speaker B when I ran MCACC. After I ran MCACC and then I copied the results to all 6 memory slots, just so I can have a backup when tweaking the settings. Even though I copied the results I only adjusted the speaker distance and some of the levels on only the first memory slot. Also MCACC will let you know if you have the phase of the speakers crossed, positive going to negative instead of positive going to positive and negative going to negative.

IMG_20130512_151124

This receiver has really good ventilation, nice big gaps in the case for heat dissipation. It gives off a lot less heat then my previous unit. Buying an A/B class amplifier that was my biggest concern, that it will generate a lot of heat. Fortunately that is not the case here, you could potentially put something on top of it provided of course that it has enough clearance but I would advise against it. Unlike my previous receiver this one will not cook breakfast.

Crossover or X.Over frequency is the frequency at which the LFE channel or the .1 channel for the subwoofer gets cut off at. Anything above this frequency will not be sent to the subwoofer. Also, apparently when studios mix the soundtracks to accommodate those without subwoofers the LFE gets mixed to the other channels as well. How much I am not sure. When you set the subwoofer to Plus the receiver will ignore the X.Over and all bass will be sent to this channel. If you have set the front speakers to Large and the Sub to just Yes, the full range of the L+R channel will be sent to the Large speakers. For instance my front speakers have a fq response of 37Hz to 20kHz, the sub covers 37Hz to 200Hz, this means that if I have a X.Over of 80Hz and my speakers set to large, the L+R channel will not be cut off below 80Hz and these channels will receive the full spectrum of the soundtrack. The subwoofer however will only receive the LFE (.1) channel at 80Hz and below. LFE channel only goes up to about 120Hz, so why is 80Hz a popular cut off fq? Several reasons, the Dolby LFE is normally 80Hz and below, DTS contains only about 5% of the LFE between 80 – 120Hz and as far as human perception goes anything 80Hz and under becomes non directional to the human ear more or less. You can set your X.Over at 120Hz or rather 150Hz and get the full LFE track. Alternatively setting a crossover for small speakers will send fq’s above this cut off to the small speakers and anything below to the woofer. If you want some more reading in regards to this, pages 132 to 134 of the official MCACC thread on AVS Forum have more detail. http://www.avsforum.com/t/1112470/official-pioneer-mcacc-thread/3930

I think the biggest mistake people make when they buy this receiver is that they do not run the MCACC, they don’t read the Manual, and that they don’t know how to set the receiver to playback the soundtrack properly. Read the manual, there are a lot of settings on this receiver for a reason and going in blindly will only result in your frustration. Personally there are two settings you need to understand AUTO SURROUND, ALC, DIRECT and PURE DIRECT. Here what the Manual says about these. DIRECT – Plays back sound from the source with the least modification next to PURE DIRECT. With DIRECT, the only modifications added to PURE DIRECT playback are calibration of the sound field by the MCACC system and the Phase Control effect. PURE DIRECT – Plays back unmodified sound from source with only minimal digital treatment. Direct mode uses EQ and Standing Wave. Pure Direct does not. Pure Direct only uses the channel level and distance settings gathered from your calibration. ALC (Auto Level Control) is perfect for night viewing, with this setting all channels will output at the same level. AUTO SURROUND, as it specifies picks the best surround mode for you on the receiver.

I generally use Direct for all my listening needs as it applies the MCACC treatment in only a limited manner. I like the way it sounds, in movies it makes it sound lively. This is a subjective preference though. Compared to my AVR 2650 from Harman Kardon this receiver kicks ass. It does not have that boomy sound, and it balances the Highs, Mediums, and Lows quite nicely. Where as my H/K sounded kind of flat. After running MCACC on this Pioneer and tweaking the levels a bit afterwards I feel immersed in the movies. This device gives me that Theater sound experience that I did not know I was lacking with the H/K Avr 2650. Either way I am satisfied with the sound reproduction on this.

The iControlAV2013 app. I use an Android device the Nexus 4, and the app is a convenient way to browse my music library on my DLNA server and phone itself. The Push Player in the input section of the app tries to mimic the Airplay feature from iOS devices, it does a nice job. The Push Player has a nice layout and is very easy to use. Using the volume rocker on my phone will respectively turn the receiver’s volume up and down. When playing music via push player an icon appears in the status bar of the phone for quick and easy access. The fact that I can be lying on my bed and turn on my receiver via the app is very nice, then I can browse and push songs to it. Before you can do that the Network standby feature needs to be turned on in the menu. You can switch zones and sources with the app, control volume, switch inputs, change listening modes, change the balance, phase, emphasize the bass or treble, and many other features. It is a nice visual representation of the controls available for the receiver. Mostly I use the app for playing music, when I’m watching TV or Movies I reach for the remote. Also the App is free for both Android and iOS.

The DLNA server connectivity option is also great, I have a linux media server at home and this device connects to DLNA server perfectly. I use Plex Media Server. I love being able to stream my complete music library to the receiver and with this supporting lossless formats I don’t need to convert anything. One thing to note and I have found this a constant on the net, and even in my past personal experience windows DLNA server which is built into some of Microsoft products is less than stellar and has connectivity issues. Even if you get the device to see the server once that does not necessarily mean it will see it again. Take it from an IT guy, find yourself a third party applications like Plex, TVersity or Twonky. These applications are more reliable and are universal not proprietary to the manufacturer. Microsoft product only works well with microsoft product, avoid like the plague.

IMG_20130512_150852The remote has a ton of buttons, I like options, so the buttons are very welcome. Learn the remote and all it’s functions, it can be a quick and easy way to make changes on your receiver. Also it can be used as a universal remote, it is capable of learning other remote codes effectively eliminating a bluray player, TV remote, or any other IR remote. The remote feels very light and flimsy, however the button presses are very responsive and I like the receiver function button. For anyone with kids this prevents the little ones from making changes to the settings if they decide to pick up and play with the remote.

The OSD is not pretty by any means, but who cares it has to be functional. As far as I’m concerned I care about the functionality of the device and the quality of sound reproduction than a pretty interface.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are available via adapters, unfortunately you have to buy them seperate. Personally I try not to use Wi-Fi where I can, most of my house is wired, I have two gigabit switches sitting in each room that has a TV and network capable devices. I only use Wi-Fi on my phone and laptop. So this receiver is wired. Bluetooth is very lossy, generally I stay away from streaming music via Bluetooth there is too much quality loss. Also it is very susceptible to interference, if you’re an audiophile this is probably not your cup of tea anyways. Now Pioneer says that it has some sort of tech that improves this, the only way I would consider Bluetooth as a streaming option is if the Bluetooth copied the entire digital file and buffered it in memory for playback. This is the only way that I can see the original file retaining it’s quality, unfortunately I can not find any information on the Pioneer Bluetooth streaming except that you require the Air Jam application for android to stream the songs to the Bluetooth device. Also the Pioneer devices are Apple friendly, including AirPlay and such.

With 7 HDMI inputs and analog source to HDMI and 4K up-scaling you can’t go wrong. It has a second HDMI Zone out, so you can have a different sources on two different TV’s add Zone B speakers and this thing is a sure winner. This device will allow HDMI pass through after it has been switched off. It will pass through the last source that was selected on the receiver before it was turned off.

moses-rtfm

Zone 2 functionality seems to be somewhat of a mystery to people when it comes to this unit. Don’t worry it was to me as well, but then I did a little digging or rather reading and got it going. Remember, RTFM. Either way it was a non issue after that. Settings for Zone 2 are as follows, in the receiver menu go to 4.System Setup – 4a.Manual SP Setup – 4a1.Speaker System and change to ZONE 2.
Then go to 4f.Other Setup – 4f7.Play ZONE Setup, set Play ZONE to ZONE 2. If you are using the secondary HDMI zone you will need to make changes to the HDZONE settings.

You are able to change the contrast, hue, saturation, etc… on this device. Just like the audio options there are many video adjustments that can be made.

ARC also supported on this receiver, unlike my previous receiver this time around it was pretty much plug and play. On the receiver you need to go to the Sytem Setup – HDMI Setup and turn Control On and ARC On. Once you do this you need to setup your TV on Samsungs it’s called AnyNet+ on LG SIMPLINK… etc. Each manufacturer has their own proprietary ame for the CEC control standard. I tested ARC with Netflix and the receiver was playing back the DD 5.1 soundtrack perfectly. For ARC to work in any setup one needs to user an HDMI 1.4 spec cable, see the chart below taken from Wikipedia.

HDMI version

1.0

1.1

1.2x

1.3

1.3x

1.4x

2.0

sRGB

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

YCbCr

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

8 channel LPCM, 192 kHz, 24-bit audio capability

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD video and audio at full resolution[F]

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Consumer Electronic Control (CEC)[G]

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

DVD-Audio support

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Super Audio CD (DSD) support[H]

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Deep color

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

xvYCC

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Auto lip-sync

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Dolby TrueHD bitstream capable

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

DTS-HD Master Audio bitstream capable

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Updated list of CEC commands[I]

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

3D over HDMI[142]

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Ethernet channel

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Audio return channel (ARC)

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

4K resolution support[143]

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Two things, I read somewhere that ARC puts a strain on the HDMI board on the Receiver and that it is recommended to use the Optical instead. I don’t know how much truth that holds. I also want to add that I am no longer using the Geffen HDMI detective with this receiver, I do not get audio and video flicker anymore. If you’re wondering what that is just have a look see at my previous blog post “The device that saved my home theatre.”. It appears that it was the Harman Kardon receivers fault after all, poor HDMI boards.

A lot of people think that you should be able to plug and play something and it should sound amazing. Unfortunately this is the culture a lot of manufacturers are breeding, specifically Apple. I have to disagree. You are able to get away on this receiver by just running the Advanced MCACC and leave it at that, and the receiver will sound beautiful. However if you want the Maximum out of your experience I suggest you play with some of the sound options. Start with the basic stuff like levels and balance, then perhaps work your way up to adjusting the EQ and seeing what sounds the best for your environment and listening pleasure. One buys a receiver so they can get the best out of their home theatre, take some time and learn the functions if you don’t understand them, play with them see what they do to your sound reproduction.

I have to give a big shout out to the people of AVS Forum in the MCACC thread. While I was figuring out this receiver they were a huge help, and very knowledgeable. A lot of professionals and enthusiasts that have a passion for this stuff. If you ever have any questions about AV stuff I recommend navigating over there and asking some questions. Thanks

I give this receiver 8 out of 10, the instructions could have been much clearer and the X Over settings are very confusing to beginners. However the sound and connectivity of this unit are simply amazing.

Things to come.

It’s been a month since I posted, but the blog has been on the back of my mind and I have a series of posts that I have drafted in my memory. I’ve been a little busy setting up my home theatre and dealing with defective receivers/TV’s.

I’m still waiting on my passive 3D TV from LG, it should be in at some point this week. I even bought a couple 3D blurays to test the 3D out. Jurassic Park and The Hobbit. 

As far as my receiver trouble goes, the HDMI board blew on my Harman Kardon AVR 2650, so I have been dealing with that. This was my second H/K receiver in one year and so I returned the product for a full refund to Amazon. In the last few weeks I have been researching a replacement, finally I decided on a Pioneer VSX-1123-K. I liked the feature set and connectivity options this receiver had to offer. Also in the AVS Forum pioneer receivers came highly recommended so I took the plunge.

First Impressions were good, I liked the fact that the remote was riddled with buttons, labels and sub labels. To me this means one thing this thing has options, and if there is one thing I like in my electronics, it is options. The remote felt kind of light and cheap, H/K remote was a bit heavier and beefier.

The sound after running the MCACC is much nicer on the Pioneer, it seemed the the HK preferred the boomy sound over a fine balance of highs, mids, and lows. I really love the sound on this receiver, it is very movie theatre like.

I no longer need the HDMI detective, video and sound flicker is gone this receiver has none, and finally I have the ARC working from my TV to the receiver. 

The Android app for the receiver is a nice bonus as well.

I will do a full review on the Receiver in the near future, I’m still playing with it and figuring out the speaker settings. The cross over on the Pioneers is a little different than the competition, instead of each speaker having it’s own crossover the crossover is universal, however there are other factors that play into Pioneers crossover.

In the next series of posts I will cover a home theatre setup, starting with server and media player, receiver, and finally TV. 

Cheers.

The Device that Saved my Home Theatre

I enjoy movies and TV immensely, I have since I was a kid. As a teen I used to stay up till 4am on fridays and saturdays watching old school films on the local channel. If I ever have an hour or two of free time it’s a coin flip between video games, TV show or a Movie. I live in a 3 story apartment building, and I’m positive that my neighbours must hate me by now. I crank the shit out of my volume, on a 0-100 volume scale I hover around 65, and 75 if it’s action packed and full of awesome effects. My go to movie for testing sound effects is the first 20 minutes of Star Trek First Contact, I’m sure there are better movies out there for testing audio system setups but Star Trek holds a special place in my heart.

Home Theatre

The entire setup, sans the rear surrounds.

My Home Theatre setup is as follows. The TV is an LG 60” Smart TV, beautiful picture except for the fact that mine was shipped with a defect in the panel. I am in the process of getting it replaced but since it is the time of year where manufacturers are switching to their new product line LG has no stock of 60” TVs at the moment. Funny fact, when the repair guy showed up at my place to have a look at the TV and opened it up, the label on the LCD panel inside read SHARP. He also said he has never seen a panel with the issue that I have. Smart TVs are nice having the option of netflix right on the TV is a nice add on, and the LG magic remote is a pleasure to use it is similar to the likes of the Wii remote if you’ve ever used one.

Panel and Problem

Panel defect, top left, dark pixels. Sharp panel on the inside.

Harman Kardon AVR 2650

Harman Kardon AVR 2650

The receiver is a Harman Kardon AVR 2650, 7.2 surround, 3D support and in general just beautiful sound. It is capable of plethora of audio codecs, as well as DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD. I have yet to get the Audio Return Channel to work but whatever, modern TVs have optical output, so really it is not a dealbreaker for me. Also a device connected to my receiver does not allow ARC, but we’ll get to that later in the article, essentially this limits my options with ARC. It also has network connectivity which allows music streaming from internet radio or a local DNLA server. Yes, I could have went with other receivers that have better on screen display, and more features, however I was not willing to sacrifice the audio quality that Harman is known for just to get a few extra bells and whistles.

The JBL loft series speakers are connected to my receiver, and a Polk Audio subwoofer. I have 2 Loft50s for fronts, a Loft20 center speaker, two Loft30s for surrounds, and a Polk Audio PSW10 subwoofer. This setup is nothing special, but it does the job. In the future I hope to upgrade to an Axiom setup, drool… http://www.axiomaudio.com/. Now I had no idea JBL was owned by Harman until I bought them, so I assume I matched up the setup quite nicely. I got a really good deal on these speakers too, boxing day is a blessing. I pretty much got a good deal on most of my equipment, I’m a bit of a frugal man so I save where I can. Sound reproduction is excellent. At first when I bought these speakers I had trouble finding the appropriate crossover settings and reading online yielded only suggestions and no exact settings for this option on my receiver. At first I was running the receiver at default settings, which was I believe was 100 for all speakers, boy was I ignorant. Is sounds so much better with the right settings. It’s like night and day.

So what is crossover? Crossover frequency is the frequency point you set at which the speakers start to feed their information to the subwoofer. This is set by the room acoustics, speaker frequency range… etc. There are a lot of factors involved in this measurement, and this is why I could not find an exact metric for my setup online. You kind of have to calculate/quess it. I found a good article explaining this crossover feature on Cnet, check it out it really goes into depth of crossover http://forums.cnet.com/7723-7596_102-308924/what-is-crossover-setting/. This is where the EZset/EQ swooped in to save the day, it pretty much took all the guesswork out of the equation for crossover. Set it and forget it. Well not exactly, after the EZset setup my crossover frequency I went in the menu and tweaked the distances and levels of the speakers. This involved a measuring tape and listening to music in 5 channel stereo. No this is not the device that saved my Home theatre, this is the device that helped me get the most out if it.

Finally I have all this connected to my network which hosts a home server sporting the Linux UnRaid distribution, with movies, TV, and my Music on it which is all reachable directly on a SAMBA share or via a DNLA server of the Plex flavour. Actually a friend of mine turned me onto this server OS and I couldn’t be happier with the switch from Windows to Linux. Check it out both UnRaid http://lime-technology.com/ and Plex Server http://www.plexapp.com/. Plex is nice because it does transcoding for PS3 and Xbox 360, and can be installed on WIndows, Mac, or Linux. I also have a PS3 an Xbox 360, HTPC, Gaming Computer, and a Bluray/DVD/HDDVD player connected to the receiver.

The Problem

Some call it video stutter, audio drops, there are so many names for it. I call it, bad programming, however before I continue I need to explain to you what EDID is. EDID stand for Extended Display Identification Data, EDID id is how an Xbox or PS3 tells a television set that it is connected to to the display, that it exists, and what resolution it is capable of. And the communication goes something like this…

EDID

Anyways the problem I encountered was one that i really did not notice until I got my new LG TV. I upgraded from a 5 year old 46” Samsung LCD to a new 60” LG Smart TV.

When I had my Samsung connected to the receiver I had the occasional video flicker, mostly on my HTPC. My gaming and other video devices didn’t really cause any problems.

So I didn’t really think much of it. I bought a new TV, I wall mounted it, and started it up. At first it worked flawlessly. Yeah it worked, it worked until i restarted the television, this is where you should insert hours of cursing and troubleshooting. The only way the whole setup would work is if I turned it on in a specific order as per the receiver troubleshooting guide. Even then sometimes this did not help at all, and when I did manage to get video going there would be other issues I would experience. I would have to turn everything off for 5 min and try again. Check out my video on YouTube… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIFTPkttjrI

I blamed the receiver at first, as did hundreds of other people on Amazon. This is wrong, it is not the receivers fault, it is actually a combination of both receiver and the television set. Mostly however it is the television set and bad programming. But how do you know this Dave?

Well, this is not my first run in with an LG television and bad EDID communication. My first instance was about 2 years ago, I was setting up a Patriot Box Office in the basement and connecting it to an LG TV. Nothing, that is what I got on the television, no sound or picture. Now I knew this worked because as soon as I connected the PBO to my Samsung television, the PBO booted up and I was able to watch videos and listen to music.

The second run in was with my Fathers LG LCD. I was over at his place and I had my Dell XPS laptop with me and an HDMI cable. We decided we wanted to watch a movie where my laptop was the source. Once I connected the laptop to the TV I got a video but no audio. I tried several cables, and finally came to the realization that it’s not going to happen.

The third incident is in the form of my own Home Theatre. Oh man I was so livid when this first occurred, new TV, good surround but yet I can’t watch anything without audio or video dropping out. It also affected my Xbox 360 and PS3, the 360 would flicker really bad and I could not get any audio or video on my PS3. So came the hunt for my solution.

The Hunt

I spent hours on the net reading about the problem, searching, researching, reading, and then reading some more. Scratch that, not hours but days. Then one night at 1 am when I was looking at other receivers I stumbled upon this review on Amazon http://goo.gl/m8Na9. Whaaaaaaaa?!?…. yup… “Video issues like yours occur when HDCP or EDID information doesn’t sync properly between the receiver’s HDMI repeater and your TV.” Bells and whistles went off in my head, and I wanted to do Dance of Joy http://vimeo.com/6530632.

I found the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems. Beer! Kidding, I had finally found my culprit, right there in black and white from experts was exactly what was going on. I kept reading reviews on the HDMI detective and EDID issues. Most users had the problems with their HTPC and Receivers, but it all seemed very familiar to me. I found a couple reviews and complaints about receivers in general and this problem was not isolated to just HTPCs.

I thought I found the solution but I wanted to make sure. So I kept digging and reading, trying to find weather or not this EDID issue could be resolved by a device one of the posts mentioned. Nothing concrete, but I said “Screw it!” I’m going to pick one up anyways and give it a try. Worst case scenario I can send it back, with Amazons amazing customer service this will be a non issue.

Gefen HDMI Detective Plus

Gefen HDMI Detective Plus

The Solution

This is where the Gefen HDMI Detective comes in. http://goo.gl/gbW4r . Like a superhero swooping in to save a damsel in distress, the HDMI saved the day. I bought mine from Amazon. It was very easy to setup, literally it took less than 5 min.

Gefen HDMI Detective Plus in action.

Gefen HDMI Detective Plus in action.

The Gefen HDMI Detective Plus attaches to the HDTV display’s HDMI input connector for initial programming. Power is applied and the HDMI Detective Plus reads and stores the attached displays EDID to the internal memory. Then the HDMI Detective Plus is attached to your source HDMI output and it will never lose EDID again.

The HDMI Detective Plus includes 5 built-in selectable generic EDIDs that can be used for meeting standard home theatre setups. They can be selected by moving the dip switches between the different settings. I used one of the preset settings that come pre programmed with the device.

EDID

EDID 5 was my preset of choice, it can handle DTS, Dolby and 1080p is its native resolution. This was good enough for my Home Theatre setup and, 3 months later it is still up and running no more video or audio drops.

Conclusion

At the time of writing this, one of these devices will set you back about $130. You can find them for cheaper but rarely. If you’re like me this does not even cover the cost of cabling and shelving I had to buy for my system.

All in all this is a must have device for any Home Theatre, most setups have an HTPC if that is the case this device can save you a head full of ache. I paid the $130 and didn’t even look back, I’ll have this for the life span of my system and it is a small price to pay for a piece of mind.

Side Notes

For those of you that have EDID problems with your PC and a TV set check out this thread in the AVS Forum about changing the EDID on your video card driver. Otherwise you will need the Gefen HDMI Detective. http://www.avsforum.com/t/1091403/edid-override-thread

Update

Just a quick update.

I wanted to mention a few things about the receiver I have, mainly the crossover frequencies and an observation.

The crossover fq settings are as follows:

Front: Large

Centre: 60 Hz

Surround: 40 Hz

Subwoofer: Present

Mind you, these are based on my room size, device, and speakers. JBL, Loft 50, 30 and 20.

Update 2

Since writing this I am on my second H/K AVR 2650 receiver. The HDMI board on it blew last week. I have decided to return it to Amazon, who by the way has the most excellent customer service . I’m really pleased doing business with them and will continue to do so. I have decided to buy a Pioneer VSX-1123-K receiver from Amazon, or a local retailer if I can find it for a similar price.

Update 3

Both HDMI boards were bad on the two Harmon Kardon receivers. With my new Pioneer I no longer need this device, and it sits collecting dust in a box somewhere. Since this issue I have learned to avoid Harman Kardon hardware. The consensus is that since 2009 and the move of all manufacturing and design to China these devices have drastically dropped in quality.