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My New Home Theater PC Setup - Questions

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Old 10-23-2008, 09:25 AM   #1  
High Definition is the definition of life.
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Default My New Home Theater PC Setup - Questions

Hello everyone!

First time poster here, new to the world of HD goodness, looking to get some advice before I spend a lot more money then I already have...

I just bought a 46" Toshiba REGZA 1080p HDTV last night from my local HHGregg for $1150. (I feel like that was a steal)

I have a pretty beast PC. (at least it was a year ago!)

I'm looking to hook my PC up to the TV and use it as my new monitor and Blu-Ray player.

I'm looking to get an internal drive blu-ray player like this:
(can't post URL's until I've had 5 posts... ) Newegg Item=N82E16827136133

I purchased a DVI to HDMI cable to plug into my TV from the DVI port in the back of my video card. That should arrive at my house tomorrow.

My PC specs are:

Intel Core2Duo E6750
EVGA 8800GTS 320MB (it supports HDCP)
EVGA 680i SLI Mainboard
2GB (2x1GB) Corsair Dominator PC2 8500

I'm assuming that the DVI to HDMI cable will allow me to operate my PC at the 1920 x 1080 resolution on the TV, but I haven't seen anything that gives me a concrete answer to that. Anything else to it? or is it that simple?

In addition, when I put in that blu-ray drive, (and update the firmware) is it going to be as simple as installing the drive, use a program like PowerDVD and BAM it all works?

I also have questions about sound. I've got a really really old soundblaster audigy (1st gen) sound card that I don't even use, but I doubt that would be able to handle the sound needed for High-Def. Forget I even mentioned that card, I probably won't even use it. I was looking to purchase something like this: (can't post URL's until I've had 5 posts...)
newegg Item=N82E16829102024

That PCI-Express card will fit in my motherboard, and at that point it should just be a matter of getting a sound system to plug it all into, correct? Stop me if I'm wrong here...

I build computers on the side, so I know the ins and outs of PC's, but this home theater stuff is foreign to me. I'm especially clueless about the audio aspect of it.

I just want to be able to use my PC to play Blu-Ray movies on my new TV, and have some banging sound to go with it. I plan on getting something like a 5.1 system dropping the speakers from my cieling, and running the cords up in my attic. The TV is mounted above my fireplace mantle (no I don't use the fireplace).

Will a "home theater in a box" work? Will I be able to plug my PC audio into that, plug the PC video into the TV, and watch Blu-Ray in all of its glory? Or will I need to buy a receiver and speakers?

For audio I'm looking to spend about $450 max. (not including the soundcard I have listed above)

So, like I said, I'm clueless about this audio/video stuff, I'm just looking for advice. This is either a) going to be as easy as I think it is, b) I'm on the right track, but just missing a few key pieces of info, or c) I'm way off and need tons of help before I go out and waste a bunch of money.

Totals so far:
Internal Blu-Ray Drive: $150
New sound card: $100
New Home Theater Audio: (up to) $450

I definitely want at least a 5.1 setup. If I get that soundcard, does that mean I don't need to buy a receiver? (sorry for being clueless about this...)

Please help! I'll give more information, or whatever else is needed for some solid advice.
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Old 10-23-2008, 10:44 AM   #2  
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Hi,
I have a 42 Toshiba REGZA 1080p HDTV. To connect your PC is that simple. You must use HDMI 1, then I recomment to use exact scan and you get a perfect image of your PC desktop, incredible good quality.
I use the sund card of mother board conected to a Marantz HT amplifier and the sound is very good, of course you need some type of amplifier.
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Old 10-23-2008, 11:37 AM   #3  
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Awesome, thanks!

So that answers my PC to HDTV video question. One thing though... what is "Exact scan"? Is that a feature of the TV? A PC feature? I haven't heard of that before.

Questions I still need answered are:

-With my current setup, what is needed (or what is good to have) for some banging audio to accompany my new video? Component wise and speaker-wise. Some examples of actual speakers or setups would be nice.

-When I put in that blu-ray drive, (and update the firmware) is it going to be as simple as installing the drive, use a program like PowerDVD and BAM it all works?

-Will a "Home Theater in a Box" system fit my needs? I'll want my PC audio to come out of my 5.1 setup as well. Pretty much any sounds from my setup I'll want to come through my 5.1 speaker setup. I'm thinking a receiver is going to be needed to plug in all of these different inputs.... but I don't have any clue about receivers.
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Old 10-23-2008, 11:44 AM   #4  
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I spent months doing research before purchasing parts for my HTPC and home theatre setup. It's an ongoing process that I enjoy.

fuentesjm is right, you will need an amplifier of some sorts. The sound card is just transmitting the signal of the sound, and doesn't push out the power needed for the speakers to play.

I find that a receiver is basically a must have. ONKYO makes decent ones. I have an older one that doesn't have any HDMI inputs, but now most of them do. The best setup (IMO) is to have the HDMI sending video to your receiver, and then using an optical cable to send audio to it from your PC. Then, use an HDMI->HDMI cable from your receiver to your TV. You could route other devices like Xbox or cable box through the receiver.

On my setup I have a universal learning remote that have the channel changing programmed to the cable box, volume changing programmed to the receiver, and power button programmed to the TV. Depending on how versitle your remote is, you can put everything into one profile.

Essentially your blu-ray playback should work like you are thinking. Cyberlink has a BD/HD advistor http://www.digital-digest.com/softwa...D_Advisor.html that should come with the software on your BD drive. If there is a problem with your setup, it will tell you.

I also ran speaker wire through my attic and mounted my 7.1 system. It's a good feeling you have after you're done, but you will lose some weight in that attic if you do it in June like me We connected the wires to 2 faceplates with 2 speakers per plate, so 4 speakers total, plus the 4 (sub, center, R, L) near the TV.

1920x1080 should not be a problem. I will tell you that if you try to first hook it up with a resolution that your monitor doesn't support (like 1920x1200 or some other resolution with a different aspect ratio) then you will most likely see a black screen. If that happens, plug it into a real monitor then change it, then try again.

Audio is my weakest point when it comes to this setup, because I'm not familiar with the different formats and technologies. So, all you audio experts, please correct me if I'm wrong, or add additional info that I may be missing. Is this your motherboard?: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813188014 If it is, it has an optical out, which means the Blu-Ray software can just spit out the audio (digitally) in pass-through mode and let your receiver do all the decoding. This gives you the best possible quality, and means you wouldn't have to purchase a sound card. This is what I do with my HTPC, and I'm able to get the 7.1 audio to my receiver via optical pass-through.

I think you are on the right track with most of your asumptions. How you do plan on controlling the PC, via wireless keyboard and mouse? Check this remote out: http://www.ehomeupgrade.com/2008/09/...-retail-today/
I have that one (except an older model w/o the lcd screen) and it's good for HTPC setups because you can program your TV and receiver into the remote, as well as control your computer and computer's mouse by waving the remote in the air (like a Wii remote).


EDIT: I'm not sure about "exact scan". That terminology doesn't really go with the PC aspect, it could be something with your TV. Alot of TV's over-scan the image to make sure the TV is filled, so this results in some of the edges of your video being cropped a little bit. "Exact scan" could be a setting on your TV that disables it's overscan and spits out a 1-to-1 pixel mapping, like a regular LCD monitor (which is ideal). If you ever edit videos, a lot of video editing software has "safe boxes" to show you that if you put some content outside of these boxes, they could be overscanned and not show up on the TV.

Last edited by DexterMorgan; 10-23-2008 at 11:49 AM..
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:02 PM   #5  
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Wow, thanks DexterMorgan!

-Yes, I do plan on controlling the PC with a wireless keyboard and mouse. I don't have one yet (still using a wired setup), but I figured that would be easy. I still want to be able to play a game or two using the ol' keyboard and mouse setup! I wonder how Crysis is going to look at 1920x1080 on my TV...

-One thing I forgot to mention, the HD Television that I have is through my cable provider, Charter Communications. I'm kind of bummed that they don't have a zillion channels in HD, but I'll take what I can get. I basically get a greatly reduced price in internet, and don't want to have the hassle of switching to Dish. They will arrive tomorrow morning to setup the HD cable.

-I saw that BD advisor, and I plan on running that on my PC... but I'm at work right now and can't do it yet!

-Yes, that is my exact motherboard. I'm not sure what the optical out consists of, or what is involved in that as I've never used it before, so I'll need a little bit more information about that if you've got a link or have time to explain it. What I'm gathering from your post is that there is a cable that I can plug into my motherboard that will connect to a receiver that carries the audio signal, and from there my receiver will push it out to the speakers?

-Does the receiver get my Cable input? Or does my cable box hook up straight into the TV? I hate asking questions about receivers... anyone have a good "receivers for dummies" link I can read to spin myself up?
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:08 PM   #6  
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Exact scan is a TV setting that gets rid of overscan. Other TVs have different names for the same thing like standard/fill, 1:1 pixel, etc.

I have one of those drives and it comes with a PowerDVD program to play all of the formats. If you upgrade the PowerDVD to the latest edition it has dropped the HD DVD playback ability, so I won't do that since I have both HDM formats. Your computer should be just fine for HD but to be sure you can get the CyberLink advisor (free download available here: CyberLink Blu-ray Disc Support) to have it check it out for you. It will do both a hardware and software check.

As far as audio goes I would use an optical connection to the surround equipment and yes, a HTIB will work as long as it has the optical audio input. I'm not a fan of those as you really don't need another DVD player which is usually included. I think a 5.1 receiver is a better deal, myself, but it is going to be your system so go to the stores and see what they have.
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:18 PM   #7  
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here is an optical audio cable: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16812123013 you can find these any almost any electronics sctore (CC, BestBuy, etc...)

here is an example of a home theatre setup in your budget: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16882120081 I'm not a connoisseur, but that one seems like a decent system.

So the optical cable connects from here:


to here:


Your HD cable/satellite will almost surely give you a box with an HDMI cable. Note that HDMI cables transmit audio AND video, so that one HDMI cable connecting your cablebox to your receiver will give you HD video and audio. The reason you would need the optical cable is because I don't think your graphics card is sending the audio through the HDMI, I think it's just sending HDMI only. Your receiver then plays all audio from all sources onto the speakers you've connected to it.

so yes, your cable, HTPC, and anything else should plug into your receiver, and then your receiver feed the video to your TV. This way if you want to switch from HTPC to cable, or to Xbox or something, you select "Video 1", or "Video 2" on your receiver and it will switch inputs.

Last edited by DexterMorgan; 10-23-2008 at 12:23 PM..
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:33 PM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbinck View Post
As far as audio goes I would use an optical connection to the surround equipment and yes, a HTIB will work as long as it has the optical audio input. I'm not a fan of those as you really don't need another DVD player which is usually included. I think a 5.1 receiver is a better deal, myself, but it is going to be your system so go to the stores and see what they have.
Thanks rbinck,

I'm leaning toward a receiver as well, because you are right, most come with a DVD player, and I already have one of those in my PC. We'll see though. I have a feeling the audio and receiver is going to be a little more complicated that I would like... The video seemed easy enough.


Dexter,

I can't see those pictures, possibly because of my work firewall, so I'll check them out when I get home. Thanks for the link on that HTIB. That's definitely an option. Are the speakers you mounted in your room that big? What are you using?
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:40 PM   #9  
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I'm attaching the images incase my image provider isn't working right.

my receiver is 3 or 4 years old, but it's basically the same as the one I linked but without the HDMI inputs (which I wish I had ).

the speakers I mounted on the ceiling are the same size as the smaller 4 in the picture of the one I linked you. I think they look bigger than they really are, but keep in mind that they are pretty light weight because they are mostly hollow.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg opticalport.jpg (8.9 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg onkyoreceiver.jpg (31.0 KB, 6 views)
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Old 10-23-2008, 01:06 PM   #10  
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Alright, I like what I'm seeing here.

At Newegg I have the following three things in my cart right now:

ONKYO HT-S5100 Home Theater in a Box System $399.99
LG Internal Blu-Ray/HD DVD-ROM drive $149.99
Belkin Digital Optical Cable $7.99

Shipping - only $10.95... for everything to arrive UPS guaranteed third day service.

Anything glaringly obvious that I would still need before I make my purchase? I'd hate to start setting all of this up and realize I'm missing something and have to wait even LONGER!
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Old 10-23-2008, 01:34 PM   #11  
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So the items that I'll have out in my living room are:

-My 46" TV
-HD Cable Box
-My PC
-Receiver and speakers
-Nintendo Wii (I love playing Golf on this thing)

Reading reviews of the Onkyo HTIB, they are saying that a major con is: HDMI 1080P is strictly a pass through, video only"

What does that mean?
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Old 10-23-2008, 01:35 PM   #12  
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not really missing anything. you will need an HDMI->HDMI cable to connect your receiver to your TV. Also probably need 100ft of speaker wire, depending on your attic and room size.

I just want you to know that basically the only thing that is gonna take advantage of the full 7.1 surround is blu-ray movies. On anything else, or anything else 5.1 and less, you won't hear anything come out of those back speakers. Even during 7.1 those back speakers don't play that often (since most of the sound is centered forward), but when they do it is nice

here is the info on your speakers, you can see the surround ones are pretty light:

Dimentions:
Front Speaker: 6.13" x 14.63" x 7.81"
Center Speaker: 17.19" x 4.13" x 5.19"
Surround Speaker: 5.31" x 10.69" x 3.75"
Surround Back L/R Speaker: 5.31" x 10.69" x 3.75"
Subwoofer: 11.13" x 19.63" x 15.69"
Receiver: 17.13" x 5.88" x 14.5"

Weight:
Front Speaker: 6.4 lbs.
Center Speaker: 5.7 lbs.
Surround Speaker: 2.86 lbs.
Surround Back L/R Speaker: 2.86 lbs.
Subwoofer: 25.4 lbs.
Receiver: 18.5 lbs.



pass through only means it spits the video straight to your TV as if it were directly connected to your PC. I'm not sure why you would do anything else but this, or why it would be a con... They might mean that the HDMI output on the receiver only spits out video and not both video and audio. You really wouldn't need this unless you want sound coming out of your TV speakers, and most flat panel TV speakers sound horrible.

Last edited by DexterMorgan; 10-23-2008 at 01:50 PM..
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Old 10-23-2008, 01:55 PM   #13  
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So something like this for speaker wire should be fine? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16882379048

And I added this to my cart as well (HDMI to HDMI cable):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16882021039

Ok, so passthrough isn't a big deal. I just didn't know what it meant, or why people consider that a "con".

Since I don't want to screw up the wires, I assume I'll be "splicing" the surround sound speaker wires, so do you guys have any links for a decent "how-to" on properly splicing the wires so I don't jack it up?
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Old 10-23-2008, 02:03 PM   #14  
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The non-pass through receivers will get the audio from the HDMI input instead of just passing it through to the TV. It would eliminate the optical cable, but they generally cost more and the optical cable will do just as well.
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Old 10-23-2008, 02:19 PM   #15  
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Saving a few hundred dollars to have just one more cable going from my PC to the receiver is fine with me.
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