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Thread: Looking for a Surround Sound System

  1. #1
    NOT an online superstore drfsupercenter's Avatar
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    Default Looking for a Surround Sound System

    Hey, it's been a while since I've asked for help on this forum!

    My grandma said she'd buy us a surround sound system for our TV. We have the same 50" Panasonic plasma we bought a couple years ago. The thing is, our TV has VieraLink - and I know that means that if you get a VieraLink receiver, you can use the TV's remote and control the volume of the speakers. That seems like a nice idea, since my parents have no idea which remotes are which... and because using optical out from the TV into the receiver is easier than plugging everything into the receiver and having to use THAT remote to choose stuff.

    The problem is, I haven't seen VieraLink speakers in a while. They used to have one that was just a receiver with the 5.1 speakers, and that was that. I recall it being $300 at Best Buy. Now all I see is a system that has a Blu-Ray player acting as the receiver.... is that as good? We already HAVE a PS3, we really don't need two Blu-Ray players on the same TV... I was hoping maybe someone would remember those older ones and could help me find one.

    Thanks
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  2. #2
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    Technically, VieraLink, which is a form of HDMI-CEC, should work across manufacturers (so a Panasonic TV will work with a Pioneer sound system if both support a form of HDMI-CEC). The reality is that it's all a bit hit and miss, and you'd better off getting stuff from the same manufacturer if you want to use this function.

    However, you can always just use an universal remote, something from Logitech perhaps, which will then allow you to control all the functions or pretty much all your appliances from the same remote. But that's a new remote to learn, and it may be a bit too much for non techy people.

    It is hard to find one without a Blu-ray player in it, but if the price is right, then just think of the Blu-ray player as a free bonus, and it will also have VIERA Cast, like YouTube integration and other functions that the PS3 won't have.

  3. #3
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    Are we talking $300 for a 5.1 system incl. receiver???

    If so I would not want to spent time listening to that kind of sound/system.

  4. #4
    NOT an online superstore drfsupercenter's Avatar
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    Yes, it included the receiver.

    Here's what they have these days:
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Panasoni...kers&cp=1&lp=1

    They've also got slightly more expensive ones that have wireless rear speakers (I might go for that)

    But the thing is we really don't need another Blu-ray player... and I know they used to have one before that was just a receiver.

    I just kinda want to stick to Panasonic, because VieraLink means less fidgeting with remotes, you just tell the TV to use the surround and bam, you're golden.
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    I think Panasonic's range of HTIBs are all DVD or Blu-ray. They do have a receiver, but it's quite expensive, and Panasonic are not well known for their receivers. If you weren't so keen on using VIERA Link, I would suggest something like Onkyo, which do have receiver/speaker bundles.

    Also I think you need to investigate further as to just exactly what VIERA Link does, because I'm not sure you will be able to control your receiver's volume through your TV's remote. First of all, you'll need a HDMI connection between the all the VIERA Link devices, and this suggests that volume control and such would probably only work for playing Blu-ray movies, since normal TV doesn't go through HDMI and VIERA Link doesn't work over optical audio cables. From what I know, VIERA Link is only really useful for Blu-ray, pressing play to turn on your TV + receiver and control Blu-ray volume, and things like that. It can't be used for normal TV and other non HDMI devices, I think.

    I know for a fact that the PS3 can actually work with Samsung's Anynet+, which is their version of VIERA Link (all are based on the HDMI-CEC standard), but it appears that the PS3's HDMI CEC isn't compatible with Panasonic products. What I'm getting at is there *may* be other brands that are compatible with VIERA Link, but it's unlikely.

    If you want a one remote solution, then perhaps getting a Logitech Harmony and programming it for your parents may be the best solution (and it will control almost everything, even the PS3 if you buy the Logitech PS3 add-on).

    As for sound quality, it all depends on what you plan to use it for. If it's just casual TV and the occasional movie, then the cheaper HTIBs are probably okay. If it's for real home theater stuff, then a full receiver/speaker set up will be better.

  6. #6
    NOT an online superstore drfsupercenter's Avatar
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    I've heard good stuff about Onkyo.

    But hmm, VIERALink only works with HDMI? I was under the impression that it would work with any of Panasonic's HTIB sets - as that's what they're made for. My TV has a setting that has "Sound: TV Speakers", if you hook up surround you can just switch it to that. (Under the VIERALink settings)

    But if that's not actually what it does, well, wouldn't the easiest way then be to just use the optical output from the TV and plug that into a different brand receiver and go from there? We'd still probably get a HTIB set, just because they're cheaper... we don't need audiophile type sound, considering I've been using 2.0 TV speakers my whole life - just something that'll be somewhat good quality on surround.

    Any insight?

    --EDIT--

    http://panasonic.net/avc/viera/us201...ink/index.html
    OK, so Panasonic's own website says either HDMI or LAN cables... that's kinda disappointing, it really defeats the purpose IMO
    So then why exactly does it let you use VieraLink speakers on TV that's being received with the cable? That wouldn't be using HDMI really... I don't get it. Stupid proprietary systems...
    Last edited by drfsupercenter; 22 Jun 2010 at 04:13 AM
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    - you wont get "audiophile sound" from a $ 300 system anyway because the sound quality a system like this is able to produce has not much in common with what one defines as "audiophile"

    - if the only reason one has to buy brand XYZ is something like ABC_LINK (no matter what you call it) because more than 1 remote is overkill to the user: better stick to the tv and stay away from any surround system. this way of thinking/argumentation is ridiculous because then any kind of java menu or whatsoever new feature on a blu-ray will drive THAT user to the edge of despair

    - like it has been said before: get a logitech harmony and programme it - it's worth its money

    - HDMI connections transport not only audio- + videosignals but also control signals - as opposed to optical connections, so why do you want to stick to an optical connection?
    btw: older Viera Link components with HDAVI 1 can only be turned on/off but not controlled

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    NOT an online superstore drfsupercenter's Avatar
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    - HDMI connections transport not only audio- + videosignals but also control signals - as opposed to optical connections, so why do you want to stick to an optical connection?
    btw: older Viera Link components with HDAVI 1 can only be turned on/off but not controlled
    Because that way we can still do everything with the TV... then all you'd need the receiver's remote for is changing the volume.
    Like, everything plugs into the TV using component or HDMI, then optical out to the receiver and to the speakers. Rather than only using the receiver to switch sources, which is more annoying...
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    Almost all the new receivers support the new Blu-ray 7.1 audio formats, which you would miss out on if you aren't connecting your PS3 to it via HDMI (optical can only do 5.1 audio). I think that's too much to sacrifice just for the sake of some remote control functions, especially if you're getting a new receiver with 7.1 speakers. The remote problem you could easily solve by getting the Logitech Harmony (the cheapest is about $100).

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    With an optical connection you can NOT transport any HD audio stream; be it 5.1 or more and HD streams are getting more and more on BD these days.

    So the system will play the core only but I very much doubt speakers in that price range will make HD streams sound any better if connected via HDMI.

  11. #11
    NOT an online superstore drfsupercenter's Avatar
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    No, we'd only be getting 5.1... almost nothing even uses 7.1, I know a few Blu-Rays do but 90% of mine don't.

    And what do you mean transport HD audio streams? Opposed to what? It can do 5.1, what do you mean HD? I honestly can't hear a difference between DVD and Blu-Ray when it comes to sound. (And I've tried it on my friend's surround system)
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    We have to deal with basics of sound streams first as there seem to be some popular misconceptions on these formats:

    HD sound does not equal 7.1, so when i said you cannot get HD sound to play with a toslink/spdif then that is a simple fact and refers to 5.1 and above and does not have anything to do with 7.1. HD sound can be 7.1 or 9.2 but is 5.1 in most cases.

    HD sound formats have a too high data rate to be handled by toslink/spdif so only the core audio stream will be played (and yes, that's 5.1 at max - no more)

    This core is always present in order to guarantee downward compatibility for those players/sound systems which cannot handle HD sound formats. Most HD sound stream have 5.1 these days and only some are made with 7.1

    When it comes to dvd vs bd sound stream what difference do you expect to hear?
    the very same DD (ac3) stream which may have been used for the dvd can be used for bd; same goes for DTS so there must not necessarliy be any diffference at all only because one media is dvd and the other is bd

    then on the other hand if we are talking about HD audio streams (be it DD or DTS) then of course you will have to have more than a $500 surround system to really get the difference (in case it is there which again is not mandatory).

    you will need an AVR (or bd player with internal decoder and 7.1 output) which can handle (decode) HD streams, you will have to have decent speakers, you will need to be able to actually hear the minute differences (not every ear is able to do so) and most importantly: you will have to have a well mixed sound stream which in most cases is the main reason you will hear any difference at all - it is not so much the high definition sound itself!

    You should, however, hear a great difference when it comes to stereo sound as opposed to a 5.1 or 7.1 surround system in those scenes of certain titles which make use of decent surround effects.

    A very good example is the THX amazing life trailer, which is on the Avatar BD for example (after the credits on my version).
    This trailer will provide you with just about anything: fine high and middle tones just as well as very deep bass elements and of course a wonderful surround effect.
    Last edited by UncasMS; 23 Jun 2010 at 12:39 PM

  13. #13
    NOT an online superstore drfsupercenter's Avatar
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    Ah, well, we're not gonna get some $500+ 7.1 system. I see no point in it really, considering I've only ever used TV speakers, 5.1 will feel like a great improvement.

    And I just mean, all the Blu-Ray ads say "better picture, better sound", but the sound is often not really any different... I guess it's misleading.
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    It is not only misleading but bordering on impudence in some cases - picture quality even more so.

    Dont think they use a new/better master for all BD releases because sometimes the companies simply release the same old crappy dvd material 1:1 on bd.

    Take "Silence of the Lambs" for example - a great movie but such a bad quality on BD it's not worth the money let alone the label high definition.

    Then on the other hand you may find such masterpieces in unbeaten quality like Chaplin's "great dictator", "gone with the wind", "bonnie and clyde" or the remastered 007, which are simply amazing concidering their age.

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    Yeah, some Blu-Rays don't look any better than the DVDs.

    But regardless, I still need to find a 5.1 s system to buy - at this point I could get a receiver and speakers separately, doesn't matter to me, I just don't want it to cost too much. Though I think Onkyo has some HTIB sets, and are those any good?
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