Blu-ray Fast Track

I recommend:

A plasma TV or monitor with a native resolution of 1920 × 1080 (1080p), support for 24fps (frames per second) and HDMI 1.3a input. Check out an ordinary standard definition TV signal to ensure it looks good as that is a good measure of the TV’s image processor. Calibrate the picture with a DVD-based calibration program for each video input.

A Blu-ray player with 1080p/24fps video output preferably with a Reon chip for deinterlacing/upscaling non-1080p video and 7.1 bitstream audio output of Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD High Resolution, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio via an HDMI 1.3a output.

An Audio-Video receiver that can accept and pass through a 1080p/24fps picture and decoders for Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD High Resolution, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The receiver should be matched to the impedance and power rating of the speakers.

A minimum of five speakers, preferably six or seven and a subwoofer. A pair of front effects speakers are a great add-on for DSP (digital signal processing) effects if your AV receiver supports them.

HDMI 1.3a-certified Category 2 (high-speed) HDMI cables × 2 from the Blu-ray player to the AV receiver and from the AV receiver to the TV, speaker cables × 7 and a subwoofer cable.

Deep Colour (and x.v.Color) support are optional, however having at least the TV and AV receiver future-ready is prudent. A Blu-ray player that can upconvert 8-bit colour to 12-bit colour is a good option if your TV can display 12-bit colour (not just accept 12-bit input and downconvert it back to 8-bit).

If the TV, AV receiver and Blu-ray player all support HDMI-CEC (consumer electronics control), or as Panasonic calls it, EZ Sync (pre-2008) or Viera Link, you are in for a treat. Turning on the AV receiver while watching TV should automatically switch the audio output from the TV speakers to the AV receiver, and your TV’s volume control should then control the AV receiver’s volume. If you are creative you can set up the system such that switching to the AV receiver/Blu-ray input on the TV automatically turns on the Blu-ray player and switches the AV receiver’s audio output accordingly, using HDMI-CEC alone, with no need for a programmable remote.

Read the instructions manuals to understand all the options and directions for the best possible setup, hook everything up, run the calibration programs and you should be good to go.

Newer AV receivers are self-calibrating using the auto setup function, but are not perfect – some falsely report one or more speakers as being out of phase, small instead of large and/or the volume settings do not corroborate the readings of a sound pressure level meter. Some AV receivers are known to overheat, cause popping sounds in the rear speakers with DTS-HD MA or drop audio momentarily with Dolby TrueHD.

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