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HINTS & TIPS HE 109

 

1

After spending a few months trawling the pages of Home Entertainment and shop demo's in an attempt to try and please the girlfriend on the size of the speakers I finally opted for the Def Tech Procinema 80 package and the Denon 3802 Amp with Pioneer DV747 player. I am really happy with this set up but I have a couple of questions for you:

 

I recently read somewhere that you should not have the speaker settings on ‘small’ on the amps set up menu, what setting should I use?

 

The speakers are ex-display so I didn't get any instructions. I do not know what the crossover settings are for my amplifier, can you advise?

Jon Tolley, Nottingham

 

A

The ‘small speaker’ mode on many home cinema amplifiers is designed to help balance the system by steering more bass towards the sub-woofer, to compensate for a smaller speaker’s inability to handle low frequencies. The Procinema 80’s front and surround speaker’s bass handling abilities are actually quite good, nevertheless it won’t hurt to compare the settings, though we usually recommend using the large speaker setting. The same applies to the crossover settings, try the options and listen to what it does to low frequency effects (LFE) information on the sub woofer output.

 

Even in the absence of instructions you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment. Of necessity speaker instruction manuals only deal in generalities and the performance of your system will depend as much on external factors, such as a the size and layout of your room, furnishings and even your own taste and sensibilities. Provided you take simple common sense precautions, like not turning up the wick to danger level, there is little or no chance that you will damage anything.

 

 

2

I bought a Bush ‘Universal’ DVD player, it plays Region 1 discs okay but when I come to play my region 2 titles it will not play and a message comes on to my screen saying ‘wrong region’. I was wondering if you could help me?

Alan Emmett

 

Q

If you purchased the machine in the UK you should really take it back to where you bought it from as you have clearly been sold a Region 1 model by mistake. As you probably know officially there’s no such thing as a ‘universal’ DVD though it’s hardly a secret that a lot of machines are sold with the region lock disabled so they can play discs from any country; many others can be ‘hacked’ with a simple code entered into the remote handset or front panel controls or they can be ‘chipped’, which involves sending them away for surgery (see Quick Tip). Bush players are sourced from a variety of companies. Most can be hacked, a few are able to play R2 discs straight out of the box but there are a couple of models where the region lock is fixed and the only option is to have them chipped. Unfortunately you didn’t tell us which model you have – always a good plan – but since there are currently only four known handset hacks for Bush players you can try them all. If it can be hacked tapping one these sequences into the remote should bring up a hidden service menu with an item for region code selection, you enter a region number (1 to 6) or 13 for all region replay (see also Getting Started). Here are the hacks: 

Open/Close, 2001, Enter

Open/Close, 0123, Play

Open/Close, 77, Enter

Open/Close, 330880, Play

 

 

QUICK TIP

Although some companies sell DIY chipping kits it’s not something you should try unless you are familiar with mains-powered devices, know your way around printed circuit boards and are adept with a soldering iron. Some of the kits require you to insert remove or replace components and these can be very fiddly. It’s easy to make mistakes, particularly if you haven’t got the right tools or know-how and you could easily end up with a very expensive doorstop, and don’t forget, once the lid comes off the guarantee is worthless…

 

 

3

In the "Xtra Info" sidebar on page 45 of the June 2002 issue of Home Entertainment, it was stated that "the dipole speaker" ... " radiates sound to both sides of the speaker", while "the bipolar speaker" ... " has both side- and front-radiating sound components".

 

However, in the Jargon Buster on page 98, it is stated that, "A dipole loudspeaker pushes air out of one side of the speaker while it sucks it in at the back, and vice versa; bipoles push and pull in step." Could you please clarify as to which is the correct definition of these two

types of speakers?

NgunKWm, via email

 

A

It can be confusing but both definitions are essentially correct. Di and bi polar type speakers are designed specifically for surround channel operation. A bipolar speaker directs sound in two directions at once using two driver units mounted opposite one another, (or at an angle). The speakers are in the same phase, which means that they both ‘push’ and ‘pull’ at the same time. In a dipolar speaker the two drivers are also mounted opposite each other but they are wired out of phase, so one pushes whilst the other pulls. This has the effect of creating a ‘null’ area or dead zone along the 90-degree axis to the speaker, so they are usually positioned to the side of the listening position. Provided you’re not seated in the null area a dipolar speaker generates a large and diffuse soundstage, making it harder to pinpoint the location of the speakers. Bipolars on the other hand are best placed behind the listening position where they can spray sound all around the room, providing a more enveloping and focused soundfield.

 

QUICK TIP

The trick to getting the most out of di and bi-polar speakers is careful positioning with respect to the shape of the room and the seating position. In general di-polar speakers should be at the sides and a little behind the listening position so they radiate forwards and backwards, it’s important to make sure the dead zone is well behind the listener. Bi-polars are usually a little easier to install, and more forgiving, some people prefer the better localisation, especially on dynamic action blockbuster soundtracks.

 

 

4

I'm about to enter the world of home cinema and due to just buying a house and getting married next year, I can only stretch to around £2000. I already have a Toshiba SD100E DVD player, which is great. My options so far are a Marantz SR5200 amplifier, (online for £350), JVC AV-32L5EKGY TV, (online for £1200), or Philips 32PW9617C (£1300). I really need advice on the speakers, they must look good or my fiancée won't have them

(preferably with a beech finish) I could go to about £500. Alternatively I could buy an all in one system and move my DVD player to the bedroom, the Sony DAV-S800 meets with her approval…

Chris Coley

 

A

Shame on you, this is the twenty-first century! It would be unprofessional, not to say unethical for us to recommend speakers in such circumstances. Since, presumably, you will both be using the system, possibly even together, it should be a joint decision, based not just on looks or what you think your partner will tolerate, but on that other fairly important little detail, performance. If you’ve settled on the separates approach – and in theory it will give the best results – you should both pay a visit to your local AV emporia and see what’s available in your price bracket. Any dealer worth his or her salt -- armed with information about your room size, décor and preferences – will be able to steer you towards a shortlist of suitable models but don’t be surprised if they talk you into increasing your budget a little, you may find that £500 limits your choice somewhat.

 

QUICK TIP

Can you get a decent AV speaker package for just £500? You can but they are very few and far between so if you can dig a little deeper it will really help. Don’t forget you are buying at least six speakers, all of them fairly specialist in nature and some of them at least will be quite substantially built. If it helps think of speakers as a long-term investment, they should easily outlast the other components in your system, and unlike most other consumer products, they can actually improve with age.

 

 

5

Believing me to be an ‘expert’ a friend of mine has asked me to help him connect up his recently purchased Panasonic TH42PWD4U to the rest of his equipment. He has a Toshiba SD220 DVD player, Samsung VCR, Sky digibox and a Sony Playstation 1. I was surprised at the lack of SCART sockets and I'm unsure how to contact all of the above to the Plasma screen. Is some kind of switch box the answer or are there other connection systems, which can be used? He also has just bought an AV amp Yamaha AX620 and a Mission home cinema speaker package, which also needs hooking up. Any assistance would be appreciated so I don't look like a bumbling fool.

David Carey

 

A

The SCART socket is a European oddity, just about everywhere else in the world uses separate sockets for audio and video connections. It’s not a problem, the DVD player connects to the TV using the component video connections – preferable if it’s a chipped multi-region model and your friend has a lot of R1 titles – or an S-Video lead. If you can’t find phono to BNC leads for the component video connection (see Getting Started) use phono-to-phono cables with phono to BNC adaptors. Connect the digital audio output on the DVD player to the digital input on the amplifier using an optical (TOSlink) or coaxial (phono) lead. The VCR uses a SCART to phono lead, the video goes to the panel and the stereo audio goes to the VCR input on the amplifier. The Satellite receiver connects to the VCR with a SCART to SCART lead, use a stereo phono lead to link it to the amplifier. The Playstation can connect to the satellite box using a SCART to Playstation lead.

 

QUICK TIP

TVs are relatively inexpensive mass-produced commodity items and because of differing broadcasting systems they have to be configured for the country or region they are to be sold in. On the other hand plasma panels are essentially video monitors – i.e. they have no built-in tuners – moreover they are expensive low-volume products and are built with multi-standard video systems for the ‘international’ market. Nevertheless, differing technical differences can be taken into account and some manufacturers house the AV connections and the power supply in separate box or module. 

 

 

 

6

I have a two and a half year old (i.e. out of warranty) 28-inch Sanyo widescreen TV (model CE28WN3-B).  The picture had 'wandered’ off the left side of the screen in all modes (4:3 and 16:9) so it must be the horizontal hold is out. The screen on my PC has buttons on the front to adjust this, where are the controls on my telly? Do I get an engineer out, who will charge the earth (and possibly want my arm and leg too) for five minutes work or do I get a manual off the net and do it myself via the remote or can I fiddle with something inside? I used to do PC support work so fiddling around inside is not a problem for me.

Tony Barrett

 

A

It certainly sounds like an alignment problem, which should be fairly easy for an engineer to fix but if the shift has happened in a relatively short period of time it may be indicative of a fault. The days when TVs had user-accessible controls around the back have long gone. On a modern TV most adjustments, like picture geometry and position, are usually automatic, to compensate for the aging effects of various components. When manual intervention is required the adjustments are usually carried out using on-screen displays or ‘service menus’, which either involve the use of a plug-in control module, a special service remote or require an access code. The reason these facilities are so difficult to get at or protected is because there is a real chance that you could do some damage and a lot of the adjustments require the use of specialist test patterns or measuring equipment that you almost certainly do not have. Knowing a bit about PCs is not sufficient qualification, bite the bullet and pay to have it seen to by a professional.

 

 

QUICK TIP

DIY TV repair is a very bad idea. Unplugging the TV from the mains doesn’t make it safe, colour TV picture tubes are driven by an EHT (extra high tension) supply of around 25 to 28,000 volts. CRTs can retain a powerful charge for hours, sometimes days after the TV has been switched off. That sort of shock can kill or knock you, and possibly the TV as well onto to the floor, and you really do not want to be anywhere near a TV picture tube when it implodes!

 

 

7.

I am currently in the process of buying a widescreen TV. I have narrowed it down to a Toshiba 32Z13B. I live in Southern Ireland and because of the serious lack of Toshiba dealers I have been looking at the net, specifically Empiredirect where I can get the TV for 600 Euro less than anywhere in Ireland. My problem is, previously TVs purchased in the UK would not work here due to different transmission bands. Is this true for current models? Any advice would be much appreciated.

John McSweeney

 

A

TV’s sold in Southern Ireland need to have dual standard VHF/UHF tuners, (similar to ones fitted to models sold on the continent). That’s because the Republic has a well-established cable TV network, which uses VHF frequencies. Terrestrial broadcasters use the same TV transmission system as the North of Ireland and the mainland (PAL I, 625-line, channels E21 to 68), so there are no other technical differences, apart from the tuner, which on UK sets are UHF only. Toshiba does produce a version of the 32Z13 for Southern Ireland but it has the suffix P (the B suffix indicates UK/Britain). Unfortunately there’s no simple solution and you will have to order the set locally to make sure you get the right model.

 

 

QUICK TIP

Buying AV products over the net can save you a packet but you really do have to keep your wits about you and watch out for problems with video systems and standards, formats and even mains voltages, especially when purchasing equipment from US sites. You should also watch out for import duty and VAT, which UK Customs and Excise can (and usually will) levy on goods purchased outside the EU. This can easily wipe out any savings – you may even end up paying more! For more information visit: http://www.hmce.gov.uk

 

 

8

I'm setting up a Home Entertainment system from scratch; I've picked a Sony 50" TV and now need a DVD package. My living room is 30ft by 10ft in size; the TV sits 20ft from the sofa. I've read good reviews about the Sony DAV-S800 package but am concerned if it is powerful enough for a large room. Is there a rule-of-thumb formula, which relates watts to room size?

Sukhwinder Ubhi

 

 

A

If only… Unfortunately life’s not that simple and it is very difficult to relate the output power of an amplifier to what we perceive as volume or ‘loudness’ within a given space. Many influences are at work including speaker sensitivity and efficiency, the design of the enclosure or cabinet, the type of cable used to connect the speakers to the amp and the distances involved, even the weather has an effect. That’s not to say it cannot be done and if you’re really interested you might want to have a look at some computer software that purports to do the sums for you: http://www.pilchner-schoustal.com/

old/acoustic-x/software.htm; if you’re a pen and paper sort of person then there’s also some frightening-looking mathematical formulae that can help you to figure it all out; pay a visit to:

http://www.snippets.org/alsr/meaning.html.  In the end, however, simple logic suggests that the DAV-S800, good though it is, may be straining to do justice to such a large screen and fill the space.

 

 

GETTING STARTED 1 – DVD ALL REGION PLAYBACK

It’s quite possible that your ‘all-region’ DVD player, whether it’s been hacked, or chipped, or you bought it that way, will still refuse to play some Region 1 DVDs. That’s because of a clever little tweak called Region Code Enhancement, now being added to some R1 movies, in particular those from Colombia Tristar and Warner Home Video. RCE coding is effectively a small program or ‘script’ that is recorded on the disc. When the DVD is loaded the script is loaded and it effectively ‘interrogates’ the player, checking a part of its operating system called the SPRM or System Parameter Register. It is looking for the region code lock command function to see if the player is set for Region 1. The script then asks the player if it can play discs from any other region. If the player returns a ‘no’ answer the disc plays as normal, if the answer is yes the player is told to go to a menu branch on the disc, stops playback and locks the controls. The static menu page displays a graphic of the world with a warning message to the effect that the disc is okay, but it’s not allowed to play on machines that have been modified. The good news is that RCE is easily defeated on players with hackable region locks, all you have to do is switch the player to Region 1 only playback and the disc will play. On some other models – set for all region playback – it’s possible to trick the player into playing the disc by pressing the Stop button as soon as the disc loads or chapter skip and selecting a chapter or time, then use picture search to get back to the beginning of the movie.

 

 

GETTING STARTED 2 – COMPONENT VIDEO

Component video confuses the hell out of a lot of people and even TV and DVD manufacturers, who should know better, manage to get it wrong now and again, so let’s start with the basics. In a normal composite video signal brightness, colour and synchronisation signals are all mixed together. It’s convenient because they all travel down a single cable, but picture quality suffers because the various signals interact with one another. S-Video or Y/C (where Y is brightness and C is chrominance or colour) video helps reduce the interaction by separating the colour and brightness signals and sending them down two wires. RGB goes one stage further by separating the three colour components of the video signal, and it’s the best way of connecting a PAL TV and DVD players together. In the US the preferred connection method on high-end home cinema setups is Component Video, also know as ‘Colourstream’. Picture information is split into two ‘colour difference’ signals and brightness called Y, Cb, Cr. The colour difference signals (Cb and Cr) represent values for blue and red colour information respectively; the green colour signal is represented by the ‘difference’ between the two signals. To muddy the waters still further there is another component video connection system used in the US on HDTV (high definition TV) systems. This carries a wider colour palette and the connections are labelled Y, Pb, Pr, however, some manufacturers are incorrectly labelling the component video outputs on non-HDTV equipment. In all cases though component video outputs are easy to spot because they’re almost always phono type connectors in groups of three.

 

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Ó R. Maybury 2002, 2308

 

 

 

 

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