Sound Heaven

So a ton of new toys arrived yesterday:

I was even contemplating of working from home on Friday, but I had some work that needed to be completed.

Anyway, my entire body (arm, thighs, back, etc) was really sore today. Almost didn’t want to get up. These boxes were heavy. One thing I found out about living alone is that it sucks to have no one immediately around to help you carry heavy things. I even ended up taking apart the Onkyo box and and bringing it into the house piece by piece.

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It was a good thing I purchased the TV stand last week. It’s no longer available at Costco. The cheapest I can find it now is $250 at Target and Stacks and Stacks, and I picked it up at Costco for $190 + tax shipped with lifetime warranty.

First thing I had to do was build the TV stand:
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I actually had trouble moving the TV over onto the new stand. It was really heavy. I even removed the speakers (which I won’t be using anymore) to make it lighter. At first I was thinking of just putting it onto the floor and then hoisting it back up onto the new stand. After trying to lift it up myself, I decided it was a no go. I then parked the 2 TV stands side by side and slowly edged the LCD TV and then in one quick motion, moved the TV onto the new stand because it was shorter in height.

I carried the old stand down to the storage room and there it’ll stay until I find a nice family that’ll take it. It’s actually a sturdy little beast, but unfortunately won’t be able to hold both my Media PC and my receiver. I then pushed the new TV stand to where it’ll probably end up to check out how it’ll look.
nexus tv standnexus tv stand

Next came the interesting part, setting up the Onkyo HT-SR800. There was a giant subwoofer, 3 mid-size front speakers and 4 smaller rear and side speakers. This was a 7.1 setup, one of the features I was looking for. Another feature I needed HDMI. However, do note, I believe this receiver only supports upto HDMI 1.2, which means it doesn’t process audio signals via HDMI (HDMI 1.3). That means if you want audio with HDMI, you have to associate it to either digital optical, digital coaxial, or analog composite.

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Hooking up the wires was fun, though I found out later that the included “speaker terminal tool” was really a tool to help me twist the speaker screws. Oh well, it wasn’t too bad with just the finders. The included speaker cables were 10-11ft for the front ones, and 30ft for the side and rear ones. Since I didn’t want speaker wires crawling across the floor, I had to wrap it around my sofa. Here’s the current layout:
living room setup layout

The layout is actually drawn to scale where 2 pixels = 1″. The little black dots represent speakers. I didn’t include the center speaker, but it’s located immediately underneath the TV. 30ft of speaker was barely enough to reach the side right speaker and has to run across the bottom of my fireplace. Also, the side and rear speakers are on the floor and the couch blocks a lot of the sound coming out.

That’s why I decided to pick up some speaker stands, speaker cable, and some other stuff (optical toslink cable and component cables) to complete the setup. Of course whenever cables are concerned, MonoPrice is my preferred store. I can’t believe how inexpensive their speaker stands are. $12 for a pair: Speaker Stand – Silver (SS-01) – Set of 2. There aren’t that many reviews on the silver one, but you can check out the reviews on the black version.

I only had 1 optical toslink cable which I had used before to connect my Xbox 360 to my computer. However, since my LCD TV didn’t have optical in, I haven’t bother setting it up. Now that my receiver has 2 optical toslink inputs, I can connect both my computer and Xbox 360 to the optical toslink port. As you can see, the 1st thing I tested was my Media PC:
testing media pc through new receiver

Unfortunately I ran into problems. First of all, I hadn’t figure out how to configure the which audio input to use at this point. After reading the manual a bit, I figured out how to set up that association. I had a video playing in the background in the meantime. However, there was still no audio. I thought maybe I needed to enable digital output as in XP, but I was unfamiliar with Vista’s new audio setup and it took me awhile to find it. Well, I actually found the option in the Realtek HD Audio Manager software that came with my motherboard. However, even after setting the digital output as the default audio device, the movie that was still playing still didn’t output sound.

I then tried connecting the Xbox 360 to the optical port and sound immediately came out, so that ruled out any potential problems with the receiver or the cable. I looked at the optical out on the PC and there was red light coming out and if I connected the optical cable to it, you could see the other end light up.

I’m not exactly sure what popped into my head, but I thought about restarting the video and suddenly it worked and sound was coming out! It must’ve been because the video player started playing when the it was still associated to the analog output and set that as the device to output audio to. The application needed to be restarted to switch to the new audio output device.

The rest of the setup was just putting all the equipment onto the TV stand, putting the TV into the perfect angle for viewing, and making the cables look nice.

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Cleaning up was mostly moving the big pieces of boxes down to storage or throwing them away. All the little styrofoam bits was picked up by my Roomba after I told it to start vacuuming.

This setup even included a mic which helps calibrate the receiver. That part was cool and it actually looks like it’s doing some heavy calculation as this setup portion takes about 5-10 minutes to complete. It would make beeping sounds from all the speakers one at a time and you have to repeat this process from 3 different locations. I’ll have to recalculate it when my speaker stands arrive, but it’ll do for now. It’s nice to be in sound heaven.

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