Home Entertainment Center

I’ve been working a lot lately on customizing our home entertainment center after our old Sony receiver died.   Here’s our setup:

A few things to note.  First, in Hawaii, DirecTV + HD + Locals requires2 huge satellites.  I believe they are 4 1/2 feet in diameter, each.   The pictures are amazing, I can’t wait for DirecTV to release the 70 other HD channels and the locals in HD (as promised) in the next few weeks.

Secondly, the Yamaha RX-V661 is truly a great receiver.  If you use the auto setup, it will tell you if your wires are incorrect, and auto adjust the sound levels using an omni-mic you place near your seating area.  I had tried manual setup at first and I had some crossed wires that were causing the unit to shut down, live and learn.

If you are looking into the RX-V661 I will wan you, don’t buy it for video upconversion.  It hard a hard time switching between SVIDEO input, Component, and HDMI for output on HDMI/Component to the TV.  The Sharp had 2 HDMI and 4 Component input sources so I was able to work around this.   If video upconversion is turned on, some sound modes are now available as it requires too much processing power.

The Harmony 880 is a very nice remote, but logitech’s interface for programming it is a bit annoying.  This is likely because my day job involves programming and I would rather just map codes, but instead, you have to use wizards.   Also, if you are using XBMC + the DVD Remote, be sure to google FakeChannelUp and FakeChannelDown so you can find codes that will allow page up/page down.   The ones on the XBMC wiki for Fake Up/Down actually send a code that changes my sharp TV to TV antenna mode.   I ended up programming it to the old remote codes from the Scientific Atlanta 8300 box that TWC offered out here.   Those codes were 43 and 44.  A few quick keymap additions to the XBMC xml files and I was back in business.

We have 5.1 right now,the receiver is capable of 7.1 but really, come on.   First, we live in an open air environment with fans, outside noises, and really, space concerns about adding 2 rear speakers.  The 5.1 mode works fine.

Before getting HDTV, I didn’t really think it was worth the money, time, effort, etc to acquire it.   Standard Def TV has worked fine, I saw no need to swap.   Boy was I wrong.  My first real excitement was seeing the Cubs @ Giants game on in HD.  Wow.   The football games too!  Now I find myself watching HD things I’ve seen before over new content on Standard Def channels… God what an HD snob.  I make myself sick.
One last thing, its a rant.  WHY on earth is Taledega Nights the ‘movie’ to test your HDTV setup against?   CNet, Best Buy, and others all show or mention Taledega Nights in discussions of HD quality or Blu-Ray quality.  Seriously…