Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Home Theater

I'm stuck at home today with a cold, or maybe allergies. It's hard to tell. The unusually warm weather we've had so far this Fall have wrought havoc with my allergies.

Partial consolation for dealing with the congestion and snot is that I get to use my new home theater setup. We got an Olevia 227 LCD HDTV a couple of months ago. Picture quality is pretty good but the audio sucks. There's an omnipresent hum at low volumes. When this got to be really annoying I went online and did some research, and it's apparently a design defect. There's inadequate RF shielding between the LCD backlight and the built-in speakers. The only was to get rid of the hum is to use external speakers. (I did email Olevia customer support but they blew me off. This will be the last Olevia product we ever buy.)

Naturally, to use external speakers you need to use an amplifier. I've had a set of Polk Audio bookshelf speakers that I bought in 1990, but didn't have a modern amp. My old amp and tuner were 1979 vintage Onkyos (given to me by an uncle after he upgraded his stereo system). They still sound good but the speaker selector needed repair and of course, didn't have a remote control.

When it comes to home AV components naturally the sky's the limit on how much you can spend. But, I didn't want to spend a ton of money for a new receiver. After doing some research, on Saturday I ordered an Onkyo TX-8222 receiver from Crutchfield. (I bought a couple car stereos from them in the early 1990s and liked the customer experience. This time it was just as good.)

The new receiver came yesterday. Considering I ordered it on a Saturday that's basically overnight, even though it was shipped UPS Ground. YMMV if you live further away.

I set it up with my DVD/VCR player, and cable set top box pumping their audio directly into the receiver, so they don't first pass through the TV. (I did try it the latter way at first but volume was unacceptably low.) With the direct-to-receiver configuration, though, the system sounds great.

Onkyo sells an iPod dock as an accessory. I'm considering buying one since most of my music is on my iPod, and this would be a very convenient way of listening to it at home. OTH, I am toying around with eventually picking up a Mac Mini to add to the system. The Olevia has a VGA input which would handle the Mini's video, and I'd just need an audio cable to run from the computer to the receiver. This would allow me to listen to and view everything I have in iTunes on my TV, along with home movies I make in iDVD. And with a Bluetooth keyboard, I could surf the Internet on a 27" monitor.

But I digress.

Onkyo supplies an AM loop antenna and an FM wire antenna. Reception is OK but nothing great, depending on the station. I'll probably build up a better FM antenna.

So far I'm pretty pleased with the Onkyo TX-8222. It's a good, basic home stereo receiver. It has 6 audio inputs and built-in AM/FM stereo with 50W per channel, which is sufficient to provide clear audio at any volume I'll be using. It doesn't have fancy surround sound but the audio sure blows away any system I've ever owned. The warranty on parts and labor is two years. For under $200 delivered it's a great value.

1 comment:

Rael said...

Hi! Onkyo, Oppo... both sound the same, both sound just as well. Oppo itself I think did well under the scrutiny of CNet.
some breaking Home Theater News: Even tech reviews (gasp) concur. CNet's Most
agree--sic--on two home theater choices, the Philips HTS3555 (below $300 range) and the Panasonic SC-PT750 (below 600). Both have an integrated DVD player.