Which Home Theatre Receiver should I get?
October 22, 2013 1:17 PM   Subscribe

Help me pick a modern home theatre receiver that can switch video and audio for a pretty big variety of devices.

I've been looking into buying myself a new home theatre receiver. My old one is an old Pioneer from before digital surround sound was common. It's got separate audio inputs for each channel as wall as an on-board Dolby/ProLogic decoder. Great little box, but now I want something that supports digital audio (SPDIF Toslink and Coaxial) and switches video too, although I think my needs are a little non-standard.

My display is an Epson projector. Video inputs are:
1x Composite (not component)
1x VGA

In the current set-up I use my computer 95% of the time. I run a cable from the sound card output to the "CD" input on my receiver. (CD - stands for Compu-Durr) and VGA handily displays whatever from the computer, movies, TV, games, emulators. etc.

My setup also includes a number of game consoles, a VHS/DVD player, a BETA cassette deck and an video/audio switching box which I use to switch the audio for the receiver, and the composite and s-video for the projector.

Here's my list of outputs:
3x S-VIDEO + 2CH AUDIO (Retrode game console, PS2, Gamecube)
2x Component Video + 2CH Audio (original XBox, Gamecube) (would like to switch the gamecube from s-video to component)
4x Composite video + 2CH Audio (Sega Saturn, SNES, NES, VHS/DVD)
1x VGA + 2CH AUDIO (Dreamcast VGA Box)
1x VGA + 4CH Audio (Computer)
1x HDMI (PS3)
1x Phono (Turntable)
1x RF Channel 3 (Beta Casette)

So what I want is a way to easily switch between video/audio inputs, have all the audio coming out the speakers hooked to the receiver and all the video piped to the projector (it'd be great if I could leave the projector on HDMI all the time) The VCR/DVD converts the RF from the Beta deck into composite for me but quite honestly it looks terrible. If anyone knows a better way to get RF converted to S-VIDEO or something let me know.

So that's it... I'm dreaming of a receiver I could just hook everything up to and have one remote. Right now configuring my system to play something is tedious, switch the projector to correct video input, switch receiver to correct audio input, switch switch boxes to correct inputs (I have 2 switchboxes daisy chained so when I use inputs 1-4 on box 1 I need to make sure box 2 is set to "1" - It's not that I'm unhappy with the setup but as I said it's a little tedious and I'm the only one who knows the necessary voodoo to get the visuals and the audibles matching :)
posted by signsofrain to Technology (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Grab some adapters for your s-video gear and the RF, and check out Onkyo. I've got an Onkyo receiver and it's awesome. The unit's upconverting looks really great. I have a couple more rca plug output devices than the receiver has inputs, but that's easily solved with splitters. You can do the same with VGA. I have all of my old game consoles hooked up to one input on the receiver for games, various HDMI device inputs, and one for just audio.

Basically, if the receiver you're looking at has at least one input for each type of device you have, or if you can find a converter for the weird formats, you can solve the rest of your switching problems with splitters if you don't like changing inputs. It just works with whatever device is running currently. Then everything outputs through the HDMI out on the receiver.
posted by TheNegativeInfluence at 2:44 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have this system and an Epson projector - I hook all kinds of devices up to the receiver, mostly using HDMI, and use the remote to switch between devices. I have a PS3 and a blu-ray/dvd/cd player hooked up all the time, I plug my laptop into it when I feel like it, friends have hooked up their iphones and ipods up to it, and my boyfriend runs his cable into it as well. It sounds great, too.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:35 PM on October 22, 2013

Not really what you asked - but I would recommend you consider getting a good universal remote control - such as a Logitech 650. It should be able to control most/all of the devices you list as well as the receiver. You can then put sequences of commands together to make "actions". The control is what prevents the system from becoming a usability nightmare controlled by a forest of individual remotes.
posted by rongorongo at 1:57 AM on October 23, 2013

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