It’s not my birthday just yet (not until Friday), but that didn’t stop me from doing some early shopping for presents. This weekend, I went out and bought a new receiver for my setup at home. I got a new 7.2 Yamaha receiver, and this thing is wicked slick.
I’ve been wanting to upgrade my whole audio setup for a while now, and this is the first step. I’m going to do it pretty much piecemeal, adding or upgrading one item at a time, and the receiver was the first one to go.
This thing has some really cool features. For one, it supports all the extra HD codecs that Blu-Ray supports, two of which enable up to 7.1 surround sound, and two which are lossless. Right now, I only have one Blu-Ray disc that supports 7.1 channels (Sleeping Beauty), but since I don’t have the extra speakers, I won’t know for a while how nice it sounds. But, one major point of doing an upgrade is to future-proof the system, so that’s what I did.
I also bought some nice stereo speakers to compliment the receiver, since I figured most of the sound goes through there. My good friend Jason, who is far more the audiophile than I’ll ever be, tried explaining to me that most of the audio comes through the center speaker, and I’d be better off investing in that. I didn’t really understand how it could work that way, so I bought some side speakers anyway. It should be worth mentioning at this point, that my audio experience can be summed up pretty simply — I just like the aural experience of feeling like I’m surrounded, and as far as my class as an audio expert goes, I couldn’t tell the difference between a phone and a tin can on a string.
I was sure, though, that since I wanted it to sound like stuff was coming from all sides, that I needed good speakers for the sides. So I got some good ones. As I was wiring the new receiver, though, I noticed that it had been opened and returned by someone else. The previous owner’s hair being all over the place was a good indicator. I think they owned a cat who apparently thought a receiver would make a great tanning bed. I wanted to make sure it would work properly before I set everything up, so I wired my old speakers, and being the lazy bum that I am, only did the side ones, leaving out the center speaker. I popped in a Blu-Ray (Clone Wars) and everything sounded fine. I puttered around for a bit looking at the manual and left the movie playing. After a few minutes I realized that I wasn’t hearing any dialogue. That seemed normal enough, since I knew that it comes through the center speaker, but what I didn’t realize was that wasn’t *all* that comes through there. There was a cool space battle (which is one reason I recommend watching Clone Wars — some of the coolest Star Wars battles are in there), and all I could hear from the side speakers were these little pings. None of the good stuff was coming through at all. Well, there’s nothing like real world experience to school you, so with that, I packed up the very expensive speakers and took them back. I still haven’t found a good center speaker I like, but I’m glad I didn’t blow a load of cash on an otherwise mostly secondary effect.
I also took my receiver back, in exchange for one uncoated with fur, and setup my old speakers and away I went. The setup came with a little microphone that you can plug in and run an automatic setup to determine the distance of the speakers and how they need to be adjusted. That is really nice. One of my speakers had to have the volume level slightly higher than the other one, so it worked out well to get it all balanced. Despite the 7.2 capability (supports two subwoofers as well), I’ve only setup a 3.1 system so far — two bookshelf speakers, one center, one subwoofer. I’m not sure how I want to wire my living room just yet for surround sound, and for some odd reason the idea of running speaker wire across my ceiling or floor seems a little unsightly to me. I guess I’ll never be a true A/V geek.
All in all, though, it sounds really nice. For some odd reason, my old receiver had a perceived A/V sync issue on Blu-Ray discs played from my PS3. It’s gone with this one, I’m glad to report, though I’m still not sure if I was just imagining it or not. Another great feature I found out about is that the receiver will upscale and export any input video through the outgoing HDMI port. That means I can plug in pretty much anything from Composite to Component and have it all go out through one display port. Not a bad feature, but my TV already comes with something like 7 input sources anyway, so I probably won’t ever need it. It also has a Monitor Out feature, where it will give you an OSD for the setup. That is a really nice touch.
Just as cool as a new receiver, I got a new book in the mail from my parents — Batman Animated.
I’m not much of one for coffee table books, but with Batman, anything goes.
I probably wasn’t supposed to open it already, but if I get unwrapped presents in the mail, you can bet your bippy I’m opening it up.
It’s a great book. I absolutely love the new animation style that started with Batman: The Animated Series that Warner has been using since. I’m a real freak for certain styles of art. The whole book is all sketches, drawings, commentary and the like. Awesome stuff.
I wonder what else I’m gonna get …. er, that is, from myself for me. I asked my little sister the other day, “Why is everything I want to get so expensive?” She said, “Because you’ve already bought everything affordable.” How true it is. Happy burfday to me