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Messages - cool_moe_dee_345

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Okay, now, not to quibble with Steve, but jumping straight to Zektor for your component switching needs is putting the cart before the horse to a great extent.  For one thing, if you have any legacy gaming equipment you like to keep hooked up or external devices (for instance, my TV is currently plugged into a Dreamcast, an Xbox original, an Xbox360, a Playstation 3, a GameCube, a DVD player, a PC, and, until recently, a cable receiver), quickly becomes prohibitively expensive.  While I will agree that Zektor's offer very little interference, the fact is that some of that interference they're eliminating is virtually invisible to the average viewer.

For my part, I use a somewhat older Pelican switch that's out of production now, but can be modded to incorporate an IR remote and up to 7-way optical audio switching, which is important, since for reasons I will never understand, that became the standard ahead of coaxial digital.  If you can find one and are okay with doing some home soldering, that's the way to go.

However, here are some rules for buying a switch you can live with that don't involve pogo-sticking blindfolded into the realm of mostly unnecessary high-end audio equipment:

1.  Use your surround receiver.  You should have one, and it should have a lot of holes in the back.  It's almost impossible to find a receiver that supports, you know, ten different video inputs with surround sound, but you should remember to count what you can get out of your receiver (for example, mine will switch two different HD video/audio feeds) when you do a wiring diagram.

2.  Speaking of which, DO A WIRING DIAGRAM.  It doesn't have to be complicated, but draw a picture with all of your boxes, all of the wires coming out of them, and where you're going to put them or need to put them.  This will be IMMENSELY helpful during setup.

3.  Know your television.  Specifically, know how your television processes audio.  The easiest way to get video and audio out of anything with one cable is an HDMI port.  If you don't have a pretty-expensive receiver, however, you can't send the signal to the receiver for the audio and the television for the video, but instead need to do the video processing first, to avoid problems with some flags that make your television not show anything (has to do with copy protection).  As a result, a typical approach would be to run the HDMI back to your television, let it strip out the audio, and run a wire from your television's audio output to the receiver.  THIS ONLY WORKS, HOWEVER, IF YOUR TELEVISION SENDS SURROUND AUDIO TO THAT PLUG FROM NON-ANTENNA SOURCES.  I'm yelling about that because this is a problem I've run into a lot.  Quite a number of televisions, and particularly older ones, don't bother to send the 5.1 or 7.1 signal that they receive over HDMI over to the audio output jack that they have hooked up to their signal receivers, and, as such, you can't get surround sound out of your television if you do it that way.

4.  Once you know how many inputs and of what type you need to switch that you can't get out of your receiver, it's time to start shopping for switches.  Generally speaking, the folks over at the AVS Forums will give you a reasonable review of how each product performs, though they also tend to be a bit snobbish (they will also, for instance, tell you that Zektor is entry level, which is a blatant lie), in addition to letting you know about other things you might be able to do with your device, like the way I could modify my Pelican switch.

5.  Important things to consider in a switch include the following:
a.  Signal Loss - signal loss is what happens when you put the wires in one end and what comes out the other is quieter.  This happens whenever you pass anything through anything.  Most powered switches don't have a problem with this, but unpowered switches (less common, but still available) can be criminally horrible.
b.  Interference - the ugly wavy line was interference.  This is what happens when the manufacturer uses crappy internal circuitry that either can't handle the signal, doesn't process it correctly, or, in one remarkable case I had to deal with, doesn't properly shield the inputs from one another.  This is the killer.
c.  Remote Control - this is very important if you use a universal remote.  The one annoyance for me about my current switching setup is that I have to get up from my recliner to manually switch between the 360 and the PS3 because I haven't modded an IR receiver onto my Pelican.  If you don't use a universal remote, this is probably not as big of a concern.
d.  Input Count - how many and what kind.  This is important, and this is why you have your wiring diagram.  You need to know, for example, if you need component, DVI (almost unheard of any more), VGA, or HDMI for the video and digital coaxial, analog R/L, individual component, optical digital, or HDMI for the audio.  For example, my Pelican can switch up to 8 HD sources (meaning component video in - the three plugs), but only three optical audio streams without modification, which means that most of those sources aren't that useful, since you WANT digital audio with your HD visuals.

If I can get hold of one of my friends today, I'll pop back in and give a recommendation for a remote control switch that he and another friend of mine use that's safely under $200, high enough visual quality that they don't see any problems, remote controllable, and available at some big box stores.  Otherwise, while Zektor is nice to have and will certainly work, it's certainly the expensive solution to the problem.

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