Media Room Update: Denon 2313 and Steam Big Picture

Since my old Denon 790 decided to self combust (my fault), I decided it was time to finally finish our media room.  The TV is the excellent Panasonic ST50 which I wall mounted a while ago.  The extendable arms are a godsend when you are messing with wires and plugs highly worth it over the standard mounts.

From my Study I ran a 15 meter HDMI cable and a 15 meter USB cable which is connected to the TV.  As you can see, poking through the wall here is a powered HDMI splitter/extender which was required to eliminate Sparkle caused by loss of HDMI signal strength:

Wall plate behind ST50

Unboxing the Denon 2313.

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Shiny new Denon 2313.

Denon 2313

The new AUDYSSEY XT Calibration is even better than on the 790 model, I didn't have to tweak anything.

AUDYSSEY Calibration

The Study acts as the information hub with network cables running all through the house, during the build stage I also ran a 15 meter HDMI cable and a 15 meter USB cable (with booster) specifically for PC connectivity.  These keystone wall plates accept standard cables and can be interchanged simply by replacing the type of connection insert.

Study Plugs

And the end result is a seamless Steam Big Picture console type experience for under $50 for the wall plates and cables:

Steam Big Picture HTPC

 

XBMC on the Transformer Prime

As you may know, XBMC has officially been created announced for Android with the Source code available for those willing to compile and test on their Android devices.

The following video is XBMC running on the Transformer Prime with media shared from my main HTPC box wirelessly.  Impressive Stuff!

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csLJrpPr9r8

Denon AVR 790 Unboxing and setup

Recently purchased this little beauty, The Denon AVR 790 as an upgrade for my aging Pioneer.

It is interesting to note as per this AVS forum post from user Batpig that:

Q. What is the difference between the three-digit models (e.g. AVR 790) and the four-digit models (e.g. AVR 1910)?

A: Essentially, NOTHING. Denon puts out two parallel receiver lineups, with four-digit and three-digit model numbers. The four-digit models are generally sold by high end stereo shops and custom installers, and the three-digit models are the "consumer" version sold in retail outlets like Circuit City and Fry's.

However, there is ZERO difference in terms of power, specs, sound quality, build quality, etc. between the two lines. Denon has been doing this for years, it is exactly analagous to the Yamaha HTR and RX-V parallel receiver lines.

Batpig also has a very handy DENON-TO-ENGLISH DICTIONARY Setup Guide and FAQ.  Definitely worth checking out as he has put a significant amount of effort into helping with the Denon setup process.

The Quick Specs

The AVR-790 features the latest high resolution audio decoders, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, and is one of the first to include Dolby Pro Logic IIz, which provides front height channel effects for an incredibly expansive front soundstage.

The video section features the latest Video Reference Series processor from Anchor Bay Technologies, providing analog-to-digital video deinterlacing and upconversion to HD, with both component and HDMI outputs, and features 1080p 24Hz/60Hz HDMI pass-through, allowing a single HDMI cable run to your HDTV.

Audyssey’s advanced MultEQ room acoustic measurement and correction system analyzes the speakers and the listening room and automatically corrects the response for the smoothest, most natural tonal balance.

Audyssey Dynamic Volume and Dynamic EQ are provided to ensure rich, natural tonal quality at any volume level, and with no annoying volume jumps during commercial interruptions.

On to the unpacking:

IMG_1267
Unpacking with the help of my eldest!
IMG_1268
Awesome Remote Dad
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Some of the AVR-790 contents
Bye Bye Pioneer - you have done well.
Bye Bye Pioneer - you have done well.

My old Pioneer Receiver, never failed and has been fantastic.

IMG_1281
Connecting everything up

Plugging in my HTPC, TV and Wii.  Everything is pretty straight forward at this stage.  Just one HDMI cable to the TV.

Almost done!
Almost done!

The Denon Audyssey Setup Microphone
The Denon Audyssey Setup Microphone

The automatic calibration using the Audyssey Setup Microphone is simply amazing - especially if you have not witnessed anything like it before. The official Audyssey FAQ can be found here.

Here is a screen of the setup taking place:

Audyssey calibration in progress
Audyssey calibration in progress
All done, testing some HD audio.
All done, testing some HD audio.

I thought my old Pioneer was good but never realised how under utilised my Subsonic speakers were until testing some HD music and the Batman Blu-ray.  I raised the volume for the Bike scene in The Dark Knight and was completely blown away by the sound quality.  No distortions with the volume up and the surround separation from the Main listening position 1 was spot on.  I pushed it to the point the woofer was blowing the curtains and vibrating the roof but then dropped the volume - kids bedtime 🙂

The sound is as precise as I was after and it is also excellent for stereo and even standard mp3's. The Denon upscales all analogue sources to 1080p which was a straightforward process and works well for the wii console I have connected.  Denon dropped last years Faroudja scaling method in favor of Anchor Bay and proprietary video processing chips - and it shows.  The pulldown Jitter I was experiencing seems to also been eliminated.

Great stuff.

The Denon AVR 790 gets a big 9.5 out of 10 from me.


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Power DVD Coupon Code

Power DVD 9 10% Off Coupon

PowerDVD 9 Ultra, Deluxe, Standard ,Upgrade - 10% off
Coupon Code: pao4jevmn
Date: From 08/01/09 to 08/31/09

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I have been using the fabulous Power DVD 8 for a while on my HTPC mostly due to the ability to hardware decode High Definition content like h264 using only your Graphics card – utilising next to no CPU cycles.  This method works with Xp & Vista Media Centre and Open Source HTPC frontends such as Mediaportal.

Now is the time to upgrade!

PowerDVD offers the best HD and Blu-ray playback around! Use TrueTheater to up DVD quality for viewing in an HD display. Navigate easily with Fancy View, flipping through your movie titles and previewing content. There are plenty of other useful interactive features for die-hard movie fans and the casual viewer alike.  PowerDVD 9 is truly the way HD and Blu-ray were meant to be enjoyed!

Specs

Spectacular High-Definition Playback on your PC

Blu-ray Disc Interaction

High-Definition Home Theater Audio

PowerDVD 9 Blu-ray/DVD playback software envelopes you with lossless high-definition audio, bringing movies to life in your living room.

Supported Audio Formats

  • DTS-HD* (7.1 channels)
  • Dolby TrueHD (7.1-channel)
  • DTS-HD (5.1 channels)
  • Dolby Digital EX (7.1-channel)
  • DTS-ES*
  • Dolby Digital Plus (7.1-channel)
  • DTS Neo:6*
  • * Only available via Advanced Audio Pack

    Supported Audio Technologies

  • CyberLink TrueTheater™ Surround
  • Dolby Pro Logic IIx surround sound
  • Dolby Virtual Speaker
  • Dolby Headphone
  • HTPC Setup

    Finally got round to finishing my HTPC room with a nice bargain entertainment unit from Dare Gallery.  Had a few issues with trying to get the HDMI cable into the HTPC - was a bit too short though finally managed to squeeze the damn thing in.

    Here are some pics of the destruction in action:

    HTPC_1

    Now to cut into the wall.... Again!

    HTPC_2

    Cables everywhere.

    HTPC_3

    Looks like fun dad

    HTPC_4

    Making a mess

    HTPC_6

    Thanks for our new cubby house dad!

    HTPC_8

    Almost done - testing HTPC with a JJJ x264 rip of Lily Allen.

    HTPC_9

    DVD Test - Yes its Bob the builder.

    HTPC_10

    All Done!  The PC HDMI cable was a pain - Too short.

    Enable ITC Processing with ATI CCC?

    ITC Processing

    ITC Processing has been available on ATI graphics cards since Catalyst 9.2 though it can have a positive or negative impact depending on your display device.

    Enabling ITC Processing for DTVs

    How to enable this in the ATI Catalyst Control Center

    How to automatically log on with Vista

    If  you have a HTPC or media server, getting your box to automatically log in is extremely convenient.  Luckily it is quite a simple process: