A/V input selector recommendations

Hey all. I'm looking for a new input selector for my home theater and I figured someone here would be able to give me some advice.

Since my perfectly cromulent receiver doesn't support HDMI but is excellent in all other respects, I figured a standalone unit would fit the bill perfectly. What I need is a unit that outputs HDMI for video and coax for audio and accepts the following inputs at a minimum:

2 HDMI
2 Component
1 SVideo
2 standard audio inputs (RCA jacks, not sure the real name of the input type)
2 digital audio (coax or optical)

Preferably something that will do the video/audio source conversion internally and that doesn't degrade signal quality.

Does such a unit exist at a reasonable price? Does anyone own one that they like?

Thanks in advance!

I checked out HDMI switchers about a year ago and could not find any for a decent price. Maybe things have changed since then now that HDMI is a little more popular.

There was an Onkyo receiver for around 900 that I was looking at not too long ago. Not sure if that counts as reasonable, though

edit: This one is about $500 on amazon: Onkyo TX-SR604

Intec makes a switch that just suits your requirements. The cheapest price of 79 bones is offered, improbably, by Home Depot.

Myself, I am using a Joytech 360 switch. Very nice, but no HDMI.

HDMI is just DVI in a smaller form factor with extra lines for sound; if you're not doing sound, you can use a DVI switcher with adapters. I don't have any particular recommendations offhand, but a DVI switch + 2 adapters might potentially be cheaper than an HDMI box.

Edit to add: I should read better. I was replying to your first two paragraphs, but your actual requirements don't suit the description at all. Whatever you may think you're looking for, your specifications actually say 'new small receiver'.

Onkyo is a great brand in receivers; solid quality, reasonable price. You should like that 604 a lot.

Yeah, that's what I was afraid of. I have a perfectly good Harmon Kardon AVR75 which I don't really need to replace, but it seems like that's the way I'll need to go. Thanks for the advice!

Ok, this is kinda funny. I realized this weekend that I don't actually need a new input selector. My new TV has tons of inputs and outputs the sound to my receiver, I just never even though to use the TVs own input selection mechanisms.

Wow, I feel kinda dense now

Hey, cool beans. It even outputs the sound? Must be a nice TV, I've never seen one that would do that in digital mode. I've seen one that would pass through an analog stereo L/R pair, but I never found any real use for that.

Hmm... haven't tested digital sound actually. I'm planning on rewiring tonight. I hope it works

Malor wrote:
Hey, cool beans. It even outputs the sound? Must be a nice TV, I've never seen one that would do that in digital mode. I've seen one that would pass through an analog stereo L/R pair, but I never found any real use for that.

This is a neverending source of confusion to me. Why in god's name do tons of TV's have one optical audio out and no digital audio inputs of any kind? What's the point? Why bother?

Hmm, well, TVs can pick up an audio source via antenna... maybe it's to send the antenna sound down a S/PDIF instead of a L/R pair?

That seems completely stupid to me, but it's the only reason I can think of.....

Malor wrote:
Hmm, well, TVs can pick up an audio source via antenna... maybe it's to send the antenna sound down a S/PDIF instead of a L/R pair?

That seems completely stupid to me, but it's the only reason I can think of.....

Yeah that's the only thing I could ever think of too. Hence the confusion. It just doesn't make sense.

Well, I did my rewiring tonight. Everything works great using just the TV as the input selector. Saved myself a bunch of money.

Thanks everyone for the advice.

Thin_J wrote:
Malor wrote:
Hmm, well, TVs can pick up an audio source via antenna... maybe it's to send the antenna sound down a S/PDIF instead of a L/R pair?

That seems completely stupid to me, but it's the only reason I can think of.....

Yeah that's the only thing I could ever think of too. Hence the confusion. It just doesn't make sense.

My Hitachi does exactly this and it works perfectly for me. I don't want digital audio coming out of those POS TV speakers, so I take the digital out of the TV (which, as you note, is receiving a digital signal from the tuner) and routing that to the input of my receiver.

Makes perfect sense to me - why would anyone with a $1000+ TV want to run digital audio INTO the crappy speakers on the television, and/or why wouldn't they at least have a receiver capable of switching multiple digital ins?

Symbiotic wrote:
My Hitachi does exactly this and it works perfectly for me. I don't want digital audio coming out of those POS TV speakers, so I take the digital out of the TV (which, as you note, is receiving a digital signal from the tuner) and routing that to the input of my receiver.

Makes perfect sense to me - why would anyone with a $1000+ TV want to run digital audio INTO the crappy speakers on the television, and/or why wouldn't they at least have a receiver capable of switching multiple digital ins?

Because the TV has no digital sound inputs. If you're not sending in digital surround sound.. you're not getting it out either. The TV's just sending the same crap audio signal you're getting from your source over the nicer cable. You can't just create signal quality where there was none to start with. If it's coming from an antanne or a cable box then that's as good as it gets. Running that same signal from the TV to a receiver over an optical cable doesn't gain you anything.

Running analog stereo audio into a TV and then out over an optical cable to a receiver is kind of like buying an HDTV so you can watch your VHS tapes. It's just pointless.

All the stations that I have programmed into the TV are coming through coax cable, which is delivering a digital, and in some cases an HD signal. When the broadcast itself is in HD, for example our local PBS station, I assume that an HD signal, if transferred via a digital cable, is of higher quality and/or is possibly even encoded for surround, than transferring the audio over analog cables back to the receiver. Moreover, you're only converting the signal once - at the receiver - rather than converting it to analog at the TV, then sending to the the receiver, converting back to digital (for processing in the receiver) and then back to analog to the speakers. So while the signal itself may be the same (i.e. you're not adding quality) you're not losing quality via generation loss.

In either case, it is easier to transfer a single optical OUT to the receiver, than to send a stereo L/R analog signal to the receiver. 1 cable < 2 cables, thus a more streamlined cable run. That, in and of itself, makes the choice an easy one for me.

I'm really trying to follow your reasoning. Short of the one cable is better than two thing though I'm having trouble.

Your digital cable goes.. where? To a cable box and then to the TV or straight to the TV? Or is it straight into the receiver and then out to the TV?

Symbiotic wrote:
I assume that an HD signal, if transferred via a digital cable, is of higher quality and/or is possibly even encoded for surround

I'm not sure, but I think this is a bad assumption. The only surround I've ever gotten from anything broadcast over digital cable, even when it advertised surround, was four channel dolby surround. Never once saw my receiver come on saying it was receiving an actual digital 5.1 signal, even hooked up to the cable box with a coax digital cable.

To be fair though I've not actually had HD cable. It may be different somehow.

I think an explanation of how exactly you have things wired would be helpful.

I have the coax running straight into the TV, which has built-in digital (ATSC and QAM) tuners. From there I run a digital signal straight to the receiver for switching/processing.

And I just confirmed that digital surround is being received on some of the stations, like this one: http://www.kcts.org/digital/hdtv/ind... - so running an analog cable from the TV to the receiver would most definitely be a loss in quality, as I'd no longer be able to get it in surround sound (just stereo).

Alrighty then. I have been re-educated on this particular subject.