The Sony Guide to Home Theater

The Sony Guide to
Home Theater
What is Home Theater? ...................................................
Why Sony? ......................................................................
What You'll Need: Sources, Sight & Sound.....................
Home Theater Sources
DVD Players........................................................
About Progressive Scan.......................................
Super Audio CD Playback...................................
Digital Satellite Receivers....................................
About High Definition.........................................
High Definition TV Receivers.............................
Personal Video Recorders....................................
Network Media Receiver......................................
VHS Hi-Fi VCRs…………………………..……
Home Theater Sight
A New World of Choices.....................................
Choosing an Aspect Ratio....................................
Choosing a Screen Size........................................
Choosing a Screen Type.......................................
Features to Look For............................................
Home Theater Sound
About Surround Sound.........................................
Surround Sound Formats......................................
A/V Receivers......................................................
Speaker Consistency............................................
Types of Speakers................................................
Bringing it All Back Home
Before You Buy...................................................
How to Buy..........................................................
Where to Put It All...............................................
Finishing Touches................................................
Home Theater Connections
Audio Connections...............................................
Video Connections...............................................
Home Theater Glossary....................................................
A Final Word....................................................................
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
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What is Home Theater?
Think of what makes movies in a theater so compelling. Consider the giant
screen, teeming with brilliantly detailed, vivid color pictures. Think of the sound,
sometimes booming with explosions, sometimes delicately whispering and always
immersing you in a full 360-degree experience. At the movies, these elements can come
together with astonishing emotional force.
Home theater is the technology that brings this experience into your room. And
there's never been a better time to make your move. Compared to the systems of just a
few years ago, today's home theaters enjoy far greater realism, drama and impact. Today
you can benefit from recent breakthroughs in electronics such as progressive scan DVD
players, flat-panel televisions and Dolby Digital® surround sound. What's more,
packaged systems make assembling a home theater easier than you ever thought possible.
So if you've been on the outside of home theater, now is the time to jump in. And
if your home theater is a few years old, now is the time to upgrade.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Why Sony?
No company is better prepared to provide your home theater than Sony. We coinvented many of the essentials of home theater, including Compact Disc and DVD. Our
award-winning FD Trinitron® WEGA® television is the gold standard in picture quality.
Our Plasma WEGA™ and Grand WEGA™ televisions have won rave reviews. And
Sony leads the industry in both A/V receivers and packaged home theater systems.
The Sony CineAlta camera has been used to capture major
Hollywood action adventure movies, comedies, dramas, indie
films and a full range of episodic television, commercials and
music videos.
But that's only half the story. Our knowledge of the technology extends well
beyond your living room. After all, Sony Pictures Entertainment is one of Hollywood's
leading movie companies. Sony's CineAlta™ cameras are at the cutting edge of digital
movie making. Sony microphones, mixing consoles and digital audio recorders are
acclaimed by studio professionals. The Sony Dynamic Digital Sound® (SDDS®) system
is a fixture in movie theaters from coast to coast. And you can find Sony products in the
broadcast, cable and satellite TV studios where programming is created, edited and
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
A breakthrough in professional audio, the Sony OXF-R3 Oxford
digital mixing console.
In all the world, no other company has this intensity of home theater focus—or
this breadth of home theater expertise. Only Sony.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
What You'll Need:
Sources, Sight & Sound
Home theater combines three essential elements into one powerful experience.
These elements are Sources, Sight and Sound.
SOURCES. A good DVD player is the
essential source for today's home theaters. In
one easy purchase, a DVD player offers studioquality pictures, CD-quality sound and access
to the over ten thousand movies available on
SIGHT. Home theater requires a big screen, at least 27
inches diagonal. Thanks to the "high scanning," "High
Definition monitor" or "High Definition upgradeable"
televisions, bigger is also better.
SOUND. To reproduce the full
impact of surround sound, home
theaters use at least a 5.1-channel
speaker system connected to an
A/V receiver that incorporates a
Dolby Digital decoder.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Home Theater Sources
DVD Players
The essential home theater source component, a DVD player is also one of the
best entertainment values today. It delivers digital picture quality that until recently you
would only have seen in a TV broadcast studio. You'll hear digital-quality surround
sound. You'll enjoy over ten thousand titles including movies, concert videos, children's
programs and more. Of course, compared to videotape, DVDs are more compact, more
durable and offer much faster access to individual movie scenes. And DVDs never need
DVD MOVIES. Thousands of titles are
available for sale or rent, each one
carrying the promise of spectacular
pictures and superlative sound.
Features to look for:
Progressive scan. This feature effectively doubles the picture quality. To get the
benefit of progressive scan, you'll want to connect your DVD player to a "high
scanning," "High Definition monitor" or "High Definition upgradeable" television. If
you own or you're thinking of buying one of these televisions, then a progressive
scanning DVD player is a must.
3-2 reverse conversion is a technology employed in the better progressive scan DVD
players. It retains the integrity of the movie's original film frames. You'll see a
clearer picture, especially on scenes with movement.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Component video outputs. These Y/PB/PR outputs are a must for progressive scan
DVD—and they're highly desirable for all other players. They do the best job of
preserving the picture quality.
Component video outputs (Y/PB/PR) are the best way to convey
the full quality of the signal from the DVD player to the television.
MegaStorage® DVD changer capability. This lets you load any mix of up to 300
CDs and DVDs for pushbutton access to all your music and movies. No more
rummaging through the shelves. No more fumbling with jewel boxes.
Super Audio CD playback. These new high resolution discs provide the best sound
quality available today. And multi-channel Super Audio CDs are the perfect
complement to multi-channel home theater speaker systems.
DVD-R/RW, CD MP3 playback. It's best to get a DVD player that can handle all
the different types of discs you'll want to play.
Digital audio outputs. To enjoy surround sound, you'll want to connect the optical
or coaxial digital audio output of the DVD player to your A/V receiver.
Digital audio outputs feed the digital bit stream to your A/V
receiver for decoding.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
About Progressive Scan
In video, what appears to be a continuously moving image is actually a series of
discrete still pictures, called frames. Each frame lasts 1/30 second each contains 480
scanning lines that appear on the screen. Because of limitations in the early days of
television, these 480 lines were divided into two "fields," each of which lasts 1/60 second.
The first field displays the odd-numbered scanning lines. The second field comes
back and displays the even-numbered scanning lines. This is "interlace" scanning and it
displays only 240 scanning lines at any one time. This system of 480-line interlaced
display is abbreviated "480i."
Interlace scanning (left) divides the frame into two "fields." The
first field presents the odd-numbered scanning lines (1, 3, 5, etc.).
The second field presents the even-numbered lines.
Progressive scanning (right) creates the picture by illuminating
each line from top to bottom until all scanning lines in the frame
are completed. Progressive images have twice the vertical
resolution, so they're noticeably clearer and sharper. And
horizontal scanning lines are far less conspicuous.
In the early days of television, when 12-inch diagonal screens were commonly
used in living rooms, showing only 240 lines was not a practical concern. But in today's
environment of 61-inch diagonal projection systems, the illusion of a continuous picture
on the screen begins to fall apart. Depending on how close to the screen you sit,
individual scanning lines become visible and the compromise in vertical resolution
becomes an annoyance. That's why most of today's finest DVD players and big screen
televisions have the ability to present a progressive scanning image. Instead of getting
240 lines, you get 480 lines every 1/60 second. This 480-line progressive scanning is
abbreviated "480p," and it delivers twice the vertical resolution of conventional video!
Connect a DVD player with progressive scan output to a "high scanning," "High
Definition monitor" or "High Definition upgradeable" television and the results are
phenomenal. You'll see images that are noticeably smoother and more film-like. It's less
like television, more like movies in a theater!
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Super Audio CD Playback
A music source, Super Audio CD belongs in any discussion of Home Theater
thanks to multi-channel sound capability. You haven't enjoyed the ultimate in home
audio reproduction until you've heard a multi-channel Super Audio CD reproduced over a
multi-channel speaker system. Thanks to Sony's Direct Stream Digital™ recording
technology, the sound is an obvious improvement over Compact Disc and other digital
audio systems. And thanks to multi-channel sound, it doesn't just appear as if the
musicians are playing in your living room. It sounds as if you're transported from your
living room into the original performance space.
Over 600 Super Audio CD titles range from landmark jazz and classical
recordings of the analog era to the latest in rock and pop. The Super Audio CD catalog
includes labels as diverse as Universal, AudioQuest, Chesky Records, Columbia, Delos,
DMP, Epic, Legacy, Sony Classical, Telarc, EMI and Virgin Records, to name just a few.
Over 600 titles of stereo and multi-channel Super Audio CD
represent a passion for beautiful music, beautifully reproduced.
As you'd expect, you can find Super Audio CD playback in dedicated audio
players. But you can also find the capability in many DVD-Video players and selected
home theater packaged systems.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Digital Satellite Receivers
With over 200 channels of entertainment, the DIRECTV® service brings an
incredibly rich array of programming options into your home. Subscribe to the service
and you'll be able to choose from pay-per-view movies and events, college and
professional sports packages, plus a long list of cable favorites. And in many cities, you
can even enjoy your local TV channels, brought to you by satellite! The DIRECTV
service provides digital picture quality, plus CD-quality digital sound including Dolby
Digital surround sound on selected channels. And the DIRECTV service even delivers
selected channels in the glory of High Definition TV!
Features to look for:
Support for DIRECTV local-to-local and multi-satellite programming. The new
receivers get the full benefit of the expanded DIRECTV channel lineup.
Dolby Digital optical passthrough. To enjoy surround sound, you'll want to connect
the optical digital audio output of the DIRECTV receiver to your A/V receiver.
High Definition reception. If you own or you're thinking of buying a "high
scanning," "High Definition monitor" or "High Definition upgradeable" television,
you should give serious consideration to a High Definition DIRECTV receiver. With
the right subscription, you'll have access to unforgettable pictures on HBO and
Showtime, in addition to sports and other programming on HDNet.
Powerful on-screen guide. With over 200 channels to choose from, you'll want a
receiver that makes choosing entertainment easy.
One button record. Make sure your DIRECTV receiver works seamlessly with your
videocassette recorder or personal video recorder. The infrared "blaster" supplied
with many satellite receivers can automatically switch your recorder on, put it into the
record mode and turn it off when the recording is done!
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
About High Definition Television
High Definition TV will dazzle you with up to six times the picture detail of
conventional TV. HDTV means a widescreen 16:9 picture with cinematic sweep and
grandeur. It also means Dolby Digital sound, including surround sound for movies and
TV dramas. Best of all, High Definition television is not a promise for the future. It's
here today. The DIRECTV satellite service carries three HDTV feeds (HBO, Showtime
and HDNet) to a national audience. Some cable TV services are beginning to offer High
Definition feeds. And HDTV is becoming more and more available in over-the-air TV
In May 2003, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) reported that 885
television stations in 189 cities are broadcasting digital signals that can be received in
97% of American homes. More than 78% of homes are in markets with five or more
digital television broadcasters. And many of these digital broadcasts are in High
An April 2003 NAB listing of shows broadcast in High Definition includes 8
Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, Alias, American Dreams, Crossing
Jordan, Becker, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, The Drew Carey Show,
Everybody Loves Raymond, Frasier, Hack, JAG, The King of Queens, NYPD Blue, The
Practice, Reba, Robbery Homicide Division, Smallville, The Tonight Show with Jay
Leno and Without a Trace, plus 40 other network TV shows.
This doesn't even count HDTV sports and special events, which have included
NCAA football, the Rose Parade, the Super Bowl, the U.S. Masters Golf Tournament, the
U.S. Open Tennis Championships, and the 2002 Winter Olympics. In addition, ABC has
announced that it will transmit the NBA finals and the Stanley Cup, as well as the 20032004 season of Monday Night Football in HDTV.
For many viewers, one stumbling block on the road to HDTV has been the
relative lack of local HDTV broadcasts over cable TV. But recent agreements between
representatives of the consumer electronics industry and the cable television industry
have done much to clear the way to widespread distribution of local HDTV broadcasts
over cable.
The U.S. recommendations for Digital Television (DTV) broadcasting actually
encompass 18 different television formats. High Definition TVs and HDTV set top
boxes (usually called "HDTV receivers") are designed to tune all 18 formats. Six of
these are designated as "High Definition," while the others are called "Standard
Definition." All but a few formats can deliver a visibly better picture than conventional
television. Broadcasters have been encouraged, but not required to use their DTV
spectrum for High Definition.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Horizontal Aspect
Scanning Pixels
16:9 or
Picture Rate (frames
per second)
P = progressive
i = interlace
30i, 30P, 24P
60P, 30P, 24P
60P, 30i, 30P, 24P
60P, 30i, 30P, 24P
Standard Definition
High Definition
High Definition
Standard Definition
Of the eighteen DTV broadcast formats, only the top six are
designated High Definition. The Federal government has
encouraged, but not required broadcasters to use their DTV
spectrum for High Definition broadcasting.
High Definition TV (HDTV) Receivers
To receive over-the-air High Definition broadcasts, you can choose a television
with a built-in HD receiver. But most customers are currently buying "high scanning,"
"High Definition monitor" or "High Definition upgradeable" televisions, which can
connect to an outboard HDTV receiver, purchased separately.
HDTV receiver features to look for:
1080i, 720p and 480p outputs to serve the widest range of High Definition monitor
480i outputs to serve conventional televisions.
DIRECTV reception. Many receivers that will tune free, over-the-air HDTV also
function for the subscription DIRECTV service. So you can get complete HDTV
reception from a single set-top box.
DVI-HDTV interface enables superb, uncompressed digital-to-digital connection
from the set-top box to the television. Your High Definition signal is carried with full
picture quality. The connection is also secured by HDCP technology to protect the
signal from piracy.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
The DVI-HDTV interface carries High Definition in full digital quality.
Component video outputs enable high-quality analog connection to a television.
The separate components of the video signal can be Y/Pb/Pr or R/G/B.
The D-sub 15-pin interface supports component video R/G/B
Dolby Digital optical passthrough. To enjoy surround sound, you'll want to connect
the optical digital audio output of the HDTV receiver to your A/V receiver.
Personal Video Recorders
A new generation of devices can record up to 80 hours of television onto a builtin hard disk drive. This does so much more than the conventional VCR. You can pause
live TV when you need to take a break, then resume watching exactly where you left off.
So you're always free to take a phone call or take a trip to the kitchen. You can "rewind"
live TV and repeat a line of dialog that you might have missed. And you can have the
recorder capture up to 80 hours of TV shows, ready for viewing whenever you choose!
You can even rate TV shows as good or bad, and the recorder will "learn" your
preferences. The recorder can then automatically analyze the schedule of upcoming
shows and suggest programs with the actors, genres and subject matter you've liked in the
past. It's like having your own, personal TV critic on hand, ready to make the most of
every minute you spend viewing!
Features to look for:
TiVo™ service. This subscription service brings you electronic program guides.
The recorder can also "learn" your preferences and record shows similar to the ones
you like—a great way to discover new favorites.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Simultaneous record and playback. Here's another trick that hard disk recorders
can do that VCRs can't. This feature lets you record a current show onto the unit's
hard drive, even while you're watching another show that you've previously recorded!
Season Pass automatically records every episode of your favorite show every time it
airs—even if the network changes the schedule.
Wish List records upcoming shows with your favorite actor, actress, director or
Auto VCR Transfer saves programs onto VHS tapes.
Network Media Receiver
Today's personal computers are increasingly important repositories of audio and
video entertainment. The ability to download, store and play music is rapidly being
joined by the ability to digitally record television shows onto the PC hard drive. Sony's
own Giga Pocket™ personal video recorder brings exactly this TV recording function to
selected Sony VAIO® PCs. In many homes, entertainment from the PC can be
distributed throughout the home via Ethernet cable or 802.11a wireless network. What's
been missing is a device to convert this entertainment from the IP language of networking
to the audio/video outputs required for a home theater system.
About the size of a paperback book, the PCNA-MR10
RoomLink™ media receiver delivers home entertainment content
from a compatible PC to your home theater system!
Now Sony meets this need with the PCNA-MR10 RoomLink™ media receiver.
The receiver has an Ethernet port on one side, and audio/video outputs on the other. It
can deliver music, digital still pictures, video and live television from compatible VAIO
PCs with VAIO Media™ software installed. Using the RoomLink receiver remote
control, you can browse menus on your television screen, giving you access to the
entertainment on your PC!
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
If your network provides no Ethernet cable near the home theater system, the
receiver can be connected to a Sony PCWA-DE50 for 802.11a wireless LAN connection
to a compatible wireless LAN access point.
Even in the age of DVDs and personal video recorders, the old VCR still has a
role to play. Some movies are not yet released on DVD and some rental stores still have
more VHS cassettes than DVDs. You may own a shelf full of VHS movies that you still
want to play. VHS tapes are also easy to record and exchange with friends and family.
And VHS Hi-Fi tapes often contain Dolby Stereo sound tracks, suitable for Dolby® Pro
Logic® processing at home. This produces surround sound that's satisfying and dynamic.
Features to look for:
VHS Hi-Fi. An absolute must for high fidelity stereo sound.
VCR Plus+ Gold™ system automatically "maps" your local channel line-up.
Programming the VCR becomes as easy as dialing a telephone number, thanks to the
PlusCode® numbers you'll find in many newspaper TV listings and TV Guide®
Four Heads. Two heads for SP speed and two for EP optimize playback picture
quality. They also enable better freeze frame, frame advance and picture search
special effects.
Built-in DVD player. A combination VHS/DVD player can save space and prevent
remote control clutter.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Home Theater Sight
A New World of Choices
If you haven't shopped for a television recently, you're in for a surprise. You now
have a new range of choices that extends beyond conventional Cathode Ray Tubes
(CRTs) to include Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) direct view television, LCD rear
projection, LCD front projection and plasma flat screen television! You also have a
choice of the squarish screen with its 4:3 aspect ratio or sleek, widescreen television with
the new 16:9 aspect ratio. This section will step you through your choices. At the end,
we'll point out some features worth looking for.
Choosing an Aspect Ratio
"Aspect ratio" is the proportion of screen width to screen height. Until recently,
all television had an aspect ratio of 4:3, meaning that the screens were all nearly square,
1.33 times as wide as they are high. Many movies and an increasing number of television
programs are presented in a more horizontal, widescreen format. DVD titles and High
Definition TV broadcasting also support widescreen programming. That's why many
modern televisions offer a widescreen design with a 16:9 aspect ratio some 1.78 times as
wide as it is high.
Conventional television uses the somewhat square 4:3 aspect
ratio (left). Many of the latest televisions offer the widescreen
16:9 aspect ratio (right).
Choosing the right aspect ratio depends on your budget and your viewing habits.
If you watch mostly television, especially news and sports, you're better off with the
conventional 4:3 aspect ratio (all other things being equal).
If you watch mostly movies, especially from DVD, you're better off with the
widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio (all other things being equal).
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Choosing a Screen Size
The guidelines for choosing a TV screen size are not set in stone. Much will
depend on the amount of space you have for a television, the size of your room and
particularly the viewing distance. But the "right" screen size also depends on your
preference. If most of what you watch is movies on DVD and if you want to be
immersed in the full cinematic experience, you may be better off with a larger screen than
the one recommended here.
With these qualifications in mind, we present screen size calculators for three
classes of television.
For conventional televisions with 4:3
aspect ratio and "480i" scanning
Recommended Sony
TV Screen Size
24" diagonal
27" diagonal
32" diagonal
36" diagonal
40" diagonal
43" diagonal
53" diagonal
61" diagonal
For "high definition monitor"
televisions with 4:3 aspect ratio and
1080i or 480p scanning
Recommended Sony
TV Screen Size
32" diagonal
7' 6"
36" diagonal
40" diagonal
43" diagonal
53" diagonal
61" diagonal
For "high definition monitor" televisions with
widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio and 1080i or 480p scanning
Recommended Sony TV Screen Size
32" diagonal widescreen
5' 6"
34" diagonal widescreen
42" diagonal widescreen
8' 6"
51" diagonal widescreen
9' 6"
57" diagonal widescreen
65" diagonal widescreen
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Choosing a Screen Type
As we've mentioned, the range of available television screens has never been
greater. If you're into the technology, it's an incredible feast. If you're a little uncertain,
the sheer selection can be daunting. Here's a quick guide to what's what, and how to
Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) direct view.
WHAT IT IS. The conventional television. You're looking at the front of a large
glass envelope, the inside of which is coated with phosphors. The picture is formed
by an electron beam, the "cathode ray" that makes the phosphors glow.
BENEFITS. Despite the new competition, the CRT continues to be the most popular
type of television. It's not hard to see why. The age of the flat CRT, ushered in by
Sony's own FD Trinitron® picture tube, means that today's best CRTs are more
accurate than ever. Not only do CRTs offer the lowest cost for each screen size, they
also offer longevity and the best picture quality. With CRTs, the blacks are blacker
and the contrast is greater. You also get the widest viewing angle, and the bright
picture stands up well to ambient room light. And CRTs are not saddled with altitude
limits, so you can watch them anywhere.
LIMITATIONS. CRT televisions are the heaviest. A 32-inch CRT television can
weigh over 200 pounds and is typically over 20 inches deep. Direct-view CRTs are
also limited in screen size. Few CRTs are larger than 36 inches diagonal. Sony's
largest is 40 inches diagonal. Speakers need to be magnetically shielded, so as not to
interfere with the CRT electron guns.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) direct view.
WHAT IT IS. Liquid-crystal display technology first appeared in the early 1970's.
LCD is used in front projectors, rear-projection TVs, and flat-panel displays. Like a
laptop computer screen, a flat panel direct view LCD consists of a panel of viscous
liquid sandwiched in plastic. The liquid is driven by a network of transistors that
control individual pixels. When a transistor delivers an electrical charge, the crystals
'untwist' to an exact degree to filter light generated by a lamp behind the screen.
BENEFITS. LCDs are far thinner, lighter and sleeker than CRTs, making them
favorites of interior decorators. LCDs also need no convergence. They're immune
from "burn-in," so there's never any harm from videogames left on too long, DVDs in
pause or station logos on the corner of the screen. LCDs also need no magnetic
shielding from your loudspeakers. And there are no altitude limits. So they're ideal
from sea level to Denver!
LIMITATIONS. Currently LCD televisions cost more and they are somewhat
limited in viewing angle and contrast ratio. LCDs are generally limited to screen
sizes of 30 inches and less, although larger sizes are soon to appear in the marketplace.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Plasma Display Panel.
WHAT IT IS. Another flat panel technology, this contains chambers of plasma gas
for each pixel. The plasma pixels are made to glow by a network of electrodes.
Plasma is the king of the "wow factor" technologies—giant-screen televisions
currently up to 63 inches diagonal, yet svelte enough to mount on the wall, in an
armoire or on a tabletop stand. Even large plasma TVs can be as thin as 5-1/4 inches.
The picture is only part of the beauty.
BENEFITS. Because the screen brightness comes from the plasma itself, these
panels have a wide viewing angle. Plasma models have wide 16:9 aspect ratio
screens and a high enough pixel count to achieve HDTV-level resolution. Unlike
LCDs, plasma panels are broadly available in larger screen sizes. Plasma panels also
need no convergence. And they need no magnetic shielding from your loudspeakers.
LIMITATIONS. Although today's plasma panels offer excellent picture quality,
their black levels and contrast still cannot match CRTs. Unlike LCDs, plasma can be
affected by image retention and "burn in." Care needs to be taken when selecting
aspect ratio and using videogames to avoid the possibility of image retention. Plasma
panels can generate an acoustic buzz when used at high altitudes (altitude more than
6,200 feet above sea level or air pressure less than 800 hPa). This is caused by the
difference between the pressure inside the panel and the pressure outside.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
CRT rear projection.
WHAT IT IS. The most popular choice for giant screens. These are single piece,
self-contained televisions. They typically use three small CRTs—one each for red,
green and blue. The resulting light is projected through a lens and mirror system
behind the screen.
BENEFITS. As in direct view, rear projection CRTs offer superior performance and
moderate cost. With the clever packaging of today's rear projection systems, CRT
rear projectors are not much larger than rear projection systems using LCDs. And
there are no altitude limits.
LIMITATIONS. Can't quite match the viewing angle of direct-view CRT. Requires
periodic convergence adjustment to ensure CRTs remain in alignment and provide a
clear, sharp picture. To make convergence easy, Sony's Flash Focus™ system
performs this alignment in seconds. CRT rear projection can be affected by image
retention and "burn in." Care needs to be taken when selecting aspect ratio and using
videogames to avoid the possibility of image retention due to uneven aging of the
CRTs. And your speakers need to be magnetically shielded, so as not to interfere
with the CRT electron guns.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
LCD rear projection.
WHAT IT IS. These systems shine a high-intensity light through a single LCD
panel or three individual LCD panels for Red, Green and Blue. The resulting light is
projected through a series of lenses and reflected off a mirror behind the screen.
BENEFITS. Systems that use three LCD panels—one each for red, green and
blue—can achieve superlative picture quality. LCD rear projection can deliver
slightly better color than typical DLP™ models because the three LCD panels can be
individually adjusted. LCD rear projection features compact size and light weight.
Easy bulb replacement by the user brings the television back to like-new brightness
levels. The LCD panels are fixed in place and therefore need no convergence
adjustment. LCDs are immune from "burn-in," so there's never any harm from
videogames left on too long, DVDs in pause or station logos on the corner of the
screen. LCDs also need no magnetic shielding from your loudspeakers. And there
are no altitude limits.
LIMITATIONS. Black levels and contrast still cannot match today's best CRTs.
Can't quite match the viewing angle of direct-view CRT.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
LCD front projection.
WHAT IT IS. These are small, portable projectors that project an image onto a
separate component screen or a white wall. They work by shining a high-intensity
light through a single miniature LCD panel or three individual panels for Red, Green
and Blue. The resulting light is projected through a lens system onto the screen.
BENEFITS. If you want the biggest possible picture, LCD front projection is the
definite way to go. You can project images as large as 25 feet diagonal. If you want
the least impact on your home décor, that's another good reason to go this route. In
portable use, you can place the projector on a coffee table. For permanent installation,
the projector can be suspended from the ceiling. So it's out of the way during daily
life. There's more. LCDs need no convergence and are immune from "burn-in."
They need no magnetic shielding from your loudspeakers. There are no altitude
limits. And the brightness comes from a light bulb that is replaceable.
LIMITATIONS. Ambient light needs to be controlled to get the brightest picture,
especially when projecting at the biggest screen sizes.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Features to Look For
High scanning/HD monitor/HD upgradeable television. These televisions accept
the full 1080 interlaced scanning lines (1080i) from an external High Definition
receiver or High Definition DIRECTV receiver. They also accept the 480
progressive scanning lines (480p) from progressive output DVD players. In both
cases, the picture is vastly more detailed than conventional television, which uses 480
interlaced scanning lines (480i). The difference is dramatic, especially in the larger
screen sizes. In big 480i screens, the scanning lines are so large that they can become
visible, undermining the sense of reality. In high scanning televisions, the scanning
lines blend seamlessly together into a more realistic, more emotionally compelling
Digital Reality Creation™ circuitry. High scanning televisions generally boost
conventional 480i sources to higher line rates, such as 960i or 480p. Even though the
picture resolution does not change, you get a more seamless, more satisfying image
on the big screen. A big step up from a line doubler, Sony's family of Digital Reality
Creation™ circuits does an even better job. By replacing analog picture patterns with
their High Definition digital equivalents, DRC doubles the number of scanning lines
and doubles the number of pixels on each line. You get pictures with four times the
original picture density—approaching the quality of High Definition!
Sony's Digital Reality Creation circuit not only doubles the
scanning lines of conventional 480i sources, it also increases the
picture density to nearly that of High Definition sources.
CineMotion™ 3-2 reverse conversion is a technology employed in Sony high
scanning televisions. It overcomes the problems that can sometimes occur when
movie film, which is shot at 24 frames per second, is displayed on progressive
scanning televisions, which operate at 60 frames per second. In order to display 60
frames, some televisions take scanning lines from two adjacent movie frames and
force-fit them into one television frame. This makes a hash out of any object that's
moving on the screen. Vertical edges that should be smooth take on a disturbing,
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
zipper-like texture. And this unwanted artifact happens frequently, occurring on two
out of every five video frames! To make matters worse, the problem is not limited to
those times when you're watching movies. Most prime-time dramas, music videos
and commercials are also shot at 24 frames per second. That's why CineMotion 3-2
reverse pull-down is so important. It analyzes the picture, identifying the difference
between footage shot on interlaced video and footage shot on film. For film footage,
the system actually retains the integrity of the original film frames. You'll see a
clearer, more stable picture, especially on scenes with movement.
DVI-HDTV interface enables superb, uncompressed digital-to-digital connection
from the set-top box to the television. Your High Definition signal is carried with full
picture quality. The connection is also secured by HDCP technology to protect the
signal from piracy.
FD Trinitron® picture tube. This award-winning CRT sparked the new wave of
flat tubes. But the FD Trinitron color system continues to stand apart, winning the
praise of magazine reviewers, the admiration of professionals and the unwavering
loyalty of customers.
Sony's FD Trinitron picture tube is set apart by outstanding
clarity and detail, pinpoint corner-to-corner focusing, minimal
glare and accurate image reproduction. These come from
Sony's Fine Pitch Aperture Grille, a High Focus Electron Gun, a
Flat Glass Panel and Sony's High-Precision Deflection Yoke.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Super Fine Pitch™ CRT. An improvement in the FD Trinitron picture tube.
Behind the screen, we've reduced the spacing or "pitch" of the Aperture Grill by 65%.
You get higher resolution, greater precision and a television that takes full advantage
of High Definition source material.
Component video inputs enable high-quality analog connection from a DVD player
or satellite receiver. The separate components of the video signal can be Y/Pb/Pr or
HDTV reception. Some televisions offer a complete HDTV receiver built in. So
you have access to free, over-the-air digital TV broadcasts that are already available
to 97% of American homes.
MID™ circuitry. If you're a fan of picture-in-picture, wait until you've tried Sony's
Twin View™ picture-and-picture! Powered by the MID circuit, this feature displays
two pictures side-by-side. Then you can zoom each picture up or down in size,
depending on what's going on and what's important. You can even display a High
Definition source side-by-side with Standard Definition on the same screen.
WEGA Engine™ circuitry. This is the secret behind XBR® Plasma WEGA™ and
XBR LCD WEGA™ television. It performs the all-important "scaling" that helps
determine the picture quality of fixed pixel displays. Unlike conventional circuitry,
the WEGA Engine system maintains the picture in the digital domain from the first
stage to the last. In this way, Sony achieves a picture that's less like watching
television -- and more like a window on the world. Refinements include Direct
Digital Circuitry, the DRC™ Multi-Function system and MID™ X circuitry.
Memory Stick® media playback. A growing number of Sony televisions includes a
Memory Stick media slot. The latest televisions will display JPEG images (DCF
format).* Simply slide the Memory Stick media out of a Sony Cyber-shot® camera
or Handycam® camcorder and into the television's Memory Stick slot!
3D Comb filter. To maximize the picture detail of conventional TV broadcasts,
televisions need to separate the luminance (Y) from the chrominance (C). The 3D
comb filter analyzes the picture over three dimensions: vertical, horizontal and time,
to get superb detail and high color purity under the widest range of picture conditions.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Home Theater Sound
About Surround Sound
Surround sound began in the movies, with the urge to convey a more convincing,
more complete audio-visual experience. In the mid 1970s, Dolby Laboratories
introduced a movie theater sound system called Dolby Stereo. During the production of
movie sound tracks, this system encoded or "matrixed" the Left, Center, Right and
Surround channels onto just two channels of the film distribution print. Dolby Stereo
gained acceptance in movie theaters. And the movie studios were quick to take
advantage. Today, thousands of movies include Dolby Stereo sound tracks.
The benefits of Dolby Stereo were confined to the movie theater as long as
television and home video were limited to just one channel of audio. But the launch of
high fidelity stereo VCRs and stereo TV broadcasting in the early 1980s changed all that.
Suddenly, you could rent a VHS Hi-Fi movie that contained the full Dolby Stereo
encoded sound track! And you could watch movies on broadcast TV that transmitted that
Dolby Stereo sound track into your home.
It was now possible to enjoy movie theater surround sound in the comfort of your
own home. High fidelity companies transformed their AM/FM receivers into "A/V"
receivers, including first Dolby Surround and then the more refined Dolby Pro Logic
decoding circuitry.
Dolby Pro Logic decoding (left) results in four channels: Left,
Center, Right and a common Surround channel. Even when
there are two Surround speakers, they are being driven with just
one Surround signal. The Dolby Digital system (right) offers
digital sound quality, better separation among the channels, a
Low Frequency Effects (LFE) channel for the subwoofer and a
separate signals for Surround-Left and Surround-Right.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
The next wave of home theater sound innovation came with the launch of digital
distribution formats, including DVD, digital cable, DIRECTV digital satellite
broadcasting and free, over-the-air digital television broadcasting. These digital media
opened the door to digital surround sound. Dolby Laboratories answered with the Dolby
Digital system. Compared to Dolby Pro Logic decoding, the Dolby Digital system has
crucial advantages:
Digital sound quality. The movie sound tracks now approach the sound quality of
Compact Disc. You'll hear full frequency response, low noise and exceptional clarity.
Discrete channels. Where the Dolby Pro Logic decoder must pull the four channels
out of two stereo signals, the Dolby Digital system keeps every channel separate, or
More channels. Where the Dolby Pro Logic system has a single Surround channel,
the Dolby Digital system delivers a separate channel to the Surround-Left and
Surround-Right speakers. All told, there are 5.1 separate channels. That's five fullrange channels (Left, Center, Right, Surround-Left and Surround-Right), plus a Low
Frequency Effects channel to drive the subwoofer.
Low-Frequency Effects (LFE) channel. The human ear can't detect where lowfrequency bass is coming from. This "omnidirectional" quality of bass means that a
single subwoofer can provide bass for an entire surround sound system. The
subwoofer bass will blend with the full-range speakers for a dynamic, high-impact
soundstage. The LFE channel is often called the "0.1" channel because the
subwoofer handles roughly one-tenth the frequency range of the full-range channels.
Scalability. While the Dolby Digital system is often called a 5.1-channel system, it
can also support fewer channels, all the way down to mono, for movies and TV
shows produced before the 1970s.
Surround Sound Formats
Since the acceptance of Dolby Digital encoding, the number of surround sound
formats has continued to grow. But don't worry. Modern A/V receivers are good at
automatically detecting the surround sound format and automatically applying the best
available decoding.
Dolby Digital® surround sound. This is the surround sound system used on most
DVDs, on DIRECTV satellite broadcasts and on free, over-the-air High Definition
TV broadcasts. You need a receiver with Dolby Digital decoding.
Dolby Digital EX 6.1-channel sound. The new encoding format includes a matrix
"Surround Back" channel.
Dolby Pro Logic surround sound. This decoding is important because it works
with the Dolby Stereo signals encoded into literally thousands of movies and a large
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
proportion of analog stereo TV broadcasts. If you watch television or enjoy VHS HiFi movies, you'll use Dolby Pro Logic surround sound.
Dolby Pro Logic II-movie and Pro Logic II-music. These new decoding systems
derive 5.1 channels instead of the conventional 4 channels of Dolby Pro Logic
surround sound. These are decode-only systems. By design, there is no Pro Logic IImovie or Pro Logic II-music encoding for source material.
dts® 5.1-channel surround sound. Another digital surround sound format, used as
an option for DVD movie sound tracks and for music disks.
dts 96/24. The DVD-Video standard offers the possibility of a dts 5.1-channel signal
encoded at a 48 kHz sampling rate. However, dts has created a way to extend the
sampling rate to 96 kHz while retaining full backwards compatibility. Older decoders
can handle the new discs (although without the benefit of the 96 kHz sampling rate).
Newer decoders can deliver the extended frequency response and heightened realism
of the 96 kHz signal.
dts ES discrete 6.1 and dts ES matrix 6.1. These systems add a Surround Back
channel. In the "discrete" case, it's a completely separate channel. In the "matrix"
case, it's specially encoded into the other surround channels, then regenerated by the
dts Neo6:cinema and dts Neo6:music. These decoding systems derive six channels
from two-channel material. These are decode-only systems. By design, there is no
Neo6:cinema or Neo6:music encoding for source material.
A/V Receivers
In many respects, the A/V receiver is the brains of your home theater system. It's
where you connect and select all your entertainment sources. It's where the surround
sound signals are decoded into their separate speaker channels, and where those channels
are amplified to drive the full range speakers. (Subwoofers typically have their own
amplifiers built in.)
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Features to look for:
Surround sound decoding. All modern A/V receivers will decode Dolby Digital
and Dolby Pro Logic signals. You should also look for dts decoding. If you're a
home theater enthusiast, you may also want the full laundry list of decoding systems.
32-bit decoding. While many decoders operate with 24 bits of precision, some go
the extra step to 32 bit decoding. This is on par with professional movie theater
decoders. It delivers higher precision and lower noise.
Digital Cinema Sound™ processing is a Sony system that accommodates the
differences between your home theater setup and an actual movie theater. Digital
Cinema Sound processing recreates the actual, measured acoustics of three
Hollywood dubbing stages. These are reference-class movie theaters where directors
go to adjust and approve their final sound tracks. Thanks to the Digital Cinema
Sound modes, you'll hear exactly what the director intended!
The acoustics of this Hollywood dubbing stage are incorporated
in Sony's Digital Cinema Sound circuitry. Note the swivel chairs
and sound mixing console in the foreground. This is not just a
movie theater. It's a reference-class movie theater where
directors go to adjust and approve their movie sound tracks!
Surround sound for music. Selected Sony Digital Cinema Sound™ circuits also
recreate the acoustic space of two legendary concert venues: the Vienna
Musikvereinsaal and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. So you experience music with
the acoustics of a real concert hall.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Inputs and outputs. As the nerve center of your entire A/V system, your receiver
needs a good complement of inputs and outputs. Make sure that the type of inputs
and outputs matches your other equipment, especially your DVD player, DIRECTV
receiver and television. In particular, if you have a High Definition monitor
television, look for component video (Y/PB/PR) inputs and outputs that can support
480p and 1080i signals. You'll also want optical or coaxial digital inputs for
connecting your DVD player.
Power amplifiers. Make sure the receiver has the number of power amplifiers you
need to decode the surround sound you want. Today's receivers offer up to 7
channels of amplification for 7.1-channel surround sound!
Sony's Digital Cinema Sound circuitry also reproduces the
acoustics of two renowned concert halls, the Amsterdam
Concertgebouw and the Vienna Musikvereinsaal, shown here.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Speaker Consistency
When buying home theater speakers, you'll want to consider the space you have
for speaker placement and the types of speakers available today. But the most important
consideration is the consistency of sound from one speaker to the next.
To appreciate the importance of consistent sound, consider a mis-matched stereo
system with a big, bass-heavy speaker on the left and a small speaker on the right. Every
time the music emphasizes the bass notes, the stereo image will appear to "wander"
toward the left! When the bass becomes quiet, the image will wander to the right.
Instead of getting a true stereo image, you get an ever-shifting blur of sound. This
problem is bad enough in two-channel stereo. In multi-channel home theater systems,
this problem is multiplied.
For consistent sound, it's important to buy all your full-range speakers (Left,
Center, Right, Surround-Left and Surround-Right) not simply from the same
manufacturer—but from the same series in the manufacturer's lineup! You want to make
sure that all five full-range speakers use the same design for the high-frequency driver
(the "tweeter") and the same approach to cabinet design, crossover design and all the
other technical details that go into determining sound quality.
Matched speakers from a single manufacturer are essential for
achieving a surround sound effect that's stable, consistent and
ultimately convincing.
The only speaker that's free of this requirement for consistency is the subwoofer.
Most subwoofers can be adjusted for level and "crossover frequency" to blend
successfully with most full-range speakers.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Types of Speakers
A full 5.1-channel home theater system includes five full-range speakers: Left,
Center, Right, Surround-Left and Surround-Right; plus a Subwoofer for the "0.1" channel.
You've got a range of choices for each.
Front speakers. You can choose from large, floor-standing speakers, smaller
"bookshelf" speakers or tiny "satellite" speakers. Your choice will probably be
dictated by your budget, the amount of space you have and the locations you have for
speaker placement. Most speakers for A/V use are "magnetically shielded." This
will prevent fields from the speakers' magnets from interfering with the picture of
CRT televisions.
Center speakers. The Center channel is important because it carries the dialog. The
Center speaker creates the illusion that the dialog is coming directly from the actors
on the screen. Center speakers are usually sleek designs for horizontal placement
immediately above or below the television. Choose your Center speaker from the
same brand and series as the Left and Right. Most Center speakers are magnetically
shielded to prevent interference with the TV picture.
Surround speakers. For highly motivated home theater enthusiasts, these could be
large, floor standing speakers. But because most of the movie sound track
information is concentrated in the front, smaller "satellite" speakers work very well.
Subwoofer. Most subwoofers are "active," which means they are driven by their
own, internal power amplifier. Because the human ear can't detect the direction from
which deep bass is coming, the subwoofer can be placed almost anywhere, including
under a table or in a corner of the room.
Matched speaker sets. Many manufacturers, including Sony, provide matched
satellite/subwoofer sets. These provide identical or nearly identical speakers for the
five full-range channels, plus a cosmetically and sonically matching subwoofer. The
satellite speakers are often designed to be hung on a wall or to sit on a cabinet or shelf.
Wall mount brackets are a great solution for positioning satellite
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Bringing it All Back Home
We've completed our tour of Sources, Sight and Sound. Now is the time to put it
all together. This section will review the practical considerations for buying and
installing a home theater system.
Before You Buy
STEP 1. Determine what building blocks you already have. Decide whether you
have a television, A/V receiver or DVD player that you want to keep.
STEP 2. Determine your viewing distance. If you're buying a new television, this
will help you in selecting a screen size. Consult the charts on page 18 for more
information. Where possible, check out the television you're planning to buy,
connected to a good DVD player, when seen from the actual viewing distance in your
STEP 3. Determine your level of interest. At Sony, we realize that not everyone
shares an equal passion for home theater equipment.
If you're nervous about buying the right products and making the right
connections when you get them home, you're probably best served by an all-in-one
product like Sony's DVD Dream™ systems. All the equipment will match. And all
of the cables and speaker connections are color-coded. It's like having a Sony expert
standing next to you when you set your system up!
If you're only somewhat interested in equipment, Sony's Home-Theater-in-a-Box
systems are a good place to start. The speakers will match—and will work well with
the receiver. There's also an easy set-up guide to help you get started.
If you're after the highest possible performance or if you'll want to upgrade
individual pieces in the future, separate components are your best bet.
The rear of a Sony DVD Dream System, showing color-coded
cables and color-coded speaker terminals.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
How to Buy
If you've done your homework (see "Before You Buy," above), buying home
theater is easy. Just consider four typical scenarios.
Your current
a Sony DVD
Dream system
SCENARIO A. Let's say you have only a television and you simply want to add
home theater. You can just purchase a Sony DVD Dream™ system and you'll be
done! The system contains an A/V receiver and DVD player housed together in one,
sleek component, plus a matched set of speakers, complete with subwoofer.
Depending on the DVD Dream system model, you may also want to add speaker
stands and/or wall-mount brackets.
Your current
television and
DVD Player
a Sony HomeTheater-in-a-Box
SCENARIO B. Let's suppose you have both a television and a good DVD player
that you want to keep. You can step up to home theater with the purchase of a Sony
Home-Theater-in-a-Box system. This will include an A/V receiver and a 5.1-channel
speaker system, complete with subwoofer.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
SCENARIO C. Assume that you're starting from a blank sheet of paper. You won't
be using any existing components. If you choose, you can build a completely
customized system with exactly the television, DVD player, A/V receiver and
speakers that fit your specific needs!
SCENARIO D. Maybe you're passionate about having equipment of the highest
quality. Maybe you hate the idea of having a room where A/V equipment is a
prominent visual feature. Or maybe both points of view are represented in your
home! Whatever the case, you may best be served by custom installation. Custom
installers can give you the maximum in home theater enjoyment with the minimum of
visible equipment. A good installer is a master at hiding equipment and when the
time comes to enjoy, revealing it on motorized lifts. An installer can work hand-inhand with your architect, your decorator and your general contractor. An installer can
integrate your home entertainment system with automatic window shades and
automatic room lighting. And a good installer can even create whole-house
entertainment systems or integrate the home theater system with your PC network. If
you're intrigued by the idea of custom installation, you can find out more at
A custom installer authorized by Sony Consumer Integrated
Systems can elicit the best performance from the best equipment,
like the Sony VPH-G90U high definition projector. A legend
among video professionals and enthusiasts, the G90U has 9inch electromagnetic focus CRTs and 2500 H x 2000 V
resolution. It also costs more than the average automobile.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Where to Put It All
Speakers. Absolutely correct speaker placement would have you sitting in the
middle of a circle. The television would be directly in front of you, with the Center
channel speaker directly above or below. The Left and Right speakers would be 30
degrees to either side. Ideally, you'd have a perfect equilateral triangle with the Left
speaker, Right speaker and your listening position at each point of the triangle. The
Surround-Left and Surround-Right speakers would be to the sides and behind you, at
the same distance as the other speakers. Finally, the subwoofer could go in any
convenient place.
Surround Left
Surround Right
Perfect speaker placement. Don't worry if you can't achieve
perfection at home. The better A/V receivers can apply selective
time delay to compensate for inconsistent speaker placement.
In reality, the surround speakers can go alongside you or behind you. And since it's
hard to place every speaker at an equal distance from your listening position, the
better A/V receivers have speaker distance compensation circuits that will add time
delay to correct for imperfections in speaker placement.
Floor-standing speakers need no further hardware, but most satellite speakers are
designed to sit on a shelf, mount on floor stands or attach to the wall with mounting
brackets. Be sure to check if these are included with your speakers.
Source components. These can go on bookshelves, but it's best to have a purposedesigned equipment rack, available in most furniture stores and electronics stores.
Television. Most rear-projection televisions are designed to sit directly on the floor.
But the larger CRT direct-view televisions are best placed onto TV stands. A stand
from the TV manufacturer is a good choice because it raises the middle of the screen
where it belongs—at eye level. The stand will also match the cosmetics of your
television, will support your TV's weight and will provide room for your source
components—solving many installation issues at once.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
A television stand can solve many issues at once. It elevates the
television to the correct height and it provides shelves for the
source components.
Finishing Touches
While not essential for home theater, two add-on purchases can make your system
much more enjoyable. A "universal" remote control can replace all your separate
remotes—an especially good move if you've built your system from individual
components. Finally, wireless headphones will let you enjoy full-volume entertainment
at night, after others in your house have gone to sleep. It's like having your cake and
eating it, too.
A universal remote control (left) can simplify system
operation. Wireless headphones (right) enable you to
enjoy the system after others have gone to bed.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Home Theater Connections
Connecting a home theater is easier than you may have imagined. Separate
components from reputable manufacturers come with clear directions and easy-to-follow
diagrams. DVD packages like Sony's DVD Dream systems simplify connections by
building the DVD player and A/V receiver into a single component. These Sony systems
go even further with color-coded speaker cables and color-coded speaker terminals.
This section will review some of the most common home theater connections, and
help guide you in choosing connections when your equipment offers more than one way
to do the job.
Audio Connections
Line-Level Analog Audio. These are the most common audio connections in a home
theater system, hooking up most of your source components to your A/V receiver.
The physical connector is called either an "RCA" or "pin" plug. In stereo, the Right
and Left are usually color-coded so you don't mix them up. Right plugs and jacks are
coded in Red. Left plugs and jacks are coded in white. In some cases, 5.1-channel
connections are used, for example in taking the output of a multi-channel Super
Audio CD player to an A/V receiver.
Line-level analog audio jacks are generally color-coded red for
Right and white for Left. The plugs on the cables share the
same color code.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
5.1-channel analog audio jacks enable a Super Audio CD player
to deliver multi-channel sound to an A/V receiver.
Optical and Coaxial Digital Audio. Digital audio connections generally do a better
job of maintaining the sound quality of digital source components, including
DIRECTV satellite receivers, HDTV receivers and DVD players. While some music
lovers prefer coaxial digital connections, optical connections are immune from
electromagnetic interference.
Digital audio outputs feed a digital bit stream to your A/V receiver.
Speaker Connections. Some A/V receivers can put out 100 watts or more to drive
each speaker. Dedicated speaker wires are used to make this connection. Speaker
wire is typically "lamp cord," consisting of two multi-stranded copper conductors
running side by side. Spring-loaded or screw-type speaker terminals hold the
conductors in position. For the best sound, observe the "polarity" by connecting the
"red," "hot" or "plus" terminal on the A/V receiver to the corresponding terminal on
each speaker. Speaker cables are usually coded to help you in this process. The "hot"
side of the speaker cable will be red, have a stripe or have ridges on the insulation, so
you won't need to trace the polarity down the entire length of the cable. In speaker
wire, lower gauges offer thicker conductors for better sound, especially over long
wire lengths.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
These screw-type speaker terminals on the back of an A/V
receiver make for extremely reliable, secure connections.
Video Connections
Radio Frequency (RF) connections. This is the only way to connect a rooftop
antenna, cable TV service or satellite TV antenna feed. You also need an RF
connection to carry the antenna or cable signal from your VCR to the television.
While you can watch VCR tapes as "Channel 3" or "Channel 4" on your television,
this use of the RF connection can degrade color, detail and sound quality. You'll get
better picture and sound when you watch tapes using the composite video and linelevel audio connections. RF connection uses a coaxial cable with screw-on "F-type"
RF connections like this are only appropriate for rooftop antenna
feeds, cable TV service and satellite antenna feeds. Avoid them
for other source component connections.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Composite video connections. The most common way of hooking up home video
source components, the composite connection combines black-and-white information
(luminance) and color information (chrominance) into a single signal that's a
"composite" of the two. Composite video connection of source equipment enables far
higher resolution and far better color than RF connection. In home theater equipment,
the physical connector is the same "RCA" or "pin" plug as used for line-level audio.
To avoid confusion, the video connectors are typically color-coded yellow. Because
composite video requires a separate connection for sound, manufacturers often supply
cables with three sets of plugs on each end: Video (yellow), Right Audio (red) and
Left Audio (white).
Composite video connections have the potential to deliver far
higher picture quality than RF, unencumbered by sound.
S-Video connections. S-Video connections can deliver somewhat higher quality
than composite video, because they offer separate conductors for a black-and-white
signal (luminance) and a color signal (chrominance). The physical connector is a 4pin Mini-DIN plug.
S-Video connections can be better than composite video
because they provide separate signal paths for the black-andwhite and color signals.
Y/PB/PR component video connections. These connections are a must for
progressive scan DVD—and they're highly desirable for other equipment. They
divide the video signal into three component parts: black-and-white luminance (Y),
blue color difference (PB) and red color difference (PR). This enables beautifully rich,
clear, accurate color, especially important for today's better video sources. In home
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
theater equipment, the physical connectors are the same "RCA" or "pin" plugs as used
for line-level audio, typically coded green (Y), blue (PB) and red (PR).
Component video connections (Y/PB/PR) are the best way to
convey the full quality of the signal from the DVD player to the
R/G/B component video connection. Another way of connecting a component
video signal of exquisite quality is separate connections for the three primary colors
of video: Red, Green and Blue, abbreviated R/G/B. This is most often used for
connecting a PC or an LCD front projector. The physical cable usually has a D-sub
15-pin connector that includes a pair of thumbscrews for secure mating.
The D-sub 15-pin interface supports component video R/G/B
DVI-HDTV digital video connection. Digital Visual Interface (DVI) HDTV
enables spectacular, uncompressed digital-to-digital transport of a video signal from
an HDTV receiver to a "high scanning," "High Definition monitor" or "High
Definition upgradeable" television. The connection is also secured by HDCP
technology to protect the signal from piracy. The physical connector is includes a
pair of thumbscrews for secure mating.
The DVI-HDTV interface carries High Definition in full digital quality.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Home Theater Glossary
1080i. High definition signal with 1080 scanning lines and interlaced ("i") scanning.
This contains up to six times the detail of conventional TV pictures.
16:9 Aspect ratio screen. This is 33% wider than the standard 4:3 aspect ratio screen.
It's closer to the proportions of widescreen movies and perfect for Digital TV
broadcasting, anamorphic DVD-Video titles and other state-of-the-art 16:9 programming
2-Tuner Picture-in-Picture. Simultaneously displays two shows, with both TV pictures
generated by internal tuners.
32-Bit surround sound decoding. Far more accurate, for higher fidelity than the
conventional, 24-bit decoding.
3D digital comb filter. A circuit that processes composite video signals, stripping the
color signal (chrominance) apart from the black-and-white signal (luminance). To
maintain picture quality, this filter compares each horizontal scanning line with the lines
above and below—and with the corresponding lines on the previous and subsequent
video frames. You get higher horizontal resolution, higher vertical resolution and
reduced video noise.
4:3 Aspect Ratio. The proportions of a conventional television screen. The 4:3 aspect
ratio is squarish compared to the widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio.
480i. The conventional, Standard Definition television signal. This contains 480 active
scanning lines (of a total 525 lines) displayed at 30 frames per second. Interlaced ("i")
scanning divides each frame into two fields of 240 lines. Each field lasts for 1/60 second.
480p. Enhanced definition TV signal with 480 active scanning lines, progressive ("p")
scanning and a rate of 60 frames per second. Used in both digital television broadcasting
and progressive scan DVD players.
5.1-Channel Inputs. For receivers, enables you to connect a multi-channel source, such
as a Super Audio Compact Disc player. So you can enjoy high-resolution surround
sound for music that's a giant step closer to the original performance. The inputs allow
for flexibility now and in the future.
6.1-Channel Inputs. Accommodate the latest sources with 6.1-channel surround sound.
The sixth channel drives a Surround-Back speaker.
720p. High Definition TV signal with 720 active scanning lines and progressive ("p")
scanning. Used in digital television broadcasting.
A/V inputs. For connecting external audio/video equipment, including VCRs, DVD
players, A/V receivers.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Anamorphic. A type of lens that "squeezes" a 16:9 widescreen picture into a standard
4:3 image. For proper playback, the image needs to be "unsqueezed" by display on a
16:9 screen or by letterbox presentation (with black bars at the top and bottom) of a 4:3
Artifact. An unwanted distortion of the video signal, visible on the screen.
Aspect ratio. The proportion of TV screen width to height. Conventional television has
an aspect ratio of 4:3. Modern, widescreen television has an aspect ratio of 16:9.
ATSC. Stands for the Advanced Television Standards Committee. An advisory group
that produced the table of 18 recommended transmission formats for Digital Television
(DTV) broadcasting in the United States.
Cathode Ray Tube (CRT). The most common television display technology, the CRT
is a sealed glass envelope in which the inside front surface is coated by phosphors. The
phosphors glow when excited by an electron beam—the "cathode ray." CRTs are used
for both direct-view and projection television.
CD-R/RW audio playback. Plays audio discs from your CD-R/RW burner.
Center channel. A speaker channel in surround sound systems. The Center channel is
crucially important because it creates the illusion that the dialog is coming from the
actors on the screen.
Chrominance. The color component of a video signal, abbreviated C. Chrominance is
combined with the black-and-white signal (luminance) in composite video connections,
but kept apart in S-Video and component connections. For higher quality, the single
chrominance signal can also be divided into B-Y and R-Y components in Y/PB/PR
component connections, or into the primary colors of Red, Green and Blue for R/G/B
component connections.
CineMotion reverse 3-2 pull-down. A Sony feature that preserves the integrity of
movie film frames for spectacular, consistent fine detail in 480-line progressive scanning
(480p). In televisions, it works with all film-originated content, including broadcast TV,
cable TV, satellite TV and DVD.
Coaxial digital output. A method of connecting high-quality digital audio from a source
component to an A/V receiver.
Component Video connections (Y/PB/PR). Component video is the best method for
connecting analog video signals. Y/PB/PR is ideal for DVD players and compatible
satellite receivers. Uses separate connections for luminance (Y), blue color difference
(PB) and red color difference (PR).
Component Video connections (R/G/B). Component video is the best method for
connecting analog video signals. R/G/B is ideal for HDTV receivers and computer
signals. Uses separate connections for Red (R), Green (G) and Blue (B).
Composite Video connections. Composite video is the standard method of connecting
video equipment, but it is far from the best method. Composite video puts color
information (chrominance) together with black-and-white information (luminance) on the
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
same wire. Picture quality is lost whenever chrominance and luminance are stripped
apart for display on a television.
Digital Cinema Sound system. A group of Sony developments that represents a total rethinking of home theater sound. Produces the sound that movie directors intended by
recreating the precise acoustics of three post-production dubbing stages in Hollywood.
Digital Concert Hall. To enable multi-channel music reproduction from conventional,
stereo sources, Sony engineers have captured the sound of two revered performance
spaces: Amsterdam's Concertgebouw and Vienna's Musikvereinsaal. Sony's top receivers
offer DSP modes that reproduce both halls.
Digital Reality Creation™ circuitry. A Sony breakthrough in big-screen television.
This uses digital mapping to convert a conventional TV image into its high definition
equivalent. The system creates four times as much data for a more solid, more
convincing picture. And some versions of the system enable you to choose between
interlaced and progressive display modes.
Digital Signal Processing (DSP). Circuits that shape and enhance a signal when it's still
in the digital domain. Audio DSP circuits can perform surround sound decoding, create
acoustic environments, adjust the bass and treble with incredible precision and even
adjust the volume.
Digital Television (DTV). The US system for over-the-air broadcasting gives stations
18 options in signal format, six of which are designated as true High Definition.
Dolby Digital decoder. Enables multi-channel digital surround sound that is dynamic,
spacious and realistic. Generates 5.1 discrete channels of sound for Left, Right, Center,
Surround-Left, Surround-Right and Low Frequency Effects (LFE) for a Subwoofer.
Dolby Digital passthrough. This is a digital output from a DVD player, satellite
receiver or HDTV receiver to an A/V receiver with built-in Dolby Digital decoder.
Dolby Digital EX 6.1-channel sound. The new encoding format includes a matrix
"Surround Back" channel.
Dolby Pro Logic decoder. The classic system that decodes and amplifies the surround
channels already encoded in most movie videocassettes and laserdiscs, many TV dramas
and sports broadcasts.
Dolby Pro Logic II-movie and Pro Logic II-music. Decode-only systems that derive
5.1 channels instead of the conventional 4 channels of Dolby Pro Logic surround sound.
dts (Digital Theater System) decoder. Enables multi-channel digital surround sound
that is dynamic, spacious and realistic. Generates 5.1 discrete channels of sound for Left,
Right, Center, Surround-Left, Surround-Right and Low Frequency Effects (LFE) for a
dts 96/24. Sound track encoding system that can deliver the extended frequency
response of 96 kHz sampling and the heightened realism of 24-bit quantization.
dts ES discrete 6.1 and dts ES matrix 6.1. Decoding systems that add a Surround
Back channel. In the "discrete" case, it's a completely separate channel. In the "matrix"
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
case, it's specially encoded into the other surround channels, then regenerated by the
dts Neo6:cinema and dts Neo6:music. Decode-only systems that derive six channels
from two-channel material.
DTV receiver. See HDTV receiver.
DVD-Video. Immensely popular video playback system, for which over 10,000 titles
have already been published. Some say that DVD stands for "Digital Versatile Disc."
Some say "Digital Video Disc." In fact, the format's inventors could not agree.
Officially, DVD doesn't stand for anything.
DVD-R/RW capability. For added versatility, some DVD players can accommodate
DVD-R/RW discs (video format) and DVD-RW discs (VR format).
DVI-HDTV. An interface that enables spectacular, uncompressed digital-to-digital
transport of a video signal from an HDTV receiver to a "high scanning," "High Definition
monitor" or "High Definition upgradeable" television. The connection is also secured by
HDCP technology to protect the signal from piracy.
FD Trinitron® picture tube. Sony's visually flat picture tube. Uses a Flat Glass Panel,
high-focus electron gun, High Precision deflection yoke and a Fine-Pitch Aperture Grille.
Frequency response. In audio, the ability of a system to convey music from the deepest
bass frequencies to the highest treble. In video, the ability of a system to convey high
resolution, which corresponds to high video frequencies.
HD component video connection. Component video (Y/PB/PR) connectors that can
carry High Definition video sources and DVD 480p progressive scan output.
HDTV receiver. Receives and displays free, over-the-air High Definition television.
Capable of images with up to six times the detail of conventional television.
HDTV DIRECTV receiver. Receives and displays subscription High Definition
television from the DIRECTV satellites. Some models can also receive free, over-the-air
High Definition television. Capable of images with up to six times the detail of
conventional television.
High Definition. A new type of free, over-the-air TV broadcasting with up to six times
the picture detail (resolution) of conventional, Standard Definition broadcasting. The
National Association of Broadcasters reports that 885 television stations are broadcasting
a digital TV signal and that 60 network TV series are being broadcast in High Definition.
Home Theater. Media and home electronics that deliver the movie theater experience at
home. Minimum requirements are a DVD player, a television with a screen of 27 inches
diagonal or more and an audio system that features Dolby Digital decoding and 5.1channel surround sound speakers.
Interlaced Scanning. The opposite of Progressive Scanning. The technology behind the
conventional television signal, which shows half of a frame's scanning lines in each 1/60
second. First the odd numbered lines are displayed, then the even-numbered lines.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
Letterbox. One technique for accommodating widescreen programming on a standard
4:3 screen. Letterboxing presents the widescreen picture with black bars across the top
and bottom. Cinema purists love letterboxing because it preserves the director's original
vision. Others are disturbed by a picture that does not fill their 4:3 screen.
Liquid Crystal Display (LCD). A television display type that uses a viscous liquid and
a mesh of transistors to turn pixels on and off. LCDs are used in both direct-view and
projection television. In both cases, LCDs require a light to generate brightness.
Local channels. DIRECTV broadcasting that beams the signals of CBS, NBC, ABC and
Fox local affiliate stations, plus a PBS national feed into many cities. No need for cable
or a local TV antenna.
Low Frequency Effects (LFE) channel. The "0.1" bass channel of surround sound
systems, commonly fed to a subwoofer.
Luminance. The black-and-white component of a video signal, abbreviated Y.
Luminance is combined with the color signal (chrominance) in composite video
connections, but kept apart in S-Video and component connections.
Memory Stick® media playback. A Sony feature that enables you to display JPEG
images (DCF format).* Simply slide the Memory Stick media out of a Sony Cybershot® camera or Handycam® camcorder and into the television's Memory Stick slot!
MID™ circuitry. Sony processing that enables advanced Twin View™ picture-andpicture, including simultaneous display of SD and HD-originated pictures.
Multi-Channel Super Audio CD playback. The benefits of surround sound come to
music. Super Audio CD supports up to 5.1 channels of full-quality sound.
Noise. Random, unwanted interference with the signal to which you're trying to watch or
listen. In audio, noise takes the form of hiss or static. In video, noise is picture "snow,"
random flecks or specks of unwanted color.
NTSC. The U.S. standard for color TV broadcasting, adopted in the 1950s. NTSC is
now used to refer to other aspects of conventional broadcasting, including the frame rate
of 29.97 interlaced frames per second and the television raster of 525 gross scanning lines
per frame and 480 active scanning lines. NTSC officially stands for National Television
Standards Committee, although frustrated engineers will tell you it stands for "Never The
Same Color."
One Button Record. This feature of DIRECTV receivers lets you record a show from
the program guide at the touch of a button. Uses the receiver's timer and an infrared
"blaster" to automatically start and stop your VCR.
Optical digital output. A method of connecting high-quality digital audio from a source
component to an A/V receiver. Optical outputs use a fiber optic transceiver to convert
pulses of electrical voltage into flashes of laser light. At the far end, the light is
converted back into voltage pulses.
Pan & Scan. One technique for accommodating widescreen programming on a standard
4:3 screen. The system selects out a 4:3 portion of the larger picture and presents only
that portion. To follow the action in the larger picture, a technician must sometimes shift
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
the point of view left or right, "panning" the frame. Cinema purists hate Pan & Scan
because it disrupts the director's original vision. Others appreciate a picture that fills their
4:3 screen.
Personal Video Recorder (PVR). System that records video onto a hard drive. PVRs
offer many new opportunities, including the ability to hold 80 hours of programs, the
ability to pause live TV and the ability to automatically suggest TV shows you might like
and record them for you.
Plasma. A flat panel television display type in which plasma gas pixels glow when
excited by electrodes.
Progressive Scanning. The opposite of Interlaced scanning. Shows each scanning line
in sequence, for a more seamless, more film-like image.
Projection. A television display system that projects the image as light onto a screen.
Front projectors are located out among the audience and project on a reflective, white
screen. Rear projectors are self-contained boxes that project onto a translucent screen.
Resolution. A measure of video signal detail for source material, transmission channels,
recorders and displays. Resolution can be measured in pixels or in "lines of resolution."
RF connector. Accommodates a local TV broadcast antenna or cable.
Satellite Speaker. A compact speaker that reproduces all of an audio signal except for
the deepest octaves of bass. Many home theater speaker systems use satellite speakers
for the full-range channels and subwoofers to handle the bass.
Stereo Broadcast Reception. Decodes MTS stereo TV broadcasts. Can include dbx®
noise reduction for better sound.
Subwoofer. A specialized loudspeaker that handles only bass frequencies (typically 200
Hz and below). The subwoofer is ideally suited to reproducing the "0.1" Low Frequency
Effects channel of modern surround sound systems. Most subwoofers are also "active,"
meaning that they include their own power amplifier.
Super Audio CD playback. High-resolution audio that enables you to rediscover your
love of music. The highest quality sound source available today, Super Audio CD
supports both stereo and multi-channel music reproduction.
Super Fine Pitch™ CRT. Refinement of the Sony FD Trinitron CRT that enables even
higher resolution.
S-Video connection. Enables you to connect video equipment to your A/V receiver at
high signal quality. S-Video keeps the black-and-white signal (luminance) apart from the
color signal (chrominance) to maintain picture quality.
Universal remote control. Simplifies operation by also controlling many brands of TVs,
VCRs, DVD players and A/V receivers. (May not be compatible with all brands and
VCRPlus+ Gold technology. A VCR feature that makes channel programming and
timer setting easy.
The Sony Guide to Home Theater
WEGA Engine™ circuitry. Sony scaling circuitry that helps deliver the superlative
performance of XBR® LCD WEGA™ and XBR Plasma WEGA™ televisions.
Widescreen. Programming and video systems that incorporate an aspect ratio wider than
the conventional 4:3 television screen. In video, widescreen means 16:9, which equals a
ratio of picture width to height of 1.778:1. Movies can use several widescreen formats,
including a ratio of 2.35:1.
A Final Word
Home theater is an exciting, dynamic field with new concepts and new products
coming out all the time. For further information on the latest developments, be sure to set
a bookmark on your web browser at
Sony Electronics Inc.
1 Sony Drive, Park Ridge, NJ 07656
The Sony Guide to Home Theater, version 2.0; May 8, 2003
© 2003 Sony Electronics Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited.
Television pictures are simulated. Features and specifications are subject to change without notice. Non-metric weights
and measures are approximate. Sony, CineAlta, Cyber-shot, Digital Cinema Sound, Digital Reality Creation, Direct
Stream Digital, DRC, DVD Dream, Flash Focus, Giga Pocket, Grand WEGA, Handycam, LCD WEGA, MegaStorage,
Memory Stick, MID, Plasma WEGA, RoomLink, SDDS, Sony Dynamic Digital Sound, Super Fine Pitch, Trinitron, VAIO,
VAIO Media, WEGA, WEGA Engine and XBR are trademarks of Sony. Dolby, Dolby Digital and Pro Logic are trademarks
of Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation. dts is a trademark of Digital Theater Systems Corporation. DIRECTV is a
registered trademark of DIRECTV Inc., a unit of Hughes Electronics Corporation. VCR Plus+, VCR Plus+ Gold, C3,
ALLSET and PlusCode are trademarks of Gemstar Development Corporation. TV Guide is a registered trademark of New
America Publications, Inc. TiVo is a trademark of TiVo, Inc. dbx is a registered trademark of Carillon Electronics Corp.
DLP is a trademark of Texas Instruments, Inc.
* Playback on these televisions requires Memory Stick media with images stored in the DCF file format. All Sony digital
still cameras and camcorders that store images on a Memory Stick media are compatible except models DSC-D700 and
DSC-D770, DCR-TRV900, and DSR-PD100A. If the image file is re-named or manipulated, the DCF file format must be
restored before playback is possible. Before they can be viewed, images captured on all other digital still cameras and
camcorders will need to be formatted on a PC to the DCF file format, using third party software not supplied with the
The Sony Guide to Home Theater