Daisy-Chaining HDMI

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Rickpfloyd asked the HDTV & Home Theater forum if one loses image quality daisy chaining HDMI cables from a DVR through a receiver to your HDTV.

Since an HDMI cable carries both the best possible home entertainment image and sound, this is the

obvious way to make the most of your equipment. You use one HDMI cable to connect your source (a DVR, Blu-ray player, or whatever) to your receiver/amplifier, then use another HDMI cable to connect the receiver to your HDTV. When you watch something, the receiver processes the sound (its primary function), and passes the video signal to the television.

But does the video lose something in that process?

Ironically, the more expensive the receiver, the more likely that the answer will be "Yes." Home theater guru Joe Kane told me that expensive, high-end receivers--the kind that cost thousands of dollars--often muck with the image. "People who make expensive processors feel they should be hands-on with the video...They feel obligated to process it, and therefore they hurt it." But the consumer-level products priced in the hundreds generally just pass the video through, and thus do no harm.

But there are other problems with daisy-chaining. It limits your options. It can make it difficult, or even impossible, to watch television without the receiver on--a waste of electricity if you're watching a talk show or a movie with commentary.

You don't have to daisy-chain every source device you own that comes with an HDMI cable. In fact, Blu-ray discs are the only common home media that carry soundtracks so good that they lose quality if you don't use an HDMI connection to the receiver. The best audio you can get from a DVR, cable box, or DVD

will sound just as good with an optical or coaxial S/PDIF connection. You can therefore use HDMI to get the picture and audio to your HDTV, and optical or coaxial to get the audio to the receiver. Just remember to turn down the television's audio when you use the receiver.

If you do daisy-chain (and I recommend you do for a Blu-ray player), set up your receiver so that it doesn't always have to be on. Check the manual for a setting that, when the amplifier is turned off, will pass the complete HDMI signal--audio and video--through to the TV. This allows you to watch stuff that isn't in surround with less power consumption. Check your receiver's manual for instructions.

Read the original forum discussion.

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This story, "Daisy-Chaining HDMI" was originally published by PCWorld.

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