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** DVD and Home Theater Hardware FAQ **

DVD & Home Theater Gear Discuss DVD and Home Theater Equipment.

** DVD and Home Theater Hardware FAQ **

Old 12-11-01, 01:08 PM
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** DVD and Home Theater Hardware FAQ **

DVD and Home Theater Hardware FAQ


How does TV display an image?
What is a plasma TV?
How far should I sit from my TV?
What is HDTV?
What is aspect ratio?
How do you watch standard 4:3 TV programs on an HDTV?
What is burn-in, and can video games create burn-in on my TV?
What is soft matting, hard matting and pan & scan?
Why do I have black bars on my TV?
I have a wide screen TV and I still have black bars, why is this?
What is anamorphic?
What is progressive scan?
What is 3:2(also called 2:3) pulldown detection?
What is THX?
What is DD5.1, DD6.1, DD7.1, DTS, THX-EX, DTS-ES?
What is DVD-Audio and SACD?
What are region codes and RCE?
What is macrovision? (a.k.a. Can I connect my DVD to my VCR?)(a.k.a. Why does my DVD picture look terrible?)
What is a dual layer DVD? (a.k.a. Why does my DVD player pause for a second?)
What is seamless branching?
What is the chroma bug?
What are all these connections on the back of my DVD player and TV?
How do I hook up a DVD player to a TV without video input?
What are the different lengths I can run cables?
What are Dipole, Bipole, and Monopole speakers?
How do I set up my home theater receiver, speakers, and sub?

Glossary Of Terms

Useful Links


How does TV display an image?

All televisions use the process of interlacing the odd and even horizontal lines of an image. When the picture is "drawn" on the TV screen it is done by first "drawing" the odd lines horizontally at 1/60th a second and then "drawing" the even lines horizontally at 1/60 a second to build the entire image. This means the entire image is drawn in 2 passes, 30 times a second. The alternate to this is progressive scanning, which is described in detail under "What is progressive scan?"

NTSC is the US standard for the television signal. It is 525 scan lines at 60 interlaced fields per second and 29.97 frames per second. Of the 525 scan lines, 480 scan lines are used for the actual image. The rest of the scan lines are used for sync information.

PAL/SECAM are standards used by Europe and the rest of the world for the television signal. It is 625 scan lines at 50 interlaced fields per second and 25 frames per second.

For more in-depth info on how Television works visit How Stuff Works

What is a plasma TV?

A plasma/LCD TV is usually referred to as a monitor or display. Just like computer monitors a plasma display is inherently progressive so it does not have the ability to display an interlaced signal. The specifications of the plasma display, determines how an interlaced signal gets converted. In the case of a 1024 x 768p display, all incoming signals will be converted to a 768 progressive image.

How far should I sit from my TV?

The general rule for projection TVs is to sit 2.5 x the screen size. So for example if you have a 55" TV, then 55" x 2.5 = 137.5", or 11 feet from the screen. Of course this is not a hard rule and you should try different positions.

There really is no rule about direct view(tube) TVs, just try a few different sitting positions.

What is HDTV?

HDTV is the next step in broadcast television and will become the standard in the future. It is digital broadcast television with a much higher resolution over standard analog TV broadcasts and is displayed in widescreen 1.78:1(16x9) ratio. The current image resolution standards for HDTV are 480p, 720p and 1080i. (the "p" stands for progressive and the "i" is for interlaced.

The resolution breaks down to this:
    HDTV also contains higher resolution audio information such as Dolby Digital 5.1

    Most of the HDTV capable TVs require an external HDTV decoder box and a special antenna for receiving the HDTV signal. HDTV is also broadcast via satellite and requires a HDTV satellite receiver and a special dish(called a "Multi-Satellite" dish and it is oval in shape).

    An excellent source for HDTV programming and stations is HDTV Galaxy

    What is aspect ratio?

    The aspect ratio of a film is the ratio of width to height of a films image.

    Example: 1.85:1 means the image is 1.85 times wider than it is high.

    Common aspect ratios are as follows:

      How do you watch standard 4:3 TV programs on an HDTV?

      Most HDTVs have a few different options for displaying 4:3 material. There is a stretched mode that stretches the outside edges of the image to fill the screen. There is a zoom mode, which zooms in on the center of the image to fill the screen. And there is also a mode that puts bars(usually gray) on the sides of the image to properly display it in its 4:3 ratio.

      What is burn-in, and can video games create burn-in on my TV?

      Burn-in is caused by a static(non-moving) image displayed on the screen for long periods of time which age the CRTs in that spot prematurely. RPTVs are much more susceptible to burn-in than direct-view(tube) TVs but direct-view sets can have the problem(it only takes longer). RPTVs are more at risk because the CRTs have to output at a much higher level to maintain the brightness.

      Video games can cause burn-in on RPTVs with such things as life bars, score boxes, etc. Basically anything that doesn’t change.

      Burn-in can also occur on wide screen TVs if the the 4:3 viewing mode is used too much(4:3 mode puts the gray bars on the sides). The black bars will also cause burn-in when viewing widescreen movies. The black bars actually casue the burn-in to happen much quicker than the gray bars.

      On RPTVs the best way to prevent burn-in from happening is to calibrate your TV, keep the brightness and contrast down and limit the time playing games to 15% of your total TV viewing.

      What is soft matting, hard matting and pan & scan?

        Why do I have black bars on my TV?

        In order to preserve the original aspect ratio(OAR) of a movie, horizontal scan lines are used to create the "black bars" on the top and bottom(also called letterboxing). The black bars can be reduced buy using the zoom feature found on most DVD players, however you lose information on the sides of the image when you do this.

        I have a widescreen TV and I still have black bars, why is this?

        There could be 3 reasons for this.

        First, the DVD you are watching could be letterboxed(non-anamorphic). Even movies that are 1.85:1 will have black bars if it is non-anamorphic, because the scan lines that make up the black bars are hard coded into the image to create the widescreen picture. Also keep in mind that to properly display a 1.85:1 non-anamorphic movie on a widescreen TV you will have "bars" on the top, bottom and sides.

        Second, any movie, both anamorphic and non-anamorphic, that has an aspect ratio greater than 1.85:1 will have the black bars. Again you can reduce the black bars by using the zoom feature found on most DVD players.

        Third, your DVD player may be set to 4:3 mode. Most DVD players are set at the factory for 4:3 mode. The setting will be found in the DVD player menu.

        What is anamorphic?
          In most cases you will know a DVD is anamorphic by reading the back of the DVD case. It will say "Anamorphic", "16x9", "Enhanced for widescreen TVs", etc.

          What is progressive scan?

          Progressive scanning simply put is the process of displaying each frame of film as one single frame at 1/60th a second. It de-interlaces the signal on the DVD and displays it progressively, however you must have a TV that will except a progressive signal in order to benefit. The image quality is much better with greater detail and less flicker, over an interlaced signal.

          Most DVDs are encoded as interlaced. If the material is from a progressive source(like film) it is done using interlaced field pairs. If it's an interlaced source then it is encoded as it is presented. It's the de-interlacing that differs.

          Two de-interlacing methods are discussed.
            It is the job of the progressive scan chip to determine what type of source material is on the DVD (progressive or interlaced) and choose the appropriate de-interlacing.

            What is 3:2(also called 2:3) pulldown detection?

            Film is shot at 24 frames per second(fps). The NTSC TV signal runs at 29.97(30) frames per second. This means that the 24fps source must be converted to 30fps to be properly displayed.

            There are 2 fields per video frame on NTSC video. The way the conversion works is by alternating different combinations of 3 and 2 film frames per video fields. Every 4 frames of film end up being 5 frames of video.

            Film frame 1 goes in video frame 1, fields 1 & 2
            Film frame 2 goes in video frame 2, fields 2 & 3 and video frame 3, field 1
            Film frame 3 goes in video frame 3, field 2 and video frame 4, field 1
            Film frame 4 goes in video frame 4, field 2 and video frame 5, fields 1 & 2.


            Film Frames1234
            Video Frames12345
            Video Frame Field 112234
            Video Frame Field 112344

            Take 24fps and 30fps...the common denominator is 6.

            What you know: 4 film frames = 5 video frames using 3:2 pulldown.

            6 x 5 = 30fps (NTSC standard)

            Got that?

            For more detailed information go here

            What is THX?

            THX is a certification process of home theater(HT) hardware. The HT hardware is put through rigorous performance and ergonomic testing to obtain the certification of THX standards. It insures that the equipment tested is capable of reproducing movie soundtracks accurately and to the THX standards.

            THX Select - THX Select is geared to the "average" consumers home theater setup. The requirements are still strict for certification, however the equipment test is made for smaller home theater or living room environments.

            THX Ultra - THX Ultra is geared towards a high-end dedicated home theater. The home theater equipment goes through a much more strict certification. It also includes extra hardware used for controling the audio environment.

            For more information visit THX

            What is DD5.1, DD6.1, DD7.1, DTS, THX-EX, DTS-ES?

            Dolby Digital is the most commonly used soundtrack surround processing for movies. DTS is a competing surround processing company. DTS is often considered better than its Dolby Digital counterpart because DTS uses less compression on the audio track. On some movies the DTS track is noticeably better, on others it is hardly distinguishable.

            The following refer to what type of surround sound and the number of speakers needed for a particular movie. The .1 refers to the sub woofer.
              The use of these different surround setups depends on how the movies are presented on DVD and the ability of your home theater equipment to decode them.

              What is DVD-Audio and SACD?
                Both of these audio formats offer an astounding improvement over conventional CD audio, which is recorded at 44.1KHz sample rate and 16 bit sample size.

                As of yet there are no receivers that will decode DVD-Audio or SACD. Your DVD player must be able to decode DVD-Audio and SACD and you use the analog 5.1 audio inputs on your receiver(if it has them).

                Also another thing to keep in mind is that both DVD-Audio and SACD send a full range signal to each speaker(excluding the sub). Therefore to properly utilize these audio formats you would want to have all full range speakers in your surround setup. However, Some of the newer players do have bass management for those with small speakers.

                DVD-Audio and SACD discs are still a bit expensive, usually ranging from $20-$30

                What are region codes and RCE?

                Because movies are released at different times around the world the DVDs are also released at different times. In order for the studios to control this they have region coding on their DVDs. The region codes refer to different geographical regions around the world. It prevents a DVD of one particular region from being played on a DVD player of a different region.

                The following are the 7 regions in use.
                  RCE(Regional Code Enhancement) is an extra layer of copyright protection on DVDs that prevents them from playing in region free DVD players. However there are workarounds, see the DVDTalk RCE FAQ for more information.

                  What is macrovision? (a.k.a. Can I connect my DVD to my VCR?)(a.k.a. Why does my DVD picture look terrible?)

                  Macrovision is a form of copyright protection that prevents you from making a VHS copy of a DVD. If you have your DVD player connected through a VCR, your picture will be degraded in the form of random colored lines, fading or flickering or black and white.

                  What is a dual layer DVD? (a.k.a. Why does my DVD pause during a movie?)

                  On some or maybe even all of your DVDs you may have noticed a slight pause at some point during the movie.

                  This is because the disk is dual layer. There are two layers of information on the disc so that more information can be stored on one side(typically 4 hours of video). When you see the pause in your movie that means the laser pickup is switching to the other layer. The layer change does not necessarily come at the exact mid point of a movie and is usually placed in a logical spot like a scene fade.

                  You can recognize a dual layer disc by the gold color.

                  What is seamless branching?

                  Seamless branching is a way to add deleted scenes or special material into the playback of a single version of a movie. The option to play these scenes as part of the movie is selected in the DVD's menu.

                  Example: Let’s say you have a film that has a rated and un-rated version. When the DVD is authored the full rated version of the film can be encoded onto the disc. The scenes that make up the un-rated version of the film can be placed in another area of the disc with specific time code algorithms. When you choose the un-rated version of the film from the DVD menu, the rated version plays and when a flag appears for the un-rated material it will "jump" to that scene. When that scene is done it will "jump" back to the rated version and continue.

                  Using seamless branching is a way to save space on a disc as you only need one version of the film encoded onto the disc. This allows more space for special features and alternate audio tracks like DTS.

                  What is the chroma bug?

                  The chroma bug, also know as chroma upsample error, is an error in the MPEG decoder when converting the color information from low resolution to high resolution. It is evident as lines or corduroy patterns on certain areas on the DVD image. Most of the time it is hardly noticeable and other times it is blatantly obvious.

                  Known MPEG decoder chips with chroma bug:


                  Known players with the chroma bug:

                  Apex - 600A
                  Denon - DV2800
                  Meridan - 800
                  Mitsubishi - DD6000
                  Onkyo - DVS939
                  Pioneer - DV05, DV09, DV37, DV38A, and DVL909
                  Proceed - PMDT
                  Sony - DVPS360, DVPS7700, and DVPS9000ES
                  Theta - Voyager
                  Toshiba - SD1600, SD5109, SD6200, SD9100, and SD9200

                  What are all these connections on the back of my DVD player and TV?

                  There are several connections that can be found on your DVD player, TV, and home theater receiver.

                  The following are common types of connections and their description:

                    How do I hook up a DVD player to a TV without video input?

                    Most TVs have at least a RF coax(cable TV) input. You can hook your DVD player up to that input through a RF Modulator. You would connect your composite video out(yellow cable) to the RF modulator and connect coax cable from the RF modulator to the TV’s cable input.

                    You can purchase a RF modulator from Radio Shack. Catalog # 15-1244

                    What are the different lengths I can run cables?

                    This is assuming you are using a decent set of cables for the build quality, low-loss capacitance and good shielding. Also the shorter the cable length the better, but you are not limited.

                      What are Dipole, Bipole and Monopole speakers?

                      Dipole and bipole speakers are most commonly used for the surround speakers. They disperse the sound so that the listener can’t detect where it is coming from. A monopole speaker is what is most commonly used as your "main" speakers.
                        One school of thought on the use of dipole and bipole speakers is, some consider that the soundtracks made for today’s movies have more precise programming and that the dispersion effect that dipoles and bipoles have is contradictory to what was intended to be heard.

                        How do I setup up my home theater receiver, speakers, and sub?

                        So now you have your new home theater receiver and speakers and it’s time to set it up. There are some guidelines to follow but not everyone’s room and acoustics are the same, so in the end you should set everything up in a way that suits your space and above all what sounds good to you. This can be complicated process of placing speakers, listening, re-positioning speakers, listening more, and so on. The sub can be the most challenging of all to place correctly. Just keep this in mind...time and patience will yield a better setup.

                        First of all if this is all new equipment you want to run your receiver, speakers and sub through a "break-in" period. You don’t want to place everything and calibrate it only to have the sound change because everything is starting to break-in. This is a must for speakers but it is especially true for the sub. I suggest breaking-in the sub for at least 20 hours. My suggestion is to run a CD that has good bass and percussion on repeat during the day. It doesn’t have to be loud but you want it to loosen things up a bit.

                        Secondly, I highly recommend purchasing a sound pressure level(SPL) meter. This is an indispensable tool in calibrating your speakers and sub. You can purchase one through Radio Shack, catalog # 33-2050.

                        Here are some common guidelines for speaker setup. These are just suggestions for setting up your speakers. You should always try every possible combination and choose the one that sounds the best to you.

                        Receiver Setup:

                        Most home theater receivers have an on-screen menu for setting up the receiver and speakers so you want to have a video connection from the "monitor out" on your receiver to your TV.

                        Next you want to determine what type of speakers you have in relation to their frequency response. In most receivers there is a setting for the speakers for either "large" or "small". The general rule is that if you are using large floor standing speakers for your mains then you would set them to "large" and if you have bookshelf speakers for the surrounds then you want to set them to "small". Your choice for speaker size also determines how much signal gets sent to the sub.

                        After you set the speaker size there should be another menu to run test tones to each individual speaker and to also adjust the level of each speaker. This is where your SPL meter comes in handy. The goal here is to set all the speakers and the sub to the same level(but I actually set the center speaker just a little louder so the dialogue cuts through better). **Note: These instructions are for the above mentioned Radio Shack SPL meter** Set your SPL meter to "C - Weighting", "Slow Response", and the range dial to "80". Now run your test tones starting with the left front. See where the needle is on your SPL meter. Continue on with the rest of the speakers and adjust each level to match that of the left front. Before you reach the sub set the "Range" on your SPL meter to "60". Now adjust the sub to the same level. (Again you may want to have the center level a notch above all the rest)

                        Speaker Placement:

                        5.1 Setup:
                          6.1 Setup:
                            7.1 Setup:
                              Now that your receiver is set up and your speakers are positioned and broken in you want to choose an excellent DVD for sound. I recommend U-571, The Mummy Returns and Star Wars TPM. Now the fun begins. It’s time to start moving speakers around until you find what sounds best to you. One great trick I learned for the sub is to actually put the sub in the listening position and move yourself around the room until you find where it sounds best, then put the sub in that spot.

                              Again just take your time and you will be rewarded.

                              Glossary of Terms

                                Useful Links

                                MPEG Committee

                                T H X

                                Dolby Digital

                                D T S

                                The Letterbox and Widescreen Advocacy Page

                                Jim Taylor's DVD FAQ

                                Anamorphic Widescreen For Dummies

                                Monster Cable's excellent source for basic hook-up diagrams

                                Home Theater Forum

                                SMR Forums

                                Home Theater Spot
                                Audio Review

                                AVS Forum

                                Audio Forums


                                Last edited by palebluedot; 04-23-10 at 09:51 PM.
                                Old 08-03-14, 01:29 PM
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                                Re: ** DVD and Home Theater Hardware FAQ **

                                Is there any way to install ho e theater at our home ourselves.

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