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HD Receiver alternative – cheap home theatre follow up

Posted on Monday 24 September 2007

My do it yourself speaker stand post is the most popular one on the site so I thought I’d follow up with other cheap alternatives I’ve been using to create my home theatre.
I have a great HD projector and a nice AV setup with my DIY stands and 7.1 surround sound computer speakers. I built it cheaply, using products from woot and substitutes such as two stackable shelves to house the projector instead of buying a $150+ projector mount.
The problem is that although the projector has lots of types of inputs, most of the ones I use are component so I find myself switching cables all the time to hook up my DVD player, cable, and Wii to the projector and speakers. (By the way did you know you can buy a special component cable for the Wii? It’s not HD but it’s still much better!)
What do I do if I don’t want to spend $600+ on an HD receiver?
I found the solution at microcenter: 3 to 1 A/V switches for about $20 each. Beforehand I discovered that you can use regular RCA cables for component video (I match Video / Left Channel / Right Channel (Y W R) with Y, Pb, Br, (G B R) respectively, but you can do it any order as long as they match – this is what just makes sense to me). Then, I realized I could use two RCA switches, one for HD video and one for audio. I use all nine inputs on the video switch and 6 inputs for the audio (I just leave the video ports unplugged).
It works great. The downside is I have no remote to control the receiver, but it’s a lot better than plugging and sorting cables out.
I may get some flack for saying this, but it really doesn’t matter what kind of cables you buy. There’s no consensus that HDMI is better than analog component, and monster cables are a rip off, especially over short distances. Places like Best Buy will sell you $100 monster cables because you’ll buy them, just like people buy their $25 USB cables when they really cost $2 online. The colors don’t even have to match (there’s nothing special about the differently colored HD cables), and actually my 50 foot DVI cable (which is digital) has more noise and artifacts than my cheap $2 radio shack analog A/V cables because of its length.
This may not please the audiophiles, but it’s a great way to set up your home theatre on the cheap.

cheap av switches

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