A couple of posts ago, I talked about the need for a new A/V receiver. The basic problem is that I now have a fair few input devices and two of them have HDMI outputs, whereas my TV only has one HDMI input. It'd be nice to route the video and audio signals through the same place.
- Mismatch of what's being shown to what's being heard. You know the problem - you hit 'TiVo' on the universal remote and you get the TiVo coming out of the speakers and the AppleTV on the display. The Logitech remote handles that nicely with it's 'help' button, but it's still a pain.
- If you don't use the remote you've got to switch both the TV and the receiver.
- My TV only has one HDMI input which means that the TiVo is plugged into that so that I can watch HD content (HDCP being required). This means that I can't watch HD content from the iTunes Movie store as it also requires HDCP - having the receiver route the video signal solves this problem.
- I wanted outside speakers and to have different things playing inside and outside. I.e. the kids can watch Dora on the TV while we're listening to music outside courtesy of the AppleTV.
So I picked up the Denon AVR-3808CI and all my problems are solved. I also got a few bonuses into the bargain:
- TiVo and AppleTV hooked up via HDMI. Xbox360, Wii and DVD player hooked up via component and sundry audio connections.
- Outside speakers can play audio sources independently of what's playing in the living room.
- Switching inputs is a breeze.
- The unit has an ethernet port and can stream internet radio. You can also manage it via a builtin webserver. I must say though, the design of the web content served leaves a lot to be desired.
- Nice GUI. As the unit is routing the video, it overlays it's own GUI on top, such as audio levels and it's setup/management interface.
The two spare HDMI inputs are also handy, as I suppose I'm going to have to get a Blu-ray player at some point…
Overall, pretty nice. It even met with spousal approval!
I did have one problem during setup though. The multi-zone support is nice and the idea was that I could be outside and listen to music from the AppleTV. Unfortunately it took me ages to get working.
The problem was that the Denon unit wouldn't let me send audio sourced from an HDMI input (which the AppleTV is connected to) out to the second zone. I have no idea why.
To solve the problem I simply connected the units using an optical cable and had the receiver use that as the audio source for the AppleTV rather than the HDMI audio source. At that point, it would route the audio outside.
Anyhow, highly recommended.
And after setting it all up, I realised that every piece of A/V gear except for the DVD player in the living room is now on the internet - the Denon receiver, TiVo, AppleTV, Xbox360 and the Wii.
On a related note, you might be thinking “Well, if the kids are watching the TiVo in the living room and you're sat outside supping on an adult beverage, how do you control the AppleTV, sucker? The interface for it is on the TV which is being used by the kids!”
Well, I have my iPhone. On that iPhone I have the 'Remote' application which lets me browse the content and control the operation of the AppleTV over WiFi. And I can do it whilst sat outside supping on said adult beverage!