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  • [3.2] How do I hook up a DVD player?

    It depends on your audio/video system and your DVD player. Most DVD players have 2 or 3 video hookup options and 3 audio hookup options. Choose the output format with the best quality (indicated below) that is supported by your video and audio systems. See 3.1 for output connector details.

    On many TVs you will need to switch the TV to auxiliary input (line input). You might need to tune it to channel 0 to make this happen.

    If you want to hook multiple devices (DVD player, VCR, cable/satellite box, WebTV, and so on) to a single TV, you need one of the following:

    • a TV with multiple inputs
    • a manual audio/video switchbox (~$30 at electronics suppliers such as Comtrad )
    • an A/V receiver (to switch between video sources via remote control). If you plan on getting an A/V receiver, make sure it can handle the video format you want to use (component or s-video).
    Video hookup (pick one from the list)
    • S-video (good quality): Almost all DVD players have s-video output. S-video looks much better than composite video and is only slightly inferior to component video. Hook an s-video cable from the player to the display (or to an A/V receiver that can switch s-video). The round, 4-pin connector may be labeled Y/C, s-video, or S-VHS. If you're in Europe, you can use a SCART cable.
    • Composite video (ok quality): All DVD players have standard RCA (Cinch) baseband video connectors or a SCART connector (in Europe) to carry composite video. Hook a standard video cable or a SCART cable from the player to the display (or to an A/V receiver to switch the video). The RCA video connectors are usually yellow and may be labeled video, CVBS, composite, or baseband.
    • Component video (better quality): Some U.S. and Japanese players have interlaced component YUV (Y'Pb'Pr') video output. Connectors may be labeled YUV, color difference, YPbPr, or Y/B-Y/R-Y, and may be colored green/blue/red. (Some players incorrectly label the output as YCbCr.) Some players have RGB component video output via a SCART connector or 3 RCA or BNC connectors labeled R/G/B. Hook cables from the three video outputs of the player to the three video inputs of the display, or hook a SCART cable from the player to the display.
      Note: There is no standardization of the output interface format (voltage and setup). Players apparently use SMPTE 253M (286 mV sync, 0% luma setup with 700 mV peak, +/-300 mV color excursion) , Betacam (286 mV sync, 7.5% luma setup with 714 mV peak, +/-350 mV color excursion) , M-II (300 mV sync, 7.5% luma setup with 700 mV peak, +/-324.5 mV color excursion) , or non-standard variations. Note that outputs with zero IRE setup can provide a wider range of luma values for a slightly better picture. For equipment with RGB input, a YUV converter is usually needed. See section 3.1 .
    • Progressive video (even better quality): A few players have progressive-scan YUV (Y'Pb'Pr') or RGB (European players only) component video output. Hook decent-quality cables from the three video outputs of the player to the three video inputs of a progressive-scan line multiplier or a progressive-scan TV, or use a SCART cable if you have a European player and progressive-scan TV with the right connectors. Toshiba calls progressive scan ColorStream PRO. Progressive video preserves the progressive nature of most movies, providing a film-like, flicker-free image with improved vertical resolution and smoother motion. DVD computers can also produce progressive video from DVD. In this case, use a 15-pin computer video cable to connect the VGA output of the PC to the VGA input of a monitor or projector. If the projector only has RGB or YPbPr inputs, you'll need a converter such as the Audio Authority 9A60 .
      See 1.40 , 2.12 , and 4.1 for more information on progressive video.
    • Digital video (best quality). A few players have HDMI (DVI) or 1394 digital outputs. This preserves the true digital signal from the DVD. Hook an HDMI or 1394 cable from the output of the player to the HDMI or 1394 input of a digital television or other digital A/V system. The same cable carries the digital audio signal.
    • RF video (worst quality): You should use this connection only if you have an old TV that has only a screw-on antenna input. Most DVD players don't have RF output, so you will probably need to buy an RF modulator (~$30 at Radio Shack or Comtrad or Markertek ). But first see the warning below about using a VCR as an RF modulator. If the player has built-in RF output it will include audio, although it may only be mono. Connect a coax cable from the yellow video output of the player to the input of the modulator. If you are not hooking the player up to a separate stereo system, then connect a coax cable from the left audio output of the player to the audio input of the modulator. (If you have a stereo modulator, connect another cable for the right audio channel.) Connect a coax antenna cable from the modulator to the TV. You may need a 300 ohm to 75 ohm adapter (to switch between a two-wire antenna connection and a threaded coax connection). Tune the TV to channel 3 or 4 (or channel 36 in Germany and some other European countries) and set the switch on the modulator or the back of the player to match. If you also want to hook up a VCR, connect an antenna cable from the output of the VCR to the antenna input of the modulator.

    Warning : If you connect your DVD player to a VCR and then to your TV (or to a combination TV/VCR), you will probably have problems with discs that enable the player's Macrovision circuit. See 3.2.1 .

    Warning : Some video projectors don't recognize the 4.43 NTSC signal from NTSC discs in PAL players (see 1.19 ). They see the 60Hz scanning frequency and switch to NSTC even though the color subcarrier is in PAL format.

    Note: Most DVD players support widescreen signaling, which tells a widescreen display what the aspect ratio is so that it can automatically adjust. One standard (ITU-R BT.1119, used mostly in Europe) includes information in a video scanline. Another standard, for Y/C connectors, adds a 5V DC signal to the chroma line to designate a widescreen signal. Unfortunately, some switchers and amps throw away the DC component instead of passing it on to the TV.

    For more information on conversions between formats, see the amazing Notes on Video Conversion from the Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ.

    Audio hookup (pick one from the list)

    Note: All DVD players have a built-in 2-channel Dolby Digital (AC-3) decoder. Some can also decode MPEG audio or DTS audio. The decoder translates multichannel audio into 2-channel PCM audio. This goes to the digital output and is also converted to analog for standard audio output. Some players have a built-in multichannel Dolby Digital decoder, but it's only useful if you have an audio system with multichannel analog inputs. See 3.6.3 for more explanation.

    • Analog audio (2-channel stereo/surround) (ok quality): All DVD players include two RCA connectors for stereo output. Any disc with multichannel audio is automatically decoded and downmixed to 2-channel Dolby Surround output for connection to a regular stereo system or a Dolby Surround/Pro Logic system. Connect two audio cables between the player and a receiver, amplifier, or TV. Connectors may be labeled "audio" or "left/right;" left is usually white, right is usually red. If your TV has only one audio input, connect the left channel from the DVD player.
      If your DVD player has multichannel analog outputs (left/center/right/left rear/right rear), do not connect them to a stereo system with only two inputs or you will lose center and rear audio use the 2-channel left/right outputs instead.
    • Digital audio (best quality): Almost all DVD players have digital audio outputs. The same output can carry Dolby Digital (AC-3), PCM audio (including PCM from CDs), DTS, MPEG-2 audio (PAL/SECAM players only), and MLP audio (from DVD-Audio discs). For PCM, a digital receiver or an outboard DAC is required. For all other formats, the appropriate decoder is required in the receiver/amplifier or as a separate audio processor. For example, to play a disc with a Dolby Digital soundtrack using a digital audio connection, the receiver has to have the Dolby Digital feature. DTS discs require a player with the "DTS Digital Out" mark (older players don't recognize DTS tracks) and the DTS decoding feature in the receiver. (All DVD players can play DTS CDs if a DTS decoder is connected to the digital PCM output signal.) Some DVD players have coax connectors (SP/DIF), some have fiber-optic connectors (Toslink), and many have both. There are endless arguments over which of these is better. Coax seems to have more advocates, since it's inherently simpler. Optical cable is not affected by electromagnetic interference, but it's more fragile and can't curve tightly. Suffice it to say that since the signal is digital, a quality cable of either type will provide similar results. Hook a 75-ohm coax cable or a fiber-optic cable between the player and the receiver. (You might need a converter, see 3.1 .) 
      Some players provide separate connectors for Dolby Digital/DTS/MPEG and for PCM. On others, you may need to select the desired output format using the player setup menu or a switch on the back of the player. If you try to feed Dolby Digital or DTS to digital receiver that doesn't recognize it, you'll get no audio.
      Note : Make sure you use a quality cable; a cheap RCA patch cable may cause the audio to sound poor or not work at all.
      Note : Connecting to the AC-3/RF (laserdisc) input of a receiver will not work unless your receiver can autoswitch, since DVD digital audio is not in RF format (see below).
    • Component analog audio (excellent quality): Some players provide 6-channel analog output from the internal Dolby Digital or DTS decoder. A few provide 7-channel output from 6.1 tracks. The digital-to-analog conversion quality in the player may be better or worse than in an external decoder. A receiver/amplifier with 6 or 7 inputs (or more than one amplifier) is required; this type of unit is often called "Dolby Digital ready" or "AC-3 ready." Unfortunately, in many cases you won't be able to adjust the volume of individual channels or perform bass management. Hook 6 (or 7) audio cables to the RCA connectors on the player and to the matching connectors on the receiver/amplifier. Some receivers require an adapter cable with a DB-25 connector on one end and RCA connectors on the other.
      Note : Until there is a digital connection standard, the only way to get multichannel PCM output from DVD-Audio players will be with analog connections or proprietary connections. If you plan to get a DVD-Audio player, you'll need a receiver with analog multichannel inputs.
    • RF digital audio (laserdisc only): Combination LD/DVD players include AC-3 RF output for digital audio from laserdiscs. Hook a coax cable to the AC-3 RF input of the receiver/processor. Note: digital audio from DVDs does not come out of the RF output, it comes out of the optical/coax outputs. Analog audio from LDs will come out the stereo connectors, so three separate audio hookups are required to cover all variations.
    [3.2.1] Will I have problems connecting my VCR between my TV and my DVD player?

    It's not a good idea to route the video from your DVD player through your VCR. Most movies use Macrovision protection (see 1.11 ), which affects VCRs and causes problems such as a repeated darkening and lightening of the picture. If your TV doesn't have a direct video input, you may need a separate RF converter (see 3.2 ). Or better yet, get a new TV with direct video inputs.

    You may also have problems with a TV/VCR combo, since many of them route the video input through the VCR circuitry. The best solution is to get a box to strip Macrovision (see 1.11 ). 

    [3.2.2] Why is the audio or video bad?

    The number one cause of bad video is a poorly adjusted TV. The high fidelity of DVD video demands much more from the display. Turn the sharpness and brightness down. See 1.3 for more information. For technical details of TV calibration, see Anthony Haukap's FAQ: How To Adjust a TV .

    If you get audio hum or noisy video, it's probably caused by interference or a ground loop. Try a different set of cables. Try a shorter cable. (Long cables can degrade the signal.) Make sure the cables are good quality with shielding. Try turning off all equipment except the pieces you are testing. Try moving things farther apart. Try plugging into a different circuit. Make sure all equipment is plugged into the same outlet. If all else fails, ground your braces and wrap your entire house in tinfoil. For more on ground loops, see < www.hut.fi/Misc/Electronics/docs/groundloop/ >. More information for repair technicians is available at Shophelper .

    Video or audio problems can also be caused by a faulty player or bad disc (see 1.41 .) If the video freezes or breaks up, it may be caused by scratches on the disc (see 1.39 ). It's normal for DVDs to freeze for a fraction of a second in the middle of a movie -- this is a layer break (see 1.27 ).

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