Since my new Onkyo stereo has on-screen menus, I thought it would be handy to hook it up to my TV. So I took the s-video out and attached it to my Sharp Aquos 52-inch TV’s s-video in, which I only used as a redundant connection from my computer that I could switch back and forth on to laugh at the difference between s-video and DVI/HDMI.

So guess what? The menus don’t output on s-video; only on HDMI. Nice of them not to include that!

So I order an HDMI cable and hook it up to my TV. Yay, I can see the menus now. They don’t really allow any changes that you can’t make without the screen, but it’s MUCH easier to navigate that way. Though — you can set the menu to be in 1080i, but no matter what, it’s always in 480i. Annoying, because that means waiting for everything to switch. I was hoping it would just appear on the screen instantly.

So I tried running my computer’s HDMI to the stereo, just for the hell of it. Perhaps when watching a movie, it could more correctly carry the audio to my receiver? Granted, the receiver has correctly been receiving 5.1 discrete sound; but maybe with DTS and other “weird” modes, they would work better through HDMI. Maybe, maybe not.

So I plug it in, and my computer warns me: The ATI x1950 graphics card I have only outputs video onto its HDMI. I would have had to go to the next-up graphic card at the time, which was $400 when I built my computer (I paid $215). Of course, the next-up graphic card is only $30 nowadays, and even their highest up is still only $200. So I *could* upgrade, but is there really a point? Most likely not, for 99% of the time.

Optical digital audio’s been good to me. I knew HDMI switching was not really important to me. My TV has 2 HDMI ports. One gets it directly from my computer Hades, and the other gets the output from the stereo. Carolyn’s computer also runs to the stereo — so technically I am using HDMI switching to switch between Carolyn’s computer and the stereo’s output. Of course, her computer can only output 640×480 to the HDTV, not 1920×1080 like mine. She has an even older ATI card, before they went to their “x-series” (which I got the last of, before they went to their “HD” series).

So … At least my initial suspicions about HDMI switching not being super-important to me are confirmed, even if it meant tinkering around for 30 minutes.

Now the OTHER feature not mentioned: This stereo has multi-room out. But I don’t want to send powered speaker wire to the other room; I want to send unpowered RCA cables to the other room, and amp it there. If you send powered out, you can only do 5.1 sound, not 7.1 sound. And I prefer to have an amp in each location, so I can control the volume from wherever I am. So I hook up the RCA-out, run it to the room… Nothing. Open up the manual for my stereo… OHHH, digital inputs wont be converted to analog output. Real frickin’ nice.

So Onkyo has burned me on two different outputs: Their s-video output that doesn’t output their menu, and their “zone 2” RCA outputs, that don’t output my (digital) audio. So I did what I previously did: Ran the audio from my computer. It’s what I always use anyway. But it would have been nice to have used the output to the Onkyo — because then its switching would have allowed me to switch to the other room.

I could have, for example, run *Carolyn’s computer’s* audio to the bedroom, in the event that my computer died. (Her computer also has a complete copy of our music collection, so the music can never die!) But now, I’m stuck just sending my computer there.

Time to update my internal document of what to look for in a receiver. But if they don’t advertise things they don’t do very well, I wonder how I can avoid something like this happening with my next purchase?

Mood: anticipation
Music: KMFDM – Bargeld