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Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy

Surrounded by sound


I tried to watch TV just now and found myself listening to Richard Gere’s Robin Hood while watching an old episode of Saturday Night Live, featuring a faux Kim Jong-il. It was interesting juxtaposition, but not what I was after.

Yesterday we’d been happily watching Moulin Rouge on DVD on this same TV when the picture simply disappeared.

It shouldn’t be so hard to do something as lazy as watching television.

It seems especially wrong to be churlish, though, when these troubles are all the result of really nice work anniversary gift Jean got, of a BluRay DVD player and surround sound system. Since the only place we currently have an LCD television is in the living room, it made sense to set up the BluRay there. This is also provided surround in that room, where previous we merely had stereo sound.

Plus, then we were able to move our older sound system into the kitchen, which we will also, eventually, have surround sound. In the meantime, I have better stereo sound, and can now hook up the iPod in that room, rather then from the bedroom.  Particularly handy when it decides to randomly play a song that is a complete mystery to me (I have a lot of songs), compelling me to look at the iPod screen to see what it is. That task no longer involves stairs.

All nice things. Except that it really is bloody complicated watching television now. You have to turn on the three devices: PVR, TV, sound system. No big deal, right? Except that every one of three remotes tries to control all the devices—sort of. So you turn on one, and then you grab a second remote to turn on the next, and that one turns off the first while turning on the second, and so on… Then they’re finally all on and you accidentally press some Power button again, and oops! They all go off again.

It’s enough to make you think maybe you should just read a book.

Then, the settings. Of course, the sound system needs to be set to right option–Sat / Cable,  not TV, and of course not DVD, FM, Audio, or any otheir subsettings… One day, the only way I could find to get sound from my record player was to turn the TV on and change its source input. What?

Yes, the TV also needs to be set to be on the right source. Now is it HDMI1 or HDMI3? Or maybe BD (BluRay disc) system?

If things still are synching up correctly at this point, it may be because of the switches. We do still have a TV downstairs, but only one PVR now (the older having collapsed and died a few weeks ago). We’re kind of proud we figured out how to hook up two TVs to one PVR, but it does mean setting various switches to the right position depending on what you want to do (watch upstairs or downstairs, watch live or recorded). Not to mention the strange kind of voodoo dance you have to do downstairs in front the remote control signal, trying to successfully get the signal wirelessly upstairs. But when you finally hit that sweet spot, it’s exciting!

Sigh. But I will say that high-definition picture really is very pretty. And, it really is great to have both the pretty picture and surround sound available in one room, instead of having to choose one or the other.

What we still haven’t achieved? Hooking up the computer to make it easier to watching streaming video. We tried with our really old computer (which had been in the kitchen), but it frankly could not handle being projected onto such a big screen. So despite Toronto Life’s interesting article called “Honour among thieves”, which made it sound like practically a patriotic duty to steal your content from the Internet, we can still only do that by downloading, putting that content on a USB, and popping that into one of the DVD players or the TV.

Which remains slightly more onerous task than turning on and watching the TV. But only a just.

3 thoughts on “Surrounded by sound

  1. Can you not use the PVR remote to control all three (for power on anyway?)? We never use the TV remote at all (not even sure where it is) – we just use the PVR to turn on the TV, PVR and sound system. We do use the surround sound system remote for things other than power on/off, like switching between cable and BD (which is actually our PS3) and selecting type of sound (movies, music, etc.) altho sometimes i also use the PVR remote just for volume control.

  2. You would think — certainly that remote can turn everything *off* (usually after I’ve just managed to get everything), but so far I can’t get it to work. Haven’t found the magic combination that will power up all three.

    • Weirdly, when we got our replacement PVR, i programmed the TV button to work with the TV, and Audio button to work with the sound system, but when we press the CBL button and Power, it automatically turns both the PVR and TV on (or off). Not sure if that’s a glitch, or it’s supposed to do that.

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