Media is defined as the means by which high quality sound and the video information, such as movies or
other type of programming are delivered to you home theater. There are two types of media: Recorded (DVD)
and broadcast (Cable and Satellite services).
The following section contains excerpts from "How DVDs Work" by Gayle Allerman.
Full article is available at http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/dvd.htm
Nearly every movie produced today is available on DVD, and many older movies are being moved to the DVD
format. Often, a movie comes out on DVD before it comes out on video tape, because the manufacturing and
distribution costs for DVDs are so much lower!
By bringing outstanding picture and sound to our favorite films, the DVD format is doing for movies exactly
what CDs did for music. In this article, you will learn what a DVD consists of, how a DVD player reads a disc
(a DVD is remarkably similar to a CD -- it has just been designed to hold more data).
A DVD is very similar to a CD, but it has a much larger data capacity. A standard DVD holds about seven times
more data than a CD does. This huge capacity means that a DVD has enough room to store a full-length,
MPEG-2-encoded movie, as well as a lot of other information.
DVD picture quality is better, and many of DVDs have Dolby Digital or DTS sound, which is much closer to the
sound you experience in a movie theater.
Some DVD movies have both the letterbox format, which fits wide-screen TVs, and the standard TV size
format, so you can choose which way you want to watch the movie.
DVD movies may have several soundtracks on them, and they may provide subtitles in different languages.
Foreign movies may give you the choice between the version dubbed into your language, or the original
soundtrack with subtitles in your language.
To get the full experience of the Dolby Digital sound used on many DVDs, you need a home theater system
with five speakers, a subwoofer, and a receiver that is either "Dolby Digital ready" or has a built-in Dolby
If your receiver is Dolby Digital ready, then it does not have a Dolby Digital decoder, so you need to buy a DVD
player with its own Dolby Digital decoder and 5.1 channel outputs. If you also want your system to be
compatible with DTS sound, then your DVD player will need a DTS decoder, too.
If your receiver has its own Dolby Digital decoder and DTS decoder, then you don't need a DVD player with 5.1
channel outputs, and you can save some money on cables by using the digital outputs.
These outputs provide the highest quality video signal to your TV. They are quite rare right now; only the
newest high-end TVs can support them. But, if you have such a TV, you'll definitely want a DVD player with
component video outputs.
There are three separate connectors for component video output. The player pictured below has one
component video output.
TVs with this type of connection are more common. S-video provides a very good picture quality, and every
DVD player has at least one of these outputs. The player pictured above has two of them.
These are the most common type of output, and they provide adequate picture quality. Usually, they have a
yellow plastic insert. The player pictured above has two of these outputs.
Connecting the DVD player
As we mentioned earlier, connecting a DVD player to your stereo receiver (or television, if you don't have a
receiver) involves making two basic connections: audio and video. The second connection is for the video
portion of the DVD player.
The best quality choice is to use component connection. This connection consists of three cables:
color-labeled red, blue and green. The quality is superb. However, these connections only exist on extremely
high-end receivers and television sets.
The next option is s-video. One cable connects the DVD player to the receiver in this setup.
The last option, similar to the audio setup, is to use the analog RCA video output, usually color-labeled yellow
on both ends. This will deliver the lowest quality, but will suffice for most older, analog televisions.
Coaxial digital output and optical digital output
These outputs provide the highest-quality audio. They send the digital sound information to the receiver for
decoding. You can use either one of these if you have a Dolby Digital receiver.
5.1 channel outputs
5.1 channel is a set of six analog outputs, one for each of the Dolby Digital channels (left front, center front,
right front, left rear, right rear and subwoofer). The DVD player decodes the Dolby Digital signal and uses its
own DAC to output an analog signal. These are the outputs you'll need to use if you are hooking the DVD
player up to a "Dolby Digital ready" receiver.
DVD players with 5.1 channel outputs will always have Dolby Digital decoders, and they may or may not have
DTS decoders. If you have a "Dolby Digital ready" receiver and you want DTS sound, you will need a DVD
player with a built-in DTS decoder.
These outputs carry only the stereo music signal. You would use these if you were hooking your DVD player
up to a TV that has only two speakers.
Connecting DVD player
The first connection to make is for the audio portion of the signal. There will be several options depending on
the receiver you have.
The best choice (if available) is either to use an optical (also called Tos-link) or coaxial (RCA) digital
connection. These two choices are equal in quality. In order to use either of these, you will need to have both
an output on the DVD player, and an input on the receiver. Only receivers with built-in Dolby Digital decoders
will have this type of input.
If your receiver does not have a built-in Dolby Digital or DTS decoder, but is "Dolby Digital ready," look for the
5.1-channel Dolby or 5.1-channel DTS. This connection involves six cables, corresponding to different
speaker channels: left front, center front, right front, left rear, right rear and subwoofer.
The last option to connect the two components is with analog RCA outputs. This is a two-cable connection,
with one cable delivering the left speaker sound, and the other cable delivering the right. This connection will
deliver only stereo sound, but it may be your only option if you are hooking up directly to a television, or if you
have an old receiver with only two channels.
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Satellite Video Source
The most important element of the full Home Theater experience, is the video signal source. It must be a
digital signal. DVDs are both digital and HDTV. Satellite dish services are digital and some programming is
HDTV. If your local TV cable service does not provide digital video services, or you have no access to a TV
cable, there is no choice but to subscribe to a satellite dish service. There are only two major services
available: Dish Networks / Echostar Communications and Direct TV.
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