Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sonys and Yamahas and Denons. . .Oh My!

“Wow, we just got a high end receiver for only $150. This is so easy!”

So we said a month and a half ago when we were at Best Buy and negotiated an open item down from $200 to $150. (Did you know you could negotiate at Best Buy? I didn’t until my brother-in-law successfully did it!)

And so begins the saga. . .

Our new apartment has built in surround sound speakers, speakers in the 2 bedrooms and was all set up for my plasma to hang on the wall above the fireplace. We got the
Sony 7.1 receiver that we bought for a steal hooked up and found the following:

o Video from the DirecTV box to the TV works
o Audio from the front two speakers work
o DVD/Wii/VCR audio works
o DVD/Wii/VCR video does not work

We took it back to Best Buy and claimed ignorance as to what we needed the receiver to do. We purchased a
Yamaha Receiver with our missing link, the HDMI Switching, at the suggestion of the Salesperson. HDMI Switching is needed because we only have one cable running from the TV to the receiver that will take care of all of our components. Apparantly, no Sony does this. Okay, so we’ve spent another $100, but it’s still sort of a deal right? We get it home. . .
o Video from the DirecTV box to the TV works
o Audio from the front left and rear right speakers work
o DVD/Wii/VCR components do not work

After a couple weeks of watching DVDs by plugging in an unusually long red/yellow/white cord from the side of the TV to the DVD player over the front of the fireplace (classy), Bob headed back to Best Buy without me for Round 3.

Our trusty Salesperson who sold us the Yamaha checked on its compatability and found out that it did not indeed do what he said it would. Apparantly, along with HDMI Switching, our keyword for the day was “Up-Conversion.” And these only come in models in the $450+ range. Bob informed him that we were not looking to spend that much and was promptly shown a Denon receiver that would do the trick and was also on sale. The Best Buy team tested the receiver in the store and proved that it worked with our set up. Bob negotiated the $380 sale price down to $330 and they promised a Geek Squad guy would come check on installation free of charge (normally a $100 charge).

Bob left the store to put more change in the meter and was then told by the Salesperson that there was “bad news and extremely good news." They did not have the receiver that we were looking at in stock...but they decided to give us the next level up for the same price!

And so, does our story end with the Denon $500+ valued receiver purchased for $330? Of course not. . .
o Video from the DirecTV box and all components work
o No audio works from either the TV or the surround sound speakers

Our Geek Squad guy was at our house for almost three hours and could not figure out what was wrong with our speakers until he determined that the amp in the receiver we purchased must be faulty.

“Okay,”
we told ourselves, “this is the last trip to Best Buy before we throw the receiver through their front window and go to Abt.”
We exchanged the Denon for the same model and brought it home. Lo and behold, Bob was able to hook it up in a matter of minutes!

Lessons Learned
o All receivers are not created equal. If some are $300 more than others there is probably a reason.
o HDMI Switching – Multiple HDMI devices with only one HDMI port to plug them in.
o Up-Conversion - Converting video signals from one size or resolution to another: a video signal from a low resolution (e.g. standard definition) to one of higher resolution (e.g. high definition television).
o Our Geek Squad guy had a cool trick to test that the speakers were working: he connected the ends of the speaker wire to the positive and negative ends of a battery and noise came out of the speaker. This way we knew the fault was with the receiver set up.

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