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Untitled Document

FAQ - Home Audio General


QUESTIONS:

1) WHAT IS "RDS" AND HOW CAN IT INCREASE MY ENJOYMENT OF FM RADIO?

2) WHAT ARE "AUTO TUNER PRESETS" AND HOW DO I USE THEM?

3) WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS I NEED TO BE AWARE OF WHEN PUTTING MY COMPONENTS IN A RACK OR OTHER SMALL, ENCLOSED SPACE?

4) WHAT'S "MULTI SOURCE" ALL ABOUT?

5) CAN I OPERATE NON-DENON COMPONENTS (CASSETTE DECKS, CD PLAYERS, ETC..) WITH A DENON REMOTE CONTROL?

6) WHY CAN’T I CHANGE DSP MODES OR TURN "CINEMA EQ" ON (OR OFF) WHILE I’M USING THE ON-SCREEN MENU?

7) WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CONNECTING A DVD PLAYER TO A DENON SURROUND SOUND COMPONENT?

8) THE FRONT PANEL INPUT CHOICES ON MY DENON DOLBY DIGITAL RECEIVER OR PREAMP/PROCESSOR DON'T SEEM TO MATCH THE REAR PANEL CONNECTOR ID'S. FOR EXAMPLE, MY FRONT PANEL SELECTORS SAY "CD", "VDP/DVD", ETC. WHILE THE REAR PANEL HAS INPUTS LIKE "AC-3 RF", "COAXIAL", AND "OPTICAL". I'M CONFUSED. HELP!


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

1) WHAT IS "RDS" AND HOW CAN IT INCREASE MY ENJOYMENT OF FM RADIO?

"RDS" stands for "Radio Data System" and it allows FM broadcasters to send far more than just an analog audio signal out over the air waves. Using a 57 kHz "subcarrier," stations can transmit digital RDS data for reception by RDS-equipped FM tuners. This technology opens up a whole new range of conveniences and help to the listener with RDS reception capability. RDS began in Europe where it is now very successful. RDS is also increasingly popular in the Far East and, now is making substantial headway in North America. In fact, over 700 radio stations in the United States, most of them in major metropolitan markets, now broadcast RDS information on a regular basis.

Just what kind of additional information can you expect? That depends on what the broadcaster transmits and what your tuner can pick up. Here’s a master list of all the RDS services that might be available. You’ll see that we’ve divided them into two categories, Static and Dynamic, that are differentiated by . . .

RDS "Static" services include:

Program Service Name (or PS for short): This simply displays a name of call letters instead of the broadcast frequency. With more and more stations identifying themselves with names like "MIX 106," "WNYC-FM," or "JAZZ 88," it’s a no-brainer to see how even this one aspect of RDS service makes finding your favorite broadcast much easier!

Program Type Code (PTY): This identifies a particular type of broadcast (Rock, Jazz, Sports, Talk, News, Classical, etc.) So far, 24 categories have been defined and assigned but the RDS system has reserve capability built in so that emerging styles of broadcasting won’t be left out. The advantage here is that most RDS-equipped tuners let you scan available broadcasts by program type so you can find what you want more quickly. And one more thing -- when a station changes its format (from Country to Easy Listening, for example), it’s very easy for that station to transmit a new RDS "flag" that will automatically update your RDS-equipped tuner.

Program Identification Codes (PI): This is one of the rarely-seen "hidden" RDS features that lets you keep in touch with your favorite broadcasts even when you’re traveling. Technically speaking, PI is a four-digit hexadecimal code (aren’t you sorry you asked?) based on a station’s individual call letters. It tells your RDS tuner what signal it’s receiving at any given time (frequency, PTY code, etc.) You’ll see how RDS uses the PI information when you read Alternate Frequency (AF) immediately below.

Alternate Frequency (AF): If PI is one of RDS’ "back office" functions, AF is what you’ll see in action all the time. AF (perhaps better identified as Alternate Frequency Switching), automatically returns your FM tuner to the strongest signal carrying the program you were originally listening to when the original broadcast gets too weak to receive clearly! This little bit of magic is particularly useful when you’re traveling longer distances by car. The way it works is this: The original RDS broadcast would contain a coded list of all the alternate frequencies carrying the same information (NPR or syndicated shows are prime candidates here, of course). When the original broadcast faded into uselessness, the RDS circuitry would instantly search all the alternate frequencies for the strongest, most useable signal and automatically switch to it without any work on your part! In theory, you could drive the width of the country without retuning your radio at all. How’s that for convenience?

Traffic Program (TP): This symbol alerts you to the fact that the station you’re listening too regularly broadcasts special traffic information. You can search for TP stations so you’ll always have that extra edge as you’re commuting or driving on that long vacation. Think of TP as the "road sign" for Traffic Announcement (TA) listed in "Dynamic" services immediately below.

RDS "Dynamic" services:

Traffic Announcement (TA): This is the active side of TP capability. TA even allows you to program some automotive tuners to constantly monitor TP stations and tune them in automatically if a special announcement is being made -- even if you’re already listening to another broadcast, a cassette, or a CD at the time! This guarantees up-to-the-minute information to make your trip easier.

Radio Text (RT): This feature allows a broadcaster to send up to a 64 character message that could scroll across your radio’s display, things like sports scores, song titles, artist or album names, even advertisements. Just remember -- if your car unit has RT capability, use common sense. Please keep your eyes on the road until it’s safe to look, Clyde!

Clock Time (CT): An RDS-equipped station broadcasts a time and date synch signal once a minute. Your RDS-equipped receiver picks it up and automatically resets itself even if you’ve never even looked at the clock before! And RDS is smart enough to figure out Daylight Savings Time, different time zones (an important feature for long distance truckers). Think of CT as radio’s answer to that silly clock in our VCRs that always seems to be flashing 12:00!

Emergency Alert System (EAS): PTY code # 31 (see Program Type Code in the "Static" list above) has already been reserved for emergency use. If your RDS tuner senses an emergency code, it will flash an ALERT message. In addition, most automotive units will pause a CD or cassette, switch to the EAS broadcast , and increase playback volume to a preset level to make sure you’re paying attention. ("You vill hear dis und you vill hear dis NOW!")

Program Item Number (PIN): No, this won’t get you into the master account at an ATM machine (darn!) but your broadcaster could assign special codes to individual programs than would let your tuner know when that program was on. An RDS-style PIN could trigger a tape machine to record something you want even if you’re not there, wake you up to the manic tones of your favorite morning "shock jock," etc.

Transparent Data Channel (TDC): This is one of the commercial RDS "add-ons" that you’ll probably never use directly. (We’re including a brief description of it here so you can’t say no one ever warned you.). A TDC signal broadcast from an existing transmitter, for example, could control an electronic billboard and change its message continuously throughout the day. TDC capability is primarily an additional potential revenue source for an RDS-equipped FM station. You heard it here first!

Radio Paging (RP): Another commercial application. Look, those FM transmitting towers can be used for lots of things -- why not an inexpensive local paging service? Revenue, remember?

This isn’t a complete list but it gives you an idea of the enormous versatility you can expect from RDS services as they expand across the country.

Denon has been at the forefront of RDS ever since its inception and has more experience with it than almost anyone else in the business. That’s why, for example, you’ll find RDS capabilities like RDS Search, PTY, PS, TP, and RT on home units like our AVR-5600 Dolby Digital receiver and a different RDS menu of conveniences on our automotive products. Enjoy!

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2) WHAT ARE "AUTO TUNER PRESETS" AND HOW DO I use them?

"Auto Tuner Presets" are simply Denon’s convenient way of allowing you to automatically attach an "electronic bookmark" to as many as 40 listenable FM broadcasts available in your area. Once you’ve done this, you can quickly and conveniently listen to any of them without having to scan everything on the broadcast band to find them.. Depending on which Denon you own, you’ll be able to access this convenience in either of two ways.

On most older units (usually those without on-screen menu capability), you’ll notice a "Memory" button on the front panel. To activate the "Auto Tuner Preset" circuitry, simply turn your unit off with the front panel power switch. Then, while holding down the "Memory" button, simply turn your Denon on again. You’ll see a front panel "Auto Preset" indicator come on as your component goes through its paces.

If you have a newer Denon (one with an on-screen menu), you can activate "Auto Tuner Presets" from the SYSTEM SETUP menu screen. (On the AVR-3600/5600, for example, "Auto Tuner Preset" is the sixth item on this screen.) Use the remote control’s "Cursor" keys to select "Auto Tuner Preset," and then press "Enter." A special "Auto Tuner Preset" menu screen will appear. Select "Yes" with the cursor keys and wait as the system searches all the available FM broadcasts and reads the strongest into memory. (You’ll see "Search" and "Complete" respectively as your unit completes this process.) After you’ve completed setting the Auto Tuner Presets, you can verify the broadcast frequencies now in memory by simply following the instructions in your Owner’s Manual.

Remember that RDS-equipped tuners will prioritize RDS broadcasts over non-RDS transmissions. Check your Owner’s Manual for details.

There are minor model-to-model differences that’ll be covered in each unit’s Owner’s Manual. Check there for exact details. In the meantime, this should get you up and running. .

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3) WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS I NEED TO BE AWARE OF WHEN PUTTING MY COMPONENTS IN A RACK OR OTHER SMALL, ENCLOSED SPACE?

Not too many! That’s because Denon products have sophisticated monitoring and safety features designed to sidestep problems before you need to deal with them directly. (Please refer to the FAQ on "Protection" for more detail.) However, that being said, there are some things you may want to hold in the back of your mind if you’re planning to build a special enclosure to show off your prized component collection.

There are two major challenges to deal with. The first is heat. Fortunately, that’s pretty easy to handle. The second is simply one of real estate -- where do you put all those cables, connectors, etc., you’ll need for your home entertainment system? And how do you know what goes where once you’ve hooked everything up?

Let’s look at the heat issue first.

First, remember that all electronic components produce heat. And heat is the enemy of long, trouble-free life. Some components, like power amplifiers and surround sound receivers, for example, produce much more heat than source components like CD players, cassette decks, and tuners. etc. That’s only natural. After all, Denon’s power amplifiers are all high current designs and high current mean higher heat.

The second thing to remember is that heat rises.

So if you want to avoid heat’s long-term detrimental effects, the best thing is make sure you adequate air circulation around all the components in your enclosure. And you can insure that by having enough room around your components to let the air circulate by itself.

Here’s a general suggestion: Make sure the real heat-producers have plenty of space immediately above them. Don’t, for example, place a CD player or VCR immediately on top of your Dolby Digital receiver! Most surround receivers and power amplifiers need at least 4" or 5" of open, unrestricted air space immediately above the top cover. This lets the hot air rise naturally and helps keep internal circuitry cool enough to function dependably over the long haul. If you absolutely don’t have this amount of space in your cabinet or closet, you can:

(1) Use a "Whisper Fan" (a small, quiet fan specifically designed to cool electronic components) to pull air over your unit’s heat sinks to draw the heat away it. The disadvantage here is that, although these fans are VERY quiet, you still might hear one if you’re sitting close to your stack of components and playing music or a video very quietly. Remember that there are different ways of mounting fans to minimize resonances. Sometimes foam helps. Check with the fan’s manufacturer for recommendations.

(2) Use perforated shelves so that, even if your real "heat factories" don’t have the air space around them we recommend, the shelf immediately above won’t completely block the heated air and trap it close to the components. This passive approach is certainly quiet but may not give you the cooling power you need for a high powered, multi-channel audio/video system.

Overall, we like the "Whisper Fan:" option a bit better as it’s a more pro-active, and usually more effective. However, it may not be practical for your system.

As far as cables and connectors go, remember that all the source components in a typical home entertainment system have to be connected somewhere! And, if yours is a multi-channel home theater system, there are usually five (sometimes six if you’re using a subwoofer) amplifier to speaker connections too. That’s a lot of cable behind the scenes and you’ll need to plan for it.

If you’re putting a full scale multi-channel system together, we think you’ll be happiest with at least 6" of clear space behind a preamp/processor or a surround sound receiver. More is even better but that’s sometimes harder to come up with, particularly if you’re using a deep-chassis "all in one" receiver. The "behind-the-scenes" space will let you lay out enough cable to connect everything carefully and not squash everything together as you push the control component back into its usual space. This will also help you avoid inadvertently unseating the cables you’ve just worked so hard to connect in the first place.

You might want to ask yourself one question before you start. Are you going to be changing components frequently or is yours a "do it once and be done with it" system? If you’re thinking of switching or adding components in the future, we strongly suggest you use a cabinet or rack that lets you get behind the components to actually see what’s connected where.

Believe the experts in Denon’s Bureau of Harsh Reality when they tell you that you’ll avoid many hours of frustration if you can see what you’re doing! This’ll also give you an easier way to route the interconnect cables, loudspeaker wires, and AC power cords separately. You’ll find it much easier to minimize hum problems and to troubleshoot your system.

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4) WHAT'S "MULTI SOURCE" ALL ABOUT?

"Multi-Source" means that your Denon component can send different audio/video signals to different parts of your home! It’s just another term for "multi-zone" or "Zone 2" sometimes used by other manufacturers. Of course, there are some advantages to the Denon way of doing things -- you can watch and listen to two different video sources at the same time, for example -- as you’ll soon see.

With Multi-Source, you can play a surround sound movie soundtrack through your home theater system in the family room while your Aunt Matilda enjoys a Montovani video (or maybe Metallica?) in her room. And she can pick and choose different sources via remote control, too, if your system allows it. In fact, with some Denon components like out award-winning AVP-8000 Dolby Digital preamp/processor and DRA-775 RD stereo receiver, you can even control volume directly!

With the AVP-8000 and DRA-77% RD, all you’ll need is a separate power amplifier dedicated to the remote zone. With other Denon "Multi-Source" components, you’ll need an integrated amplifier or some other way to adjust the remote zone’s playback level. Of course, you’ll also need speakers but you already knew that . . . didn’t you?

The speakers, obviously, need to be placed in the remote zone, but if you’re able to use just the power amplifier, you can place that almost anywhere. (There are some restrictions so you may want to ask your Denon dealer for the details.) You’ll also probably want to run an infrared control link from the remote zone back to your Denon "Multi-Source" capable component to give folks in that second area full control over what they’re enjoying. (Again, see you Denon dealer for details.) If you need the greater flexibility of an integrated amplifier, we suggest you place it for easy volume control adjustment.

One other note here -- although you might be tempted to think of "Multi-Source" as a "stereo only" solution for the remote zone, you’d be wrong. Remember that Dolby Pro Logic signals are usually available in a "mixed down" two channel matrix format. So you could easily use the Multi-Source outputs to bring a Pro Logic-encoded stereo signal to another location and use an additional Pro Logic decoder to enjoy full surround sound benefits in whatever room you wanted to. That’s flexibility!

Once you’ve connected everything the way you want it, you can use either front panel controls or a remote controller to activate "Multi-Source" capability. Enjoy!

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5) CAN I OPERATE NON-DENON COMPONENTS (cassette decks, cd players, etc.) WITH A DENON REMOTE CONTROL?

Yes, you certainly can if your Denon has a learning remote controller. (Many do but you’ll need to check the Owner’s Manual for the model you’re interested in.) You’ll be interested to know that there are two types of Denon learning remotes: Programmable and pre-programmed.

A Denon programmable remote can learn commands from almost any other manufacturer’s remote controller. Simply follow the instructions in the Owner’s Manual A Denon pre-programmed remote controller already contains the command codes for a large number of different components so, rather than "teaching" the Denon remote a whole new series of individual commands, you just tell it what components you want to control and it automatically selects the right command codes for the job.

In either case, the advantages are obvious. You don’t need a whole coffee table full of easily-misplaced remotes to operate your home entertainment system. You only need to keep track of the Denon remote to enjoy all the technology at your fingertips.

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6) WHY CAN’T I CHANGE DSP MODES OR TURN "CINEMA EQ" ON (OR OFF) WHILE I’M USING THE ON-SCREEN MENU?

You certainly can -- but only if you’ve entered the on-screen menu in the correct way. That’s because the Denon menu system is designed to do two things equally well: (1) Give you an fast and easy way to check the current operating status of your system, and (2) change that status only when you really want to.

To quickly check system status, push the "On-screen" button on your remote controller. This "display only" control lets you look all you want at the various system parameters like DSP modes and Cinema EQ. You just can’t change any of them.

In order to actually change something, you need to press the front panel or remote control button that corresponds to the function you want to change ("Mode," etc.) In addition, you can change other functions with the "Setup" or "Parameter" menu screens. In order to get to these screens, you’ll need to press the remote controller’s "Enter" button (usually located under the hinged door on the hand held remote) and following the on-screen prompts that appear when you do.

If all this sounds complicated, relax. You’ll find detailed instructions in the Owner’s Manual and one or two trial runs will have you navigating the on-screen menu like an experienced sailor!

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7) WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CONNECTING A DVD PLAYER TO A DENON SURROUND SOUND COMPONENT?

Surprisingly enough, you don’t need to know all that much! <g> That’s probably because consumer electronics equipment is designed for compatibility. (Now if this were a "computer" question, we’d probably be here all day!)

First, you need to get the video signal from your DVD player to your Denon preamp/processor or receiver. You can use either a "composite" (RCA-style) or "S-video" (mini-DIN 4-pin) output jack to the same style input jack on your Denon.

Newer Denon DVD player models, such as DVD-3000 and DVD-5000, also feature component video outputs. This is a three connector method, featuring one channel (the luminance, or black and white picture information) called the "Y" channel, and two color difference channels (R-Y, B-Y), which, when paired with the Y channel, are decoded in the TV monitor and the original red, green, blue (R/G/B) signals are reconstructed and displayed. This method provides the sharpest and cleanest color picture quality, especially since DVDs are encoded in digital component video form. However, if you have a TV monitor that does not have component video inputs, note that the "S" connection (which consists of the Y channel, and the two color difference channels combined into one C (or color) channel, hence the "Y/C" designation) still provides superb quality results, and is vastly superior to a composite video connection. Same is true for DSS (DirectTV) broadcasts, which are also in component digital form.

As for audio data, your choices are pretty much open. You can run two regular analog audio intertconnects from your DVD player’s L & R channel analog outputs to an unused pair of analog inputs on your Denon. That’ll give you high quality stereo and, if your Denon has Dolby Pro Logic decoding capability, a very satisfying surround experience. That's because in every DVD player, a Dolby Digital processor takes the multi-channel (5.1) soundtrack and down-converts it to a two channel Pro Logic compatible surround-encoded stereo signal.

If you want the full benefits of Dolby Digital (the audio standard for DVDs sold in North America), you’ll need to run either an optical or coaxial cable from the appropriate output on the DVD player to a similar input on your Denon Dolby Digital preamp/processor or receiver.

If you choose a coaxial cable (a digital or video cable with an RCA-style connector on each end), DO NOT USE THE "AC-3 RF" input jack on the rear panel of your Denon! Remember that the AC-3 RF input is for laserdisc players only. DVD players use newer technology that does not require the extra demodulation circuitry at the "AC-3 RF" input. Remember that you can use any digital input on your Denon (except for the one marked "AC-3 RF"!) to connect your DVD player’s digital output.

Remember to use your Denon’s SYSTEM SETUP on-screen menu and the front panel analog/digital input selector to make sure you’ve got the straightest possible signal path for high quality audio. Consult your Denon’s Owner’s Manual for detailed information.

NOTE: Some DVD players have built-in Dolby Digital decoders (such as the Denon DVD-3000). This means you can connect the six analog outputs to your A/V receiver, providing that the receiver has a special "6 Channel" input. Many Dolby Pro Logic receivers (including popular Denon models) offer this feature, which means you can enjoy true 5.1 channel Dolby Digital surround sound without having to replace your A/V receiver.  Check the DVD player's owner's manual for special setup instructions, so that the bass management of the DVD player's 6 channel outputs matches your A/V system's speaker configuration.

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8) THE FRONT PANEL INPUT CHOICES ON MY DENON DOLBY DIGITAL RECEIVER OR PREAMP/PROCESSOR DON'T SEEM TO MATCH THE REAR PANEL CONNECTOR ID'S. FOR EXAMPLE, MY FRONT PANEL SELECTORS SAY "CD", "VDP/DVD", ETC. WHILE THE REAR PANEL HAS INPUTS LIKE "AC-3 RF", "COAXIAL", AND "OPTICAL". I'M CONFUSED. HELP!

Although it might seem a bit confusing at first, this difference actually makes your Denon easier to use in the long run. Think of it this way -- the front panel selectors tell you what source component you want to enjoy. The real panel inputs are simply different pipelines to get the sound from a particular source component to your Denon’s internal processing circuits as effortlessly as possible. Because many source components give you a choice of how to do this (analog or digital outputs from an LD player for example) and because very few of us hook up a complex home entertainment system in quite the same way, Denon gives you a lot of flexibility without confusing a more casual user (your spouse, your kids, . . . or maybe even you!) with a bewildering array of choices.

The trick here is knowing that you can "program" your Denon so that it knows, for example, to choose the "Coaxial" rear panel input when you push the front panel "VDP/DVD" input selector.

Before you make any of these changes, however, remember that your Denon has already been preprogrammed with certain "default" connections. Don’t worry as these can easily be changed but it’s nice to know where you’re starting from before you begin to customize things, isn’t it?

The AVR-5600, for example, has the following default selection already made:

If you press this front panel input selector . . . . . . . . . you get

CD Coaxial (digital)
TV/DBS Optical 1 (digital)
VDP/DVD Optical 2 (digital)
Tape 1 Optical 3 (digital)

You can change these default selections easily by following the instructions in your Owner’s Manual. And you’ll need to do this if you want to use the rear panel coaxial (digital) jack to receive the audio signal from a new DVD player.

Remember that you only need to do this once. After that, you can just enjoy one-touch convenience regardless of the source you’re using. That’s the real benefit of the flexibility built into every Denon surround sound component.

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