Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Dung headed a 50/50 Fundraiser today. You contribute $1.00, $0.50 goes to buy Mega Million tickets and $0.50 goes to the "Money Jar" for our Breast Cancer Fund.

Great job Dung. $38.00 raised.

Monday, April 27, 2009

New Energy Fueling Our Fundraising Efforts

The team now has a wider variety of representation. A warm welcome is extended to:
  • Saran Eang
  • Kim Nguyen
  • Chau Nguyen
  • Eddie Bell
  • Dung the Doan
  • Sang Nguyen
Your help in this effort is something to acknowledge and it is greatly appreciated. Have all cultures represented as well as Male and Female representation is phenomenal.

A Hot Dog Sale will be held on Thursday to cap off the month of April, $1.50 each.

If hot dogs are not your thing May plans to be more eventful. Details to be published in a few days.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bitstream vs PCM (LPCM) when using a DAC or in your Home Theater Setup

Bitstream vs PCM (LPCM) when using a DAC or in your Home Theater Setup
Why don't I hear the digital audio?!

In your Home Theater Setup:
When setting up digital audio for your home theater, you need to decide which component; the source device (Cable box, DVD, Blu Ray player, etc) or the Receiver (or Preamp/Processor) is going to "decode" the audio and possibly (depending on the analog or digital outputs you use) convert the signal from digital to analog. This is especially a point of confusion with the new Blu Ray players.
Here's the simpletons (mine) explanation:
The Source device does not decode the signal, so the Receiver must. In other words, your player does not have to be capable of decoding Dolby Digital, DTS etc, and just outputs the undecoded digital information to the Receiver, which MUST be able to decode the signal it receives. So if your Blu Ray player cannot decode DTS-HD Master Audio but your receiver can, you should go into the Blu Ray players "Setup" menu, find the digital output setting and set it for "Bitstream".
If your Source device can decode all of the digital audio formats you want, then use this. The setting is commonly called either LPCM or PCM. This is the most common fix for people who are unsure of the problem. This is also arguably the best setting for many Blu Ray Players even with receivers capable of decoding all of the new formats*. Blu Ray players which cannot decode some formats mated to receivers that can decode them should be set to bitstream instead.

Analog Output from Source:
Another question on DACs that may haunt you is whether to use the DAC in the source or the receiver? Some Disc Players and Receivers have decidedly different quality levels of DACs. To use the DAC in the DVD/SACD/CD/Blu Ray player it MUST have analog outputs which MUST be connected to the analog inputs on the receiver. You would do this when you feel the DAC is better in the Player. If you feel the DAC is better in the receiver, then you should set the player to output bitstream or pcm to the receiver and not use an analog connection between them.

Using an "outboard" DAC:
We sell a whole lot of DAC's (Digital to Analog Converters). Especially the new Gefen DAC's. They are great audio signal and routing problem solvers. We get some returns from users who get no output and think the unit is bad. In the vast majority of cases it's due to not setting their source components output properly. DACs that support LPCM and not Bitstream are not going to give you any output if the DVD/Blu Ray player is set to Bitstream! They don't have the decoders necessary to decode the digital audio signal before converting it to analog. Decoders for Dolby Digital and DTS come along with licensing fees after all, so a decoder with this capability always costs more. For Bitstream decoding and conversion you need a DAC/Decoder.

Gefen DAC

Gefen DAC/Decoder

*Blu Ray HD formats: yeah, we know, you won't get the groovy TrueHD or DTS-HD Master "light" to turn on, on the receiver, but you'll get all of the audio signals from the player.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Whole House HDTV Distribution for less than an HDTV

Distribute HD Video and Audio over Cat5 Cables - Affordably...

HD Distribution has always been pretty darn expensive, not to mention complicated. But let's face it, adding an HD DVR, DVD or Blu Ray player and what have you (Roku, HTPC, PS3, Xbox) to every room in the house you have a TV in is a great way to go broke too. Well, if you can run Cat5 cables to all of your TV rooms you can pretty easily distribute HD Component Video (or Composite Video) and Digital or Analog audio to up to six rooms in your house. Ce Labs new inexpensive solution is a great way to cut down on your Cable/Satellite bill. With built-in IR distribution you can use your main remote control in any room to operate your Receiver and Source, so if you use your Receiver for switching, you can easily switch beween Sources. This is obviously a great system for Store Showrooms, Schools, Trade shows and Digital Signage as well.

The system consists of the Source unit and up to six Receiver Units to output to the TV and/or Audio System. Most Whole House Audio systems cost more than this!
Check it out:
Ce Labs Cat5 HD A/V Distribution System

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Connecting Laptop to HDTV (VGA to Component video)

Another Tech Support Question:
"Can I connect my laptop computer which has a VGA output to my A/V receiver which has component inputs?"

We have an article about connecting Computers to TV's and HDTV's in our:
How to connect your computer to your HDTV or Standard Def Television

To make a long story short, VGA and Component Video are somewhat different animals. A cable won't do it. You need a converter.
The tricky part is getting the laptop video output to be something that the TV will like. If your laptops built-in video is really good, then you can use a less expensive converter called a "Transcoder". A transcoder simply changes the encoding of the signal but does not change resolution or refresh rate, so what goes in is what comes out, just converted from RGB to Y-Pr-Pb. For an HDTV to accept the signal, a component video signal has got to be, 480i, 480p, 720p or 1080i. That means you have to set your laptop to one of these formats *or* you'll need to use a more expensive converter that is a "Video scaler". A video scaler can change the resolution of the video signal. When doing this, you want the least change in resolution possible for best results.
Typically, your best bet with a transcoder is to set up your laptop (or desktop) display to 1280x720@60Hz, and set the transcoder for 720p.
Typically, your best bet with a scaler/converter is to set up your laptop (or desktop) display to 1280x768@60Hz (if 1280x720@60Hz is not available) , and set the transcoder for 720p.

If you have not checked for video card driver upgrades, you should. Sometimes new drivers make it much easier to set this up by providing new resolutions and adjustments for "overscan"*.

*overscan is where the sides and/or bottom of the display are clipped off to some extent making navigation difficult.

Show your support!

Looking for a stylish way to show your support for those with breast cancer?
If so, please take a look at our "Money Collection Jars" scattered around the building.
Or if you want to volunteer for any activity or have any ideas to help us with the
fundraising please contact one of the coordinators.
We thank you for your support!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

120MHz, 240Mhz and 60MHz HDMI Cables?

According to our Tech Support guy people still keep asking about 120MHz, 240Mhz and 60MHz HDMI Cables. This whole thing was covered quite nicely in an article by Blue Jeans Cable's Kurt Denke on Audioholics.
Let's make it real simple:
Your display is doing all that 120Hz or 240Hz stuff internally. The cable puts out what the Disk Player is putting out. That is usually somewhere between 480i-30Hz to 1080p-60Hz. You might get 1080p-24Hz output going to a Display, but that's easier than 1080p-60Hz for the cable. Unless you have a scaler outputting 1080p-72Hz to a Display that can accept it, you are not doing anything interesting to a cable.

And don't get me started on that "deep color" thing!
What a scam. Do you have any Deep Color content that your "Source Device" can output? Is there a likelihood that device will work with whatever new TV format replaces
the current version of HDTV or Blu Ray? Again, high end users have some possible reasons to worry about deep color, but us normal folks can forget it.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Comcast Installation

I stopped by my parents to check out their new Hi-Def television. The picture didn't look right so I peeked behind the set to inspect the cable connections. The cable installer used a variety of composite and audio/video cables that were left over from the previous system to cobble together a "component like" cable to connect the TV to the cable box and the DVD player to the TV. In addition the CATV connector was poorly crimped to the RG6 cable . I asked my Dad if he had hooked this up himself, and he told me that it has all been done by the man from Comcast.

I immediately swapped out the "component like" cables with two HDMI cables, crimped on a new CATV connector and had the system working like it was supposed to. The picture looked great!

Has anyone else had a similar experience?


TEAM RAM has just began the American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Fundraising campaign for 2009.

Our team Leaders are as follows:
  • Xiomara Zepeda
  • Stephanie Contino
  • Edith Redmond
  • Irene Castro
  • Vanita Gondalia
All Staff an employees have contributed to our efforts in the past but this year we are raising our goal. $3,000... Yes $3,000 dollars is the goal that has been set for our contribution to this effort.

The initial fundraiser is the "Money Collection Jars". We have 4 scattered around the containers throughout the building. This seems to be an idea that is going over well with our employees.

I have a suggestion for a future fundraising effort. A table at the local Flea Market held at Chic-Fil-A. Chick-Fil-A opens up their parking lot to the community monthly, April thru September for a Flea Market. The parking is usually jammed with people selling and buying items. I believe that we could get together donated sellable items and turn them into currency towards our $3,000 goal.