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QUESTION: Bobbert,  I need your help,  I have an older Zenith CRT Television. I'm trying to hook up a DTV Box, a VCR Recorder, a Blue Ray disk player with speakers. Is there a way to hook these up to an older TV which has only a Antenna connection.  Thanks Kenny

ANSWER: If it only has the coaxial CATV connection, connection may be somewhat interesting to achieve, depending on what the other devices offer. If the VCR can provide output via coaxial, connecting that to the TV would be the first step, and then hopefully the VCR has additional RCA input jacks that can accommodate the Blu-ray player and DTV box (alternately the DTV box may have a pass-thru for coaxial wiring); I'd need more information about the speakers and their associated amplifier/equipment to pursue that.

If you need clarification or more information, feel free to ask.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Bob Hi, Thank you for getting back to me.  The devices that I'm connecting is the following. Zenith DTV BOX DTT901, PANASONIC VCR RECORDER DMR ES40V,
BLURAY WITH SPEAKERS, MODEL RCA  RTD 317W. All being hooked up to a Zenith CRT TV with only a Antenna connection. Does this help. Thanks again  Kenny

ANSWER: Just to clarify, this is your Panasonic component?

It will record and play both DVD and VHS, and the manual offers some ideas for connection to a cable box (can sub for DTV box) and other equipment on pages 12 and 13. Overall this Panasonic unit offers a multitude of inputs and outputs, and will likely become the "hub" of your system as a result. Refer to page 15 for using the Panasonic's antenna output - you will need to set your TV to channel 3 or 4 based on the setting you make on the Panasonic. If the antenna connections on the TV do not match the CATV coaxial jack on the Panasonic, refer to the bottom half of page 13 as it shows various alternate configuration options.

The Zenith DTV box's manual is available here: You can connect it to the Panasonic via the RCA (this is the name of the cable - red/white/yellow IN1 on the Panasonic (from the audio/video out on the Zenith). Refer to page 6 in the Zenith's manual for this - "Connecting to a VCR."

Now comes adding the RCA theater system - connect a fiber optic (TOSlink) cable from the Panasonic's digital out to the RCA unit's digital in (its labled "Digital Audio Out" on the Panasonic, and "Optical In" on the RCA). The RCA's owners manual is available here: (you will probably want to download this one for easier viewing, as its presented as a large poster - just select download, enter the captcha code, and then "Download PDF" and you can zoom in for easier viewing).

Now we need to connect the video for the RCA theater system's Blu-ray player to work. You have three options here:

- You can connect the RCA's video output (the yellow jack) to the video input on the front of the Panasonic (IN2).
- You can (alternately from above) connect the Zenith DTV box's coaxial output to the Panasonic's coaxial input, which will give you the rear (IN1) terminal for the RCA Blu-ray player.
- You can use an A/B toggle switch and have both the Zenith DTV box's video out and RCA Blu-ray player video out into the toggle, and then the toggle's output to the rear input (IN1) on the Panasonic.

The first option will be the easiest and provide the best overall picture and sound, as the Zenith box will only offer mono (one channel) sound when running via coaxial, while it offers stereo when using the 3 connector cables. The downside is you will have a cable running around the front of the Panasonic unit, which may be unsightly. The second option will keep all the wiring behind the equipment, but you will lose stereo sound for the DTV box. The third option will get you stereo sound from the DTV box, and keep wiring behind the equipment, but requires another component (the switch) and will likely not be remote controllable (that is, the switch will require manual operation, whereas switching inputs on the Panasonic can be done from its remote).

I would go with the first option, if the cable around the front isn't a problem for you.

Some other things to note:

- For VHS and DVD playback, there shouldn't be any significant loss of picture quality (unless the TV malfunctions), as the coaxial connection will provide sufficient resolution. However for Blu-ray and any HD broadcasts received by the Zenith (not all digital OTA is in HD), the picture will have to be scaled down significantly to SD resolution in order to be compatible - this will probably go unnoticed for broadcast television, but the menus and text on some Blu-ray titles may be harder to read due to the lack of resolution.

- The RCA Blu-ray system's manual is unclear as to what digital formats it accepts via optical in - it should, at minimum, handle PCM audio (high quality stereo), although it is likely that it supports Dolby Digital (discrete surround sound) as well; test this with a DVD (that has a multi-channel audio track) in the Panasonic, and its output set to Bitstream (see page 42 of its manual) - if you get no audio on the RCA with all inputs set correctly (e.g. the RCA on its optical input), try with the Panasonic set to "PCM." You can repeat this experiment again if you have a DTS-encoded DVD (they are less common), as the Panasonic offers separate settings for Dolby and DTS (this is a nice feature if your amplifier can only do one or the other format).  For VHS and DTV this doesn't matter, as VHS will only carry stereo or mono audio tracks (some VHS tapes have Dolby Surround encoding, which is a matrix surround encoding scheme - use the Pro Logic feature on the RCA to decode it), and very little television programming is available in surround sound (and again, the Pro Logic feature should be competent to access it). For discs played within the RCA Blu-ray player this should also be a non-issue, as it will communicate with itself internally, and handle all appropriate decoding that way.

- Make sure the devices are set properly for the TV's aspect ratio (I am assuming 4:3 as this is most common for a CRT). See pages 18-19 in the Panasonic's manual for that player; you will need to select "4:3 and 480i" (also take note of the "Removing Interference" section, as it may apply to your equipment). For the RCA Blu-ray system, see page 17 of its manual (its on "page 2" of the large poster print from manualslib) - "The Setup Menu" -> "Video" -> "TV Type." You should select 4:3 LB ("Letterbox") on the RCA system to preserve the aspect ratio of DVD and Blu-ray content (which is most often recorded in wide-screen). The Zenith DTV box also has an adjustment for this, which is covered on page 9 (again, select 4:3) under "TV Aspect Ratio." The Zenith DTV box also offers a "Zoom" feature, which may be useful if a channel is broadcast in the wrong aspect ratio (e.g. it is windowboxed (

For operation of the above configuration, the Panasonic and RCA Blu-ray system will need to be powered on along with the TV, then select the Optical In on the RCA, whichever input/device on the Panasonic you like (VHS, IN1, IN2, DVD, etc), power on the DTV box as needed, or provide the associated media (e.g. VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, CD). There shouldn't be any significant quality difference between the RCA's internal player and the Panasonic's player for DVD playback, so you could probably use both if you wanted (this may be an advantage if, for example, you're watching a TV series released on DVD, and don't want to get up and change discs as often).

In the future, if you upgrade to an HDTV, the connections above will remain fairly similar, however:

- The DTV box will likely become redundant, as many HDTVs include their own DTV tuners (this may require connection of audio output from the new TV to the RCA's "Aux In").
- The RCA can be connected directly via HDMI.
- The Panasonic will be connected via YPbPr ("Component Video").

The audio connections between the Panasonic and RCA Blu-ray will remain the same, and you would also need to retain the Zenith DTV box if you end up wanting to use the recording features on the Panasonic (as its internal tuners won't be DTV compatible).

If you need more information or clarification, feel free to ask.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Bob I want to thank you for taking the time on helping me with wiring my components. I'm going to need to buy some cables which is fine.  I have one other question. Since all components have RCA connections except the TV, why won't the system work with just the RCA cables. Im just curious.  Thank you Kenny

The digital connection between the Panasonic and RCA Blu-ray system will enable surround sound and overall somewhat better audio quality; the coaxial connection is needed to connect to the TV and may be used with the DTV box for "cleaner looking" wiring (to keep everything behind the cabinet). If you need to buy cables, I'd suggest looking online (e.g. on Amazon) as the prices may be much better than going to a specialist electronics retailer.

If you have further questions, feel free to ask (the AllExperts software will only allow a limited number of responses to a single "thread" - I have no control over this, and if it occurs, feel free to create a new question/topic to continue the discussion as needed).


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Questions regarding HTPC integration to home theaters, and general purchasing advice regarding home theater and audio systems, including headphones. Please no car audio or over the top PA systems.


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