“Phantom” center channel, storing an outdoor sound system

Week of October 1, 2006

Q: I followed your suggestion and purchased the Onkyo TX-SR303 surround sound receiver and two pairs of speakers. You mentioned in your column about a “phantom” setting on the Onkyo. I have 4 speakers and have to set the back speakers on speaker “B” connections so I don’t really have full sound. What is the “phantom” connection?

How can I “fool” the Onkyo into thinking there is surround sound with just the 4 speakers? The system is set up in my garage (16 x 20 ft) and is only audio, no TV, DVD etc.

-Tom Duck, Moorpark, CA

A: You are not “fooling” the receiver, as you put it. What you need to do is tell it exactly what you have and the effect you want, and it will do the rest.

Take the back speakers off of the left and right “B” connections and connect them to the corresponsing surround connections- left surround and right surround. Next, go into the setup menu of the receiver (the manual will tell you how to access it) and go to the speaker setup option Select “no center channel”, front speakers “large”, surround speakers “large”, and subwoofer “none”.

Though your speakers may actually be small, you do not have a subwoofer to reproduce the lowest bass sounds. Bu setting the speakers to large and no subwoofer, the receiver will send all of the sound to the speakers, rather than divide it and try to send some to your speakers and the rest to a subwoofer that you don’t have in your system.

Set the receiver to Dolby Pro-Logic II and you will get surround from two channel sources, be they CDs, FM radio, LPs, or VCR tapes.

One last thing- for the best possible sound, use a digital connection between your receiver and CD/DVD player. Enjoy!

Q: I have an outdoor sound system, consisting of a receiver and a muti-disc CD changer. It is housed in a waterproof shower surround enclosure I made. It also is located next to the house, under a a six foot roof overhang. Do I need to move the equipment indoors during the winter months in order to protect it from freezing temperatures? I’m thinking maybe not because, like automobiles, they’re inanimate
objects. What’s your take on this?

-Russ Peterson, Minneapolis, MN
A: I’d move them inside, no doubt aboutr it. The heating-freezing cycles as the weather changes and the expansion that accompanies them will not be good for them, and the lubricants in the CD changer will freeze, too. Most electronics have a specified operation or storage temperatures, and the low end of these temperatures are going to be a lot higher than the coldest points of a Minnesota winter!
Q: I saw your recent recommendation of the Canon A700 in your column. I see numbers mostly around $350 for this camera. Do you know of any stores or online locations that sell at the price you quoted?

-Frank Watson, Bloomington, IN

A: I wish I could remember where I saw it at that price. I did a search when I recommended the camera and that was the best street price I had found. Now it is gone and I did not take note of where I found it… it may have been a websmaster typo, or one of my own. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused my readers.

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