Sound Advice #14, 2011: Video connections, supreme home theater with 3D and gaming

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Q. I recently purchased the Samsung PN42C450 after reading your blog. With my PlayStation 2 hooked up, I get sound with a black-and-white picture. I am using the regular red/white/yellow cable that came with the PS2. What do I need to get a color picture?


A. Your TV does not have a composite connection on its own. You can connect the yellow cable to the green input and it will work but if you use red/green/blue component video cables you will get a better picture. PS2 component video cables with red/white stereo audio are available at prices ranging from $4 to $20 or more. Using this cable will give you a color image that is sharper as well.

If you can’t get a component cable for a particular video game system, you can run the video signal through your audio/video receiver if it has video upscaling. The receiver will convert the signal to a digital HDMI signal that will work with your television.

Be sure to connect the audio cables so the sound will come from your sound system’s speakers, which will sound much better than the TV’s speakers. In the case of a PlayStation 2, an optical digital audio cable can be used for both better sound quality and for Dolby Digital or DTS surround sound on some game titles.

System-building feature hiatus: Readers have responded enthusiastically to the recent system-building segment. I have had a lot of fun writing it, but after next week I am going to take a break and just do Q&A for a while.

Most of the featured systems have been very modestly priced. This week’s system is for those of you who expressed an interest in spending a bit more for something special. All told it’s still not expensive for what you get and its performance is near state of the art.

The new Panasonic TC-P55ST30 3-D plasma HDTV is available for $1,515. (EDIT: now $1199 on  It uses the industry’s best technology to provide a big, beautiful 55-inch picture with 3-D as icing on the cake. The memory card slot displays pictures and plays movies from your digital camera or camcorder, also in high def. It’s an absolute knockout in every way, but especially in value.

The sound system uses Definitive Technology’s new BP-8020ST bipolar SuperTower speakers. I am enthralled with their ability to realistically portray the most dramatic action movie, as well as capture all the subtlety and nuance of chamber music. Built-in powered subwoofers mean simpler placement, big bass impact and modest receiver power requirements. The complete 5.1-channel BP-8020ST system is available for $2,199. I don’t know of a better performing home theater speaker system at the price point. Visit to see the entire system.

Onkyo’s TX-SR609 receiver sells for $499 (now $399 on It is 3D-compatible and offers ample clean power for the Definitive speakers; see

There are several reasons I am recommending the Sony PlayStation 3 for disc-playing duties. It is still one of the best Blu-ray players you can buy, it can stream Internet content, it is 3D capable, and it plays high-def video games.  Make sure you get the Blu-ray Remote to go with it.

It cost $4,000 to get a primitive HDTV not all that long ago. Now it gets you a big beautiful TV, spectacular sound and 3-D movies and gaming.

Questions?  Email Don

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