Xbox 360 AV woes

xbox 360 back

I bought a Xbox 360 on Friday night, it was my treat for being good and saving up over Christmas and New Years. Anyway, when I was in the shop in Leeds, they had one 2nd hand for 129 pounds with a 20gig hard drive and wireless controller. Now to be fair that was a hell of a lot cheaper that CEX's 130 pounds for the same without a harddrive of any kind. The only thing about the option was the lack of a HDMI port, it was strictly Component only. So I had to move up to the next option which was a brand new Xbox 360 with 60gig harddrive, wireless controller and HDMI. Looking back for the extra 30 pounds it was more a better deal that the 129 pound one. I didn't get any games because I knew the games I really wanted to play were online, namely RezHD and Geomentry Wars.

So why the need for HDMI, well on my current setup I have a Samsung LCD with lots of HDMI ports free and only one component input which is used by the old Xbox (which I still use for a backup when the Linux PC box does odd things – if you like XBMC avoid upgrading up to ubuntu 8.10). So using the HDMI is good but the dolby digital audio which is passed over the HDMI cable isn't then passed through the TV's optical output. So now I got digital stereo sound instead of the full dolby digital surround. The AV cable that comes with the Xbox 360 does have a optical out but of course, Microsoft decided to put the HDMI cable slot directly under the AV slot which means you can plug both in at the same time! No I just learned I will need to buy another AV cable for the ability to listen to dolby digital surround and watch using the HDMI cable.

I hope this might be the last thing I'll need to buy for the Xbox 360 for a while, as I'm saving for a replacement home cinema amp. A new amp would also solve all my component and HDMI audio problems. Currently my Sherwood Newcastle R725 receiver only supports analogue composite for all video switching. Yep not even S-video input is supported because its pretty much 12 plus years old. The only reason I still use it is because it a great power amp (100watts per channel) when plugged into the Technics SH-AC500D DD/DTS Decoder. Unfortually even the pre-amp/decoder's digital inputs were all used up before the Xbox 360 was bought. Time to buy a new cinema amp me thinks.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.