Poor Cable HDTV Quality with Series 3

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by kylemanta, Dec 20, 2007.

  1. kylemanta

    kylemanta New Member

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    Dec 20, 2007

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    I have a Series 3 Tivo HD using Cable Cards from Cablevision. I have RGB cables (I'll explain later) running from the Tivo to a Marantx SR5002 AV Receiver. I also have a digital fiber audio cable from the Tivo to the Marantz. From that, I connect RGB and digial audio to my Panasonix 58" TH58PZ700U Plasma. I also have a Panasonic DVD player connected using the same cable hookup through the Marantz to the Plasma. All cables are Monster, everything brand new. DVD picture quality is simply incredible, a true thing of beauty - and it's not HD or BluRay. However, HD tv comes in poorly. It's not specific to any channel, although TNTHD is the worst. I see "shading" instead of crisp clear picture. Facial features, the close up scences are distorted. This ddin't happen on my cable box prior to the Tivo. I tried replacing all RGB cables with HDMI (monster), no difference. DVD is still great, HDTV is not what I was accustomed to or would expect. Although, once in a while, I'll see a HDTV show where the quality is awesome as it should be, but 95% consistent that it's distorted and shaded. What am I missing?
     
  2. TexasGrillChef

    TexasGrillChef New Member

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    Call your cable company... Sounds like a S:N ratio or maybe not strong enough signal coming in. Check your cable that runs INTO the Tivo (The Cable company cable) are the connections good?

    Also check the setup of your Tivo. Is it set to Native? 480i, 480p?

    I set mine to 1080i standard. My TiVo does a better job of upconverting 480i channels to 1080i then does my TV.

    TGC
     
  3. aaronwt

    aaronwt UHD Addict

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    DO you mean you used the component connection?
     
  4. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

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    DC Metro Area
    What do you have the Tivo set to output under Settings -> Video? It should be set to native (or 1080i fixed if you want to eliminate the resolution switching on your Panasonic).

    You should use the HDMI connection, as that delivers the best picture with the TH58PZ700U. If you see the visible color shades -- aka banding -- then you've probably got your PZ700U in vivid mode. That will cause the banding you describe, as will a high contrast setting. You might try these settings for the Tivo with HDMI:

    Picture Mode: Standard
    Picture: +24
    Brightness +8
    Color +5
    Tint -6
    Sharpness +2
    Color Temp= warm
    Black level= light
    all other settings = off

    Or these, if you have a lot of bright lighting:

    Picture Mode: Standard (or Custom)
    Picture +20
    Bright +18
    Color -1
    Tint -3
    Sharpness +2
    Color Temp= warm
    Black level= light
    all other settings = off

    For the best possible picture, you'll also need to switch to Verizon FiOS. Cablevision compresses and degrades the quality of their HDTV.
     
  5. kylemanta

    kylemanta New Member

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    Dec 20, 2007

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    I tried both of those settings, no change. I could see the screen change, but I never eliminated the "banding". I can't believe this is a difference from component cables to HDMI. As I said, my DVD player is connected component to through the Marantz with perfect picture display on the tv. Also, I had the same hookup with my SA 8300HD cable box before I switched to Tivo, also set through component cables to the TV, looked a thousand times better than this. What else can I try?
     
  6. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

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    Tell us what display mode you have set under Settings -> Video on the Tivo.

    The Panasonic saves different settings for component and HDMI so you can't change from one input to another and expect to see the same picture. Even at the same display settings, HDMI and component may produce a noticeably different picture. Different settings on HDMI and component are necessary to achieve the same picture. Some displays even save separate settings per input, although I don't know if that is the case on the PZ700; you might try disconnecting component from the DVD player and connecting it to the Tivo (i.e. use the DVD input).
     
  7. kylemanta

    kylemanta New Member

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    Dec 20, 2007
    native and all the cable hookups are good. I've tried other video settings, no difference.
     
  8. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

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    So you've tried using the same input as your DVD player?

    Do not use TNT as a reference because that network only shows about 50% HD; the rest is 4:3 SD stretched and distorted to fill a 16:9 screen. That stretched / distorted SD doesn't look good anywhere.

    Are you sure what you are seeing is banding -- clear gradations between different colors -- and not pixelization or blocking? If you aren't sure of the difference, you might tune to a channel where you see the problem and then open System Information -> Diagnostics. Under Diagnostics, look for RS Uncorrected errors. That should be zero. RS Uncorrected errors is how the Tivo measures signal problems causing picture defects.

    If you have a digital camera, a picture of what you are seeing would help us understand what you are seeing.
     
  9. kylemanta

    kylemanta New Member

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    Dec 20, 2007
    Charging my camera battery, will post a pic later. Went to HBOHD and ABCHD and checked diags. Signal strength changes between 90-95. RS Uncorrected is 0. What I see, especially in facial features, is a distortion. Not squares, not pausing, but more like gradients in the colors.

    I didn't realize TNTHD wasn't a full HD broadcast. I notice it the worst on the TNTHD, but I still see it on other channels.

    Sometnine else I should be looking at?
     
  10. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

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    If your RS Uncorrected is 0, then that rules out signal issues.

    TBS and CNN also have little in the way of actual HD. The local networks only do HD during primetime and special events, as you probably know already. What other channels do you see the issue on? Do you see it on ESPN-HD, FOOD-HD, HBO-HD, Discovery Theater, or National Geographic HD?

    Some people describe the gradients on the Panasonic as "clayface," but getting out of vivid and using an appropriate contrast setting eliminates the problem for most.
     
  11. kylemanta

    kylemanta New Member

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    Dec 20, 2007
    That's exactly what I experience! Clay face - perfect description. Originally, I was set to vivid, but using the other settings didn't seem to help. I am currently switching through HD broadcasts - StarzHD has it, currently playing a movie, TBSHD, HBOHD playing a movie has it a little. ESPNHD looks great as does ABCHD, CBSHD, NBCHD, FOXHD. Discovery HD has it a little so does NGHD.

    Thoughts - your help is greatly appreciated!
     
  12. bizzy

    bizzy New Member

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    One of the things that MPEG compression does is quantize similar color values into a single color. This is done for both noise reduction and general efficiency- the less unique data the compressor has as input, the smaller the output.

    If your display is also doing a great deal of image processing, you can end up with color banding or posterization effects where the range of values averaged into a single one are obvious. You can see them most easily in large gradient areas, like a sunset.

    Give your display's picture controls some tweaks and see if you can minimize the effect. More work, but guaranteed to do a better job than eyeballing would be to use a dvd like Avia's 'Digital Video Essentials' to set up your display.
     
  13. greg_burns

    greg_burns Now in HD

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    Why is he only seeing this problem now with his S3 and not before with his HD cable box? I assume he is using the same input on TV with same cable connection type. :confused:
     
  14. kylemanta

    kylemanta New Member

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    Dec 20, 2007
    That's correct, same hookup. That's what troubles me. The SA was fine. So was my older 42" 1080i Panasonic plasma I had before I bought the 58" (Tivo came after the 58" so both tvs used the cable box).
     
  15. greg_burns

    greg_burns Now in HD

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    It was an HD cable box, right? We are comparing apples to apples?
     
  16. kylemanta

    kylemanta New Member

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    Dec 20, 2007
    Correct, the SA 8300HD which I've had for 3yrs. Ran the new 58" on it for 2mos no problem. Saw the picture difference when I put the S3HD in.
     
  17. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

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    Just to verify, you've tried component direct to the TV, correct? My old receiver would degrade my HD signals through component,

    I don't suppose you still have the SA8300HD?

    If so, are you able to connect both to different component (or HDMI) inputs and the same channels and then swap back and forth on the same channel to compare?

    Analog output on a STB is created by running the HDMI (digital) signal through a digital->analog (A/D) converter. It is possible that the analog converter in the TiVo [for component output] isn't as good as the one in the SA. However, with HDMI, you get the original digital output from the decoder, so you should not see such differences.
     
  18. kylemanta

    kylemanta New Member

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    Dec 20, 2007
    No, I haven't bypassed the Marantz receiver since the DVD player, also component through the Marantz, is showing every movie perfectly. It's only the HD broadcasts that show the poor quality, I just haven't had a chance to swap the cable hookups to bypass it. I no longer have the cable box, returned it.

    With regard to HDMI - my understanding and experience is the S3 can't send audio over the digital audio port when using HDMI. However, I had problems with audio when using HDMI alone. Again, when I tried HDMI, I ran all devices through the Marantz receiver which is capable of switching HDMI 1.1 and HDMI to the TV. Because of my audio problems (and desire to keep audio on the digital port) I switched back to component cables within 30 minutes.
     
  19. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

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    As you are probably aware, analog transmission is not lossless.

    DVD output and HD output are not comparable. DVD output requires far, far less analog bandwidth than HD. There is always some degradation when using analog connections like component connections; receivers with insufficient component switching bandwidth will cause noticeable degradation for HD but not DVD. I don't know anything about the component switching implementation on your Marantz.

    As far as I know, HDMI on the Marantz is passthrough so there should be zero degradation with that connection.

    Are you sure your problems with audio over HDMI weren't limited to the Scientific Atlanta? Sound issues with HDMI on the SA are not uncommon.
     
  20. kylemanta

    kylemanta New Member

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    Dec 20, 2007
    I never tried HDMI on the SA. I tried HDMI on the S3 where I had the audio problems. I will have to try direct connections as well as HDMI again. Interesting though, I was told by a professional installer (not from the cable company), for my setup, I would see no better video quality with HDMI than with component because I don't have bluray. He said, even with cable HD broadcasts and my equipment, I would have the same picture quality with HDMI and component cables. I'm clearly not an expert on this, but it didn't sound right to me - based on the last post, sounds like this pro was either plain out wrong or giving me a story.

    I'm also reviewing all the tests I've done and all the posts and have a theory - primetime broadcasts on "top" channels (HBOHD, ABCHD, NBCHD, CBSHD, FOXHD, etc.) seem to show almost perfect or perfect. Lower quality channels or off hour broadcasts (TBSHD, TNTHD, etc.) have a poorer quality. Perhaps this TV, being newer, better quality and larger (hence higher resolution), I'm seeing the difference more notably there. When I first got the 58" 2 months ago, I was primarily watching movies the first week or two, then cable. Any of that make sense? Am I expecting too much or is my problem and expectation real? And, based on my typical TV and standard DVD watching, will HDMI truly impove my video quality? Is the Marantz, brand new and allegedly capable of my setup, worthy of being the routing point for video or should it just be central point of audio with all video connecting directly to the tv?

    Thanks to all who have been helping, especially this close to the holidays and late at night!
     

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