Home Theater Hell


Houston, we no longer have a problem. It was the damned channel button.

For the last several months, I have lived in a state of worry and emasculation, unable to get my "home theater system" fully operational. I tried several times, under varying levels of intoxication, to hook up this collection of black boxes and cable spaghetti in just the right way, so that the stuff would actually fucking work as advertised, to no avail. Inevitably, one or more things would not behave. Couple this with an untimely demise of our old DVD player (first it showed movies in black&white, then it started refusing to even play audio cds), and you have me down at the BestBuy looking at DVD recorders. Luckily, my friend Perry was able to recommend a decent DVD recorder that was reasonably priced and was purported to do what I need, namely, a device that I can save TiVo and VHS recordings to, as well as play music and DVDs. I picked one up. After much cursing, I finally got the damned thing hooked up and playing DVDs. But the recording thing was still not working. The whole thing is made more annoying by the fact that my A/V components live in this little cubby next to the tv that is barely wide enough to turn the components around so you can look at the cable connections for the eight hundredth time. I tried a few more times, I cursed some more, and after a definitive "fuck it all, goddammit all to hell, I'm fucking done with this bullshit", we (I) settled for playback-only mode for the time being. That was a few weeks ago.

Then, on Thursday, the sound died. There was no warning, and I assure you I made no changes, but all of a sudden we stopped getting sound from the main TV. It was time to get this sorted.

And so on Saturday, I pulled the entire rack out and placed it on the dining room table, so I could plug component video cables, audio cables, rca jacks and speaker wires in and out and in and out until I either had a heart attack, an orgasm, or everything was working as planned.

And I got it. Everything was working. I could watch TV, or I could switch input sources and watch a movie from the vcr or the dvd player, and I could also get a TiVo signal through the DVD recorder.

Then I disassembled everything and stuffed it back into the cubby, violating rule number one of final assembly: I buttoned everything up nice and neat, as if I wouldn't have to take it apart again. And so of course I was greeted by a blue screen when I was supposed to be watching a fucking DVD.

Well, it turns out that when you want to watch a TiVo recording through the vcr and through the dvd recorder, you need to set the vcr to channel 3 on the box, and hit tv/vcr on the vcr remote, set the input source to color stream on the TiVo remote, and then make sure the stereo is on and set to dvd so you have audio, and like fifty other things that I've already forgotten, and god help us when our cat walks on the remotes again.

So, I finally have the ability to save to DVD things I've recorded with TiVo. More on this later. In the meantime, DON'T TOUCH THE REMOTES! DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING! IT'S WORKING!!!!

media technology complaints DVR rants TiVo television


Rob Guglielmetti Profile Picture
Rob Guglielmetti

lighting simulationist, crossfitter, former drinker.


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