Don Lindich’s Sound Advice: Deconstructing the diverse DVRs

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Ques­tion: I read your ar­ti­cle about DVR re­cord­ing with great in­ter­est. I can record shows on the ca­ble com­pany’s DVR, but if some­thing hap­pens to the unit, any­thing recorded is lost and stor­age is lim­ited. I liked to be able to record on the VCR, since there was in the­ory un­lim­ited space and if the unit died, the re­cord­ings could be used on an­other ma­chine.

The Me­dia­s­onic HW-150PVR, which uses re­mov­able hard drives, sounds like some­thing I would en­joy. But my ques­tion is, can it be used to record from ca­ble? Also, you men­tion us­ing a rab­bit ears for over-the-air trans­mis­sions. I thought a spe­cial an­tenna was re­quired to re­ceive the new dig­i­tal HD sig­nals.


Fox Point, Wis.

Answer: The Me­dia­s­onic HW-150PVR does not have a QAM tuner, so re­cord­ing from ca­ble would be im­pos­sible even if they weren’t en­crypt­ing sig­nals now. You can use the HW-150PVR record over-the-air as much as you want, though.

If you want to record pay tele­vi­sion shows and keep them, Dish Net­work will al­low you to trans­fer re­cord­ings from their Hoppe DVR to an ex­ter­nal hard drive. The hard drive can be used to trans­fer con­tent be­tween Dish Net­work re­ceiv­ers. You can learn more at ​­​up­grades/​prod­ucts/​ex­pand-dvr-stor­age/.

You do not need a spe­cial an­tenna to re­ceive dig­i­tal broad­casts. In fact, re­ceiv­ing dig­i­tal tele­vi­sion sig­nals over-the-air is much eas­ier than it is with an­a­log. If you go to An­ten­, you can get help choos­ing what kind of an­tenna is best for your area.


Ques­tion: I cur­rently have a Com­cast DVR and PC run­ning Win­dows Me­dia Center con­nected via HDMI to a Sam­sung flat panel TV. I have a Cam­bridge SoundWorks Oontz con­nected to the au­dio out­put of Sam­sung TV. The vol­ume of Com­cast DVR is much, much louder than the vol­ume of PC, even though both are do­ing sound over HDMI. Any idea why this might be?


Moun­tain View, Calif.

Answer: The au­dio out­put of the Com­cast DVR is set higher than that of the Me­dia Center PC. Each com­po­nent (DVR or PC in your case) will send out an au­dio sig­nal of dif­fer­ing strength, de­pend­ing on how the com­po­nent it­self is con­fig­ured and the strength of the pro­gram ma­terial.

Go into the au­dio menus of your PC and DVR and see if there is an ad­just­ment for au­dio out­put.

If your ca­ble box does not have one, just us­ing the vol­ume con­trol with the re­mote set to DVR may work. Work with them both and you should be able to bal­ance it out.


Ques­tion: Is there any way to record from a DVR to VHS? If so, what do I need and how do I do it?


Answer: It’s easy, as long as your DVR has ac­tive an­a­log (yel­low/​white/​red) RCA out­puts and your VCR has match­ing in­puts.

Con­nect the yel­low, red and white out­puts from the DVR to the cor­re­spond­ing in­puts on your VCR, se­lect the in­put on your VCR, and press record. Press play on the DVR and the VCR will record from the DVR.

Qual­ity will suf­fer and there may be a dis­torted pic­ture from the dif­fer­ent screen for­mats, but you can get a sig­nal on to the tape.

Read prod­uct re­views at soundad­vice­

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