What Happens When You Turn Your Blu-ray Disc Player

Blu-ray Disc Player Connection Examples
Blu-ray Disc Player Connection Examples. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

NOTE: As of the end of 2013, all analog video connections (composite, S-video, and Component and, in many cases, Analog audio connections) have been eliminated as connection options on Blu-ray Disc players manufactured for the U.S. market. However, information on those connection options is still provided in this article for those that are connecting or setting up pre-2013 manufactured Blu-ray Disc players.

Blu-ray Disc Player Video Configuration

With a current Blu-ray Disc Player, as soon as you connect the player to your HDTV or video projector, and turn both units on (set the TV or projector to the input you have the Blu-ray Disc Player connected to), the player will automatically adjust to the native resolution capabilities of your HDTV or video projector.

In other words, a Blu-ray Disc Player knows that it is connected to a TV or video projector and what type of connection is being used (HDMI, DVI, or Component). After the connection detected, if the player doesn't sense that the TV or projector is not 1080p, the player will reset its video output resolution to the native resolution of the TV or projector - whether it be 1080i, 720p, etc... Afterward, you can still go into the Blu-ray Disc Player setup menu and make any additional changes you choose (if you prefer 1080i, 720p, etc..).

It is important to point out that even though some Blu-ray disc players can output video via Component (red, green, blue) connections, the maximum resolution via those connections is 1080i. However, that has now changed for Blu-ray Disc players made after January 1, 2011, in which the video resolution output via component connections is limited to 480p.

Also, S-Video or Composite video connections can only pass a 480i resolution, regardless which of these are used to connect to a 1080p TV.

In addition, if you are using HDMI, HDMI/DVI or component video connections, and you have an HDTV or video projector with 720p native resolution, instead of 1080i or 1080p, after initial setup, if you manually set the Blu-ray Disc player to output 1080i, the image looks slightly better. This may be due to the fact that the Blu-ray Discs themselves are mastered at 1080p, and it appears that is easier for the Blu-ray disc player to scale down to output a  1080i signal that a 720p signal since 1080i is closer to 1080p than 720p. Of course, the other explanation is that some Blu-ray Disc Players may just not have very good built-in 720p scaling capability.

Check your user manual if you suspect any variations to the above information.

NOTE: As of 2013, there are a number of Blu-ray Disc players that provide 4K Upscaling capability, and, as of 2016, players have been introduced that can play Ultra HD format discs. In both cases, you need to have these players connected to a compatible 4K Ultra HD TV to get those benefits. However, if connected to a 720p or 1080p TV, in most cases, they will adjust to the display resolution of the TV automatically - but consult your user manual for specific details.

Blu-ray Disc Player Audio Configuration

If you have a home theater receiver that has HDMI inputs and the receiver has Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding (check the labels on your receiver or the user manual for details), your home theater receiver would be able to accept either an undecoded or fully decoded uncompressed digital audio signal from the Blu-ray Disc player via the HDMI connection. This is the preferred connection to use.

However, if you have an older home theater receiver that does not have HDMI inputs or one that has HDMI inputs that only pass through video and audio to your TV, then it would be best to use the traditional method of connecting the digital audio outputs (either digital optical or coaxial) of the player to your home theater receiver.. Using this connection you would be able to access all undecoded audio signals from the Blu-ray Disc player (the receiver will decode them) except for Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, or multi-channel uncompressed audio.

On the other hand, if you have a set of 5.1 or 7.1 channel direct analog inputs on your receiver and your Blu-ray Disc player has a set of 5.1 or 7.1 channel analog outputs, this is a better option than using the standard digital audio (optical or coaxial) connection option as the 5.1 channel analog outputs of the Blu-ray disc player can decode the surround sound signal internally and pass it to your home theater receiver as a fully-decoded or uncompressed audio signal that would be the same quality as using the HDMI connection option for audio. The downside is that instead of connecting one cable to your receiver for audio, you would have to connect five or seven connections to get the audio from your Blu-ray Disc player to your home theater receiver.

For a more detailed look on how to access audio from a Blu-ray Disc player, check out my article: Five Ways to Access Audio From a Blu-ray Disc Player.

After making all of your audio and video connections, also consult your Blu-ray Disc player's user manual for any additional audio and video setup procedures.

The 3D Factor

If you have a 3D TV and 3D Blu-ray Disc player, but your home theater receiver is not 3D compatible - Check out some additional connection and setup tips in our companion article: How to Connect a 3D Blu-ray Disc Player to a non-3D compatible Home Theater Receiver

The Bottom Line

Despite its extensive capabilities, the some may find intimidating, actually connecting and setting up a Blu-ray Disc player is very straightforward, with much of the process done automatically, or easily followed via simple onscreen fronts. If you have hesitated to buy a Blu-ray play because you think it is too complicated to get up and running, just follow the tips outlined above and you should be all set.

Bonus: Check out periodically updated list of Blu-ray Disc Player Buying Suggestions, as well as my suggestions for Best Blu-ray Discs For Home Theater Viewing: 2D/3D