Micro macros – still hanging around!
The RM-VL610’s packaging is rather vague on exactly what sort of learning capabilities the remote features. Earlier Sony models advertised that they could learn codes up to 500kHz in frequency and 250-bits in length, far more than average remotes that classically top out at 50kHz and 20 or 30 bits. But despite the absence of technical specifications it would appear that, just like the similarly vague RM-VL600, the RM-VL610 does in fact include the same expanded capabilities as previous models. This is great news since it means that it’s “micro macro” capable!
Micro macros, or “micros”, aren’t something that you’re going to see advertised on any of Sony’s boxes (although one of their high-end LCD models did turn this into an official capability), but they’re the process – or some might call art – of capturing more than one command on a single button. You see, most infrared signals require only 8 to 24 bits worth of space, while as mentioned the RM-VL610 supports code lengths of up to 250-bits. So with practice it’s possible to learn four or even more commands onto any of the remote’s buttons – and those commands don’t need to be for the same device or even brand of device. Micros are an especially handy way to put favorite channel macros on otherwise unused keys.
These can be rather tricky to capture since any blank space between commands will promptly end the learning process, and everything needs to be sent within an extremely short time span. One method is to line up all of the source remotes in a row, start the RM-VL610’s learning process, and then quickly press the donor buttons in sequence. An alternative method is to use a second more sophisticated remote that can transmit macros without any pause between commands (which is harder to find these days than you might think), record the macro on it, and then capture the end result.
It’s true that this can be a lot of work to incorporate, but if you absolutely must have a macro someplace that Sony doesn’t normally allow them, then it’s the only way and well worth the effort.
Last things to tweak...
After programming codes, learning infrared and recording macros, there’s little left to adjust. In fact, the only remaining major feature is the volume punchthrough, which lets you change the device that controls the system’s volume. The default setup is for visual devices to use the television’s volume controls and audio devices the receiver’s, but this can be changed so that all devices control the receiver. The remote is also smart enough to use learned volume commands from the TV or Amp devices, and not just preprogrammed ones as was the case in many earlier models.
Other options include a “hold” mode that locks the remote from use until a special button combination is pressed, the ability to erase programming ranging from a single key up to a full factory reset.
The RM-VL610 not only uses its 9 LEDs to assist with programming, but they’re also informative during regular use. Each time you press a button the LED corresponding to the device in use illuminates. When playing back macros, the remote notifies you exactly from which device the current step originated. Even the remote’s volume buttons will flash the [TV], [Amp] or current device’s LED to indicate which volume commands are being sent. Sony has thankfully corrected the ridiculously dim LEDs used on the RM-VL600, restoring them to a more normal brightness level on the RM-VL610. But please, Sony, consider full backlighting!