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Thread: Dolby 5.1

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    Dolby 5.1

    For everyone with home theatre systems, does the 5.1 setting satisfy your listening standards? I have Mediacom and I understand you don't always get 100% audio like you do with the Dish? I have a pretty decent Onkyo system and have tweaked it as much as I can, but TV shows especially disappoint me audio-wise? I have read that even if the receiver says "Dolby 5.1" you aren't always getting it 100%. If you use the other audio settings, I assume you lose your 5.1 surround sound?



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    Re: Dolby 5.1

    I think 5.1 is fine.

    I actually have Denon system that just uses two front speakers that simulate surround sound. It works great.



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    Re: Dolby 5.1

    I don't have cable, but just use OTA HDTV. I agree that some TV shows don't sound good. However, the sound you hear is ultimately limited by the source. If the problem is that the dude mixing the 5.1 audio for the show did a poor job, your Onkyo equipment can't do much to fix that. Or if you are watching an SD rerun with only original stereo sound, most broadcasters don't bother to enhance the audio to 5.1.

    For watching TV, I leave my receiver on auto format decode and take whatever comes in the transport stream. Some of it sounds great, some of it doesn't.


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    Re: Dolby 5.1

    Quote Originally Posted by bobh33 View Post
    For everyone with home theatre systems, does the 5.1 setting satisfy your listening standards? I have Mediacom and I understand you don't always get 100% audio like you do with the Dish? I have a pretty decent Onkyo system and have tweaked it as much as I can, but TV shows especially disappoint me audio-wise? I have read that even if the receiver says "Dolby 5.1" you aren't always getting it 100%. If you use the other audio settings, I assume you lose your 5.1 surround sound?
    This isn't a Dish vs Mediacom issue, it is an issue of what is being broadcast by the channel you are watching. For true Dolby Digital 5.1 like you get on a DVD, you are only going to get that from one of the HD channels, and even then, only if the show supports it and the broadcaster passes the signal on. If your system is setup properly it should detect the signal and play the show in DD 5.1. For the most part, you should have this for anything that is shot and played back in HD, major sitcoms, dramas, sporting events, etc. Keep in mind that if you are watching older shows on an HD channel, they probably weren't done in DD and you will just get the same old stereo sound you used to.

    For all of your regular channels you won't get DD. Your best option here is to use a setting on your receiver like Pro Logic IIx or if your receiver supports it DTS NEO. These settings basically fake 5.1 by taking the standard stereo audio track and splitting it out. This usually does a decent job of placing voices in your center speaker and effects into your surrounds, but in most cases it will be very obvious that it isn't the full DD 5.1.

    Dish, Direct, Mediacom, everyone is going to have this same issue. The difference is that the Sat companies have a lot more HD options than Mediacom, so you may be able to get an HD feed of a show with full DD that a Mediacom customer would have to watch in standard def with standard sound. Hope that helps a little.



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    Re: Dolby 5.1

    My main problem might be "champagne taste on a beer budget"! I'm sure if I paid $8,000 for the ultimate system my "audio standards" would be satisfied! My Onkyo system is the HT-S894 box system. Has anyone upgraded the speakers after owning a box system and noticed a big difference?



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    Re: Dolby 5.1

    I'd say most of the shows of TV have no reason for a 5.1 audio channel. If you change it off of 5.1 to stereo it might actually sound better just because thats what its being broadcast at



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    Re: Dolby 5.1

    I wouldn't base your enjoyment of the system on cable tv - which may or may not be broadcasting true surround. Pop in a blu-ray or dvd and if that sounds good to you, you're set.



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    Re: Dolby 5.1

    A lot depends on how much you want to spend and the room that you have. If I was in your situation here is what I would do if you don't want to spend a ton of money.

    Keep the receiver. It's fine.
    Keep the surround speakers that you have for now

    Stage 1 I would go down to Audio Labs in DM and check out their Paradigm speakers. If you want a good laugh have them show you the Bose comparison test while you're there. Buy your 3 speakers up front all at once.

    Stage 2. Buy an new sub from Elemental Designs in newton. You can get a good one for under $400.

    Stage 3. Possibly replace surround speakers

    Stage 4. ????

    And on and on



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    Re: Dolby 5.1

    Another speaker that I've always liked are NHT's. Audio Video Logic is having a sale on them since NHT is changing their sales model. These bang pretty hard for such small speakers.

    NHT specials :: Audio-Video Logic



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    Re: Dolby 5.1

    I also have medicom. For my home theater system, I have a rather inexpensive sony unit and it auto detects the best signal. The only time I see it go full 5.1 is when I watch HD content from HD channels or from HD movie rentals.


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    Re: Dolby 5.1

    With all this said, even with better speakers you're still not going to get DD if the show doesn't broadcast in it.



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    Re: Dolby 5.1

    Quote Originally Posted by bobh33 View Post
    My main problem might be "champagne taste on a beer budget"! I'm sure if I paid $8,000 for the ultimate system my "audio standards" would be satisfied! My Onkyo system is the HT-S894 box system. Has anyone upgraded the speakers after owning a box system and noticed a big difference?
    For the most part, outside of some of the bigger HD productions, TV audio isn't that good. What you are seeing isn't really an issue with a shortcoming of your system, it is your system exposing the shortcoming of the source. You never noticed this before because your built in TV speakers sucked. It is the same thing with an HDTV, you may have thought you had a good picture before, but when you go HD and then try to go back, you see just how bad it was.

    As for upgrading your system, if the source is bad (in this case cable TV) the system can only do so much. Now, could you improve things with an upgrade? No doubt. A home theter in a box system is the very lowest level of surround sound you can get. And as for what you can upgrade to, forget 8k for the system, there are high end systems out there where you can drop more than 8k on a single speaker. Basically the performance of your system will be limited only by your budget.

    If budget is a concern, you an always break it up. Start by replacing your mains and center. Do this together as you want them to "match" so that sounds traveling across the channels stay consistent. You don't want a freight train going by to sound like a freight train in your left and right speaker, but sound like a toy train in your center. Next up you can add a sub, and then finally new surrounds. And whenever the need stikes you can upgrade a receiver. If you are getting into blu ray and want the new audio formats or you just need more inputs, then it may be time to look at the receiver.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of home theater. Be careful though, once you get started on some of this stuff it can be hard to stop!



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