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*sigh* Question about appropriate setup (bitstream/pcm/secondary)


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#1 of 16 OFFLINE   Shane Kelley

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Posted May 13 2009 - 06:02 AM

Okay, I've spent two days looking around various AV forums trying to find a definitive-ish answer to a sound configuration question I now have. I've gotten more confused (rather than less), so maybe I can get a good answer here.

I have a Panasonic BD35 connected by HDMI 1.3 to an Onkyo HTS6100 (Onkyo HT-S6100 - 7.1-Channel Home Theater Package with iPod® Dock | Model Information | Onkyo USA Home Theater Products.

I popped in the new Star Trek:TMP blu-ray yesterday and noticed no sound at all with the menus or trailers. I spent a few minutes checking out settings and noticed I have the Panny configured for BITSTREAM, with BD Secondary OFF. I switched to PCM with Secondary ON, and now everything seems to be working. But since I'm not seeing the 'True HD' marker on the Onkyo display with PCM, I'm wondering if I'm sacrificing something with the PCM setting. I see something called 'PCM multichannel'.

I wouldn't mind the lack of menu audio to keep BITSTREAM if that's the only way I can hold on to the lossless track, but if there are features and trailers that won't have audio as well, this is likely going to bug me, and I'm not keen on switching all the time.

So, what does everyone here do? Is PCM/secondary ON retaining the lossless tracks as some information says, or am I losing something (like other sites/posts seem to suggest)? Is there another suggestion on how to configure things to keep both features?

Thanx in advance for your help with a question I'm sure has been brought up before.

#2 of 16 OFFLINE   troy evans

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Posted May 13 2009 - 06:23 AM

Using PCM on the player lets the player decode the audio and send it to the receiver. Using Bitstream sends it to the receiver for decoding. PCM is great for people who have receivers that are not 1.3 HDMI ready. Some people have claimed that there's a little more "umph" using the Bitstream and letting the receiver do the decoding. In my opinion, based on my experience, I would use the receiver to decode. I feel that's the best way to decode. However, if you can't tell a difference between PCM or Bitstream in your set-up and PCM works better overall, go for it. When I used the PCM on my set-up( Onkyo 605 and Samsung Blu-ray 3600) the audio seemed just a little more tame than when I used Bitstream. Using Bitstream and letting the receiver do it's thing seemed to open the audio up and have a full and rich sound. Some here will disagree, that's just my take on it.
" I think it's time we go to plan B". "What's plan B?" "That's the one where we don't do something stupid".

#3 of 16 OFFLINE   Shane Kelley

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Posted May 13 2009 - 06:25 AM

Thank you for the quick response, Troy.

If that's the case, then is there a way to continue using Bitstream, but not lose the secondary audio? That's what's killing me right now Posted Image

#4 of 16 OFFLINE   troy evans

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Posted May 13 2009 - 06:34 AM

Is it a complete loss of audio or does it some times just lag and then come on?
" I think it's time we go to plan B". "What's plan B?" "That's the one where we don't do something stupid".

#5 of 16 OFFLINE   Shane Kelley

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Posted May 13 2009 - 06:48 AM

Complete loss of audio.

Secondary OFF (BITSTREAM), nothing at all unless I start the movie with TrueHD selected.

Secondary ON (PCM), everything works just fine.

It's definitely controlled by the setting, and not a problem per se.

#6 of 16 OFFLINE   troy evans

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Posted May 13 2009 - 07:50 AM

Sounds like the Blu-ray player is hi-res audio or nothing in the Bitstream setting, which is odd. No audio what so ever, even menu screens, is a problem I've never encountered using Bitstream. Simply because, if your on the menu screen or trailers whatever audio they are recorded in will be the players primary audio during that time. Even though they are not hi-res. What settings do you have the receiver on? Could possibly be something on that end.
" I think it's time we go to plan B". "What's plan B?" "That's the one where we don't do something stupid".

#7 of 16 OFFLINE   Shane Kelley

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Posted May 13 2009 - 08:00 AM

Hmm. I hadn't thought of that. I've made no changes to the A/V receiver recently, but I know that I did cycle through all the different 'MOVIE' options on the receiver while I was troubleshooting (things like MONO, THEATER DIMENSION, ETC). Nothing provided sound until I had made the Secondary setting change on the player.

The player specifically says lossless will be downconverted to Dolby Digital or DTS with BITSTREAM and Secondary ON, so I know that isn't an option in this case.

I also tried switching between speaker sets (A/B), but with the Onkyo, a full 7.1 setup only uses set A. Nothing to switch there.

I'll play around a bit more with it tonight. If anyone can think of anything at all, I'm game for other suggestions too.

#8 of 16 OFFLINE   Stephen Tu

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Posted May 13 2009 - 09:21 AM

(1) In theory it makes absolutely no difference to sound whether you decode in the player (PCM) or decode in the receiver (bitstream). There were some bugs in early players w/ early firmware that made this not true in practice, some issues with LFE levels, but there shouldn't be in BD-35 with updated firmware. The only thing you miss with "multich PCM" is the little light on the receiver that says "TrueHD" or "DTS-MA".

(2) Secondary audio & lossless don't work together on this player, either method. Menu audio is usually secondary audio, has to be mixed in, which doesn't happen with bitstream lossless. With PCM, the player uses lossy track to mix the audio in, if secondary audio present. If secondary audio is not present you still get lossless.

(3) There is barely any audible difference between lossless & lossy compression. Trained audio engineers in pristine settings with top-notch equipment have a very hard time distinguishing the two. The people who devised lossy compression spent a great deal of effort to make the lossy part be stuff humans can't generally hear. Can you hear a difference between CD and high-bit rate (say 190+ kbps VBR) MP3? That's the kind of differences we are talking about. To me it's not worth worrying about, lossless audio is really mostly marketing tool, they use it because they can, there is enough space on BD that it doesn't interfere with video quality. The difference is in the sound mixing stage, the source, not the compression method. If you are comparing a BD to DVD and hear differences it's because they altered the source, not because of lossless vs. lossy compression IMO.

(4) For me, I would just leave secondary on, bitstream or PCM doesn't matter. (I am not 100% sure bitstream + secondary on gives you menu audio, as I don't have this player, test & see). There is a secondary audio toggle function on the remote, don't have to go into the menu all the time.

#9 of 16 OFFLINE   troy evans

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Posted May 13 2009 - 10:02 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Tu
Menu audio is usually secondary audio, has to be mixed in, which doesn't happen with bitstream lossless.
Uhh...No. Menu audio is usually it's own and when you go from the menu you will hear the audio toggle "click" sound letting you know of the change. I've played menu audio using hi-res Bitstream and always heard it. Menu audio is not "mixed in". Even Commentary tracks usually have their own audio stream selectable by the discs menu. PIP features on the other hand may work in the secondary audio "mix-in". Either way, menu audio should be present regardless of Bitstream or PCM settings.
" I think it's time we go to plan B". "What's plan B?" "That's the one where we don't do something stupid".

#10 of 16 OFFLINE   Stephen Tu

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Posted May 13 2009 - 10:18 AM

Top disc menu is primary. Pop-up menu (overlayed on top of feature while it plays) audio is usually secondary, and what I was referring to, sorry I wasn't more specific. Guess I'm used to mainly using the pop-up menus on Blu-rays.

Also, even on the top disc menu, some discs have secondary audio effects like clicks or beeps when you move the cursor or select something. You may not have noticed if you normally use bitstream, and the disc doesn't have an option to turn off menu audio effects (which on bitstream would have no effect). You'd only hear the soundtrack/background music on the top menu, no clicks/beeps.

#11 of 16 OFFLINE   Shad R

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Posted May 13 2009 - 06:47 PM

Stephen, you are certainly entitled to you opinion, but in MY experience, blu-ray's audio does sound better. I have heard Transformers and King Kong on DVD mutiple times (these were my demo discs), but when I upgraded to blu-ray, I noticed IMMEDIATELY the difference in sound. My player can't do DTS-HD, but the higher bitrate on King Kong makes a huge difference, and I don't just think it's a different mix or that they altered the source. Transformers had the same effect, I noticed right off the bat it sounded way better on blu-ray, especially the vocals and bass departments.
Sorry to go off topic but I felt I had to respond.

#12 of 16 OFFLINE   Stephen Tu

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Posted May 13 2009 - 07:21 PM

Remember I never said BD audio can't sound better, just that the difference is likely in the mixing, not the compression scheme.

Quote:
I don't just think it's a different mix or that they altered the source

How can you possibly know that, unless you personally supervised the sound engineering on both transfers and can verify that both came from the same source and weren't altered in any way? Did you even attempt to do a careful level match? Remember the human brain will subconsciously attribute any subtle loudness differences as making the louder track "better".


Read
Signal to Noise - Dolby TrueHD & DTS-HD MA vs. Uncompressed PCM | Home Entertainment where people go to Dolby's and DTS labs and compare codecs (including lossy not mentioned in title). The differences are very subtle, when you are comparing exactly the same source material, and only changing codec. I would submit that if there is an "immediately noticeable difference", due solely to codec, then that is a massive failure of codec design & they should start over! The entire design aim of lossy compression is so that you don't notice, barely notice! BD video is lossy compression but is fantastic when done right starting from good sources. Lossy audio at reasonable bitrates is fantastic also!

Can you reliably, instantly tell 192kbps VBR MP3 apart vs. FLAC or .wav? I can't, and I doubt most could even after intense comparison.

#13 of 16 OFFLINE   troy evans

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Posted May 13 2009 - 08:00 PM

Stephen, that was a great artical. Thanks for sharing it. It sheds alot of light on just how different/alike these codecs are in regards to performance ability and not so much in audible differences. My personal opinion is that the TrueHD and DTS-Master are better than lossy and slightly better than PCM, even if technically they should be identical. I guess to each his own.
" I think it's time we go to plan B". "What's plan B?" "That's the one where we don't do something stupid".

#14 of 16 OFFLINE   Shane Kelley

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Posted May 14 2009 - 02:42 AM

Well, I'm not sure what was happening when my problem first started, but it looks like the settings I originally had (BITSTREAM with Secondary OFF) and I KNOW I never changed are working correctly again.

I confirmed my A/V receiver was properly set up with appropriate sound settings (DOLBY D for MOVIE and GAME, ALL CHANNEL STEREO for MUSIC and STEREO), and flipped the player settings back and forth a bit to test different configurations. But on a whim, I set things back to the way they originally were and now everything works just like it did before.

Weird. Maybe the player or A/V had a hiccup with the sound when I turned them on and found the problem? Everything is brand new, but I guess I'll watch to see if the problem returns.

Thank you to everyone who posted trying to help! I appreciate the time and effort everyone on this board gives to help out others Posted Image

#15 of 16 OFFLINE   Ensign Eddie

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Posted May 14 2009 - 05:54 AM

I think the first thing someone should do when something weird happens with this new-fangled equipment is cycle power on at least one component (if not all of them). Once in a while (not very often, but it can happen) it seems like HDMI can hiccup and a simple resetting of the chain can clear it up. I have an Onkyo 705 and the HDMI switching is by far its weakest link in my eyes.

Cycling power may not fix it, but it's cheap and quick.

#16 of 16 OFFLINE   Shane Kelley

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Posted May 14 2009 - 06:55 AM

After what I just went through to figure this out, I couldn't agree more.

The funny thing is, when I first had the problem I just thought I might have had a bad disc. So I tried another one that I knew had worked just a few days prior. When it also had the problem I figured I had a setting issue, but I hadn't changed anything it weeks. I started to believe I was forgetting a change I may have made, doubting myself rather than just turning the thing off and on.

Oh well, live and learn I guess Posted Image





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