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Question regarding "direct" decoding mode on DVD


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#1 of 12 John_Bilbrey

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Posted November 19 2009 - 04:15 AM

Recently I've watched a couple of movies and noticed the output from my sub (JBL PB12 w/ PE Dayton amp replacement) is lackluster.  I generally watch DVDs with my Onkyo receiver set to "direct", which I'm thinking means it doesn't do any processing to the signal as it comes from the DVD player.  Once I swithc over to another input (TV, CD, etc) the sub is it's old self.  I'm making sure I select DD5.1 on the DVD player (Samsung) movie menu (connected to receiver via digital coax).  I can switch the processing on the Onkyo to something other than direct (DPLII or DTS:Neo or other) and the sub comes to life.  The two movies in question are the new Transformers and the new Star Trek...so my question is - are these two movies just not a "hot" soundtrack, or have I(or the wife) changed something on my receiver and don't know it?  In "direct" mode, the receiver shows PCM, rather than DD or whatever...is this the way it should be?

#2 of 12 JohnRice

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Posted November 19 2009 - 06:15 AM

Receivers vary in what "Direct" does, but on some it disables the sub, which may be the case with the Onkyo.  The owner's manual is often incredibly vague (or worthless) regarding details like this.

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#3 of 12 John_Bilbrey

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Posted November 19 2009 - 06:31 AM

I could be totally off, but I seem to remember that I've always used the "direct" mode when watching a DVD...but it is entirely possible that I'm wrong.  Maybe someone has pushed a button somewhere and I'm just not seeing it - this is one of those deals that I never check until something isn't right, then I pull my hair out wondering what the difference is until I figure it out. 

#4 of 12 Gary Seven

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Posted November 19 2009 - 07:50 AM

Direct mode send out an unprocessed signal and thus, you will lose 5.1 decoding and get just stereo.  Normally, you would not use this mode for DVDs if you wish 5.1 sound.

I use direct mode for listening to stereo music. 

#5 of 12 John_Bilbrey

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Posted November 20 2009 - 01:55 AM

OK, that may clear it up then...hence the "PCM" stream indicator being lit on the receiver's display.  Thinking back, seems like I may have turned that on to watch a DVD concert or something, because I DO remember in the past it displaying DD or DTS when watching movies.  It's all coming back to me now :)  Now to remember how to turn it off lol...

#6 of 12 sptrout

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Posted November 20 2009 - 02:09 AM

You did not mention which model Onkyo you have, but I can explain how the 805 works.  The 805 has "Direct" and "Pure" Modes, which are nearly identical except in the Pure Mode the display, and the video processor, are turned-off (implying that these two items cause audible noise).  (BTW - - The 805 Manual does not explain this very well at all.)  Now what they have in common:

All digital processing including bass management, surround modes, and Audyssey are turned off.  Basically, audio in = audio out plus ampification.  Therefore, unless your speakers are all full range, do not use either of these modes because you will lose your bass, at least any bass below your speaker's low-end limits.

It is hard for me to understand why anyone other than analog audio purist (with proper speakers) would want to use either of these modes.  More than likely, if you have a recent model Onkyo, your system was auto-setup and Audyssey is used to help improve the frequency response of each of your speakers in your room.  Therefore, turning Audyssey off (not to mention bass management) is not a good idea for the great majority of systems.

I have read many times that some users like to use Pure or Direct Modes for stereo, so I have to assume that they have very good L&R speakers and that the "room response" is also very good.
Direct or Pure Modes are misunderstood by many users. Mainly because the AVR manuals do not properly explain them and they vary some between manufacturers, models, and age (newer equipment may work differently than older).

If your system consists of bookshelf speakers with a subwoofer, do not use either of these modes.  If your L&R speakers are true full range speakers, then you may prefer either of these two.  Just make sure that you know what is happening when you switch to either of these modes.
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#7 of 12 John_Bilbrey

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Posted November 20 2009 - 04:00 AM

It's a TX-SR574...for the life of me I can't figure out how to turn off direct mode now.  I'm downloading a manual now in the off-chance that it mentions this mode.

#8 of 12 sptrout

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Posted November 20 2009 - 04:24 AM

I assume then that you are using optical or coax to connect the audio from the DVD player to the AVR; correct?  If so, Direct must be turned-off.  Direct Mode will turn-off all digital processing including bass management. 

If you are using your AVR's 7.1 analog input becareful, because in these older models the analog inputs almost always bypass the bass mangement system of your AVR.

BTW - - Transformer II has tons of bass, near reference level material.  That DVD should rock the house!
Samsung HL-S6188 TV
Onkyo 805 AVR
Sony BDPS1000ES Blu-ray & Oppo 971 DVD Players
DTV HR22 DVR
Infinity Beta 50's Front Speakers, C360 Center Speaker, and Beta 20's Surrounds, Hsu VTF MK 2 Subwoofer w/Turbo, & APC J15 UPS & Power Conditioner

#9 of 12 John_Bilbrey

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Posted November 20 2009 - 05:35 AM

Yes, it's one or the other (can't remember which lol.  I'm pretty sure it is the optical).  I've downloaded the manual in hopes that it tells me how to turn this off.  That would explain the definite lack of bass, for sure.

EDIT: manual is of no use in this regard.  I'm thinking that maybe hitting the "surround" button will set it back to DD/DTS.  I'll give it a shot tonight when I get home.

#10 of 12 JohnRice

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Posted November 22 2009 - 04:31 AM

Yes John, typically you don't "turn off" the direct mode, but instead turn on a surround mode.

This brings up an annoying issue.  Recently someone was berating me for talking about a setting on a DVD player that wasn't mentioned in the manual, therefore this person believed it didn't exist.  Unfortunately, as you're discovering, there are many things which are either not fully explained these days in manuals, or not even mentioned at all.  In fact, as equipment gets more complicated I find the manuals actually explain very little.

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#11 of 12 John_Bilbrey

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Posted November 23 2009 - 12:17 AM

UPDATE: It turns out I wasn't crazy.  I had been in direct mode all along, but the new Samsung DVD player was causing the issue.  In the setup menu for the DVD player, there were a couple of audio settings that weren't meshing right - the digital output was set to PCM, not bitstream.  Changing the outputs to bitstream resolved the issue (on both DTS and DD disks).  Yay!  Thanks for the help guys.

#12 of 12 JohnRice

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Posted November 23 2009 - 11:55 AM

That would do it too.

The Hybrid System

The Music Part: Emotiva XSP-1, Thiel CS 3.6, Emotiva XPA-2, Marantz SA8004, Emotiva ERC-3, SVS PB-12 Plus 2

The Surround Part: Sherbourn PT-7030, Thiel SCS3, Emotiva XPA-5, Polk & Emotiva Surrounds.