Automatic Stereo/Surround Switching?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by TimTandy, Jan 2, 2004.

  1. TimTandy

    TimTandy Auditioning

    Jan 22, 2003
    Likes Received:
    I have a digital set-top box from Comcast where the digital audio out is going to my receiver and the component video goes to my HDTV. I am finding that on the majority of TV programming, the audio appears to be a stereo signal. While my receiver is switched to Dolby 5.1 Surround, the vast majority of the audio comes out the center speaker. There is some stereo separation, but you have to turn the volume on the center speaker down and on the left and right way up to actually compensate so you get a better balance of sound between the center and left/right speakers. To date, I've just put up with it as I hate to adjust my surround volume settings so it is all out of whack just to overcome this.

    However, lately, because I'm FINALLY getting more HD channels including the major networks (took almost a year longer than they said!) I'm finding that when I switch the channel to an HD channel the volume goes way down. So I turn the volume up, but then when I switch back to a regular channel I get blasted and have to turn the volume down.

    In addition, if I watch a movie in HD (like HBO HD) the surround signal is properly balanced and you can see the receiver detect but on the broadcasts that are not surround, it treats it as 3-channel and I'm back to hearing 90% of the audio coming out the center speaker, effectively giving me more of a mono broadcast than stereo since you can barely hear the stereo channels in the left and right speaker.

    The age old problem is that while I know how to mess with everything (even though it is a nuisance), all the other TV users in the household (and guests) can't handle it being that complex. They should just be able to switch the channel and get proper volume and separation no matter what they are watching.

    So I'm trying to devise a solution. The good thing is that my receiver says the volume and surround settings for each discrete input source. Since the set-top box has both a digital audio and an analog audio out, my inclination is to plug the analog audio out into another audio input on my receiver. So if I want to watch and HD channel, I'll switch to the input source with the correct audio setup, if it is not an HD channel, I'll switch it to the analog audio source.

    While this is a step in the right direction, it still falls short of being a clean solution. One problem is that I was under the impression that some networks broadcast some programs in surround, and you don't need a digital signal to decode it. So I am still left switching the receiver between stereo and surround based on what I guess the program's audio format is.

    My receiver is a JVC 888 (about 6 years old). I'm probably due for a new receiver anyway that has component video switching capabilities instead of having to program a macro on my remote to switch the receiver and the TV sources together.

    Are there any receivers that have a function that will auotmatically detect the audio source format and switch the receiver automatically? Meaning, if you switch channels and stop on a TV show that is broadcast in stereo, not surround, the receiver automatically switches from surround to stereo and vice versa.
  2. Darryl

    Darryl Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 17, 2002
    Likes Received:
    There are receivers that will switch between analog and digital automatically, but based on whether anything is coming through the digital cable, not based on the format of the analog signal.

Share This Page