DIRECTV Digital Audio - What's available?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Bob Br, Dec 19, 2002.

  1. Bob Br

    Bob Br Agent

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    I am in the process of getting DIRECTV for the first time. In researching options, I noticed that some satellite receivers have digital audio ouput capability and some don't. Since I have a 6.1 setup in the same room, I wanted to tie it in with satellite receiver. My question is really how much programming is broadcast in Dolby Digital? Is it only PPV? How are the music channels, DD or not?

    Three times on the phone with the DIRECTV rep I questioned if the receivers I would be getting (she couldn't give me brand/model info) have digital audio output and was assured that they would...I still am not convinced. The deal was free so I figured the worst case was that I would have to buy a different receiver anyway.

    Any help you can offer this neophyte would be appreciated.
     
  2. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    There are (as you indicate) two issues: the receivers that will output DD 5.1 and the programming in DD 5.1.

    There are several receivers which output 5.1, including all of the HD receivers. There are a couple of SD STBs that output 5.1 (RCA and Sony both made one, but I can’t remember either model number)—their main drawback was that they cost ~$250 and as you could buy HD STBs ( Hughes E86 or RCA 100) for ~$500 the economics for many was not there. I’m not sure if the SD STBs which output 5.1 are still being made, but you could probably find one.

    Most of the HD receives have an optical 5.1 output, but some have 5.1 coaxial and optical outputs.

    There is a lot of programming with 5.1, including much of what is available on HBO (this includes some of their original programming such as The Sopranos.

    It’s hard to say about local programming (regardless of whether you opt for OTA or over the satellite), because it depends on what your local stations telecast. The networks have a lot of their programming (West Wing, CSI and so on) with 5.1 available, but your local station might not be able to telecast. Of course if you are going HD, then this is not an issue.

    I have been surprised in that many programs that don’t show up on the guide as being in 5.1, are in fact in 5.1—and the other way around (less often).

    I never use PPV, so I can’t comment. I listen to my own CDs, DVDs and LPs for music, so I’m not aware of those channels either.
     
  3. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    One more thing: the receivers that are a part of most promotions (get everything installed for $50) do not have DD output. Unless you are cutting a deal for HD.
     
  4. Bob Br

    Bob Br Agent

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    Lew,

    Thanks for the feedback. It definitely helps to add some clarity. Based on the reps feedback, I am planning on contacting DIRECTV customer service to relay my expectations prior to installation date, but don't really expect they'll do anything about it.

    Bob
     
  5. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    One more thing Bob—the SD receivers that output 5.1 can be picked up for under $150. Not nearly the cost of HD.

    Prices have dropped quite a bit just since this summer.
     
  6. Doug MacGregor

    Doug MacGregor Stunt Coordinator

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    This is for all you Canadian members out there.
    In Canada there are 2 DTH providers, Bell expressVU and StarChoice.
    I was surprised to learn that ExpressVu's basic receiver does NOT do 5.1 but the one from StarChoice does.
    In order for ExpressVu customers to feed DD 5.1 into their HT receivers they have to buy a PVR for about $500 Cdn.
    I don't understand why there is this huge gap between ExpressVu and StarChoice (I have even asked about it) and all they can say is "that is our offering".
    Obviously if you are considering getting DTH in Canada you would be much better off going with StarChoice and get a fully enabled 5.1 receiver for $59. Since both offer the same programming there is no downside.
    By the way, I have ExpressVu's basic receiver which I got 4 years ago (pre-HT) and they offered me a $100 discount on their PVR. Right! And I could switch to StarChoice for $59. Amazing how the big DTH companies think, isn't it?
    I'm not surprised though because the 3 techs I talked to over the phone were absolutely convinced that my basic receiver could do 5.1.
    I'll stop here because if I continue I'll start to rant.
     

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