Is a "digital" audio connection really better??

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by videobruce, Sep 19, 2006.

  1. videobruce

    videobruce Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2003
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have a older audio receiver that works fine (other than the lousy user interface) with only analog inputs. I haven't bothered to upgrade since it would be one more piece of equipment I would have to sell since I have no other use for it. Since I wouldn't get squat for it I have kepted it.

    Comming from a HD TV, HD DVR, CD player, DVD player using an analog path to the receiver and comparing that to getting a new receiver with digital inputs is there really a difference regarding:

    1. The basic 'audio' (sonic) quality: tonal range, dynamic range, imaging etc.
    2. Separation and surround sound effects (I'm not using a subwoofer or center channel speakers).

    I know how hyped "digital" everything is these days and I question if it is really better especially considering all the compression & processing of most sources?? [​IMG]
     
  2. Brent_S

    Brent_S Second Unit

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2000
    Messages:
    472
    Likes Received:
    0
    Are you wanting to compare digital to analog sound or are you talking about surround formats?

    All digital sourced sound has to be converted to analog before you can hear it, via digital-to-analog-converters (DACs). The question becomes whether the DAC in the souce component such as your DVD player sounds better to YOU than the DAC in a newer receiver.

    On the other hand, if you're still running Dolby Prologic via a two channel analog input on your receiver, then an upgrade to Dolby Digital or DTS decoding is night-and-day better, IMO.

    -Brent
     
  3. videobruce

    videobruce Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2003
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes I am.
     
  4. Seth=L

    Seth=L Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2006
    Messages:
    1,313
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would certainly say that even in a 4 channel setup with Dolby Digital or DTS would be a major step up from Prologic. I would also reccomend getting a center and a subwoofer.
     
  5. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2000
    Messages:
    3,170
    Likes Received:
    37
    Location:
    Central FL
    Real Name:
    Phil
    The way the DACs are on most rec'rs piggybacked off the DSP and lots of stuff in the signal path, I'd think for music if your rec'r (especially old but could be new as well) has an 'analog direct' type mode you'd get the best sound for imaging and music playback. I'd totally agree with the above post about DD or DTS being a big step up from what you have now. On movies, with just plain old Dolby Surround, you're getting mono sound from the rears and probably around 100-7,000HZ. Going to DD or DTS will get you discrete sound for movies from each of the rears of a much wider frequency.
     
  6. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 1999
    Messages:
    11,571
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    NorCal
    Real Name:
    John
    If ever there was a reason to upgrade it would be for true digital surround. No question what-so-ever.
     
  7. videobruce

    videobruce Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2003
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    0
    There is a bypass mode to turn off that Motorola processing chip which I never use. Only the 'Pro Logic' circuit is used. At the time I had a separate int. amp and tuner. The TV had a Dolby SS decoder built in and I used the TV's amp for the rear speakers which worked well. I didn't research Pro Logic, I assumed it was 2 channel rear, not mono rear. I was wrong. Had I known I wouldn't of gotten that receiver.

    Regarding the center channel, the reason I don't have or want one;
    1. I have no 'hole' between the L&R that needs filling in (sonically)
    2. One one thing to setup and go wrong
    3. No place to put it
    4. Unneeded expense
    5. This isn't in a dedicated media room
    6. If you have decent main speakers you shouldn't need it.

    As far as a subwoofer,
    1. I can hear where the 'boom' is comming from with a subwoofer. If it isn't placed between the L&R front speakers it is distracting. Sound is comming from somewhere else.
    2. See #2-6 above.

    I'm sure most will disagree with all of that, but that really isn't the reason for the orginal question.

    But, I will look into it having no real idea where to start.
     
  8. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Messages:
    6,531
    Likes Received:
    15
    Bruce, I really don't know what you'd like us to answer here. This is the second post in a couple days asking the same question and each time you have been told that DD/DTS are far superior to analog Pro-Logic. You originally posted that you are not interested in surround sound, now you are not interested in a sub or a center. If you looking for someone to assure you that analog is superior and that "digital" is all hype, you are not going to find many (any??) among Home Theater audio fans. Try a traditional audio forum instead. Of course, then you will have to shell out for a turntable and replace your CD's with vinyl. [​IMG]
     
  9. videobruce

    videobruce Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2003
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    0
    No, all I want to know is it that much a improvement.

    Thanks for the input.
     
  10. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2000
    Messages:
    3,170
    Likes Received:
    37
    Location:
    Central FL
    Real Name:
    Phil
    For movies the center channel is to anchor dialog to the screen. Dolby Pro Logic just matrixes the center that you have in plain old Dolby Surround. It was meant to help people sitting off axis. Dolby Digital has a discrete center channel. While it obviously is helpful to people off axis as well, it still anchors the sound to the display. If you sit right in the middle and prefer an imaged type sound, that is your preference and is OK. Part of the joy of discrete channels is the movement of things all around the room. Go put on something like "Dragonheart" for example. The scene where Dennis Quaid is on his horse talking to the dragon (voice of Sean Connery) who is flying all around him. Not only does it pan around but you can almost feel the breeze from the dragon's wings when he is overhead.

    On audio, if you never turn off the DSP chip, while it is OK to have personal preferences, you are likely not getting what most would call good audiophile sound. Separate outboard DACs tend to sound better for the factors I cited above. The DAC takes the digital ouput of your player and then converts it to an analog ouput w/o going thru add'l signal processing. Not to mention the fact that as a separate component in many cases it will have superior analog output stages than a device designed primarily for HT>
     
  11. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Messages:
    6,531
    Likes Received:
    15

    I gave input in the other thread. I just could not understand why this required another thread with the same basic question.
     
  12. Brent_S

    Brent_S Second Unit

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2000
    Messages:
    472
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  13. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2001
    Messages:
    3,218
    Likes Received:
    0

    If you have decent main speakers, you should also get a decent centre channel-- otherwise, the timbre changes will be distracting. I suppose that if you always sit in the sweet spot, it's not needed. If you share this home theatre with others, then a centre channel can be useful.

    As for the subwoofer-- movie and television soundtracks often have much more low frequency content than music. Again, it depends on how close to full range your speakers are, but in many cases, the subwoofer provides a tactile sensation-- feel the helicopter's downdraft, or the impact of the explosion. If the crossover is set low enough, it shouldn't be localizable.
     
  14. videobruce

    videobruce Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2003
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    0
    That is apparently obvious. I will take a trek to a couple of local audio stores and hear what you are talking about.
     
  15. johnADA

    johnADA Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2006
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    0
    All I can add is this.
    When I started this home theater addition I have, it was piece by piece.
    I had a stereo and 2 speakers that I used for rears while using the TV for fronts.
    Twin stereo, quad I'd call it.
    Then I bought a receiver that had DTS, DD and all the other stuff and bought 2 more speakers which at the time was all I could afford. Using digital connections so I could take full advantage of the processing, then setting fronts as large and no center all I can say is OH MY!! Hum, how do we afford matching rears, sub and center??? Now we have it all and to me the center usage would be determined by the actual distance separation of width. Set with no center to a center for my distances etc, makes no real added value to the system, but you CANNOT TAKE AWAY MY SUB!!! And sub location really does make a difference as to your ability to locate it. Took me awhile, but if I don't tell you where its at, you probably couldn't find it either. I could until I found this sweet spot, always locate it if I spun myself around with my eyes closed and stopped not knowing my direction and listening for it!!
     
  16. Seth=L

    Seth=L Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2006
    Messages:
    1,313
    Likes Received:
    0
    Playing tricks on your mind, do you have to be so mean to yourself?

    I will incert some of my opinion on subwoofers. Cheap, boomy subs, or as I like to call them, powered woofers, are easily localized. If you have larger speakers that can produce usefull output down to say 40 hertz, then you could have the subwoofer's crossover set to 40-45 hertz depending on rolloff, and if placed correctly you shouldn't ever notice where the sound is localized. Sub 20hz material won't likely be localized no matter the subwoofer's location.

    Bruce, what is your system comprised of? Perhaps we can come up with some helpfull sugestions, maybe even ones that don't cost much.
     
  17. videobruce

    videobruce Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2003
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    0
    Those are probably what I have heard years ago. All I know I could "locate" them by listening and it was distracting.

    My Living room is around 15 x 15 (I guess small by todays suburban standards). The TV and sectional are at opposite corners with a viewing distance of 11-12'. There is a fireplace to the right of the TV. To the right of that is the right floor speaker (on a stand). To the left of the TV is a floor lamp, then the left speaker (slightly off center). I NEVER detect any 'hole' in the middle with this!
    The rear speakers are mounted on small shelves (just for the speakers) one to the right of and the other just to the left and behind the 'wedge' of the three piece sectional. There are three 'bay' windows on that wall which is facing the street.

    I'm limited for all four speakers because of the room. There really isn't enough room for a sub behind the TV as I need access to behind the set and there is a cold air return there. I don't want a a speaker on a shelf atop the set since the set will be high enough. Remember, the TV, stand and equipment under the set is sitting on a diagonal. It's not against a wall with a wall unit around it as most have.

    I would be willing to bet 75% of the 'other halfs' out there would never allow this. I have lived here for 27 years and placement of most everything but the rear speakers was set from when I moved in as I figured it out even before the furniture was there. The only items that were moved were the left speaker from the far side of the opening to the front hall to just left of the TV and the equipment from across from the TV to under the TV courtesy of Microdisplays as I had CRT RPTVs' before.
     
  18. videobruce

    videobruce Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2003
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    0
    50" Microdisplay
    Pro Logic Receiver
    CD changer
    S-VHS deck
    HD DVR
    DVD player
    Satellite receiver

    Use:
    70% timeshifted programs off the HD DVR,
    10% off the internal tuners of the TV (cable and OTA)
    10% off the computer
    7% CD
    2% DVD
     
  19. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2001
    Messages:
    3,218
    Likes Received:
    0
    HD uses dolby digital as its audio codec. Usually, this comes in two varieties-- dolby digital 2.0 (stereo) and dolby digital 5.1. Some channels only offer dolby digital 2.0, and others don't know how to properly operate their dolby digital encoders.

    Your tuners/ dvr must have digital ports--either coaxial (spdif) or optical (toslink), and they must be set to output "bitstream", "dolby digital", or "AC3", or you will not be able to enjoy a full fully discrete 5.1 mix. PCM mixes it down to plain old stereo.
    Naturally, you'll want a receiver with enough digital inputs to satisfy all your devices. (I only mention this because some receivers only have one coaxial input, and multiple optical inputs.)

    But much of this will depend on what sort of HD programming you watch. Some genres do not really benefit from surround sound.
     
  20. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 1999
    Messages:
    2,568
    Likes Received:
    0
    Bruce

    In all probability you have room for the new SVS SB-12 Plus, and in that rosenut finish $749, it is beautiful. Or, if it is going to be out of site only $699 in black. This would be a great addition to your system. Only 14X14X15 inches deep. Just perfect for your situation.
     

Share This Page