Should I be selecting 2.0 sound on my DVD's since I don't have additional speakers?

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Kevin Lamb, Sep 28, 2005.

  1. Kevin Lamb

    Kevin Lamb Second Unit

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    Hey,

    I've had a 42 inch Hitachi Ultravision LCD with no additional speakers for a little over a year and just thought I might as well ask about the sound set up.

    Whenever I watch DVD's I tend to just leave the sound in the default 5.1 or whatever the DVD has set up and watch it that way. The sound always sounds great, with the audio moving from the left to the right and so on.

    But am I missing something by not selecting 2.0 in the audio menu? Would it somehow sound better on my TV? I've tried it both ways on a couple of movies but haven't been able to really notice the difference. I notice *something* a tad different, but can't figure out if its better or worse. :) Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    When I got my first DVD player back in 1997 I tended to prefer the 5.1 soundtracks through my TV speakers. Dynamic range seemed greater as well as the vocal separation. I'm sure there's a technical reason, but ultimately just pick whichever one sounds better to you.
     
  3. Dave>h

    Dave>h Second Unit

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    HI,

    I think the sound would largely depend on what your TV is doing with the signal.

    If I am correct, you are simply running the audio from the dvd player directly into your tv probably via RCA cables - unless your TV some sort of digital audio connections (coaX perhaps?).

    Anyway, if that is the case, your DVD knows it can only output 2 channel analog audio, which means it is outputting either a stereo signal or it may output pro logic audio which is also an analog signal. Once the signal gets to the TV, it really depends on what the TV does it with it.

    If there is an internal decoder in the TV, it could be receiving a PL signal and using that to produce "enhanced" 2 speaker sound which is maybe why you are hearing a difference between outputting 2.0 and 5.1 (If you aren't connected to your TV via a digital connection for the audio, I think the DVD will default to prologic analog signals although you may think it is outputting a 5.1 signal).

    Hope that helps a little.

    Dave
     
  4. Kevin Lamb

    Kevin Lamb Second Unit

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    Thanks for the replies, that does help. [​IMG]
     
  5. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    Actually, there is a big difference on the DVD player side!

    All DVD players are required to output analog 2-channel, but DVDs are not required to have 2-channel soundtracks on them in addition to the 5.1 sountrack. So ALL DVD players will downmix the 5.1 mix to stereo for output. However, some DVDs also have 2-channel soundtracks on them, that you can select to listen to. In my experience, very few DVDs have 2-channel english soundtracks on them in addition, or the additional stereo tracks are dubbed or something. However the very few that do have separate 2-channel tracks on them in my experience tend to be very compressed in dynamic range and lacking a lot of the bass of the 5.1 mix. The point is that the 5.1 track and the 2-channel tracks are very likely very different mixes. The most often places you'll tend to find 2.0 and 5.1 on the same disc is concert DVDs, and as you switch between tracks you'll usually notice they are *very* different indeed, the 5.1 mix usually being a lot better. The 2.0 mixes are usually follow more of a broadcasting mixing goal of very compressed dynamic range, etc etc.

    Then enter in the question of what happens to the 5.1 mix when it gets downmixed to stereo? Usually the 5.1 mix is going to be geared towards proper 5.1 playback, and maybe just checked as an afterthought downmixed to stereo to make sure that nothing seriously wrong is going to happen. A Stereo mix, however, willbe mixed and monitored in stereo and will be much more accurate to what is intended when it was mixed. But my experience says that the stereo tracks included on many DVDs aren't intended for ideal playback situations, so what is intended there isn't really high-quality. And while the 5.1 mix isn't intended to be played back in stereo, it will tend to yield higher-quality results compared to the stereo tracks.

    Of course these are all generalized experiences, and I'll bet there are a few really well-done stereo tracks out there that would be preferred to downmixed 5.1. How common is this? I don't really know. I have a 5.1 system, so I don't really listen to a stereo track pretty much ever through a whole movie, usually I just take a quick gander to see what it is, if it's director commentary or whatnot. Anyway, your best bet is to just switch back and forth and see which is the better mix when played back in stereo on your system. Enjoy!
     
  6. Kevin Lamb

    Kevin Lamb Second Unit

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    Thanks Chris, very informative!
     

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