I tend to frequent a lot of threads that deal with issues of set-up and operation of universal and hi-rez combination players (Denon 2900 and 1600, Pioneer 45/47, Panny RP82, etc). As such, it appears that the same issues confront many new users, and that the same questions get asked and answered repeatedly. I had some time on my hands, and took a pass at cataloging a few of the most frequently asked questions into a FAQ. I don't mean for this to be the be all and end all of player set-up, but for a new user, I think it hits most of the areas that are likely to cause confusion. What I would like to do is put this out for membership input. Please reply in this thread if there are any corrections, additions, deletions, or any other comments on how this should look. Once a final version is available, perhaps we could persuade the moderators to consider putting this toward the top as a "sticky". BGL Universal and Hi-Rez (DVD-A and SACD) Player FAQ The purpose of this FAQ is to address many of the common questions that occur with regard to proper operation and connection of universal (SACD,DVD-A, DVD-V, CD) and hi-rez (DVD-V and SACD or DVD-A) players. With every new uni or hi-rez player, there is a new group of users that seem to be facing the same problems, and asking the same questions, over and over again. Hopefully, this will shorten the learning curve, and speed up the process of enjoying, to its full potential, hi-rez music. Q1. I am connected to my receiver or pre/pro via my coax or optical output, but I am not getting any sound from my DVD-A or SACD tracks. Why? A1. The standard coax or optical outputs and inputs do NOT support hi-rez audio. To get the full benefit of DVD-A or SACD, you MUST use an analog connection; either 2 channel or 5.1, depending on your speaker configuration. The digital connection can still be left in place to allow for DD, DTS, or PCM decoding in the receiver or pre/pro. For a variety of reasons, this may be superior to using the decoding in the player; you should try both. Note that there are some higher end components that do support a hi-rez digital connection between player and receiver or pre/pro. We will discuss those in question 9. Q2. I connected my player to my receiver or pre/pro via the 5.1 analog connections, but I am only getting sound out of the L/R channels. A2. Assuming that you have correctly selected the 5.1 inputs of your receiver or pre/pro, there are two other likely causes. First, most players require that you enable them for 5.1 playback; but many default to 2CH playback. You will need to go into the players menu to enable this. Second is the possibility that the disc in question is only 2 channel, or that you have selected the 2 channel mix of a disc that also has a MC mix. A visit to the player’s or discs’s menu will be in order. Most SACD discs require that you choose the mix in the player’s menu; you can not normally do it from the remote’s “audio” button, and SACD discs have no menu’s. The choices are Redbook (for hybrids), 2CH hi-rez, and MC hi-rez. Most DVD-A’s do allow you to make this choice either from the disc menu, or from the player’s remote “audio” button. Q3. What if I do not have 5.1 inputs on my receiver or pre/pro? A3. In this case, you can connect to your receiver via a 2CH stereo pair, AND via a digital connection. For both DVD-A and SACD, you will be able to play back 2CH software at full resolution via the analog connection. For MC playback of DVD-A software, you may find that the disc has a Dolby Digital or DTS MC track. This will play back properly through the digital connection to your receiver or pre/pro. While you will not be enjoying the full benefit of hi-rez playback, many DTS and DD tracks can sound quite good. Q4. I am connected properly, but I am not hearing much sound from the center channel. Why? A4. There are no real standards in terms of how a given disc is mixed. Some discs are actually in 4.0 (no center or sub channel), and some, while using a center, have it mixed very low compared to the other channels. The important point is that unless you have made a set-up or calibration error, the fact that the center channel appears low is likely due to the choices made when the mix was created; nothing is wrong. Q5. I can calibrate my main speakers for equal sound levels, but the subwoofer channel is very low. Why? A5. This can get very complicated, and delves into issues of bass management that are beyond the scope of this FAQ, but there is usually an easy answer. Many universal and hi-rez players seem to have very low gain on the subwoofer/.1 channel. The reasons for this are not 100% understood, and there are some users of newer equipment that are not seeing the problem, but if you do see the issue, the solution is to increase the sub/.1 channel level trim using either the player’s channel trims, the receiver or pre/pro channel trims, or the subwoofer amps gain control. Be assured that, even if you see this problem when calibrating with test tones and an SPL meter, there is no bass that is actually missing; its just very low. When the channel gain is adjusted to provide equal levels, you will have no problem shaking the room. As a side note, some receivers (Denon’s in particular) have a switchable sub channel boost (0, +5, +10 or +15 dB) on the 5.1 input that addresses this issue. Also, the author has seen this problem when using an older receiver, but after a recent receiver upgrade no longer has any issues with low sub/.1 channel levels. Users of Outlaw 950 pre/pros also report no problems getting channel levels balanced. The reasons for this are not understood, but it has been speculated that newer products may have a non-switchable boost already built in. Suffice to say, if you don’t have the problem, great, but if you do, you will need to dial in some gain in the sub/.1 channel to set things right. Q6. I am trying to play a DVD-A track, but my player’s DTS or Dolby Digital light is illuminated. Why? A6. The DTS and/or DD tracks are on the DVD-V layer of a DVD-A disc. You will need to go into the players set-up menu and tell it to choose the DVD-A layer when playing DVD-A/DVD-V discs. This will not affect normal playback of DVD-V discs. Q7. In my players set-up, I have to choose the speaker size. My choices are ‘large” or “small”. My speakers are average size. How do I set this? A7. This question relates to bass management, which determines how low bass is reproduced in your system. While there is no “one size fits all” answer to this question, if you have a common arrangement of 5 speakers and a subwoofer, you normally will get the best results be setting all speakers to small, and the sub to on. Even with largish tower speakers, you are normally better off to set them to small, and have all bass below a certain frequency (not normally adjustable in the player, but commonly around 80hz to 120hz) sent to the sub. Please note that while this question could probably justify its own FAQ, a setting to all small/sub on will be a reasonable choice for most users. If you do have speakers that can genuinely reproduce low bass (response down to below 30 hz or so) then feel free to experiment. Q8. My player has speaker size settings, but with DVD-A or SACD titles, I am not hearing any output from the sub. Why? A8. Not all players do bass management for all formats, and even when they do, some do it better than others. This is another topic that could justify its own FAQ. Cataloging how each player behaves is beyond the scope of this FAQ, however your best source of information on this topic are the player specific threads in the Audio/Video Sources section of the Home Theater Forum, as well as test reports in the major A/V publications. Should you find that your player does in fact have incomplete or inaccurate bass management, there are outboard solutions, such as the Outlaw ICBM that can address these problems. Some pre/pros (the Outlaw 950 and its clones) also have rudimentary bass management on their 5.1 channel inputs. In cases where bass management is done externally, set the players speakers to all large/sub on. Q9. Is there any hope of a purely digital connection for hi-rez audio? A9. Yes, in fact there are player/receiver combinations available today from Denon and Pioneer (pricey to be sure) as well as separate player/processor pairings from Meridian, among others. While these are not priced for the masses, they do represent a trend that will eventually work its way down to the more popularly priced equipment. In fact, Pioneer has announced a lower priced receiver that supports the iLINK open standard that is present on their 47ai universal player. The advantages, besides reducing the number of cables, are that things like time alignment and bass management, can be handed in the receiver or pre/pro, and hopefully, be done properly.