Watching Mono DVDs.....

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Pat_TL, Nov 18, 2004.

  1. Pat_TL

    Pat_TL Stunt Coordinator

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    Unfortunately, and especially now with the recent purchase of the "Friday the 13th: From Crystal Lake to Manhattan" box set, I have a good deal of DVDs in my collection that feature just mono soundtracks --- 2.0 mono tracks, to be more precise. When I play one of these through my 5.1 system, the Pro Logic II circuits engage and feed everything just to the center channel. I have experimented with this, by switching the DVD player to PCM so I could use the different DSPs on my receiver, but none of them are satisfying at all....the only way mono DVDs even sound decent is just playing through the center channel, to be honest.

    Is this normal? Should 2.0 mono tracks be played just through the center? What do you guys run your mono discs in? Many have suggested that "2.0 MONO" means that my two main speakers should be getting the signal, and playing the mono tracks that way....but Pro Logic II sends everything to the center on 2.0 mono discs. Should mono just be played through the center and then call it a day?
     
  2. Elinor

    Elinor Supporting Actor

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    I have a setting on my preamp called "Matrix." It sends mono info. to L+R front, and a L-R difference signal to the rear for ambience. I like it quite a bit.
     
  3. Pat_TL

    Pat_TL Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow.....wish I had that setting....unfortunately, my Onkyo doesnt have any mode for a mono soundtrack...and my PLII circuits send the whole track into the center channel.
     
  4. JohnSmith

    JohnSmith Supporting Actor

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    Some mono titles do just have sound from the centre, some others are just duplicated dual-mono (left & right)

    Purists would output mono from the centre. Some processors can spread mono sound from all speakers. Mono Logic on my processor does a good with this. However I usually just playback from the centre or L/R, and sometimes use Mono Logic mode.

    You don't want the DSP to create a badly expanded soundfield (ie Pro-Logic ontop of non surround encoded PCM from CD)
     
  5. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Yes, mono is the way to go for these discs, IMO. It just sounds weird to do them in two-channel (i.e., L/R speakers).

    My Yamaha front end has a DSP-based mono movie mode that I like to use for these. In its stock configuration it was a bit “echoey,” so I tweaked the parameters to tone it down. Now it gives a fuller sound without distracting, and everything is still firmly anchored in the center channel.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  6. Nathan Stohler

    Nathan Stohler Second Unit

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    Hi Wayne,

    Out of curiosity, I tried to view your equipment list, but it looks like the link is broken. I just thought I'd let you know...

    --Nathan
     
  7. Pat_TL

    Pat_TL Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow, thanks for the replies, guys....

    See, the thing is, after experimenting A LOT with soundfields and DSPs when playing these 2.0 mono discs, it just seems like, on MY system, the mono audio sounds strange and actually worse than playing the signal right from the center channel, where it automatically gets sent through Pro Logic II. I have tried playing the 2.0 track in stereo, and that sounds strange and "unbalanced" to me...I have tried in All Channel Stereo, but this sounded awkward too with all the dialogue coming from every channel...is the best way just to leave mono DVDs play through the center?

    And whats the deal anyway with "2.0 mono"? Why have the same track repeated on two channels, when the PLII processing is just going to collapse it into center anyway? What is the benefit of playing the track through two stereo speakers (2.0) aside from allowing people with only stereo speakers to hear the track?
     
  8. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Thanks for the heads-up, Nathan – It should be fixed now.

    Pat,
    It has to be that way in order for the DPL processing to work. Pro-Logic looks for identical right and left signals, and that’s what gets sent to the center channel. Anything specific to one channel or the other gets routed to the appropriate channel. That’s why if you engage DPL for say, a music CD, the lead vocal gets sent to the center channel, while the piano or guitar stays on the left or right.

    But getting back to DVD’s if they did 1.0, it would only show up in the left or right front channel.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  9. Pat_TL

    Pat_TL Stunt Coordinator

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    "It has to be that way in order for the DPL processing to work. Pro-Logic looks for identical right and left signals, and that’s what gets sent to the center channel. Anything specific to one channel or the other gets routed to the appropriate channel. That’s why if you engage DPL for say, a music CD, the lead vocal gets sent to the center channel, while the piano or guitar stays on the left or right.

    But getting back to DVD’s if they did 1.0, it would only show up in the left or right front channel."

    Thanks Very Much Wayne,

    Much appreciated....I understand what you are saying about the way 2.0 mono works, that the two identical signals are identified and then fed to the center....but I always wondered WHY studios do this....if you're going to mix a mono track, why not just make it 1.0 already? What's the deal with "2.0" mono? It is misleading DVD packaging because when I look at something like that, I automatically think "2.0 --- oh, well, that must mean the DVD should play back through TWO speakers, not one..."

    But I am finding I just dont like the way 2.0 tracks sound from anywhere other than the center channel...playing them back in stereo has a weird "separation" that makes the film sound awkward...and All Channel Stereo mode, which makes score open up a bit from every speaker, sounds terrible with regard to the dialogue in a film...dialogue comes from EVERY channel in that mode, and ruins the whole balance of the 5.1 system IMO.

    Do you think its best to leave 2.0 mono tracks collapsed in the center channel?
     
  10. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Not true at all. If the 1.0 signal is properly encoded, it will be sent to the center channel. I have played many mono tracks encoded as 1.0 -- in fact, I commented on this specifically in my HTF review of the Criterion Videodrome -- and I prefer it, because my processor has an excellent "mono logic" setting.

    The reason for 2.0 mono encoding is because many people do prefer what Pat has said sounds wrong to him: the identical signal from the left and right front channels. If the speakers are properly positioned and the levels properly adjusted, there should be a sweet spot where the two speakers create a "phantom" center that, to many people, sounds better than having all of the sound directed to the center speaker. I suspect this has something to do with the fact that front mains are often the best quality speakers in a system.

    M.
     
  11. Pat_TL

    Pat_TL Stunt Coordinator

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    "Not true at all. If the 1.0 signal is properly encoded, it will be sent to the center channel. I have played many mono tracks encoded as 1.0 -- in fact, I commented on this specifically in HTF review of the Criterion Videodrome -- and I prefer it, because my processor has an excellent "mono logic" setting.

    The reason for 2.0 mono encoding is because many people do prefer what Pat has said sounds wrong to him: the identical signal from the left and right front channels. If the speakers are properly positioned and the levels properly adjusted, there should be a sweet spot where the two speakers create a "phantom" center that, to many people, sounds better than having all of the sound directed to the actual center channel. I suspect this has something to do with the fact that front mains are often the best quality speakers in a system."


    Thanks Michael,

    That's what I thought, that even a 1.0 mono track would show up in the center---the only way to get 1.0 or 2.0 tracks into the left and right mains would be to force them into STEREO mode on the receiver.

    And I have heard many times before the theory you speak of --- that if speakers are properly placed, there is a center phantom image that is created when playing back mono tracks in stereo...unfortunately, I am not getting this experience from my Polk Audio front mains, and Im finding mono just sounds better from the center channel...its just that its SOOOO boring to listen to...

    Is there a defacto standard to follow here; are these mono films DESIGNED to play back from the center position? Is it okay to simply let my Pro Logic II circuits collapse the 2.0 mono signal into the center?
     
  12. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    To the extent there's a standard, it goes back to how these films played in theaters: from a single sound source at the front of the auditorium. The reason that often sounds so unsatisfying in a home environment is that the large auditorium provides a sense of space, even with a single source, that the home environment can't replicate without using some DSP tricks.

    M.
     
  13. Pat_TL

    Pat_TL Stunt Coordinator

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    "To the extent there's a standard, it goes back to how these films played in theaters: from a single sound source at the front of the auditorium. The reason that often sounds so unsatisfying in a home environment is that the large auditorium provides a sense of space, even with a single source, that the home environment can't replicate without using some DSP tricks."

    I hear you...but let me ask you this....I am experiencing a rather unsatisfying result when running these mono DVDs through the stereo channels AND also if I run it through All Channel Stereo mode; for some reason, it just sounds awkward....would it be "okay" or "right" for me to run the 2.0 mono tracks just through the center channel? I feel like these are "2.0" tracks, so why arent I AT LEAST utilizing the two front main speakers, but the PLII system drops the track into the center anyway, so Im wondering if I should just leave the mix in the center....

    Also...you mentioned auditoriums and the fact that they play mono tracks from the front....was there EVER a time in cinema when theaters played the mono track from ALL speakers on the wall, kind of like what you would get from an All Channel Stereo mode? It sounds real awkward at home, but I was wondering if theaters ever used it.
     
  14. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I'm sure some theater somewhere tried it once, but it wasn't the standard.

    Remember: Movie theaters didn't start out with arrays of speakers around the room. That's a relatively recent development in the history of cinema.

    M.
     
  15. Pat_TL

    Pat_TL Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, okay, thank you.....was only asking because you had mentioned in an earlier post "the reason it's (mono) unsatisfying in a home environment...." with reference to playing the one track through the center...

    Are there any other members who play their mono discs another way?
     
  16. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Michael,
    I don’t have the manual for my DVD player handy, but as far as I know it only has indicators for 2.0 and 5.1.

    If that’s the case, then what comes across audibly as 1.0 is actually 5.1, and they just didn’t use any of the other channels – right?

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  17. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I don't know what level of detail gets reported by different DVD players, but I've always used DD processors that give substantial detail about the signal (channels, bitrate, DD dialnorm setting, etc.).

    M.
     
  18. Pat_TL

    Pat_TL Stunt Coordinator

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    Okay Fellas,

    So...what is the consensus here? If I DO NOT have the processing capabilities on my receiver to enjoy mono mixes in some kind of forced/simulated surround, how should I be playing the mono tracks --- through the center channel only?

    To Recap:

    -When playing a DVD with 2.0 mono sound, my receiver automatically kicks on PRO LOGIC II-MOVIE mode and sends the whole signal to the center speaker

    -I need to go into my DVD player's setup menu and switch the Dolby Digital setting to PCM (off of Bitstream) and then go into my receiver and play with the different DSP modes, like All Channel Stereo, in order to get the mono track to play through the different speakers in my system. However, this sounds awkward...even playing a 2.0 mono track through the two main stereo speakers sounds awkward in my system; there is an odd separation that just doesnt sound right

    -If I try and use a DSP mode on my Onkyo TX-SR600 while a mono DVD is playing, and my DVD player's setting remains on BITSTREAM, I get a message that scrolls across my receiver's screen that says "NOT AVAILABLE WITH THIS SIGNAL...." The only way I can play back mono DVDs is to let Pro Logic II send the signal to the center, or I can press STEREO on my receiver and listen to the soundtrack from the stereo mains, which doesnt sound that great to me; I CANNOT choose any DSP or surround mode while a mono disc plays back with my settings on BITSTREAM

    Based on this info, would you guys just suggest that I play the mono DVDs back through the center channel, where Pro Logic II sends it automatically? My receiver does not have ANY mono movie mode or anything that would actually improve the mono sound. Would anyone recommend playing the 2.0 track back though the stereo fronts even though I dont really care for the sound?
     
  19. Doug Otte

    Doug Otte Supporting Actor

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    Pat, does your receiver have a "Direct" setting? If so, this will prevent PL II from engaging. The sound will go to the channels as encoded on the DVD. Actually, I think I've always had mine set to "Auto," which also defeats PL II. I only use PL II for TV signals. I've got DD 1.0 and 2.0 discs. They all work fine this way.

    PS I think the reason some discs are 2.0 is because putting the mono signal out of the mains gives a bigger, fuller sound than just using the center.

    Doug
     
  20. Pat_TL

    Pat_TL Stunt Coordinator

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    "Pat, does your receiver have a "Direct" setting? If so, this will prevent PL II from engaging. The sound will go to the channels as encoded on the DVD. Actually, I think I've always had mine set to "Auto," which also defeats PL II. I only use PL II for TV signals. I've got DD 1.0 and 2.0 discs. They all work fine this way.

    PS I think the reason some discs are 2.0 is because putting the mono signal out of the mains gives a bigger, fuller sound than just using the center."


    Doug,

    Yes, under the Input Setup of my receiver, there IS a selection for DIRECT under one of the options....I think I have that set right now for either STEREO or SURROUND; Im not sure...but will setting this to DIRECT or AUTO, whatever I have, cause me problems when I need PRO LOGIC II MOVIE to decode Dolby Surround soundtracks? I have quite a bit of Dolby Surround-encoded discs that I need Pro Logic II to decode; will setting this to DIRECT affect these soundtracks?

    I know what you are saying about having the soundtrack come from the two main stereo speakers....that has often been the argument...it just seems like in my system, while it DOES open the soundstage a bit more, there is an odd separation that occurs when playing back mono soundtracks through these two speakers; I dont have huge floor standing towers as my mains, I only have Polk bookshelves on stands, and it seems as though perhaps mono sounds best coming from the center....when playing in stereo, or ALL CHANNEL STEREO, the effect is odd....dialogue is not centered and its very distracting.
     

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