Digital Sound Signals.

Ever wonder why your home theatre system doesn’t sound as good as the demos you heard at the retail stores?

Well there could be a couple of reasons.  If you are watching a movie so old that your parents are interested, the movie may not have any digital audio encodings on there.  Same reason goes for majority of illegally downloaded movies, or those DVDs that were incorrectly copied.  So this article will only help those watching a proper copy of a movie or show from a proper set top box, DVD player, or a gaming system. 

Let’s start by explaining what a digital signal is.  A proper surround sound signal should be Dolby Digital, DTS, THX or something along those lines.  These are encodings that are on almost any of the newer DVDs being released.  In simple terms, these signals provide individual instructions for each of your 5 (or typically up to 7) speakers which are connected to your receiver.  This results in louder, clearer, and more accurate sound.  You hear what the director intended for you to hear.

Pro Logic, Pro Logic II, Neo, or anything along those lines means the receiver is using its internal decoders to simulate what surround sound; not accurate, not as loud or crisp.  You would get this if you use incorrect cables.  You should be using either an optical or digital coax cable to make the connections between your components and your receiver.  When your receiver fails to get a proper signal, it will use it's internal decoders to calculate and simulate surround sound; not good. 

Once you know you have connected everything with proper digital cables, you need to enable the audio output.  The majority of buyers out there are not buying surround sound systems, so as a default the Digital output is normally disabled.  You have to go into each of your items’ settings and enable Dolby Digital or DTS output.  Usually proceeding into the setup and then into the audio sub categories will give you the option to turn on these settings.

Once you have both the above, which are connecting with appropriate cabling and enabling the digital output, you should get much better sound.  Test it by playing a good action movie like Transformers or Matrix and carefully listening for the surround speakers.  If you have decent speakers, and everything is setup properly, you should get much better sound quality than at the movie theatres!

Newer receivers have both HDMI inputs and outputs.  This makes your life significantly easier as all you need to do is hook-up each of your components to your receiver with a HDMI cable and another HDMI running between your receiver and your television!  No more optical of digital coax cables.  No complicated setups necessary.  Nice thing about HDMI is that it supports up to 7 channel signal inputs.

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