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post #1 of 20 Old 07-09-2014, 04:48 PM - Thread Starter
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5.1 Surround help - Onkyo s3500

Hi all,

I am having trouble hearing 5.1 source material across all 5 of my speakers correctly, from devices that I believe support 5.1 audio (e.g. Xbox 360 and DVD player). I want to hear all five speakers working when they should, or understand what won't work in 5.1 (e.g., maybe Netflix really won't transmit true 5.1)

For the record, I don't believe wiring is my issue. When using the 'All Channel' listening mode, all five speakers transmit sound so I don't believe I have any crimps in wiring. I'd much rather listen to true 5.1 sound, rather than All Channel, when I can actually take advantage of it (e.g. video games, newer movies).

Depending on the listening mode, I have varied results from speakers. The receiver has Listening Modes broken down into three sub-sections: Movie&TV / Music / Game. Some modes understandably only transmit through the front three speakers (stereo modes), while others technically make sound in all five speakers & sub, but at a major loss. But when I use modes such as TV Logic / Neo 6 / Dolby PL II, the audio is extremely washed out --- this applies to all Modes under 'Movies & TV'. Sounds as though only background noises / echoes are audible, while the main dialogue / explosions are muted. Some of the 'Game' modes sound well enough -- with main dialogue seeming to come from front three speakers & sub, while background noises are coming out of the two rear speakers. Game-RPG seems to have the best mix of front & rear sound.

When I check the source input directly from the source (Audio menu from Xbox 360 / Audio setting from DVD player or DVD menu / Audio setting from Netflix app), all are listed as 'Dolby Digital 5.1'. However, when I confirm what the receiver is receiving, by checking the 'Info' sub-menu from the Home button, the Input is listed as 2.0 channel at 48kHz. Under that same 'Info' listing, the Output is shown to be 5.1 channel (under Game-RPG for example).

Based on that contradicting information, I don't believe that I am using the full potential 5.1 capability of my system, if the receiver is only recognizing 2.0 channels despite transmitting over all five speakers. Makes me assume that the audio is being matrixed to 5 channels, and that there is room for improvement. Now, this could be totally incorrect, but I am not sure.

HTiB / Receiver information: S3500 package with HT-R391 receiver

Connection layout:

Xbox / DVD player - HDMI - Receiver - HDMI - TV

All speaker wires are plugged into the speaker 'A' connections, and speakers 'A' are on, while 'B' are off.

Other Receiver settings:
- Audio TV Out is set to 'off'
- LipSync is set to 'off'
- Both Xbox or DVD player are correctly assigned HDMI port from HDMI Input setting (and not taken by Component setting)
- 'Audio Selector' set to HDMI
- 'Fixed Mode' set to 'Off'

I may be forgetting some settings, but don't want to add too much noise (pardon the pun).

Any help is greatly appreciated! As I mentioned, I may be making a mountain out of a mole hill, as I do have sound playing from all speakers. But given that the input is only recognized as 2.0 channels, while the output is shown as 5.1 channels, I feel I can hear better.
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post #2 of 20 Old 07-09-2014, 05:00 PM
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FWIW, I have my receiver (Yamaha) set to play all audio it receives as "Straight" (Yamaha's term). By that I mean that however the audio is formatted, regardless of source, the receiver will maintain the original formatting and send that to the speakers, regardless of whether it is discrete 5.1, Dolby TrueHD (and other lossless formats), or stereo. Not all sources are in 5.1 so sometimes we just get stereo (if it's an older program), but most of the time it's 5.1 unless we're watching a blu-ray. I don't use any of the other enhanced audio formats (concert hall, what ever) because I want to hear the audio as it was originally layed down.
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post #3 of 20 Old 07-09-2014, 05:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, I have tried Direct (Onkyo's term), and it will only play in the front two or three speakers. I assume this is because the audio is only recognized as 2.0 channels

I mean, when I play Mario World on Wii -- stereo would be fantastic. But watching any modern action flick, I would much prefer to hear it from all angles.
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post #4 of 20 Old 07-09-2014, 07:20 PM
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Hmm, have you calibrated your speakers or done an audio check just to make sure that the output is the same for all? What about tv? A lot of network programs are in 5.1 now (for example I'm watching Jeopardy now and it's in discrete 5.1) so that would be a good test. Could you just have the audio output down too low for the side channels? Maybe it's the receiver (hope not). Have you called Onkyo?
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post #5 of 20 Old 07-10-2014, 02:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto Pylot View Post
Hmm, have you calibrated your speakers or done an audio check just to make sure that the output is the same for all? What about tv? A lot of network programs are in 5.1 now (for example I'm watching Jeopardy now and it's in discrete 5.1) so that would be a good test. Could you just have the audio output down too low for the side channels? Maybe it's the receiver (hope not). Have you called Onkyo?
No, I have not tried any sort of calibration. Have left default settings for now. I have used All Channel mode, and all speakers sound about the same - at least no significant differences.

I do hear audio on all speakers while watching network TV, but attribute this to the receiver converting the 2 to 5 channels. The receiver lists network TV as 2 channels, but output as 5.1. I haven't checked the YV program source to see if it lists as 5.1 or 2.0 -- will try that next.

The TV shouldn't be a factor, because I just have the HDMI from receiver to TV for picture - all sound comes from receiver.

It's not that the side channels are turned down too low, I don't think, because all speakers CAN play at normal volume (via All Channels). And that I don't think there is, or haven't found, a setting to fine tune individual preset listening modes from Onkyo.

My perceived problem is that the receiver says it is getting 2 channels and outputting in 5.1 channels. So I
can hear audio from all five speakers + sub, but am under impression that I can be hearing better defined audio if the receiver were recognizing the input as 5.1. I could be totally wrong about that though.
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post #6 of 20 Old 07-10-2014, 02:43 PM
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If the receiver indicates that it's getting 2-channel stereo, then that's what it's getting from the source. At least that's the indication. If you aren't doing any audio enhancement and just pushing thru what it's receiving that's a source issue. What about regular tv? Do you have cable/sat/OTA? If so, you could connect your tv source directly to the tv via the COAX/ANT input, scan (either cable or OTA) for stations, connect an optical cable from the tv to the receiver and check it out. Most network programming is 5.1, which is part of the HDTV broadcast standar so the internal ATSC tuner will decode the audio and pass that along. That would at least indicate that your receiver is working fine. If your only source is the Xbox (which I assume is your DVD player as well ) it could be a config setting in the Xbox that is not set right.
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post #7 of 20 Old 07-10-2014, 03:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ir1sh Bomber View Post
Hi all,

I am having trouble hearing 5.1 source material across all 5 of my speakers correctly, from devices that I believe support 5.1 audio (e.g. Xbox 360 and DVD player). I want to hear all five speakers working when they should, or understand what won't work in 5.1 (e.g., maybe Netflix really won't transmit true 5.1)
...
When I check the source input directly from the source (Audio menu from Xbox 360 / Audio setting from DVD player or DVD menu / Audio setting from Netflix app), all are listed as 'Dolby Digital 5.1'. However, when I confirm what the receiver is receiving, by checking the 'Info' sub-menu from the Home button, the Input is listed as 2.0 channel at 48kHz. Under that same 'Info' listing, the Output is shown to be 5.1 channel (under Game-RPG for example).
...
Any help is greatly appreciated! As I mentioned, I may be making a mountain out of a mole hill, as I do have sound playing from all speakers. But given that the input is only recognized as 2.0 channels, while the output is shown as 5.1 channels, I feel I can hear better.
Hi Irish Bomber, possible a HDMI handshake issue. A few suggestion to try
- if you have the receiver HDMI Control enabled try turning it off.
- in the Xbox menu try selecting stereo then switching back to Dolby Digital 5.1.
- in the Xbox menu try disabling Display Discovery
- power on the devices in a certain order ... tv, receiver and then Xbox or receiver, tv and then Xbox
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post #8 of 20 Old 07-10-2014, 07:09 PM - Thread Starter
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@ Otto Pylot

I actually do have cable with a DVR, but I'm not concerned about the sound of TV programs. Really more focused on the potential loss of sound definition from immersive sources of entertainment like modern games or movies (ones where you'd want to hear sound effects from all angles, and not dialogue based). I don't see how running the HDMI cable from the DVR to TV then back to the receiver will indicate if the receiver is working, but rather it would introduce another variable. And I should clarify, the two sources I have been testing are my stand alone Samsung DVD player and Xbox 360 (using both video game content, movies from Netflix apps, and various other movie apps). So it's not as though this issue is coming from just one source. I also confirm the source setting is outputting as 5.1 Dolby Digital (Xbox via the xbox menu, Netflix via the netflix audio setting, and DVD's via the DVD player menu and DVD disc title menu).

@ JChin

- Verified that the HDMI Control is/was turned off
- Did try toggling the settings from Xbox to try and reset the signal, but it didn't seem to have an effect (couldn't find a way to do the same for stand alone DVD player)
- Haven't tried Display Discovery from xbox --- will try that
- Haven't purposely changed the order of turning units on -- will try that

Thank you both for your input
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post #9 of 20 Old 07-10-2014, 09:28 PM
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Using the tv programs is a way to check if your receiver is properly decoding 5.1 for playback. All of your HDMI connections should be to the receiver, with a single HDMI cable going to the tv for video. An optical cable from the tv to the receiver would only be necessary if you are using the internal ATSC tuner of the tv to check that your receiver can receive and decode 5.1.

If you are using ARC/CEC disable that as suggested by JChin. Oh wait, I see you did that. What kind of HDMI cables are you using and how long are they? It's doubtful that it's the cable but it's something to check. I would turn everything off, disconnect your devices, and then re-connect them one by one, testing each one first to see if they work properly and then add another device.
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post #10 of 20 Old 07-11-2014, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
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What I meant about not seeing the point in running any source through the TV to get to the receiver, is that would determine if the receiver can decode the TV's signal specifically, not necessarily the original signal from the DVR / Xbox / DVD / etc. Besides which, I don't have an optical cable

I actually am using a different length & brand of cable for each device, so I doubt that is a contributing factor. Different cables - same results. Good point about checking the order / un-plugging devices. I know that if i turn on the source (Xbox for example) first, and then receiver, and then TV - I won't get any video -- TV has to be on first then receiver then Xbox (or turn all on before Xbox 'loads'). So the same thing may apply to audio.
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post #11 of 20 Old 07-11-2014, 02:24 PM
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It's not the tv's signal specifically, it's the audio stream that's encoded for discrete 5.1. If your receiver can decode that, then there's nothing wrong with your receiver, in theory, from decoding a 5.1 audio stream from any source. Rules out a problem with the receiver. You could try to reset your devices, check connections, and install one at at time to see if all is well. Check the settings on the receiver to make sure that the receiver isn't downmixing a 5.1 audio track to 2-track stereo for each connected input.
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post #12 of 20 Old 07-12-2014, 06:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Not sure how to check the down mixing...

And the TV test assumes the TV won't change the signal.
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post #13 of 20 Old 07-12-2014, 09:40 AM
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Not sure what you mean by that. If all you have is an optical cable going from your tv to the receiver, using the internal ATSC tuner as the source, then any tv station that is broadcasting in 5.1 should be readily discernible thru your speakers. All you have to do is select tv as the input. If your receiver is changing sources on you, then that's a receiver problem because, at least for the test, you only have one device connected to the receiver, which is the tv. The tv can't change the signal because most tv's don't have the audio circuitry to do that. Especially if you are using the ATSC tuner. Part of the ATSC specs is discrete 5.1 audio when that stream is detected. And that's passed along the optical cable to the receiver for decoding and playback. The tv doesn't do any decoding, at least most don't or can't.
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post #14 of 20 Old 07-12-2014, 01:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Just in my search for possible fixes, I've seen numerous reports that running a signal (assume HDMI) from source to TV to receiver via an HDMI port may not pass all of the audio (may change from 5.1 to 2.0). Maybe that's not true (anymore), but regardless it isn't something I can test as I don't have an optical audio cable.

Did a little playing around with the settings of both the receiver and each of three sources (Cable DVR box, standalone DVD player, and Xbox 360). Was able to transmit full 5.1 audio using the Cable DVR by simply toggling the generic audio setting from the DVR. The receiver Info confirmed the receiver recognized the input as 5.1, and was outputting as 5.1 -- was a noticeable sound improvement when that change was made. There were no audio settings changed from the receiver from my previous tests.

Using the standalone DVD player, my changing the DVD player's audio digital output from 'PCM' to 'Bitstream', it allowed the receiver to recognize a 5.1 input signal. And using the Xbox, the input signal was now recognized as 5.1 by receiver. Have no idea how that happened, as no changes were made -- simply tried the Xbox last. Despite having the receiver recognize a 5.1 input signal from both the DVD player & Xbox, and having the Receiver set to 5.1 Dolby Digital (matched the input signal), the ACTUAL output was same as before. Output sounds as though only the surround / background sound is transmitting and virtual no main dialogue (or at best, it sounds as though it is 'under water'). The background sound is rich on all five of my speakers, and definitely moves from side to side. Toggling through the Receiver's Listening Mode choices, all of the 5.1 options have the same result (including Direct -- now that the receiver recognizes the Direct option as 5.1) Switching to any stereo or mono based Mode, I can hear dialogue but only from the front speakers (unless it is All Channel Stereo). These results are all based from identical Receiver settings from the success with the Cable DVR.

Frankly, I'm stumped. Checking the physical connections, nothing seems amiss. And the Cable DVR does confirm that the Receiver can decode properly.
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post #15 of 20 Old 07-12-2014, 01:47 PM - Thread Starter
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It's as though dialogue / main audio will only transmit in 2.0 channel / stereo mode, and that any 5.1 surround sound mode replaces stereo or main dialogue completely
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post #16 of 20 Old 07-12-2014, 02:47 PM
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HDMI has all of the bandwidth necessary to carry all audio formats just fine. Stereo to Dolby TrueHD, etc. The cable can not change the signal. It's either a source issue or a destination issue.

You want to keep bitstream on and secondary audio off. PCM downconversion off and Downmix surround encoded, or whatever your DVD player has for equivalent settings.
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post #17 of 20 Old 07-12-2014, 03:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Yup, that sounds just like the DVD settings that I have now. Just the fact I'm seeing what seems like an identical problem with two different sources (DVD & Xbox) using two different cables & ports, when a third source (DVR) is working fine, is weird.

And I did try using the Xbox from the port as the DVR had been using, just to check that wasn't bad.
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post #18 of 20 Old 07-12-2014, 03:43 PM
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Does your Onkyo feel hotter than it should? Subjective I know but there were some issues I believe with the 3500 series overheating and causing all kinds of strange problems.
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post #19 of 20 Old 07-12-2014, 03:50 PM - Thread Starter
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No, nothing appreciable
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post #20 of 20 Old 07-12-2014, 05:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Called Onkyo, and they solved my issue in under five minutes. Impressed, to say the least.

They explained dialogue / main audio will be coming almost entirely from the center speaker, so if dialogue isn't audible, there is an issue with the center. Some listening modes divert 100% of the dialogue to the center, and other divert most to the center (with subtle voice effects coming from side speakers), which explained why I wouldn't hear any dialogue in some modes but it sounded "under water" in others. After checking the Level Cal of each speaker, noting a slight 'whirring' sound when each speaker is highlighted, the center selection made no noise. Re-checked the connection, and the insulation was pushed too far into the speaker side of the center. Corrected that, and it worked!

As for Cable/DVR working and not the DVD or Xbox, I'm not sure. I could plainly hear dialogue when watching cable, so I had completely dismissed the idea the there was a wiring issue. Dialogue may have been transmitted from the front two instead of the center? At any rate, it's fixed.

Thank you all for your input!
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