I recently put together my first basic home theater (system details at end of post).
All of the components have Dolby-related settings which I can configure. Problem is, after reading a few introductory articles about Dolby, and all the owners manuals, and numerous posts on the AVS forums - I still don't understand Dolby well enough to configure some settings.
Considering I will be playing both audio CDs and DVD movies on the same DVD player - and considering I will be listening to 3 speakers (L/R/Center), how should I configure the following settings on my Sony DVP-SR500H CD/DVD player?
From the Sony Owner's Manual:
DOWNMIX: Switches the method for mixing down to 2 channels when you play a DVD which has rear sound elements (channels), or is recorded in Dolby Digital format. Normally select DOLBY SURROUND. This function affects the output from the ... DIGITAL OUT (COAXIAL)/HDMI OUT jack only when DOLBY DIGITAL is set to D-PCM.
- Options are: DOLBY SURROUND and NORMAL (but the instructions say normally I would not select NORMAL - does that make sense?)
... I interpret this to mean that if I select DOLBY SURROUND then the DVD player will be be decoding the Dolby, rather than the AVR? And if I set DOLBY DIGITAL (in setting #2) to something other than D-PCM, then it doesn't matter what I select here?
Is there any advantage or disadvantage to allowing the DVD player to decode Dolby movies vs the AVR?
DOLBY DIGITAL: Selects the type of Dolby Digital signal. Set to D-PCM when the player is connected to an audio component without a built-in Dolby Digital decoder.
- Options are: DOLBY DIGITAL and D-PCM
... Since my AVR does have a built-in Dolby Digital decoder, I assume the correct setting would be DOLBY DIGITAL for DVD movies - but will that setting have any effect on playback of my audio CDs? (No effect wanted, as I prefer audio CD playback in straight stereo, without the center channel.)
DTS: Selects the type of DTS audio signal. Set to ON when you play a DVD VIDEO with DTS sound tracks. Do not set to ON when you connect the player to an audio component without a DTS decoder.
- Options are: ON and OFF
... Before today I never heard of DTS - but apparently, it's a competing technology similar to Dolby? My AVR manual says it supports DTS, so I guess I want this ON ...?
Am I correct to assume if I enable the AVR to decode *both* Dolby and DTS - then the correct decoder will automatically be selected, depending on which one was used to encode the source?
Finally, considering my 3 speaker setup (L/R/Center), and some kind of Dolby decoding is enabled - when the DVD menu offers both 2 channel and 5.1 soundtracks, which should I select? I am less concerned about loosing spatial effects (rear channels) - and more concerned about not loosing any audio which would make dialog more difficult to understand (center channel?).
I'm not sure if 5-channel encoding provides unique information to the center channel (presumably emphasizing dialog?) - or if the center channel is always purely a mix of Left and Right audio. In other words, if I down-mix 5.1 to stereo (and the AVR then sends some L/R audio to Center) will any unique center-channel audio have been lost?
=== Equipment model and setup details ===
CD/DVD player (Sony DVP-SR500H) is connected to AVR by HDMI
AVR (Yamaha RX-V373) is connected to 3 speakers: Axiom M3 left and right, and VP100 center
TV (Panasonic VIERA TC-L3232C) is connected to AVR by HDMI with ARC (audio return channel)
Outdoor antenna for digital broadcast television connects to TV's Antenna input by coaxial cable.
Sorry for the long post and newbie perspective.