Laika - Thank you for your response. I do get sound from the TV for all files and even from the sound bar for some files.
Vudu, CinemaNow, or whatever other commercial services
Our equivalent here is NetFlix I think, on WDTV at least, but I haven't got that going as yet, it has a free 1 month trial so I wanted the kit in place and working before I kicked that off.
In terms of other DD devices I will be unpacking/testing my new FoxSat HDR that's replacing our Sky+ HD box this week so will see what it offers in terms of optical outputs and how well the bar behaves.
I assume it will have DD capabilities although I didn't research that aspect of it before choosing, as you may have guessed by now, audio doesn't factor that highly in my decision making, something I am now regretting.
You would have some flexibility on center level with a full 5.1 kit, but the squashing only hurts intelligibility when it's buried under a loud effect, which is not all that often. It can actually help as it also raises the quieter passages. The real culprit are tiny TV speakers. The bar will help there.
I will experiment with the DRC/Smart Sound. When I do get sound from the bar even my rubbish ears can tell it is better than the TV, regardless of what the source feed may be.
I got a strangely vague reply from Samsung ...
Thank you for contacting Samsung and I have pleasure in providing the following assistance.
Unfortunately I do not believe AC3 would be directly supported. This would normally be transcoded before being sent to the soundbar. This is done by the connected device , eg a Television.
If you require any further assistance, please contact Samsung again and we will be more than happy to help.
I've asked for further clarification as the words 'I believe' didn't fill me with a lot of confidence in that individual.
The issue I have with that statement is, from what I am reading on the net, AC3 "is" Dolby Digital. The sound bar's specs say it handles that one. It is clear it doesn't handle the rest of the Dolby stable (Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Pro Logic II, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, Dolby Pro Logic IIz, Dolby True HD)
Having said that, I am reading forums/blogs/webpages on the net so misinformation is entirely possible, probably not deliberate, just poor/casual use of terminology or just basic misinterpretation on my part.
If my device (the WDTV or TV or whatever) is supposed to be "transcoding" before sending to the bar then what is it transcoding to? If I knew that then perhaps I can use some software to do that to a file that won't play. I haven't asked that question of them, only just thought of it!
For example, I used a free app called MediaInfo to inspect of one my dodgy files and it reports ...
First Audio Stream
448 Kbps, 48.0 KHz, 16 bits, 6 channels, AC-3
Now, if what I have been reading about audio is right then ...
6 channels equals 5.1 (left, right, centre, surr-left, surr-right and subwoof)
AC-3 refers to the compression used to keep the audio part of the file smaller (in a similar way to MP3 I imagine)
So, assuming I didn't just type nonsense then its the compression element I want to shake off as my "allegedly" Dolby Digital bar is fussy about it I, er, believe.
Can I therefore get software to maintain the 5.1 bit and drop the AC3? If so, what am I aiming to output as?
I found reference to people wanting to convert audio but they are usually trying to get to AC3!
I was going to take this thread off to the world of WDTV and stop bothering you all but I am very confused by Samsung's email which seems to contradict what their own website says their bar can do.
I am definitely learning a lot, trouble is I suspect its a slippery slope to more expenditure once I grasp how much better sound from my AV kit "could" be!
Sigh, sorry for the rambling post, had quite a lot of wine whilst roaming the net for answers!