5.1 music via HD STB? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 03-14-2001, 06:28 PM - Thread Starter
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There's not really a better place to post this so I'll post it here. I was thinking the other day, why couldn't DirecTV (for instance) start broadcasting some 5.1 digital music? They already have a number of audio only channels, they already have the means to deliver a DD data stream, and obviously already have the means to do 2 channel mix down for those folks who use the analog outputs. So it shouldn't require any hardware change at all for them to start sending some 5.1 format music, right?

I'm sure that this is so far off their radar screen that they've probably never even thought about it. But couldn't it be done with the existing HD STBes, without any upgrades or changes? If so, perhaps we should bug them about considering it.

Also, is their digital audio stream support completely tied to DD, since its just passed through for external decoding anyway? Of course they might not be able to do the 2 channel mixdown in that case, but that would be fine. So could they theoretically deliver a DTS audio stream in this case, with the existng hardware?


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post #2 of 5 Old 03-14-2001, 10:24 PM
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I am pretty sure, though I could be proven wrong, that no DirecTV STB on the market can pas through DTS. There are a number of STBs, both HD and SD that support Dolby Digital. It could be possible for them to send down some 5.1 formatted music, but I think for a while at least that would be more of a novelty then anything else. If they are going to do more DD, I would just as soon see it on Showtime or Starz! West then on a music channel, and I think we will it there before we see a DD music channel.

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post #3 of 5 Old 03-15-2001, 12:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey, for all but a few of us HDTV is a novelty too. A lot of folks are interested in multi-channel music. Its not as important to me as HDTV, or 5.1 on the movies either, but we assume that that will be dealt with eventually. But this is a whole different question. Its another important future digital content format, and they have the ability to deliver it. I just wonder if they've ever even thought about the possibility.


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post #4 of 5 Old 03-15-2001, 02:10 AM
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DirecTV gets their music from Music Choice, so it would have to start there. Music Choice supplies commercial-free music channels to DirecTV, RBOCs, Cable, and (I believe) C-Band.

I own a few DTS Compact Discs (Steely Dan, Eagles, Moody Blues, Allman Brothers, Steve Miller, etc...), and they sound awesome! Unfortunately, I think the bitstream is a bit too much for DirecTV to handle.

CD audio is 16 bit sampled at 44.1 khz. DTS 5.1 audio, on the other hand, can be (at the extreme) 24 bit with sampling rates up to 192 khz!

Dolby Digital signals can be compressed, compromising the quality of the sound. The DD audio breakups that many are reporting on HBO-HD may be relevant to the compression of DD. It could be that HBO-HD recently increased the compression rate of their DD encoding to a more "MPEG-Friendly" bitrate, resulting in less (if any) audio breakups in the last couple of weeks.

Where was I going with this? http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

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post #5 of 5 Old 03-15-2001, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
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"Dolby Digital signals can be compressed, compromising the quality of the sound. "

Well, its *always* by definition compressed, as is DTS. They are both perceptual encoding algorithms, though DTS can be used with less than half as much compression (1.5mbs rate). But a good DD signal can sound pretty good as well. And they certainly have the means to deliver DD bit streams.
I don't think it would be a big issue to limit it to DVD level bit depths and sample rates, and leave 24/192 to DVD-Audio. But eventually people are going to start multi-channel audio, and DirecTV has the means to get into it early if they were to choose to do so (and it wouldn't cost them a whole lot since the data rate ain't that high.)


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