Originally Posted by Bob Pariseau
Welcome to the wonderful world of equipment reviewing and reporting!
If the player does speaker configuration related adjustments to the multi-channel PCM prior to sending it to the receiver, it is easy to set things so that none of that will get in your way, and so that you can ACTUALLY manage your speaker configuration in the receiver as you want. Note, some players with multi-channel analog audio outputs may only do such stuff on their analog outputs, in which case none of these settings will alter the digital output. But it doesn't hurt to set them anyway.
* Tell the player that you have a full set of speakers, including a subwoofer, whether or not that is true.
* Tell the player that all of your speakers, other than the subwoofer, are "large" full frequency range speakers, whether or not that is true.
* Tell the player that all of your surround speakers are "direct" rather than "dipole", whether or not that is true.
* Tell the player that all of your speakers are at the same distance from the listening position -- typically there will be a default distance, but it really doesn't matter what distance you use so long as they are all the same -- again whether or not that is true.
* Tell the player that all of your speakers play at the same volume. I.e., if there is a relative volume level setting for the different speakers, set all speakers the same. Typically the default setting of 0db (neither louder nor softer than "normal") is best here.
* Turn off any audio enhancement features in the player that appear related to speaker configuration, or corrections for the listening room's impact on the sound you hear. I.e., set the player to do as little as possible of this stuff. Odds are there will be no such options in your player, but turn them off if there are.
* If despite setting your main speakers to "large" the player wants you to set a "cross-over" frequency for controlling the subwoofer, set it to as large a value as possible, or even better, disable it if you have that option.
NOTE: If instead of having a setting for whether your main speakers are "large" or "small" your player just has a cross-over setting that can't be disabled, set it to 80Hz. That's not ideal, but it is the best you can do.
With these settings, even if the player tries to do speaker configuration related stuff, there is nothing for it to do. No modifications to the PCM are necessary. So the PCM should come through unaltered to your receiver. Be sure your TRUE speaker configuration information is set up in the receiver.
NOTE: The question people are trying to get an answer to here is whether or not this specific receiver actually IMPLEMENTS such "processing" of the incoming PCM -- including both the general area of speaker configuration processing (i.e., time alignment, level balancing, bass management, content steering), and more specialized surround sound "enhancement" processing to alter the default surround sound coming in on the multi-channel PCM in various ways according to user preference (i.e., THX post processing). If the receiver can't do even speaker configuration management on the incoming, multi-channel, high res PCM, then it is not really an appropriate receiver for this use.
The only way to tell whether the receiver can do this stuff is to set the player to send multi-channel, high res PCM to the receiver and then to modify the receiver's configuration setting in some significant way to see if it now sounds differently. For example, temporarily tell the receiver you have no Center speaker and see if the movie dialog -- which is normally most prominent only in the Center channel -- gets steered by the receiver (i.e., mixed into) the content directed to the Left Front and Right Front speakers. If things are working right your center speaker should go silent but dialog should still sound almost the same as before. If dialog is muffled or goes away then your receiver is not steering the center channel content and thus is likely not processing any of the incoming PCM.
Receivers regularly process 2 channel, normal resolution PCM when playing, say, CDs via an optical, coax, or HDMI digital audio connection. Processing PCM has been around forever. Your receiver undoubtedly does such 2 channel, normal resolution, PCM processing correctly. The question is whether this receiver also has the bandwidth and processing power to do it on the multi-channel high res PCM coming in from an HD-DVD or Blue Ray player, and whether it actually implements that.