Most pre-2013 Sony Blu Ray players stream Netflix audio at only 2.0 PCM; no Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound
Executive summary: It took me hours to figure out that most Sony BDP (and Sony Blu Ray HTIB) built before 2012 can only stream Netflix audio at 2/0/0 (2.0 PCM) not Dolby Digital 5.1. The players can also apply a 'fake' 7.1 surround mode with DTS Neo:6. (List of affected player is at the bottom of this message.) Newer Sony BDPs stream DD 5.1 from Netflix.
Also, those same players can only stream 720p video with no subtitles or alternate audio, instead of 1080p.
Long time lurker, first time poster here. I'm a new "cord cutter", shifting from cable TV to streaming with Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime Instant, and Netflix Instant streaming.
I just spent many hours 'solving' a problem, fiddling with my Sony Blu-Ray Player and Denon AVR-1911, so I'm posting this information as a 'public service announcement' of sorts.
I haven't easily found other postings that use the exact language I use below, so hopefully people Googling for this problem will find this post. (By the way, I wound up reading the Denon manual more than five times over because that's the usual advice in their threads -- well, sometimes that's not the answer.)
I have a Sony Blu Ray player BDP-BX37 (Costco and Sam's Club version of the BDP-S370) plugged into my Denon AVR-1911 (the AVR-791 sister model) via HDMI.
Using the BD to stream Netflix on new, mainstream movies, listed as HD quality with 5.1 sound, like The Hunger Games or Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, gave me muddled surround sound. Sound from the rear surround speakers was so weak that it sounded at times like there was no rear audio with Netflix streaming.
After reading through many threads, I set my BDP audio options to the following:
Audio (HDMI) Auto
DSD Output Mode On
BD Audio MIX Setting Off
Dolby Digital (Coaxial / Optical) Dolby Digital
DTS (Coaxial / Optical) DTS
DTS Neo:6 Off
Audio DRC Auto
Going to the Denon AVR Menu - Information - Audio Input Signal revealed this information:
fs: 44.1 kHz
Basically, I could only get PCM 2.0 channels -- stereo -- with Netflix on the BDP, not the Dolby Digital 5.1 I expected.
I tried various settings on both the Blu Ray player and the Denon (resetting options and running Audyssey multiple times, etc.), but nothing worked to get 'proper' surround sound.
Using the DTS Neo:6 surround mode on the AVR-1911 did improve the surround sound somewhat. So did setting surround mode on the AVR to Multi Channel Stereo (MULTI CH STEREO / MCH STEREO) or Dolby Pro Logic II (PLII CINEMA / PLII C). But clearly both were not nearly as good as Dolby Digital 5.1 I was looking for. (The multi channel stereo did bring more dialog to the rear speakers from the center channel.)
Then I experimented with the BDP settings. Unlike the PS3 slim, this Sony Blu-ray player does not have an explicit option for LPCM bitstream, and there is only an "Auto / PCM" choice under "Audio (HDMI)". I tried both and then running through different surround modes and diagnostics on the Denon, to no avail.
I also tried changing the BDP's "DTS Neo:6" setting to Cinema (and also Music), instead of Off. With that change, the Denon's surround mode automatically switched over to "MATRIX" from "NEO:6 C". With the Sony set to DTS:Neo 6 on, the Denon lost the PLII C option, but gained an option for MULTI CH IN / MULTI IN, and the Denon's DIRECT mode now became a surround mode (because the Sony was piping in Neo:6 surround data).
The Sony's Neo:6 encoding sounded even worse to my ear than the Denon's Neo:6.
Going to the Denon AVR Menu - Information - Audio Input Signal now revealed this information:
fs: 44.1 kHz
I 'knew' that these films (and others I tested that were listed on the AVSForum Netflix DD 5.1 thread) should have been playing with Dolby Digital.
Eventually, I discovered that an extensive list of Sony Blu-ray players cannot play 5.1 surround sound with Netflix. Apparently, Netflix with DD 5.1 is limited to mostly 2012-and-later models in Sonyland. In addition, those players cannot stream alternate audio or subtitles, and can only stream 720p instead of 1080p (even though the AVR will report 1080p under HDMI information, the actual content will be a maximum of 720p under ideal network conditions).
Here's the list of older models for the benefit of those finding this post via Google:
List of Sony Blu-ray players that only output streaming Netflix at 2.0 PCM, no Dolby Digital 5.1, and maximum 720p video, no 1080p:
BDP-BX18, BDP-BX37, BDP-BX38, BDP-BX57, BDP-BX58, BDP-N460, BDP-S1700ES, BDP-S185, BDP-S270, BDP-S280, BDP-S370, BDP-S380, BDP-S470, BDP-S480, BDP-S570, BDP-S580, BDP-S770, BDP-S780, BDV-E280, BDV-E370, BDV-E385, BDV-E470, BDV-E570, BDV-E580, BDV-E770W, BDV-E780W, BDV-E870, BDV-E970W, BDV-F7, BDV-HZ970W, BDV-T28, BDV-T37, BDV-T57, BDV-T58, BDV-T79, DMX-NV1, SMP-N100, SMP-N200BDP-BX18, BDP-BX37, BDP-BX38, BDP-BX57, BDP-BX58, BDP-N460, BDP-S1700ES, BDP-S185, BDP-S270, BDP-S280, BDP-S370, BDP-S380, BDP-S470, BDP-S480, BDP-S570, BDP-S580, BDP-S770, BDP-S780, BDV-E280, BDV-E370, BDV-E385, BDV-E470, BDV-E570, BDV-E580, BDV-E770W, BDV-E780W, BDV-E870, BDV-E970W, BDV-F7, BDV-HZ970W, BDV-T28, BDV-T37, BDV-T57, BDV-T58, BDV-T79, DMX-NV1, SMP-N100, SMP-N200.
(Information taken from Netflix webpage "Netflix Features on Your Sony Blu-ray Player").
Edited by arrowhead5 - 1/2/14 at 11:48am