Originally Posted by mbyoung
So it appears in the standard options I have to choose the wide surround (either movie or music) to take advantage of the 7.1 using the front wide channels. If I choose the prologic II option it only allows 5.1 (as I don't have surround back's).
I think you're right -- those options are there only if you have wides connected to the receiver, and you have to specifically enable them. The wide (and height) content is provided by the ProLogic IIx (or IIz) software but independantly of traditional ProLogic. (Traditional ProLogic is 4-channel audio hidden into stereo channels). Hence the confusion -- you can be decoding a ProLogic source without having any content sent to the wides.
Will using the Wide Surround and the fronts cause me to sacrifice sound quality compared to PLIIx and Surround Backs?
If It will sacrifice quality should I rewire my front wides to be the surrounds and the ceiling speakers to act as surround backs (they are above and behind the couch)...this should allow me to use the PLIIx and get 7.1 channels working wouldn't it?
Sorry about the questions...I'm new to all of this!
No problem -- the surround sound formats are in fact quite convoluted / complicated due to history, technical developments and limitations, etc.
So in the days where everything was analog, ProLogic was used to encode a center and back channel into the standard left/right channels, albeit with some cross-talk. There are still stereo sources out there (e.g. some TV shows) with encoded ProLogic content. With ProLogic, the receiver sends the same content to the surrounds to create a "back" channel.
Now most TV shows are id DolbyDigital, which has 6 discrete channels (front left, center and right, and left + right surrounds, and the LFE channel). DTS 5.1 is also popular. On blu-rays you can hear two newer formats, DTS-MA (for MasterAudio) and Dolby TrueHD, which are losslessly compressed (i.e. as FLAC, whereas DolbyDigital is compressed much like MP3s) multi-channel formats. A few movies have 7.1 channels, which split the surrounds into surround sides and surround backs. On top of that you have processors that can generate wides and heights from those 6 or 8 channels, but which are not tracks that are specifically recorded.
That does not mean they are of lower quality. Wides and heights can definetely add a new dimension to a soundtrack. Wides create an extended front stage, giving the impression of space. Heights are often used to create front-wall-blast effects.
There is one sacrifice to make though with the Pioneer 1020. It has only 7 amplifiers, even though you can hook up 9 speakers (+ subwoofer). So if you have *both* surround backs *and* wides or heights, you'll have to chose which one are used -- if you enable the wides, the surround backs will be disabled.
Choosing wether to use a third pair of speakers either as wides, heigths or surround backs is a matter of taste (and also of practicalities -- not everyone can put speakers behind their listening position or have a second pair on the front). If it's easy for you to move your speakers around, you can try it and decide for yourself. But ultimately, remember that when you're adding speakers on top of a 5.1 configuration, you'll begin to hit diminishing returns in terms of "wow factor". Many people find that wides or heights are actually used much more often than surround backs. On the other hand, newer 7.1 content have dedicated surround back tracks. Same thing with video games: they often generate 7.1 content with surround back channels.
If you're anxious about missing channels or content, there are much more expensive receivers out there that can allow playing wides, heights and surround backs simultaneously