Recommended settings: The CBIII HD has certain Theta-specific "conventions" (aka idiosyncrasies :-)) that new users might want to know about; I will attempt to summarize and give some recommendations for basic setup here that is not in the manual. Anyone pls correct as needed.
1. Audio settings for Oppo 93 bluray player:
HDMI Audio: bitstream
Toslink and Coax/RCA: bitstream
A brief review of bitstream vs. LPCM: To convert the bluray disc's raw audio data to an analog audio signal requires a 2 step process. In step 1, bitstream, the raw data (like a zip file) is unpacked/unzipped to become LPCM signal. In step 2, this LPCM signal is converted to analog audio signal by a DA converter. When you select LPCM out in the Oppo, you are telling the Oppo to do the unzipping of step 1; conversely, when you select bitstream out in the Oppo, you are feeding the raw signal to Theta CB and tell it to do the unzipping. Although the audio quality is the same between bitstream and LPCM, specifically for our Theta, whether you feed it LPCM or bitstream does have consequences related to idiosyncratic convention that the CBIII HD follows.
Some old DAC like my 1990's Theta Basic causes loud white noise when given bitstream Dolby digital signal, if this is the case switch Toslink/Coax/RCA digital out to LPCM or you're going to fry your speakers accidentally.
2. Theta audio "conventions" The CBIII HD has certain specific rules that it follows as far as how to process specific types of signal that it is receiving. Read and understand the following to save yourself headache later; every CBIII's behavior will make sense then.
1. CBIII HD post-processes and turns *ALL* stereo and 2-channel signals into multi-channel!! This is true, whether it is LPCM or bitstream, and whether it comes from a CD music, SACD 2 channel music, a DVD movie (Dolby Digital 2 channel for example), or a bluray movie. That's why you have to following the specific setting in 3 below (the Matrix setting) if you don't want to hear this processing. There is a reason for this but I won't cause further confusion by trying to explain here.
2. Conversely, CBIII HD uses a different convention when fed 5.1 channel signal. Here, if Theta is given LPCM 5.1 signal, it doesn't post process, but... if it is given bitstream 5.1 signal, it *will* post process. This becomes relevant for those with 7.1 speaker system: If you want Theta to post process a 5.1 movie to 7.1 using Dolby PLIIx, you have to set your Oppo HDMI out to bitstream. If you set Oppo HDMI to LPCM out, this post processing to 7.1 will not occur.
So... with all that in mind, here are some suggestions:
3. How to set up for stereo vs. SACD vs. movies
1. Stereo/2 channel signal:
You need to set the Theta CBIII's default mode to Matrix, not Stereo, (and don't ask why, "idiosyncrasy") and then go through CBIII's speaker setup and turn off all speakers (surround, center, and subwoofer), and only leave for the main Left and main Right speaker active. This is the only way to listen to stereo music with Theta CBIII HD.
a. Multichannel: no further special setup needed.
One side note: With my Oppo 93, you do have to let the Oppo know whether you want to hear the multichannel or stereo version of each SACD - a pain in the neck if you are switching this constantly. For example, if you don't specify in Oppo that you want multi-channel out, the Oppo feeds Theta 2 channel SACD, and Theta then processes this 2 channel SACD to 5.1; as a result in this scenario, you hear 5.1 channel but it is NOT SACD original 5.1, it is Theta processing of SACD 2.0 (I hope I am making sense and not wrong here :-)).
b. 2 channel: Use CBIII "Matrix" setup in A above.
3. Movies with Dolby or DTS:
Nothing special to do. Those with 7.1 speaker systems just make sure Oppo's HDMI out is set to bitstream so you could use PLIIx 7.1 post processing.
4. For advanced users: Behavior of CBIII HD when in PLIIx 7.1 mode (stereo vs. mono rear).
(See details in this discussion CLICK here.)
Using Toy Story 2 Bluray, chapter 01:57 to 01:59 jet wash sound.
A. Dolby Digital 5.1 Ex, in French or Spanish language: CBIII generates Dolby PLIIx 7.1 extra rear speakers in MONO.
B. English DTS Master Audio 5.1 ES: CBIII HD generates Dolby PLIIx 7.1 extra rear speakers in STEREO. *Seems* like true 7.1.
Per sdurani: 2 chipsets in Theta: the new chipset only handles the new HD audio codecs, while the old decoding chip continues to handle the legacy codecs. Apparently it doesn't just apply to decoding, but processing as well. Looks like the legacy codecs (DD, DTS) are processed by the version of PLIIx that is in the old chip while the newer codecs (TrueHD, DTS-HD MA) are processed by the version of PLIIx in the new chipset.
Per Roger Dressler: The only 6.1 that PLIIx can make into 7.1 is a matrix encoded (EX, ES) mix. It cannot do anything with 6.1 discrete
5. How to convert Theta's balanced/XLR output to single ended/RCA
The CBIII HD's XLR output is a non-floating design, and pin 3 should not be connected to pin 1 (shorted to ground). In other words:
Pin 1 of XLR goes to RCA outer collar (ground)
Pin 2 of XLR goes to center tip of RCA
Pin 3 of XLR stays un-connected
I believe that most if not all XLR to RCA adapters on the market connect pin 3 to pin 1, which as Roger has mentioned is ok but not ideal as it causes the op amp driving pin 3 to heat up unnecessarily. So if you have one of these, you might want to consider disconnecting this link from 3 to 1.
6. Center Channel Spread (direct quote from Bigbrother 52, thanks BB)
This parameter adjusts the mix between the center speaker and the front left/right speakers. The higher the value, the more center channel level is reduced in the center speaker and added into the front left/right speakers. A value of 0-15 can be assigned to Center Spread. If the value assigned is 15, then all of the center channel information would be routed to the front left/right speakers. In this case, it would be the same as phantoming the center speaker. Center Spread is a post process activated in the POST PROCESS submenu. Go to Post Process, which is on Page 3 in the Setup Submenu (Press Setup Button -> Press Button 1 = INP -> Press A/D Button -> Press Button 4 = Post Process) and turn the Center Spread feature on by pressing button 5, then back out of all Menu's. The front panel will indicate that Center Spread is active but it will not indicate it's value here, you'll find a SPRED indication light just right of center next to Dolby Digital or DTS etc. and left of the volume indication. The range of Center Spread (0-15) is set in the 2ND PAGE of the BALANCE Sub-Menu. Press Balance Button -> Press A/D Button -> Press Button 5, adjust with volume Up & Down buttons to taste. This is the only place where you will be able to see what the value of the Center Spread setting is.
The results can be quite dramatic and amazing, game changing in fact! There can be a "REAL" night and day difference by using the Center Spread feature, if used correctly. It basically stretches the center speaker across the entire front soundstage making it seem larger without having the center channel blaring at your head and without losing effects from the left/right or center speakers. The smaller the size and lower the quality of your center channel speaker, the bigger the impact this feature will make to your front soundstage, but it will still have a tremendous impact even with three identical speakers.
Tip - If you like the effect of Center Spread on the left and right channels but find the center channel has now become lower then you'd like, you may find it advantageous to raise the Center Channel Volume Level of any particular input in which you've activated Center Spread. You may do this by increasing the inputs Center Level Volume adjust and raise the overall Center Channel Level, or just adjust the DD Center Channel Level adjust and or DTS Center Channel Level adjust just a bit.
To whet your appetite, here are a couple pictures of the gorgeous Theta with "super friends" LOL in my listening room:
Edited by cannga - 2/23/14 at 3:23am