CDs Encoded in Dolby Matrixed Miultichannel - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 103 Old 03-06-2019, 09:59 AM - Thread Starter
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CDs Encoded in Dolby Matrixed Miultichannel

I've noticed that there are a few CDs that appear to be deliberately encoded in Dolby Stereo. Last night I played the two newest Residents pREServed volumes (Commercial Album and Eskimo) and I was toggling through the surround DSPs for the Stereo to 7.1 upscaler, and I stumbled across Dolby Surround x Movie. Suddenly the whole front of the soundstage popped into perfect multichannel with vocals in the center channel, separated out from the mains. The rears had the ambient bed of the music filling in the room behind without being obtrusive. Occasionally, elements would move backwards and at a couple of points there were things that were clearly in the rear, although not as strongly as with discrete surround. When the album went on to the extras, this effect stopped, I think because they hadn't been remixed like the main album. Usually, I find that the Dolby DSPs don't do much for music, but this was quite different.

Has anyone else found unadvertised multichannel CDs like this?
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post #2 of 103 Old 03-06-2019, 12:19 PM
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I wonder how well the audio CD's compare to the multi-channel DVD releases: -

The Residents, Commercial DVD

The Residents, Eskimo

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post #3 of 103 Old 03-06-2019, 01:43 PM - Thread Starter
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That is interesting! The commercial album DVD is in Dolby 4.0 already. They could have just included that as is on the CD. I bet they took the discrete 5.1 of Eskimo and just down mixed it to 4.0 Dolby Stereo. It wonder if anyone else has done that?
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post #4 of 103 Old 03-07-2019, 01:25 AM
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It's all a bit strange because technically, any audio CD that carries the 'Compact Disc Digital Audio' (CDDA) logo has to comply to the 'red book' audio CD standard, which primarily specifies the disc formats audio stream properties, which are: two-channel LPCM encoded using a 44.1 kHz sample rate with a 16-bit depth.

While it's possible to add many forms/lines of meta-data to a PCM stream, I'm not familiar with any officially adopted surround sound meta-data standard(s) or of any makes and models of AVR that can decode such meta-data.

Do your CD's have the CDDA logo?
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post #5 of 103 Old 03-07-2019, 08:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Dolby Stereo surround is a 2 channel format. The surround content is matrixed, which means it is encoded into the stereo signal by means of phase differences. Everything with mono phase is channelled to the center channel, and everything out of phase goes to the rears. That leaves the mains with just the content that is unique to the left or right channel. The sound file is still stereo, it just decodes to 4.0. It's the format that movies and TV shows were encoded in back before discrete surround became the standard.

AV receivers generally come with a bunch of DSPs (digital signal processors) which decode various formats, both matrixed and discrete. There are decoders for several Dolby surround formats as well as DTS ones, along with discrete multichannel formats like you would find on an SACD or blu-ray.

A lot of times you'll find DVDs and blu-rays of movies that say Stereo on the packaging, but when you run it through the decoder, you end up with 4.0 surround. They just use the theatrical mix that was set up for Dolby Stereo surround in theaters and it works the same at home. This is the first time I've noticed a Dolby Stereo track being repurposed for a CD.

It's kind of a pain to bounce through the various decoders to see which one works. I wish they would just list it on the cover, but I guess that would require paying a license fee. I think I'm going to put a pad of post it notes next to my system and label discs with the encoding formats if it isn't listed.

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post #6 of 103 Old 03-08-2019, 02:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sworth View Post

Has anyone else found unadvertised multichannel CDs like this?

http://www.surrounddiscography.com/dolby/dolby.htm
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post #7 of 103 Old 03-08-2019, 02:46 PM - Thread Starter
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That's very interesting! Thanks!
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post #8 of 103 Old 03-12-2019, 12:09 AM - Thread Starter
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I ordered the 5.1 DVD of Eskimo and it is quite different. The surround mix is immersive and has a lot of action in the rears, totally different than the matrixed CD. It's a fantastic surround mix. I'm very glad I splurged and got it. It's visually interesting as well, and it has easter eggs that make it totally worthwhile. One of the most adventurous albums and a very adventurous surround mix too.

Does anyone know the technical aspects of Dolby Stereo surround? I'm reading online about Dolby matrixed mixes that lose their rear channel information when they are remastered. How does that work? I understand that the center channel is mono material and the rears are out of phase, but how would out of phase material be put back into phase in the mastering process?
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post #9 of 103 Old 03-12-2019, 03:09 AM
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Thanks! Found 3 CDs I liked on Amazon and ordered them.

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post #10 of 103 Old 03-12-2019, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by sworth View Post
Dolby Stereo surround is a 2 channel format. The surround content is matrixed, which means it is encoded into the stereo signal by means of phase differences. Everything with mono phase is channelled to the center channel, and everything out of phase goes to the rears. That leaves the mains with just the content that is unique to the left or right channel. The sound file is still stereo, it just decodes to 4.0. It's the format that movies and TV shows were encoded in back before discrete surround became the standard.
I have noticed more than a few CD's that seem to perfectly grab the background singers and place them in the surround channels. I always figured studio's know how to mix a CD so this would happen. Dolby cannot be that good to tell the difference between the main singer and background.
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post #11 of 103 Old 03-12-2019, 08:49 AM
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I wonder if anyone ever got around to creating a 'Dolby Surround' software based decoder filter for these types of PCM files?!

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post #12 of 103 Old 03-12-2019, 09:44 AM - Thread Starter
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I have noticed more than a few CD's that seem to perfectly grab the background singers and place them in the surround channels. I always figured studio's know how to mix a CD so this would happen. Dolby cannot be that good to tell the difference between the main singer and background.
Dolby surround works on phase. All of the content that is common between both channels goes to the center, the mono stuff like vocals. All of the stuff that is unique to each channel goes to the left or right. And out of phase material goes to the rear. It's pretty simple and it's perfectly compatible with regular stereo. I don't know why they don't use it more. It's not as good as true 5.1 but it can separate stuff out nicely.
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post #13 of 103 Old 03-12-2019, 03:01 PM
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I’m a sucker for unusual stuff. Just picked up the Wishbone Ash CD.
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post #14 of 103 Old 03-13-2019, 02:17 AM
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I’m a sucker for unusual stuff. Just picked up the Wishbone Ash CD.
I bought that, too, along with Canned Heat and Rick Wakeman.

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post #15 of 103 Old 03-13-2019, 04:42 AM
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I have a dozen or so of these DolbySurround (matrix) encoded CD's, specifically, all the Isao Tomita discs, as my dad had those on RCA CD-4 Quad LPs back in the day. So the 4.0 DolbySurround (matrix) encoding on CD was a familiar mix for me.
The CD-4 format was more discrete (and with these recordings you know it, as Tomita did hard pans to each corner), making it a great Quad demo material that showed why CD-4 was more 'discrete' than QS/SQ formats (which were matrixed). The DolbySurround CD, being matrixed, not quite as much.

BTW- A matrixed surround format that I loved is Ambisonics, most of the old Nimbus catalog was based on Ambisonic-encoded recordings and if one had a Meridian processor (I had the 565 and later a 568), it would decode to 7.1. I do have to say that the modern Dolby Surround Upmixer in a current (>2013) receiver/processor handles Ambisonic encodings very well. Re-listening to 'Surround yourself with ... Rachmaninov' on my 5.4.4 system via the Marantz 8802A with DSU-Music enabled, it renders very well, maybe even better than my Meridian did (same room, roughly same speakers)

Here is the listing of all known published Ambisonic encoded recordings: http://www.surrounddiscography.com/uhjdisc/uhjhtm.htm

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post #16 of 103 Old 03-13-2019, 10:33 AM - Thread Starter
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I just ordered one of the Tomita matrixed CDs along with several of his discrete multichannel SACDs to compare.

Thanks for the link about Ambisonic recordings. I remember hearing about them when they were first released. Antique phonograph collectors were raving about the Caruso recordings that were playable in multichannel, but I never got a chance to hear them. I did some googling and found out that Nimbus put out a line of DVD-A releases of their Ambisonic recordings, in true 4.0. I just picked up a couple of them, including the Caruso. I'm very interested in this because I own antique phonographs and I've never heard Caruso on CD that compares with the sound of an original 78 played on an acoustic phonograph. Should be fun.

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post #17 of 103 Old 03-13-2019, 11:43 AM
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I have the soundtrack CD for Altered States, which has the Dolby Surround logo on the cover.



There are supposedly hundreds of CDs encoded in the Circle Surround matrix.

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post #18 of 103 Old 03-13-2019, 02:55 PM
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I bought that, too, along with Canned Heat and Rick Wakeman.
Those were the two others I was most interested in. I want to see how the mix is, if any, before buying something else.
Wakeman would be fantastic in true surround.
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post #19 of 103 Old 03-13-2019, 11:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Today I got a few discs... one of them was a Tomita album in Dolby Surround. It had the Dolby logo on the cover and everything. It wasn't surround at all. It was "surround-ish". I also got one of the Tomita Ultimate Edition SACDs and it was night and day. That one was true four corners quad, and an excellent mix too. Sound flew in circles around the room. With the Dolby encoded CD, there was discrete front channels, but not discrete rear. They could turn on a blend of front and back, or turn off the rears entirely, but they couldn't put a sound only in the rear. And the frequency band that worked with the separation was limited. The rears kept sliding forward and back. For some reason the DTS Music DSP had more rear channel separation that the Dolby settings, so I stuck with that.

I also got an "ultimate edition" Tomita album that is a CD without a Dolby logo. Bermuda Triangle. That one is flat as a pancake. It sounds good, but it is regular stereo. Ironically, I put on a great dance music normal CD set I just received called Circus Disco, and I left the AVR set to the DTS Music setting. The dance mixes on there had more rear channel info than the Tomita album in Dolby Surround. I don't think I'll be going out of my way for Dolby matrixed CDs any more. I like the Dolby Stereo setting for movies, but that places ambiences in the rear, and it doesn't matter if they aren't totally separated or not.

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Wakeman would be fantastic in true surround.
Get the Six Wives live concert blu-ray. It's pretty good. Not ping pong, but it has plenty of depth.

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post #20 of 103 Old 03-14-2019, 01:15 AM
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Originally Posted by sworth View Post
...
Does anyone know the technical aspects of Dolby Stereo surround?
Dolby Stereo Surround is what is decoded with a Dolby Pro Logic (DPL) decoder (not to be confused with DPL II or any later DSP options). In the encoding process, one starts with 4 channels: Right, Left, Center, and Surround. These are mixed together in a special way down to 2 channels (called "Lt" and "Rt" in the quote that follows):

The L and R inputs go straight to the Lt and Rt outputs without modification. The C input is divided equally to Lt and Rt with a 3 dB level reduction (to maintain constant acoustic power in the mix). The S input is also divided equally between Lt and Rt, but it first undergoes three additional processing steps:
• Frequency bandlimiting from 100 Hz to 7 kHz.
• Encoding with a modified form of Dolby B-type noise reduction.
• Plus and minus 90-degree phase shifts are applied to create a 180 degree phase
differential between the signal components feeding Lt and Rt.
https://web.archive.org/web/20120328...ic_Decoder.pdf

The DPL decoder reverses this process. That is, whatever is in phase in the right and left is sent to the center, and the surround is derived from taking whatever is out of phase, applying a delay, a filter for removing anything above 7kHz, and decoding the noise reduction (both surround speakers get the same signal; the original source was 4 channels). Everything else stays in the right or left channel. The decoding process isn't perfect, so one does not have the same channel separation one would have with discrete channels (not to mention the frequency response for the surround channel). But it is a very clever way of getting 4 channels when your playback device can only have 2 discrete channels, and it works reasonably well.

Now, for your other questions:

Quote:
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I'm reading online about Dolby matrixed mixes that lose their rear channel information when they are remastered. How does that work? I understand that the center channel is mono material and the rears are out of phase, but how would out of phase material be put back into phase in the mastering process?
If someone remastered a Dolby Stereo Surround encoded 2 channel recording without first decoding it, they would likely mess up the relationships of the encoded channels, making it impossible to properly decode it. In order to preserve the surround encoding, one would want to decode it, remaster the 4 channels separately, and then re-encode it. (Or, really, it would be better to go back to the original 4 channel recording, remaster it, and encode that remastered 4 channel version.)

Basically, if you muck about with the encoded material before you decode it, you will mess up the decoding process, as it relies on the signal being as it is, not changed via remastering.

Of course, you could still apply a DPL decoder to whatever you end up with, just like you can apply it to any 2 channel source. However, doing that makes it just a DSP mode, not a decoder. (One can only decode something that has been encoded. This, by the way, is why I referred to DPL II above as a "DSP option" rather than a decoder; since the material that is mixed in for the surround channel is the same for both surround speakers, any change in that is not decoding what is encoded, and is altering the signal. The same idea applies to having frequencies outside of the range of 100Hz to 7KHz, since there is no sound outside that range that is encoded into the surround channel, any such frequencies that are sent there must be either added frequencies [distortion] or come from the front channels [misdirected, since those frequencies are from the front channels], neither of which is decoding.) You will not get what was originally intended that way.
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post #21 of 103 Old 03-17-2019, 01:37 AM - Thread Starter
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I glanced through the Dolby Surround link above and found something called Electric Light Orchestra Part 2: Time After Time. I figured it was one of those Vegas soundalike bands. It was cheap, so I ordered it. I put it on today and started listening... It's a live album, and it's darn good. The vocalist isn't Jeff Lynne, but he has a good voice, and the background vocals and strings are fantastic. I was impressed that the violinist actually sounded like Mik Kominsky. As I listened to it, I realized that there's a lot more energy to these performances than a lot of Jeff Lynne's live stuff in the past decade or so. The set list consists of lesser heard ELO songs that I haven't ever heard live along with the big hits, and it closes with a song I never heard before. I got the feeling that Jeff Lynne should hire these guys for his concert tours, not the people he has touring with him now.

When it was over, I grabbed the liner notes and saw that there's no info on the band. I googled Electric Light Orchestra Part 2, and lo and behold I find out that ELO didn't break up... Jeff Lynne left the band. They continued without him. ELO Part 2 is led by Bev Bevan, the original drummer and includes a lot of the original band members, including Mik Kominsly. No wonder it sounded good.

The Dolby Surround has no real ping pong, it's all atmospheric, but it sounds better than stereo, and that is all you can get ELO in except for this album. If you see it cheap, scoop it up. Does anyone know anything about any of the other ELO Part 2 CDs? I'm curious what their original music sounds like now.
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post #22 of 103 Old 03-18-2019, 03:02 AM
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I played the Canned Heat, House of Blue Lights CD and it played as stereo. Oppo BDP-83 HDMI bitstream to my Marantz AVP. The liner for the CD said Dolby Surround. I have 2 other CDs coming, wel'll see.

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These Dolby Matrixed CDs seem interesting but nothing I'd be interested in. It seems like glorified Dolby Pro Logic which can be simulated with any CD on current processors with the many DSP modes available. I'd rather listen to discrete multichannel music than simulated surround. To each his own though .

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Quote:
Originally Posted by sworth View Post
I ordered the 5.1 DVD of Eskimo and it is quite different. The surround mix is immersive and has a lot of action in the rears, totally different than the matrixed CD. It's a fantastic surround mix. I'm very glad I splurged and got it. It's visually interesting as well, and it has easter eggs that make it totally worthwhile. One of the most adventurous albums and a very adventurous surround mix too.

Does anyone know the technical aspects of Dolby Stereo surround? I'm reading online about Dolby matrixed mixes that lose their rear channel information when they are remastered. How does that work? I understand that the center channel is mono material and the rears are out of phase, but how would out of phase material be put back into phase in the mastering process?
Ha! several years ago I posted how the Talking Heads DVD-A collection (and others) seemed to almost have a 7.1 discrete mix with the rear channels also being separated in Dolby PLII and Sanjay seemed to explain the above to why it worked so well.

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Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
I have the soundtrack CD for Altered States, which has the Dolby Surround logo on the cover.

There are supposedly hundreds of CDs encoded in the Circle Surround matrix.
I remember seeing that movie and it freaked the hell outta me.

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post #25 of 103 Old 03-18-2019, 10:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PooperScooper View Post
I played the Canned Heat, House of Blue Lights CD and it played as stereo. Oppo BDP-83 HDMI bitstream to my Marantz AVP. The liner for the CD said Dolby Surround. I have 2 other CDs coming, wel'll see.
It *is* stereo. It doesn't automatically decode. To get the separation, you need to select the Dolby Pro Logic DSP in your AVR. I find the Dolby Surround IIx Music works the best. It's interesting that the various Dolby and DTS DSPs all give different presentations. Try them all and see which one you like best.

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Ha! several years ago I posted how the Talking Heads DVD-A collection (and others) seemed to almost have a 7.1 discrete mix with the rear channels also being separated in Dolby PLII and Sanjay seemed to explain the above to why it worked so well.
Not sure what you're saying. The Talking Heads brick is discrete. There are lots of DVDs with discrete 5.1 mixes. The Dolby Surround matrixed mixes are just on older stuff.

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Not sure what you're saying. The Talking Heads brick is discrete. There are lots of DVDs with discrete 5.1 mixes. The Dolby Surround matrixed mixes are just on older stuff.
I am saying that the 5.1 seems to convert to 7.1 using a similar formula you mentioned. When listening to this material it sounds like there is an independent rear channel where certain things are sent to the back while something different from the separated channel is output to the side surrounds....The best song to convey that is the remastered "Burning Down the House," on Speaking in Tongues.
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post #27 of 103 Old 03-18-2019, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
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On my system, discrete 5.1 takes over and plays as 5.1. I don't have any options to up mix, even though my AVR does 7.1. That's probably a function of your AVR I would guess. Nice feature to have.
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post #28 of 103 Old 03-19-2019, 02:42 AM
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It *is* stereo. It doesn't automatically decode. To get the separation, you need to select the Dolby Pro Logic DSP in your AVR. I find the Dolby Surround IIx Music works the best. It's interesting that the various Dolby and DTS DSPs all give different presentations. Try them all and see which one you like best.
Ah, yes. Back in the day when I had a Pro Logic decoder it was always "on" and decoding when I was playing VHS movies.
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post #29 of 103 Old 03-19-2019, 07:57 AM
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Ah, yes. Back in the day when I had a Pro Logic decoder it was always "on" and decoding when I was playing VHS movies.
Most processors that do Dolby Digital (of any type) also have a Pro Logic mode that can be selected for 2 channel sources that are Dolby Surround encoded. But one must select it, as it is likely off by default. (Some [or maybe all] of the Onkyo units that have been made since Dolby Pro Logic II came out, lack the original DPL [Dolby Pro Logic] and they expect one to use DPL II for such sources, but many brands give one a choice.) You would want to look in the manual for whatever processor you have for how to select such things.

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post #30 of 103 Old 03-20-2019, 12:41 AM
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DPLII is vastly superior technically and subjectively to the old DPL or DS, and since 2000 I haven't owned any AVR that still used the old DPL, alongside with DPLII.
Honestly I miss DPLII, pretty much all my 2ch listening of music was channeled through that DSP for 18+years and overall I did prefer that to the new DSU.
A shout out to Jim Fosgate who shepherded the DPLII project for Dolby.

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