Hi there. Something about the way I have my S4100 integrated in my AV setup is confusing me. I wonder if somebody could possibly help me figure it out? Before getting started I just wanted to point out HD audio codecs are not relevant in any of this. Just AAC 5.1/2.0, DTS 5.1, DD 5.1 /2.0 & LPCM.
I am currently running a slightly complicated AV setup (something I have changed to recently). I am using a SONY STR-DN1030 AV Receiver to power my center, rears and sub and I am using a 2.0 integrated amplifier (Pioneer) to power my fronts. Back when I was using the STR-DN1030 to power all my speakers exclusively (my last main setup) I had said setup working perfectly as obviously it is simple enough to work with 5.1 and a HDMI receiver.
The STR-DN1030 does not have a proper, powered Zone 2. It just has Zone 2 line outs that will only send anything that is connected to the DN1030 via analogue RCA connection. Specifically the SACD/CD analogue input. So HDMI, Optical, Coax inputs will not be output to Zone 2 (Pioneer) or from any other analog input other than SACD/CD as far as I am aware.
When 'Zone 2' is selected on the DN1030 any audio that is connected to that SACD/CD input via RCA can be sent to my Pioneer amplifier (audio specs permitting). When 'Zone 2' is in operation on the DN1030 I can still select any other input on the receiver that is connected via HDMI without interrupting/stopping that SACD/CD 'Zone 2' audio output. Eg, I can listen to my CD player while watching a Blu-Ray, something I was not able to do when using just the DN1030 (unless of course if I connected the BDP to another HDMI port on the TV but that defeats the point of having an AVR!).
Anyway, basically once the receiver is in uninterrupted 'Zone 2' playback mode I can still change to 'Blu-Ray', 'Game' etc (HDMI connection) and I can view said input on my HDTV and the 1030 will also output the HDMI audio from said source to its connected speakers.
Obviously I have more than one device that needs to be connected to that SACD/CD input at any one time, otherwise this setup is very counter-productive (changing connections etc).
So instead of using a splitter or constantly changing RCA connections (that and most devices don't even have RCA out these days) I am using my SONY MDS-JB920 MiniDisc deck as both an external DAC (using its very good record loop) & as a Digital Audio Hub/Switch (thanks to it having three digital inputs and one analogue input).
My PS4, XBOX 360, CD Player & WDTV Media Player all share OPT1 input on the MD deck (not all connected at once, I just connect the one that is in use)
My iMac exclusively connects to OPT2 input on the MD deck.
My SONY S4100 exclusively connects to the COAX input on my MD deck.
My SONY BM10 Bluetooth Receiver exclusively connects to the analogue input on my MD deck.
Analogue output on MD deck goes to that SACD/CD input on the DN1030 and the DN1030 analogue 'Zone 2' output goes to the Pioneer amplifier....still with me?
All the above input devices are also connected to my STR-DN1030 via HDMI (excluding iMac & bluetooth obviously) which is what enables me to get sub, rear and center support.
Why am I running such a complicated setup you may ask? Because my Pioneer combined with the MD deck as an external DAC outperforms my receiver with 2 channel music in every possible way and I always want my front speakers connected to the pioneer for this very reason. At the same time I also want to enjoy HDMI switching, a Subwoofer and surround sound for games and movies. There are also some other benefits specific to my needs I won't get into as they are not important to my question.
A receiver with a proper dedicated, functioning Zone 2 would be a better option I know but I don't feel like buying a new one just for that feature alone....anyway, I digress.
Basically the issue I have run into is this (trust me I am getting to the S4100 soon) -
The SONY MD Deck can only accept 2.0 LPCM audio (digital/analogue connection). It cannot decode anything else. It can receive 44.1/48 LPCM as far as I am aware.
So basically if I set any input device (PS4, 360, S4100, WDTV etc) to output its audio as LPCM the MD deck will send that to my pioneer no problem, that is the way I had always been using it. It sometimes meant Pro Logic and not true surround but music is more important to me than TV/Film so surround is a casual bonus.
This was not that big a deal but I have since found a better option. Unfortunately that option is also slightly flawed.
I will give two examples of what I am currently experiencing with it. It is something I don't fully understand/I can't quite get my head around:
S4100>MD Deck via digital coaxial & S4100>STR-DN1030 via HDMI. S4100 settings are AUTO (not PCM), Neo 6 setting is off and downmix is set to stereo. The DN1030 will receive any DTS audio signal (say MKV with DTS audio) as Bitstream and will output that signal fine (rear, center, sub). The MD deck will also receive/send the LPCM 2.0 signal to my pioneer (so both HDMI/Coax outputting at the same time, in sync and therefore exactly what I want, Bitstream digital audio on the Sony receiver and LPCM on the Pioneer amplifier for the fronts). ALL GOOD!
PS4>MD Deck via optical & PS4>STR-DN1030 via HDMI. PS4 audio settings are Bitstream & DTS. The DN1030 will both display and output that DTS signal as Bitstream and will output that signal fine (rear, center, sub). The MD deck will also receive/send the LPCM 2.0 signal to my pioneer (so both HDMI/Optical outputting at the same time, in sync and therefore exactly what I want, Bitstream digital audio on the Sony receiver and LPCM audio on the Pioneer amplifier for the fronts). ALL GOOD!
So from what I can tell both the SONY S4100 & The PS4 are capable of sending DTS, Bitstream via HDMI to my receiver...they are also both capable of sending that DTS stream to my MD deck via both coax and optical digital outputs in what can only be LPCM audio. So yeah, perfect...exactly what I want! The S4100 will also do this with AAC 5.1 audio streams & LPCM 2.0 streams...no problems here!.
HERE IS THE MAIN ISSUE.
The S4100 will not do the same thing with any Dolby Digital 5.1/2.0 audio stream. It WILL send the Bitstream signal to my STR-DN1030 via HDMI and the receiver will output that to the sub, center and rears but the MD Deck will not receive (coax) or send (RCA) to the Pioneer. Obviously if I change the global audio setting to LPCM in the S4100 settings it will and that is a temporary (albeit slightly annoying) solution. This is basically what has me scratching my head!
Why will the S4100 Bitstream AAC 5.1 & DTS 5.1 over HDMI at the same time as sending them as LPCM over digital coax but it won't do the same thing with any Dolby Digital audio stream?
I know that was extremely long (and probably over complicated/confusing) but I wanted to be as specific as possible.
Also: Could somebody also confirm that if a device that is set to Bitstream (LPCM, DD, DTS) its audio via HDMI how will it send the same audio over S/PDIF (Coax/optical) connections? Will it always send both at the same time? As my S4100 & PS4 are both doing bitstream over HDMI at the same time as LPCM via S/PDIF, without me specifying which (not that I can specify on either device anyway), is the process therefore always automatic?. If it is, what is up with the S4100 not sending Dolby over Coax as LPCM, when for example my PS4...Will?
EDIT: Reading that back and thinking more about it, could this be a DRM issue between the S4100 & MDS-JB920? Could it be copy protection for Dolby signals being passed from one Sony device to another? If so though I would expect the PS4 to be the same, plus the JB920 will accept LPCM when the setting is global on the S4100. I know the MD deck has some form of copy protection for certain digital signals but I can't remember specifics.
I am stumped.
Last edited by blackbyers; 10-02-2014 at 08:16 PM.