Audio quality over OTA much better than cable? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 19 Old 09-29-2017, 08:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Audio quality over OTA much better than cable?

I just connected a cheapo $20 HDTV antenna to my TV to use as backup in case cable goes down during a storm. I set up an OTA activity on my Harmony so I can easily toggle between cable and antenna. Even with the cheap HDTV antenna, the video quality is better than cable (Comcast). What REALLY surprised me, though, is that the AUDIO quality is much, much better on antenna.

I didn't think audio was compressed by cable because audio doesn't use much data to start with, but OTA sounds much better. Unfortunately, I can only test audio on TV speakers because my surround system is on a projector that doesn't have a tuner.

I have a few questions:
- Is it normal for OTA AUDO to be that much better than cable?
- Is this also the case (OTA sounding better) in a dolby digital surround system?
- Is there an reasonably priced OTA tuner that I can connect via HDMI to my projector and still get Dolby Digital through HDMI?
- Is there some setting on Comcast cable to get audio to be closer to the quality of OTA?

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post #2 of 19 Old 09-29-2017, 10:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjp View Post
I just connected a cheapo $20 HDTV antenna to my TV to use as backup in case cable goes down during a storm. I set up an OTA activity on my Harmony so I can easily toggle between cable and antenna. Even with the cheap HDTV antenna, the video quality is better than cable (Comcast). What REALLY surprised me, though, is that the AUDIO quality is much, much better on antenna.

I didn't think audio was compressed by cable because audio doesn't use much data to start with, but OTA sounds much better. Unfortunately, I can only test audio on TV speakers because my surround system is on a projector that doesn't have a tuner.

I have a few questions:
- Is it normal for OTA AUDO to be that much better than cable?
- Is this also the case (OTA sounding better) in a dolby digital surround system?
- Is there an reasonably priced OTA tuner that I can connect via HDMI to my projector and still get Dolby Digital through HDMI?
- Is there some setting on Comcast cable to get audio to be closer to the quality of OTA?
In my experience yes, OTA is much better in most cases than cable. The reason is compression. We have neighbors who have come over to watch sports broadcasts because the audio and or video was much better than their cable for local games. OTA audio is limited to discrete 5.1 but is always crisp and clear when presented. As to your question about Comcrap settings, my guess is no.
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post #3 of 19 Old 09-30-2017, 05:21 AM
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thats interesting. I also assumed that cable only compressed the video.
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post #4 of 19 Old 09-30-2017, 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by 1201 View Post
thats interesting. I also assumed that cable only compressed the video.
Everything is compressed for distribution and decompressed at the receiver.
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post #5 of 19 Old 09-30-2017, 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by ProjectSHO89 View Post
Everything is compressed for distribution and decompressed at the receiver.
yes, but some cable companies further compress it compared to OTA

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post #6 of 19 Old 09-30-2017, 06:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto Pylot View Post
In my experience yes, OTA is much better in most cases than cable. The reason is compression. We have neighbors who have come over to watch sports broadcasts because the audio and or video was much better than their cable for local games. OTA audio is limited to discrete 5.1 but is always crisp and clear when presented. As to your question about Comcrap settings, my guess is no.
Thanks for the feedback. I expected video to be better (though it was pretty cool to actually see in person). I was really shocked about the audio -- for my stereo TV, audio is "night and day" better on OTA. I want to try it on my projector -- which has a very high quality 7.1 system. The 5.1 OTA limitation doesn't bother me at all if the OTA audio quality is as much better for DD as it was for stereo. I will gladly take higher fidelity 5.1 over lower quality 7.1 any day.

I'm not planning to switch to OTA, but I would definitely use it for events like a Super Bowl party where the difference should be amazing on the 106" projection screen. Even on the 60" stereo TV I tried, I probably will use OTA when I'm not flipping channels since I can switch back and forth easily with one Harmony button.

Is adding OTA to the projector as simple as getting one of these boxes, or are their higher quality OTA tuners availabe? -> https://www.amazon.com/ViewTV-AT-164...ota+tuner+hdmi
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post #7 of 19 Old 09-30-2017, 08:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ProjectSHO89 View Post
Everything is compressed for distribution and decompressed at the receiver.
It's not "lossless" compression, so video quality (and apparently audio quality) is reduced.
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post #8 of 19 Old 09-30-2017, 08:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjp View Post
Is adding OTA to the projector as simple as getting one of these boxes, or are their higher quality OTA tuners availabe? -> https://www.amazon.com/ViewTV-AT-164...ota+tuner+hdmi
Someone else will have to answer the tuner question. I just use the ATSC tuner in my LG tv and it works perfectly for OTA discrete 5.1 audio, when broadcast.
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post #9 of 19 Old 09-30-2017, 09:04 AM
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Lightbulb Get the AT300 Version

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Originally Posted by pjp View Post
Is adding OTA to the projector as simple as getting one of these boxes, or are their higher quality OTA tuners availabe? -

Higher quality in what way??? What features beside the fancy audio stuff?

Better tuner??? Hmm.. I've found these to be as sensitive as my Sony and Vizios, if not maybe a little more.

Better features? YES!

Better UI? YES!

Better DVR? YES!


If you want a simple tuner, with HDMI, component, and if so desperate, composite and even lastly RF. Then I personally don't think there are better.

Although some of the threads here and some other places tout the Airbox tuners as being hyper sensitive. You can find them on Ebay etc. since they are about to shut off the subscription part. Supposedly they will still work as a "Tuner", but since I can't confirm that, yet, I've held off getting any. Maybe once the floodgates open on all the useless ones with the DVR functions I can snag a few, cheap. After I confirm they will work as tuner and DVR. I can just see these things looking for signals from Airbox, that are not there and refusing to do anything. But I might be able to really snag some cheap and risk it, once they go EOL.

You mention fancy audio. These do have an optical port, so you can do that 5.1, 22.1 or what ever it is audio. I just don't do that, not my thing. I have no idea on its quality or if it even works.

I personally would suggest you get the AT300 model, has signal level meter and quality meter, % only, but hey, its better than nothing, the older 164,263, only have a quality meter. I've got a 263 and 300. I am happy with them.

Others here seem to have gotten similar siblings based off the mStar SoC's and have issues with them with tuning, DVR use, etc... Are their foibles and down right bugs to these? YES! Most of these show up if you want all that fancy DVR and super GUI EPG stuff. This ain't some $300 DVR, so they don't do it.

I personally think a lot of the angst with some of these units comes from expecting way too much out of them. Just me.
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post #10 of 19 Old 09-30-2017, 11:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TampBayOTA View Post
Higher quality in what way??? What features beside the fancy audio stuff?

Better tuner??? Hmm.. I've found these to be as sensitive as my Sony and Vizios, if not maybe a little more.

Better features? YES!

Better UI? YES!

Better DVR? YES!


If you want a simple tuner, with HDMI, component, and if so desperate, composite and even lastly RF. Then I personally don't think there are better.

Although some of the threads here and some other places tout the Airbox tuners as being hyper sensitive. You can find them on Ebay etc. since they are about to shut off the subscription part. Supposedly they will still work as a "Tuner", but since I can't confirm that, yet, I've held off getting any. Maybe once the floodgates open on all the useless ones with the DVR functions I can snag a few, cheap. After I confirm they will work as tuner and DVR. I can just see these things looking for signals from Airbox, that are not there and refusing to do anything. But I might be able to really snag some cheap and risk it, once they go EOL.

You mention fancy audio. These do have an optical port, so you can do that 5.1, 22.1 or what ever it is audio. I just don't do that, not my thing. I have no idea on its quality or if it even works.

I personally would suggest you get the AT300 model, has signal level meter and quality meter, % only, but hey, its better than nothing, the older 164,263, only have a quality meter. I've got a 263 and 300. I am happy with them.

Others here seem to have gotten similar siblings based off the mStar SoC's and have issues with them with tuning, DVR use, etc... Are their foibles and down right bugs to these? YES! Most of these show up if you want all that fancy DVR and super GUI EPG stuff. This ain't some $300 DVR, so they don't do it.

I personally think a lot of the angst with some of these units comes from expecting way too much out of them. Just me.
Excellent feedback. All I really care about is picture quality and audio quality and it sounds like those won't be better on a "better" box. The fact that AT300 has a USB for recording to a disk or flash drive is great and kind of unbelievable at this price point (although I kind of wish they put the USB on the back instead of the front panel).

For sound, getting Dolby Digital through HDMI would be fine. From the photo on Amazon, it looks like it has one RCA output labeled "Coax" -- I guess this is digital out audio out. I don't see optical, but either HDMI audio or Coax digital sound is fine.

I will wait a little while before I order it to see if there are any other suggestions, but it looks like the AT300 is perfect.
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post #11 of 19 Old 09-30-2017, 11:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjp View Post
Excellent feedback. All I really care about is picture quality and audio quality and it sounds like those won't be better on a "better" box. The fact that AT300 has a USB for recording to a disk or flash drive is great and kind of unbelievable at this price point (although I kind of wish they put the USB on the back instead of the front panel).

For sound, getting Dolby Digital through HDMI would be fine. From the photo on Amazon, it looks like it has one RCA output labeled "Coax" -- I guess this is digital out audio out. I don't see optical, but either HDMI audio or Coax digital sound is fine.

I will wait a little while before I order it to see if there are any other suggestions, but it looks like the AT300 is perfect.
The coax input is for your antenna. Remember, these are external ATSC tuners so they need to be connected to the antenna to receive OTA signals. And quality OTA reception is highly dependent upon location, type of antenna, and antenna height. The signal strength and quality meters are usually not real accurate but they do give you an idea of your reception if you start playing around with antenna direction.
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post #12 of 19 Old 09-30-2017, 11:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Otto Pylot View Post
The coax input is for your antenna. Remember, these are external ATSC tuners so they need to be connected to the antenna to receive OTA signals. And quality OTA reception is highly dependent upon location, type of antenna, and antenna height. The signal strength and quality meters are usually not real accurate but they do give you an idea of your reception if you start playing around with antenna direction.
Thanks. If you expand the thumbnail in my prior post, they label the coax antenna input/output "RF in" and "RF out", so this is where I will connect my antenna. The somewhat confusing part is that they have an RCA jack on the back that is just labeled "Coax" -- but I suspect this is digital audio out.
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post #13 of 19 Old 09-30-2017, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by pjp View Post
Thanks. If you expand the thumbnail in my prior post, they label the coax antenna input/output "RF in" and "RF out", so this is where I will connect my antenna. The somewhat confusing part is that they have an RCA jack on the back that is just labeled "Coax" -- but I suspect this is digital audio out.
Yep, missed that. RF in is your antenna input and RF out is the cable loop thru if running the signal to another device that has the corresponding input. I don't see anywhere in the description that indicates digital audio out.
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post #14 of 19 Old 09-30-2017, 04:05 PM
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Arrow Tuners with COAX AUDIO OUT, DVR modes, but research this!

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Excellent feedback. All I really care about is picture quality and audio quality and it sounds like those won't be better on a "better" box.
The boxes will max at 1080p60hz, period. They will take the input from 480i to 1080i and upscale/sidescale it to 1080p on HDMI and component. All outputs, except RF are active at the same, RF is if you don't use the loop through options.

These are not going to anything more than 1080p

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The fact that AT300 has a USB for recording to a disk or flash drive is great and kind of unbelievable at this price point (although I kind of wish they put the USB on the back instead of the front panel).
I don't want to burst your bubble on these... BUT...

Just understand what these are for $40, a ATSC TUNER with a "digital VCR" thrown in .

There are some caveates and foibles to using these as DVR's. Especially in finding USB stick media that works for recording and/or time shift and/or 1080i v. 480i recording. See the threads here on them.

AS a plus, and you don't mind sneakernet, they can play H264 encoded stuff. I pulled a sample of stuff off my library and it played. Mine is most 720p, but a mix of 1080p and various audio formats as well. No issues.

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For sound, getting Dolby Digital through HDMI would be fine.
Sound comes out the TV when connected via component and HDMI on mine. Like I said, I am not in to that whole sound thing. So I have no idea what is spits out. I know they flash up some Dolby symbol in the info screens...

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From the photo on Amazon, it looks like it has one RCA output labeled "Coax" -- I guess this is digital out audio out. I don't see optical, but either HDMI audio or Coax digital sound is fine.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pjp View Post
Thanks. If you expand the thumbnail in my prior post, they label the coax antenna input/output "RF in" and "RF out", so this is where I will connect my antenna. The somewhat confusing part is that they have an RCA jack on the back that is just labeled "Coax" -- but I suspect this is digital audio out.
Yes, that is a coax audio , digital or what ever format uses that for digital audio. Again, 99.1400 or what ever comes out it... I have no clue.

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I will wait a little while before I order it to see if there are any other suggestions, but it looks like the AT300 is perfect.
Before you get any of these for DVR modes, be sure you research and understand them and the foibles and bug and limits on them for $40 unit!

Do not expect any fancy GUI EPG. Its about 2-20 hours and that depends on the channel. And most lack any more descriptive info other than title. There can be issues finding acceptable media, especially sticks etc.. So just remember and take that in to consideration on the DVR modes. I have them, and they work for me.
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post #15 of 19 Old 10-01-2017, 12:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TampBayOTA View Post
The boxes will max at 1080p60hz, period. They will take the input from 480i to 1080i and upscale/sidescale it to 1080p on HDMI and component. All outputs, except RF are active at the same, RF is if you don't use the loop through options.

These are not going to anything more than 1080p



I don't want to burst your bubble on these... BUT...

Just understand what these are for $40, a ATSC TUNER with a "digital VCR" thrown in .

There are some caveates and foibles to using these as DVR's. Especially in finding USB stick media that works for recording and/or time shift and/or 1080i v. 480i recording. See the threads here on them.

AS a plus, and you don't mind sneakernet, they can play H264 encoded stuff. I pulled a sample of stuff off my library and it played. Mine is most 720p, but a mix of 1080p and various audio formats as well. No issues.



Sound comes out the TV when connected via component and HDMI on mine. Like I said, I am not in to that whole sound thing. So I have no idea what is spits out. I know they flash up some Dolby symbol in the info screens...





Yes, that is a coax audio , digital or what ever format uses that for digital audio. Again, 99.1400 or what ever comes out it... I have no clue.



Before you get any of these for DVR modes, be sure you research and understand them and the foibles and bug and limits on them for $40 unit!

Do not expect any fancy GUI EPG. Its about 2-20 hours and that depends on the channel. And most lack any more descriptive info other than title. There can be issues finding acceptable media, especially sticks etc.. So just remember and take that in to consideration on the DVR modes. I have them, and they work for me.
The 1080p limitation is fine -- my projector is 1080p and I won't be upgrading to 4k for a while -- if I can get better (uncompressed) audio and video in 5.1 and 1080p for select programs when I want to use OTA, I will be pretty thrilled.

DVR-wise, if I can give it simple voice commands like "record all the Columbo episodes I haven't seen yet", then I'll be fine.

Actually, I don't care too much about DVR, but if it turns out to be useful for anything, I'll be even more thrilled. If it doesn't turn out to be usable, then I don't really care for because my main interest is getting uncompressed video/audio.
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post #16 of 19 Old 10-01-2017, 01:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjp View Post
Actually, I don't care too much about DVR, but if it turns out to be useful for anything, I'll be even more thrilled. If it doesn't turn out to be usable, then I don't really care for because my main interest is getting uncompressed video/audio.
By uncompressed audio do you mean DolbyTrue HD, DTS-MA, etc? In other words, HD Audio? OTA currently doesn't have the capacity for HD Audio.
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Exclamation DVR options - Danger Will Robinson!

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The 1080p limitation is fine -- my projector is 1080p and I won't be upgrading to 4k for a while -- if I can get better (uncompressed) audio and video in 5.1 and 1080p for select programs when I want to use OTA, I will be pretty thrilled.

1080p video - OK

coax audio with the fancy format audio - OK!

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DVR-wise, if I can give it simple voice commands like "record all the Columbo episodes I haven't seen yet", then I'll be fine.
BZZZZZTTTTT!!!! Does not compute! Danger! Will Robinson!

You can pick something to RECORD and it can be ONCE, WEEKLY or DAILY. Thats it.

You can pick something to TUNE to and same as above.

NO FANCY GUI EPG or EPG options like series recording, unless you set up the events. Think of a VCR timer mode like in the 80-90's, but it uses a USB drive or stick in place of VHS tape.


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Actually, I don't care too much about DVR, but if it turns out to be useful for anything, I'll be even more thrilled. If it doesn't turn out to be usable, then I don't really care for because
See above, as I doubt you are ready for the crude interface these have. I get it, as its like using the VCR's I had, but with easy on screen programming, instead on an LED screen.

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my main interest is getting uncompressed video/audio.
Just remember to get out that 1080i signal on some stuff and to get it all in to 6MHz, actually a little less, then its compressed. right now the forward rate is 19.38MB/s for all the stuff. That starts with about a 30MB/s original level.

Compared to what happens when the MSO's decide to cram 5 1080i channels into 1 QAM channel (total excessive hyperbole! )is another thing... Although in some areas we are probably going to see some huge trade offs in things to get some of these sharing arrangements done, new encoders or not.

You will get the performance that ATSC offers versus it getting further compressed by a MSO or DBS operator.
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post #18 of 19 Old 10-02-2017, 12:14 AM
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RCA output labeled "Coax" is indeed the SAME as Optical/Toslink Output, but in digital vice optical format.

Digital Audio Coax to Optical Converters are available:
https://www.google.com/search?q=Coax...utf-8&oe=utf-8
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post #19 of 19 Old 10-02-2017, 06:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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By uncompressed audio do you mean DolbyTrue HD, DTS-MA, etc? In other words, HD Audio? OTA currently doesn't have the capacity for HD Audio.
By uncompressed I mean avoiding the compression that the cable companies do. I didn't expect cable compression to affect audio quality at all, but when I tried OTA on my TV with built-in stereo speakers, the audio was much better via OTA than cable. I don't know if this will be the case for Dolby Digital, but I'm going to get a digital tuner to try it out on my projector with the surround sound system.

If the difference in DD is anything close to the difference in stereo (with OTA sounding much better), I'd rather have uncompressed (or maybe it's less compressed) 5.1 non-True HD sound over compressed 7.1 True HD sound.

To be honest, I upgraded my preamp a while ago to get True HD versus regular Dolby Digital and I didn't really hear a huge difference. Since the digital tuners are pretty cheap, I'm just going to give it a try and see how Dolby Digital audio compares between OTA and cable.
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