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I was using an htpc for playing ripped blu ray movies, but for playing from the actual disc a standalone player is more user friendly. I am 2 channel only and using an idsd dac which has both usb and coax inputs. I love the ease of use of the standalone player, but the sound quality of the pc movie audio running usb to the dac is MUCH better than the standaone player running coax to the same dac. Everything else is the same - same disc, settings etc. Any explanation for this? Don't want to go back to using a pc to play movies. Many thanks.
 

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The standalone player is probably sending a 5.1 bitstream that your dac may not (or not capable of) downmixing it to 2 channel. So you are only getting the left and right channel. Will make things sound muted/muffled as you missing center channel. The PC program is probably set to downmix the audio to 2 channel before sending it to your dac, so your left and right are getting the full audio signal.

See if your standalone player has an option to set a downmix to 2 channel PCM for the optical out.
 

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I could be misinformed, but don't most (if not all) DVD's have a PCM stereo track that can be selected?
If so, that may be preferable to a "downmixed" selection.
 

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DVDs no, Blu-rays typically yes. The stereo mix isn't optimized for tv speakers (how would you even do that given tv speakers aren't universally terrible).
 
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