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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, here in San Diego we have had cable HDTV since August of this year. I quickly signed up for all possible channels and have watched as many programs as possible. The PQ varies from so-so to amazing at times as does the sound. From all I researched I though HDTV would all be DD.


So my question is:


Isn't the standard for HDTV Dolby Digital sound? I haven't seen a TV show yet that switches my receiver over to DD. HBO and SHO Movies switch over and sound amazing, but am I missing something with the Networks (I should note we don't have ABC yet, which I heard does have some DD)?
 

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Dolby Digital can be anything from 1 (mono) channel to 6 (5.1 surround)). The HDTV spec is not necessarily for DD5.1, but rather just for Dolby Digital. My audio receiver processes any DD2.0 as Pro Logic, which may explain your situation. Much of the audio on the HD networks is DD2.0, and some of the audio on HBO and SHO is also DD2.0.
 

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It should also be pointed out that not all DD2.0 material is encoded for dolby surround, sometimes it's just plain stereo. Listening to stereo audio in ProLogic almost always sounds lousy, with everything coming from the center channel. I rarely used Pro Logic before getting a pre/pro with ProLogic 2, which does a much better job.
 

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All the H/DTV channels provide at least Dolby Digital 2.0. I don't believe it's possible to send an ATSC stream with any other kind of audio encoding. (Dolby just recently paid a very nice reward to MIT for their vote to make this happen!)
 

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It's curious how people want to crap all over DD 2.0 in favor of 5.1 when many of the CBS networks shows, broadcast in Dolby Pro Logic, have better rear sound activity than some of the 5.1 shows I've seen.
 

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The only San Diego HD channels that provide full DD5.1 (when available from some movies and shows) is ABC and PBS. The rest only do DD2.0 stereo, possibly encoded with matrixed surround. Using an A/V receiver that includes Pro-Logic II, it does a decent recreation with 5 channels. You will have to wait for ABC to be added to TWC to really experience full DD5.1 audio from network HD.
 

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Why don't we concentrate on the Video portion of the HDTV standards and tranmission for now? I bought my HDTV for the picture quality... the DD is just an added benefit! I'd rather see more focus (no pun) on getting the kinks out the video stuff first!

Just my opinion.
 

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Quote:
It's curious how people want to crap all over DD 2.0 in favor of 5.1 when many of the CBS networks shows, broadcast in Dolby Pro Logic, have better rear sound activity than some of the 5.1 shows I've seen.
I agree. Up until CBS started having problems with dialog distortion the last couple of weeks, the DD2.0 sound on their series has always been much better than ABC's so-called 5.1. Just because ABC has their encoder set to 5.1 doesn't mean you're getting true 5.1 mixes. I don't think any of their stuff is truly 5.1 except maybe some of the movies that already had DD5.1 soundtracks.
 

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I don't know the answer Jeff, but I am a die-hard Alias fan and to me it sounds like DD5.1. When things get blown up, my room shakes and the surround speakers blast. Nothing like that ever happens with CBS or NBC. My receiver (Denon 1803) does pro-logic II for DD2.0 and it does not sound as good.
 

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Remember the networks themselves are not the producers of the programs, which means whether it's 5.1 or 2.0, results will vary from program to program.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Linux23
isn't ABC the only network capable of passing 5.1?
No, and it's not just the network - it's whether your local affiliate can handle a 5.1 feed if they get one from the network.


I've gotten a 5.1 encoded audio signal from NBC, ABC, and FOX at various times. Never from CBS though, and it's pretty rare for anyone but ABC.


NBC was broadcasting DD5.1 during the Olympics, and I also saw it once during an NBA game. The only time I've ever seen it from FOX was during the Super Bowl last year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for all the info. folks. Actually watched some CBS-HD tonight with my surround sound nice and loud. It sounded great! It was in Prologic II mode. Now I know that is Dolby Digital!
 

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Quote:
I don't know the answer Jeff, but I am a die-hard Alias fan and to me it sounds like DD5.1. When things get blown up, my room shakes and the surround speakers blast. Nothing like that ever happens with CBS or NBC. My receiver (Denon 1803) does pro-logic II for DD2.0 and it does not sound as good.
See, I think the sound for Alias is pretty weak. Yes, there are loud moments and you do get some surround activity, but nothing like you would expect from a movie on DVD with DD5.1. I also think the sound for Alias is very compressed souding with poor dynamics, and lacking detail. It has a boxy sound to it with a very unimpressive soundstage.


CSI may not have lots of explosions, but the sound is richer, more detailed, and more natural sounding IMHO. Heck, I remember watching CSI in stereo before I got my Rotel pre/pro with PL2, and I remember being amazed at the soundstage and imaging; sometimes you would actually get a surround effect even though it was 2-channel stereo.


ABC's encoder may always be set to DD 5.1, but that doesn't mean you're getting true discrete 5.1 sound, it could easily be stereo or dolby surround, they're just encoding everything as 5.1 for simplicity's sake I guess.
 

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I recently read an excellent article in one of the trades on the issue of 5.1, and its use (and absence) by the networks, the locals, the sat companies, and the Cable TV companies.

The folowing is from a chart, based on the author's research and interviews with the major networks:


ABC is delivering 5.1 to locals; 48 of their 220 stations are offering DTV; only 39 of these are transmitting in 5.1.

All HD programs are in 5.1; About 60% of the '01-'02 season is in high def, or 260 hours; Same for the '02-03 season;


CBS is NOT delivering 5.1 to the locals; only Dolby Surround; 87 of their 207 stations are transmitting a DTV signal, and (obviously) none (0) of them are transmitting in 5.1.

They plan to install a 5.1 infrastructure as early as 4th Quarter 2002, with a possibility of 5.1 for primetime shows in 2003-2004 season. Possible specials before that in 5.1, but CBS would not commit. "Most HD content has been available in Dolby Surround beginning with the '01-'02 season";


NBC First 5.1 was Winter Olympics; Considering future events in 5.1. About 60 local stations are transmitting DTV, and all of these can receive 5.1. However, only "about 20" are transmitting it;


PBS is delivering 5.1 to locals. 76 out of 349 are transmitting DTV, and all 76 of those can transmit 5.1. Programs include past and future Nova episodes, "Evolution" 8 hour series, four other specials or limited series.


Fox (which is the reprehensible 480p) is delivering 5.1 to their local stations; 27 of 188 stations are doing that DTV in 480p stuff. They plan one NFL game / week mid to late Sept, and 5.1 channel films purchased from Fox films beginning '02-'03 season;


UPN 5.1 is planned to coincide with their HD launch, about 50 of 212 stations; Most deliver SD upconverted from analog, but about a dozen can deliver HD.


WB is not delivering 5.1 to the locals. Nada. Zip. It is "planned when the market dictates." Dolby Surround is "possible in '02-'02 season";


HBO HD --- claims about 20% of their channel's programs are in 5.1.


Showtime HD --- says "most" of their content is in 5.1


Discovery HD --- content created in 5.1 will be delivered in 5.1


HDNet --- a minority of programming is in 5.1


MSG Network -- In Dolby Surround only; no 5.1 timetable;


Comcast Sports Net --- in 2003, to offer more than 200 professional sporting events in HD 5.1, with lots of Philadelphia / Baltimore / Washington games;


The article does point out the extreme difficulty (and expense) of mixing for 5.1, especially for a live sporting event (camera switches to view crowds -- should crowd noise switch in real time to center? to fronts? in real time? So, such "spontaneous moments" may have to be pre-planned, or at least very pre-programmed... Microphone placement becomes a headache, but mixing in real time for 5.1 can be a virtual nightmare, I should imagine...)


And, then, of course, you must factor in another issue... are your own locals capable of passing the 5.1 on to you, AND, if they are capable of this, are they actually doing this?


Remember also that recent films may have three to six months of post-production and can afford to devote much time and attention to the soundtrack mix. A weekly TV show does not usually have this sort of budget, nor time.


-Just some thoughts,

-Bruce in Chi-Town
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by BSpielbauer
Fox (which is the reprehensible 480p) is delivering 5.1 to their local stations; 27 of 188 stations are doing that DTV in 480p stuff.
FOX is not delivering 5.1 to my station but I am getting Pro Logic 2.0.


Every ATSC encoder can be programmed to send either Pro Logic or pass through 5.1. All the encoders I have seen are pre set to start in 5.1, but hardly any station has a true 5.1 decoder/encoder. Some stations DO have it, but most don't. From my encoder I can make your receiver show anything I want, but that doesn't mean I am sending it.


If I am sending left and right only and tell the encoder to send 5.1, all you hear is left and right with no center channel or surround channels or LFefx channel (because I have no 5.1 encoder to feed the other channels (Remember this is all done in the digital domain so if you don't start with it, it ain't there when it comes out, even though I can light you indicator and make you think it is there)). If I send left and right and configure the encoder in Pro Logic, then you hear left/right/center/rears/ and LFefx channels (provided the source material has rear and LFefx channels) as a standard analog Pro Logic.


Most shows are distributed in Pro Logic from the networks with some 5.1, but best I can see it is still experimental. It will get there, just not yet. And all the networks are trying new things all the time so even if your receiver says one thing, it may be somthing else, but 5.1 is on the list to get done.
 
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