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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been lurking around, reading up on bitstreaming, 5.1, 7.1, and on and on. A lot of neat stuff, almost too much for an HTPC noob!


My circumstances are this: Last year I was diagnosed with moderate tinnitus and mild hearing loss in my left ear only. My right ear is still good for now...



When it comes to standard 2-channel audio, I can hear that I'm missing out on a few things -- mainly high frequencies and trouble with voices.


Am I missing something by not migrating towards Dolby TrueHD or PCM or other lossless forms of HTPC audio? Is there just "too much sound" there for my lame ears to understand any more?


Would 5.1 be perfectly adequate for me?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Blowe /forum/post/18178794


Would 5.1 be perfectly adequate for me?

Absolutely. The difference between 5.1 AC3 and 7.1 HD audio is slight. Someone with average hearing can hear the difference, but only with decent audio equipment, and mostly only in an A/B type situation.


For the hard of hearing, "higher quality" audio isn't necessarily going to be better. Most discs are mixed in such a way as to make speech very hard to understand if your hearing is impaired. If your receiver allows it (most do), you'll want to boost the center channel and lower the others. Depending on your particular type of hearing loss, you may want to lower the bass levels, or even turn off your sub entirely.


Another trick to improve vocal intelligibility is compression. Some receivers call it "normalization" or "night mode". Basically it makes the quiet bits louder and the loud bits quieter so that things like explosions and gunfire don't drown out speech. If your receiver doesn't have this feature, you can compress the audio levels (DRC) with Handbrake when you rip your discs. This only works when you convert the audio track, so you'll be going down to stereo MP3. This may still be desirable though, depending on your level of hearing loss.
 

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Some audio cards will also allow full real-time sound normalization, I know most of the Asus Xonar series do. I will however disagree on the 5.1 vs 7.1 statement above. I've noticed in my limited experience that 7.1, even in a less than ideal room with less than ideal equipment, can add a certain amount of depth, or rather, immersion versus 5.1. Software decoded 7.1 over analog or HDMI will be fine though, you have no need for true HD audio, but the extra channels is nice IMHO.
 

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Get a good quality center channel speaker. Enable subtitles when necessary. These two things do it for me with 5.1 or the more rare 7.1 audio tracks.
 

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7.1 definitely holds an edge over 5.1 surround. I just upgraded my system a few months ago from 5.1 to 7.1 and the difference is quite remarkable. I doubt that you'll hear a major difference between Dolby Digital and either of the HD audio formats if you have a slight hearing loss. I think you'd really need a topnotch surround system to hear the benefits of HD audio over AC-3 5.1 or 7.1 surround.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you for the pointers, everyone. It's good to know I don't have to spend time and money chasing the HD audio formats -- I think they would be totally lost on my ears!


I'll try to find some good setups to listen to, and will have to figure out on my own if I can hear the difference between 5.1 and 7.1.
 
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