by gulf-coast - 7/23/12 7:39 AM
I have spent a much too much of my available free time trying to gather enough info on surround sound to feel confident about buying a system. I think that the manufacturers should supply this information in their ads or on their websites in order to get sales (before they deserve any sales). My strategy of resisting purchases until they supply the info is not working. So, I am turning to the c/net members for help. I have a 1994 Panasonic TV, TV antenna, Tivax digital to analog converter, dvd player, stereo receiver, and 1976 Pioneer HPM100 speakers (which sound better every year). I am happy with the audio, but I want a bigger, sharper picture. The speakers in the TV are horrible (only listened to them for about 12 seconds back in '94) so I have always listened to the TV through my stereo system. The dvd player has stereo analog audio output which I use, and digital audio output which I don't use. I have many dvds, some of which name a surround sound format on them. So far, all of the dvds produce analog stereo audio so I can hear them. Is this because there is a separate stereo sound track on dvds, or because the dvd player decodes the surround sound format and mixes it down to analog stereo? In my research, I have seen at least 6 different surround sound formats mentioned and it seems that new ones appear periodically. The new TVs name one or two surround sound formats in their specs. The AV receivers name one or two surround sound formats in their specs. If I buy a new TV (none of which have stereo analog audio output, and all of which have pathetic little speakers) and an AV receiver, does the surround sound format broadcast by the television station (I am assuming that surround sound is broadcast over the air, correct me if I am wrong) have to match one of the surround sound formats that the TV can decode in order for me to hear the sound? Or, does the TV pass the info over to the AV receiver for it to decode? If whichever device has the task of decoding it does not know how to decode it, (for example, a movie that has THX format and a AV receiver that only understands Dolby Digital 5.1) do I get no sound? If the TV decodes the surround sound format, what does it send to the AV receiver? Do I have to dig throught the TV and AV receiver specs and buy an AV receiver that understands what the TV is sending to it? Do I send the dvd player's digital sound info to the TV or to the AV receiver for decoding? Are there different versions of dvds with different surround sound formats so I can buy one that matches my TV or AV receiver? If some future surround sound format comes along and gets popular that my TV or AV receiver does not understand, will I have to get new equipment before I can hear dvds or TV broadcasts that use the new format? Also very important to me, will the AV receiver downmix surround sound to stereo so I can continue listening on my two speakers? I do not want to add six more speakers and speaker cables to the room.