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Hi all. I'm a bit of a novice and would appreciate any advice on upgrading. I bought most of my components 10 years ago and just upgraded my TV and DVD to a Samsung 1080p HDTV and Samsung Blu-Ray BD-P1600. I'm happy with the video aspects, and only use the receiver for audio. The audio with dialogue is inconsistent and often sounds very hollow or almost echoes, especially from the cable box. I thought the problem was an old center speaker, so I just replaced it with a Polk CS-2, but the problem persists. The sounds is especially poor when I set my receiver to surround mode while watching programs via my cable box (a Motorola DCH3416, which is set to output in Dolby AC3 and is connected to my receiver via optical cable). The problem generally isn't present when I turn off the surround on my receiver. Overall, the sound seems to be better with DVDs, though a Blu-Ray I played last night that was encoded with DTS surround (which my receiver has, albeit perhaps an outdated version) gave very tinny/echoey dialogue. The non-dialogue seems to be okay under all circumstances, which is why I thought the problem was my center; however the new center had made no difference. Before I start upgrading components, I want an idea of where the problem is. My novice suspicion is that my receiver is the problem since it only has traditional Dolby ProLogic/Surround and DTS, with none of the newer formats. My concern, though, is that if the problem is with the cable box, there is no point upgrading my system. If I do upgrade the receiver, I want to spend no more than $500. I only use it for audio, so I'm less concerned about a receiver that can upconvert video. Does anyone have a recommendation?

Receiver: JVC RX-6500VBK
Center: Polk CS2
Front: Polk Monitor 30
Rear: Cerwin Vega CLS-5
Sub: Cerwin Vega
TV: Samsung LN40750 HDTV
Cable Box (HD-DVR): Motorola DCH3416 (thru RCN)
Blu-Ray: Samsung BD-P1600

(audio from cable box and Blu-Ray connected to receiver via optical)
(video to TV from cable box and Blu-Ray via HDMI)
 

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It would defiantly seem that the receiver has some issues but does the receiver have any calibration capabilities at all meaning level control for each speaker and settings for large and small? Keep in mind that not all TV stations have 5.1 sound and some may not even be digital audio just analog pro-logic at best.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The receiver has no auto calibration function, but it has a number of adjustments that I have tried, including changing the front speaker size setting to try to distribute more bass to the center and adjusting various speaker levels. Nothing seems to result in any consistent improvement.

For the programs that are not broadcast in digital or surround, I'm not using the surround function on my receiver and the sound is fine. Even for the one's that are broadcast in digital surround, when I turn the surround off the sound is much better (there's more bass with the dialogue). I really thought it was a cable box or broadcast issue until I had the same problem on a Blu-ray disc. I have not had the problem with any traditional DVDs.
 

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What does the receiver say on the display when it is receiving the audio that your having issues with?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Nothing unusual. It recognizes the digital signal and the center, rear and sub speakers. Usually the Dolby light is on, but for the Blue-Ray, the DTS light was on. No error messages or anything like that.

If the problem is an issue with my receiver not being able to decode the newer audio formats (e.g. Dolby-HD), wouldn't it just decode it in the old ProLogic format? Do you think that might be what is causing this?

I wish I was more tech savvy and understood all of this better!
 

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If the problem is an issue with my receiver not being able to decode the newer audio formats (e.g. Dolby-HD), wouldn't it just decode it in the old ProLogic format? Do you think that might be what is causing this?
For BluRay you need to make sure that in the movies menu you select the standard DTSaudio not DTS MA as that wont work properly at all because your receiver will not accept the high bitrate of the uncompressed formats.
Make sure your player is also outputting bitstream not PCM and that it is not sending that audio signal through the HDMI cable to your display.

I wish I was more tech savvy and understood all of this better!
Dont worry we all started that way, it takes time.
 

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david, I have similar results with my 10 year old Onkyo TX-DS777, only maybe even worse than what you describe. That is, tinny or echoey sound with basically any input unless I switch it to stereo output. Of course, I only had the center channel and the stereo channels connected (3.0 sound?) so that might account for it in my case. Sound from FIOS TV box much worse than DVD.

I need to understand the fundamentals of what makes good sound too, as it is all very consuming, with lots of expensive products on the market, and very little comprehension in my own mind as to what I need to shoot for to get good sound.

Tony, what do you mean when you say "Make sure your player is also outputting bitstream not PCM and that it is not sending that audio signal through the HDMI cable to your display." I'm only using the HDMI out of my PSP3, and it is bypassing my AVR and going directly to the TV (and the TV's speakers, very poor). It has an optical output that I could send to my AVR. Is that what I should be using for the audio from BD?
 

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Tony, what do you mean when you say "Make sure your player is also outputting bitstream not PCM and that it is not sending that audio signal through the HDMI cable to your display." I'm only using the HDMI out of my PSP3, and it is bypassing my AVR and going directly to the TV (and the TV's speakers, very poor). It has an optical output that I could send to my AVR. Is that what I should be using for the audio from BD?
There is a copyright law that prohibits 5.1 audio from being output by the display so if you want to connect the HDMI to the TV first and then from the display to the receiver you will only get 2.1 dolby digital. always send the audio directly from the player to the receiver and if you want audio to the display take a second from the receiver to the display or directly from the player to the display using optical or coax.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for all of the tips guys. Picked up an Onkyo 607 yesterday it what a difference! Glad to be done with that old receiver.
 

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Hello,
Congratulations on the upgrade. I am a big fan of Onkyo's and really think they have been on a roll since the xx5 series. Audyssey room correction really can make your room sound much better as well and it is great your receiver offers that.
Cheers,
JJ
 
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