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Old 12-11-2012, 15:16
soundslike
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Just emerged from the old CRT age into the new flat screen HD era. Pics great but as expected sound poor. Now looking to improve sound using an amp. and speakers or some Home Cinema system. But what is the latest on surround sound broadcast on Freeview. Surfing reveals a debate some year or two ago when as I understand it an HE-ACC system was adopted (as opposed to Dolby Digital 5.1) to save bandwidth and thus accomodate an Audio Description channel on some broadcasts). Programme listings and EPG's show AD but never 5.1. So what TV programmes carry surround sound and how would you find out which?
I have not read any recent discussion of this topic and would pleased if anyone could could shed light (or perhaps sound) on the subject.
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Old 12-11-2012, 15:46
grahamlthompson
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Just emerged from the old CRT age into the new flat screen HD era. Pics great but as expected sound poor. Now looking to improve sound using an amp. and speakers or some Home Cinema system. But what is the latest on surround sound broadcast on Freeview. Surfing reveals a debate some year or two ago when as I understand it an HE-ACC system was adopted (as opposed to Dolby Digital 5.1) to save bandwidth and thus accomodate an Audio Description channel on some broadcasts). Programme listings and EPG's show AD but never 5.1. So what TV programmes carry surround sound and how would you find out which?
I have not read any recent discussion of this topic and would pleased if anyone could could shed light (or perhaps sound) on the subject.
Most boxes convert aac to ac3 for compatibility with AV Kit.

2.0 transmissions generally have prologic surround encoded.

ITV1-HD never so far have used 5.1 only 2.0.

The other channels are a mix of 5.1 or 2.0. The BBC-HD preview loop is all in 5.1 and the test card they broadcast has a 5.1 channel audio test built in.
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Old 12-11-2012, 16:36
chrisjr
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Can't ever recall seeing any indication in the EPG or the small print in the Radio Times of what programme is or isn't in 5.1 surround. Only when I press the i button on my Humax PVR and see the multichannel icon on the information bar.
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Old 12-11-2012, 18:11
stanandjan
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Has always puzzled me in this age of European Harmonisation of Mains voltages etc.. that the 2 Audio systems in the UK carry on regardless over the decades..
is this an element of the 'Competition is wonderful' mantra?
What does the rest of Europe favour? I wonder?
I am sure that DragonQ mused ealier this year.. on such a topic..
along the lines..
"Anyway, back to ITV1 HD...is this London version now using 384 kbps stereo AC3 like Granada is?
It's a strangely high bit rate that I can only assume is preparation for an eventual switch to 5.1. "


No one contradicted him..so is it a likely scenario
Stan
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Old 12-11-2012, 19:59
evil c
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I have Freeview HD and route the TV sound to my hi-fi via the headphone socket on my Samsung. In the Sound menu, in the Sound Effect tab, I have SRS CS Headphone enabled and that gives a quasi 5.1 surround sound 'experience' with multichannel content, through my stereo speakers.

You might be able to further improve stereo sound with an amp and speakers by using this on your TV, if it is supported.

All my Freeview HD broadcasts via Winter Hill on channels 101-104 show HE-AAC 5.1
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Old 12-11-2012, 20:24
Sue_C
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This isn't a very scientific answer but we connected our Freeview HD box to our home cinema amp over the weekend. We watched three HD programmes. A film recorded on Channel 4 HD (Green Zone) produced 5.1 sound, Later with Jools BBC HD was stereo (we were expecting 5.1), The Bletchley Circle recorded on ITV1 HD was stereo.
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Old 12-11-2012, 20:48
stanandjan
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I was surprised Sue that when recording Madness for one of my sons recently.. from a Jools live show.. that the first programme was entirely different content of Interviews etc to the next listing later that same night..My Channel 4 sound experiences agree with yours..It is not therefore a Public Service v Commercial Issue by the sound of it..Such dichotomy in what must be xeen as Trivia by the Vision Management part of the organisations concerned and no benefits going either way to encourage change..No sub committees on how it makes more 3D realism than the 3d Vision does..
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Old 12-11-2012, 22:09
soundslike
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Thanks for your replies.
Surprisingly it seems that surround sound has not really taken off as far broadcasts are concerned. I seem to remember HD being advertised as providing improved sound as well as HD vision. ITV according to the first reply dont transmit any SS 5.1.
I understand many DVD's do carry DD 5.1.
Besides generally wanting to improve my sound I have thought that on some programmes the dialogue is not clear (usually when background noise is present). This I have read happens during a down mixing process in the TV to produce a stereo or 2.0 effect on the TV's two internal speakers. With 5.1 clarity is reported as better because of the centre speaker channel. My new 37 inch LG TV only outputs digital audio via an optical output which to make use of I presume will require me to purchase a 5.1 amp. It is dissapointing though to hear current 5.1 programming is a bit thin.
One further obsevation is that on the HD channels pressing the info button on my LG shows the letters HE-AAC which I thought suggested surround sound was present - clearly not so.
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Old 12-11-2012, 23:45
grahamlthompson
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One further obsevation is that on the HD channels pressing the info button on my LG shows the letters HE-AAC which I thought suggested surround sound was present - clearly not so.
HE-AAC can be stereo (2.0) or 5.1 just like Dolby Digital (aka AC3).
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Old 13-11-2012, 00:00
chrisjr
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AAC or indeed AC3 does not necessarily mean surround sound. It is entirely possible for it to be mono!

As for dialogue not being clear. there is absolutely no reason why that should be caused by down-mixing 5.1 to 2.0 (stereo) if done properly. Much more likely is that the problem is caused by the original mix being poor in the first place. And don't think it will be any better listening in 5.1.

I watched the rugby on BBC over the weekend and had to crank up the centre channel on one match to almost the maximum adjustment available on my amp to be able to hear the commentary above the crowd noise. Yet on other programmes it is perfectly fine.

If you buy a proper surround sound system, (and I don't mean one of those toy town all in one piles of junk with built in disk player ), all the sources connect to the amp not the TV. There is no guarantee that what comes out of the optical out of the TV will be true 5.1 surround. it could only be stereo.

A DVD or Blu Ray player will output surround over HDMI which can be intercepted by the connection to the AV amp to produce the noise and the pictures get passed on to the telly.

The other thing to consider with a decent surround system is that the amp may well have Dolby Pro Logic which can create a surround effect from stereo material. It is also possible to encode a surround sound mix into a stereo sound track that a Pro logic decoder can use to re-create a much more convincing surround effect.

A couple of systems at different price points to show what is available should the fancy take you.

http://www.richersounds.com/product/...96/yama-yht196

http://www.richersounds.com/product/...ky-hts3505-blk
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Old 13-11-2012, 21:55
soundslike
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Thanks again guys for your interest and advice. Quite a lot for me to ponder on and investigate.
One other point I didn't mention is that when pressing the info handset button on my new LG TV next to the HE-AAC caption is a square box containing three dots positioned just inside the bottom edge. I initially though this was a similar symbol to that often seen on DVD covers to indicate how many channels of sound are present eg 6 dots indicate surround, 2 dots stereo. However on my TV the same symbol along with HE-AAC is present on all HD channels on every programme. Perhaps it meant a 2.1 system I wondered. Any thoughts?
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Old 13-11-2012, 22:05
chrisjr
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Willing to stand corrected but as far as I am aware HD is mainly either stereo (2.0) or 5.1 and pretty much nothing in between. I could suggest reading the manual to see what the icon means but if you are a fellow male I can understand how difficult a concept that can be
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Old 13-11-2012, 22:21
grahamlthompson
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Willing to stand corrected but as far as I am aware HD is mainly either stereo (2.0) or 5.1 and pretty much nothing in between. I could suggest reading the manual to see what the icon means but if you are a fellow male I can understand how difficult a concept that can be
Correct 2.0. Any 0.1 is down to the subwoofer crossover frequency setting in the AV amp, this simply routes content below a specific frequency from either channel to the bass speaker.
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Old 15-11-2012, 13:07
soundslike
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hi guys - my LG manual is very sparse and does not mention the meaning of captions appearing on the screen nor does it specifically cover surround sound. It does show an audio connection diagram linking the optical output to a six unit audio system which I took to imply 5.1output. I am currently feeding my headphone socket output to my old analogue stereo which produces much better stereo sound than that from the TV. Drawback is the stereo speakers are not located beside the TV but fixed in different corners of the room thus producing somewhat disembodied voices on dialogue because there is no sound directly from the TV this being muted automatically when using headphone.
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Old 15-11-2012, 16:09
chrisjr
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hi guys - my LG manual is very sparse and does not mention the meaning of captions appearing on the screen nor does it specifically cover surround sound. It does show an audio connection diagram linking the optical output to a six unit audio system which I took to imply 5.1output. I am currently feeding my headphone socket output to my old analogue stereo which produces much better stereo sound than that from the TV. Drawback is the stereo speakers are not located beside the TV but fixed in different corners of the room thus producing somewhat disembodied voices on dialogue because there is no sound directly from the TV this being muted automatically when using headphone.
Since Freeview HD can carry a 5.1 sound track then the TV should be capable of doing something with it. Quite what it does is another matter.

It will probably down mix a 5.1 sound track to stereo for the built in speakers and headphones. But does it also do that for the optical out I wonder? One way to check may be to look in the menus and see if there are any options for the optical out. If you have a setting offering Multichannel and Stereo options then chances are it does allow 5.1 out of the optical out.

Even if there is no setting like that there is also the chance that it outputs 5.1 when the channel is broadcasting a surround audio track and stereo when not. Then you get into the problem of whether it also transcodes the AAC broadcast format to Dolby AC3 that most AV systems recognise. In theory it should if it fully conforms to the Freeview spec but you never know.

So unless someone out there has the same model and has it hooked up to an AV amp and can tell us, you might only find out if you get your own system.

Oh and on the subject of your stereo system. The speakers should be much closer together, 6-8 feet, and forming two corners of a triangle with your seating position, equally spaced either side of the centre line. And at about ear height for the optimum sound. Sticking them up in the corners is doing them no favours, or your ears if you value good sound
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Old 16-11-2012, 15:32
soundslike
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Since Freeview HD can carry a 5.1 sound track then the TV should be capable of doing something with it. Quite what it does is another matter.

It will probably down mix a 5.1 sound track to stereo for the built in speakers and headphones. But does it also do that for the optical out I wonder? One way to check may be to look in the menus and see if there are any options for the optical out. If you have a setting offering Multichannel and Stereo options then chances are it does allow 5.1 out of the optical out.

Even if there is no setting like that there is also the chance that it outputs 5.1 when the channel is broadcasting a surround audio track and stereo when not. Then you get into the problem of whether it also transcodes the AAC broadcast format to Dolby AC3 that most AV systems recognise. In theory it should if it fully conforms to the Freeview spec but you never know.

So unless someone out there has the same model and has it hooked up to an AV amp and can tell us, you might only find out if you get your own system.

Oh and on the subject of your stereo system. The speakers should be much closer together, 6-8 feet, and forming two corners of a triangle with your seating position, equally spaced either side of the centre line. And at about ear height for the optimum sound. Sticking them up in the corners is doing them no favours, or your ears if you value good sound
Hi Chris

Searching the multitude of on screen menus I find I have a DTV settings which allows the following selection options : Auto - HE-AAC - DD+ - DD - MPEG. If I understand correctly Auto searches which of the above is present on the transmision and provides an output in the first audio format found presumably via optical although I also have an HDMI ARC port which I think will feed an amp with Surround 5.1 if being transmitted.
Had a look at your amp suggestions and the Yamaha YHT196 would be nearer my budget but wondered if you had any thoughts on the similarly priced LG SR906 also on Richer Sounds web site assuming you didn't rate this as toy town.
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Old 16-11-2012, 16:07
chrisjr
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Hi Chris

Searching the multitude of on screen menus I find I have a DTV settings which allows the following selection options : Auto - HE-AAC - DD+ - DD - MPEG. If I understand correctly Auto searches which of the above is present on the transmision and provides an output in the first audio format found presumably via optical although I also have an HDMI ARC port which I think will feed an amp with Surround 5.1 if being transmitted.
Had a look at your amp suggestions and the Yamaha YHT196 would be nearer my budget but wondered if you had any thoughts on the similarly priced LG SR906 also on Richer Sounds web site assuming you didn't rate this as toy town.
Those options on the TV do imply it will produce a surround sound signal if one is available on the transmission. Might need to play around with the settings to find the one that works best with whatever amp you get.

Assume you mean this.

http://www.richersounds.com/product/...sr906/lg-sr906

This is actually one of the better systems at that end of the market. It is much closer in concept to the Yamaha and Onkyo systems I linked to than the all in one with built in disk player units.

The big problem with a lot of the lower end all in ones is a lack of connectivity. If you've got loads of external kit there is often no way to connect that kit to the surround system in a way that allows you to listen in surround, ie no digital inputs and often only a token analogue stereo input (sometimes not even that!).

The LG, Yamaha and Onkyo however have a number of HDMI, optical and coaxial digital audio connectors that do allow you to hook up external kit to exploit the surround abilities of the amp.

I might be more inclined to go for the Yamaha over the LG based on reputation and experience of the brand. And if nothing else it saves you 20 quid

Though I would always say, have a listen to both if you get the opportunity. It is your wallet being emptied and your ears that will be assaulted by the result of your purchase. What I consider to be the dog's dangly bits you may consider emanates from another part of the anatomy, and vice versa. Such is the nature of these things, great deal of subjectivity involved.
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Old 16-11-2012, 16:41
spiney2
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where surround sound is available - as on many films after 1975 and tv programmes after 1980 - it is on ALL formats !

The 2.0 version on SD transmissions is quite good. because it uses the sq matrix system this does not work as well in living rooms as it does in cinemas, where the haas effect gives good surround performance.

the 5.1 version on HD transmissions is better if u have it. the haas effect - which doesnt work very well in a small room - becomes less important.

usually these days tv sound is handled "as 5.1" then converted in real time to 2.0 as well.
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Old 16-11-2012, 16:42
spiney2
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tv sets with built in tuners often seem not to have a 5.1 output !
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Old 16-11-2012, 16:43
spiney2
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.... some of the films u see will be analogue 2.0 (dolby theatre matrix) converted by broadcaster into 5.1 for HD ...... then back again to 2,0 for SD television receivers ......
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Old 16-11-2012, 16:45
spiney2
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haas_effect
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Old 16-11-2012, 17:10
Nigel Goodwin
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tv sets with built in tuners often seem not to have a 5.1 output !
As far as I'm aware all suitable TV's have 5.1 outputs, it's a requirement for Freeview HD - other sets don't need it (as much) because there's no 5.1 on the SD channels. Although many (if not most?) non-Freeview HD sets have optical outputs anyway, or analogue stereo outputs.
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Old 18-11-2012, 11:19
ProDave
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Here's my take on cheap surround sound.

I have an old Philips all in one DVD player with surround sound. Obviously it plays proper 5.1 sound when playing a dvd

It connects to the tv via a single scart lead.

When you are watching "normal" tv, then with the philips unit set to "tv" input, it plays the sound from whatever you are watching on the tv from whatever source internal or external the tv has selected.

The philips uint is then set to "Pro Logic" sound.

It does a very good job of simulating surround sound from what is obviously only a 2 channel input from the tv.

What's very interesting is what programs have surround sound and what don't. you can be watching one program in flat stereo sound. Next program comes on and you get surround sound. What's even more interesting is even when watching a program in stereo, the advert breaks are always in surround sound. Them advertisers know how to get your attention (not that I watch anything on commercial channels live very often)

This old unit cost me nothing, like most of my stuff I got it for free faulty, and it didn't cost much to fix it.

Also I was able to find the right AV code for a sky remote. So my Sky remote control operates the tv, the sky box and the AV system, so nice all in one logical operation.

Now I've had this, I could never go back to just using the tv's built in speakers, even thought my set is old enough to have half decent speakers built in.
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Old 18-11-2012, 18:43
spiney2
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2.0 and pro logic is real surround sound. not simulation. the 2 rear channels are coded using sq matrix.

5.0 is higher fi source material. but what you hear partly depends on haas effect which does not work too well in small spaces. it needs a large distance between speakers which you dont get in living rooms.
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Old 18-11-2012, 18:49
spiney2
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as i said above, where surround sound exists at all it is also on the 2.0 version.

where source is only stereo then pseudo surround works by amplifying the A - B signal to give greater separation. as only two channels then exactly the same in 2.0 and 5.1.

a limitation of the original theatre matrix system is the 2 rear channels band limited due to film weave over analogue projector sound heads. this doesnt apply to the digital version as on freeview etc where you get an improved surround effect.
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