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  1. Member
    Join Date: Sep 2006
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    I have Comcast Cable. Since last year when America went Digital, the sound on our TV's is bad. When I travel to near by Cities, the sound is bad there, also.


    The sound we are hearing from all of our televisions whether hooked to a Converter Box or just by the Comcast Cable wire, is the same.

    An echoee sound, not a duplication as in a real Echo from a Mountain, just a hollow sound like too much amplication. Some of the Actors sound like they have head colds. Very irritating.

    As most people now have Digital TV, others must be noticing some kind of sound quality difference, too.
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  2. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    It has nothing to do with "going digital". Cable was not affected by the DTV transition. Something else is at play, the timing was mere coincidence.
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  3. Member
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    Thank you for the advice, lordsmurf. If not a Digital problem then it must be a Comcast problem which, of course, they deny. The other areas of two Counties where we all can hear the problem, are also Comcast areas.

    Derryanna
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  4. Member
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    Hello! I have more information on the problem of changed sound quality on our Televisions since the Digital transition. A Comcast representative finally informed us that, yes, there is a problem. It seems the TV Stations are to blame by squeezing the sound Frequencies to the point that now a muffled addition is heard to the soundtracks of movies, etc.

    There is money to be made by compressing enough that more frequencies are available for sale. He tells us that the compression, MPEG 5 has been tried and it is causing sound problems. He tells us also that many complaints have been registered, and, also, it is not the fault of the Cable operators as the Cable Companies transfer an unadulterated picture/sound from the TV Stations.

    Supposedly, now that the Stations are under pressure, they are dickering to go back to the sound frequency used before the Digital changes.
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  5. Member
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    LOL! That is hilarious. What your "honest" Comcast rep failed to tell you is that it is Comcast who is actually squeezing everything to lower bit rates. I do standard def TV captures of TS streams straight from the Comcast box to my PC. Exactly what Comcast puts out to the TV is what I get without re-encoding. Comcast uses bit rates of less that 2000 Kbps on some standard definition channels and 192 Kbps AC3 audio. You are being completely lied to. It is well known that Comcast lowers the video bit rate of many if not all channels that they provide. See here:
    http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/31/comcasts-blurry-high-definition-picture/

    Never heard of MPEG 5. If it even exists, I can promise you that it is not in use.

    How do you know that Comcast is lying to you? Their lips are moving.

    To be fair, all cable companies suck. Most of their employees are idiots. Comcast is not necessarily any worse than any other cable company.
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  6. Member
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    Great discussion, Jman98. We have the Comcast digital box as well as two Comcast DVR's, but, our picture quality has not changed especially from HBO, Max, Starz, and TMC. Those particular offerings are so clear that we are no longer ordering Netflix movies in BluRay at a higher expense.

    But, the sound quality, as I previously wrote, is very bad. This does not mean that some of our channels are not suffering visually, but, being of less interest to us, we are not noticing it as much as the sound problem.

    MPEG 4 is the compression used under usual conditions, but, the Tech was mentioning the 5 as a new, tighter compression. I looked it up on the Internet and the topic is agreeable.

    In any event, we the Customers, are being used as the sacrificial Lambs, as usual. Money talks, and whether it is the Cable companies, or, the Stations/Government, the Public loses out.

    Keep the info coming, jman98. We were just VERY happy that anyone working at Comcast even agreed with us that the sound is rotten. To that time, 3 different Tech's refused to admit we were hearing a problem even as I stood next to them watching and listening to a channel. It really did cross my mind that we were having hearing problems until our visits to other vicinities and still hearing that hollow, muffled, sound.

    Derryanna
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  7. Member
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    Originally Posted by jman98 View Post
    I do standard def TV captures of TS streams straight from the Comcast box to my PC. Exactly what Comcast puts out to the TV is what I get without re-encoding.
    Not to get too far off topic, but is this via firewire? And what has to be done to these captures in order to use them for DVD video? Tnx.
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  8. Member edDV's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Derryanna View Post
    Great discussion, Jman98. We have the Comcast digital box as well as two Comcast DVR's, but, our picture quality has not changed especially from HBO, Max, Starz, and TMC. Those particular offerings are so clear that we are no longer ordering Netflix movies in BluRay at a higher expense.

    But, the sound quality, as I previously wrote, is very bad. This does not mean that some of our channels are not suffering visually, but, being of less interest to us, we are not noticing it as much as the sound problem.

    MPEG 4 is the compression used under usual conditions, but, the Tech was mentioning the 5 as a new, tighter compression. I looked it up on the Internet and the topic is agreeable.

    In any event, we the Customers, are being used as the sacrificial Lambs, as usual. Money talks, and whether it is the Cable companies, or, the Stations/Government, the Public loses out.

    Keep the info coming, jman98. We were just VERY happy that anyone working at Comcast even agreed with us that the sound is rotten. To that time, 3 different Tech's refused to admit we were hearing a problem even as I stood next to them watching and listening to a channel. It really did cross my mind that we were having hearing problems until our visits to other vicinities and still hearing that hollow, muffled, sound.

    Derryanna
    Never heard of Comcast using MPeg4. Do you have the cable box model numbers? Are these sound issues only affecting local channels or cable "digital" channels too? What about the sound on the HD cable channels?
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  9. Member
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    Originally Posted by Beavis View Post
    Originally Posted by jman98 View Post
    I do standard def TV captures of TS streams straight from the Comcast box to my PC. Exactly what Comcast puts out to the TV is what I get without re-encoding.
    Not to get too far off topic, but is this via firewire? And what has to be done to these captures in order to use them for DVD video? Tnx.
    Yep. They just have to be demuxed from the TS streams that get captured.
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  10. Member
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    Originally Posted by edDV View Post
    Never heard of Comcast using MPeg4. Do you have the cable box model numbers? Are these sound issues only affecting local channels or cable "digital" channels too? What about the sound on the HD cable channels?
    If they do, which I also have not ever heard of, then they convert it to MPEG-2 for output to customers. Everything I record from my Comcast box is in MPEG-2 format.

    It could just be that the Comcast guy is lying or that they do convert to MPEG-4 and then convert that to MPEG-2, but I've never heard of that.
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  11. Member
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    Derryanna - By any chance do you use an audio receiver or amplifier of some kind? I do and because my receiver has no HDMI inputs, audio gets transmitted via HDMI to my TV and via optical to my receiver. I have to turn the volume of my TV down all the way when I play my BluRay player or I get an echo because the audio is on the TV and coming through the receiver at the same time. This may not be what is happening to you, but I thought I would mention it just in case.
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  12. Member
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    jman98, we hear the hollow, muffled sound whether we use our receiver or just use our televisions, of which there are five in our house. Richard, our Tech stood next to us and listened, too, which is when he admitted he did receive complaints, and, his explanation as I said before, is the Stations are tinkering around with MPEG 5 to shrink the frequencies.

    Now, all of this is foreign to me, so, I am carefully repeating what the man said. I also forwarded to the high command of Comcast, what was discussed, too.

    The bad sound is heard at my Relative's homes and they live in close Cities around us. One of our Neighbor's does not pay attention to the difference, but, several other neighbor's moan along with us.

    Bu We have heard the same problem in Hotel's while on vacation and have discussed the problem with the Hotel management who agree the sound could be better.

    People are people, and, will sooner or later just learn to live with second class service which is why both the Cable companies and the TV Stations can get away with what they want in order to increase their profits. A shame.

    By the way, I thank all of you for your interest. We sometimes feel like we are perfectionists sailing on a high sea of garbage. Chuckle!
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  13. Member Seeker47's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Derryanna View Post
    People are people, and, will sooner or later just learn to live with second class service which is why both the Cable companies and the TV Stations can get away with what they want in order to increase their profits. A shame.

    We sometimes feel like we are perfectionists sailing on a high sea of garbage.
    This is the contemporary dilemma afflicting far too many things. Standards deteriorate all around us. Younger folks don't know any better, because they lack a context for comparison. The mass public are either cheap, or sheep, and unless or until they start demanding better and voting with their wallets, the purveyors will continue to get away with whatever suits them and the decline of standards will continue.
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  14. Member edDV's Avatar
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    You didn't answer my questions about cable box model numbers or the outputs you are using

    IEEE-1394?
    Digital optical or coax?
    RCA red/white off cable box?
    coax direct to the TV set?

    or if you are only talking about local stations.

    All ATSC digital TV stations use AC3 audio, same as DVD or Blu-Ray. The guy is blowing smoke with "Mpeg5".

    Cable boxes internally convert analog audio from NTSC stations to mp2 or AC3 audio for digital output.

    There are no experiments going on in broadcast stations to change audio formats that I've heard about. He might be talking about the link from the TV station to the cable head end.

    What city are you in? I have Comcast here and have used Comcast and Time Warner in other cities and audio seems the same to me in various states.

    There are technical differences between the old NTSC analog stereo audio and the current digital AC3. For one , anlog audio was volume compressed because of poor signal to noise. Digital AC3 has wide dynamic range similar to a CD or DVD. The lows are lower in volume and the highs are higer. This causes normal voice conversation to seem lower in volume than it was with NTSC and explosions will be much louder. Most cable boxes and newer digital TV sets have dynamic range settings sometimes called "night mode", "volume compression", etc. which compress the volume deviation in the cable box to narrower range. This makes digital audio seem more like the old analog stereo.

    We can't help you further with your question until you give more detail on the problem. When you say you hear the problem in several cities that seems to eliminate local Comcast issues.
    Last edited by edDV; 26th Oct 2010 at 18:07.
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  15. Member [_chef_]'s Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Derryanna View Post
    jman98, we hear the hollow, muffled sound whether we use our receiver or just use our televisions, of which there are five in our house. Richard, our Tech stood next to us and listened, too, which is when he admitted he did receive complaints, and, his explanation as I said before, is the Stations are tinkering around with MPEG 5 to shrink the frequencies.
    Where does that come from??
    *** Now that you have read me, do some other things. ***
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  16. Member
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    Hello! This is a continuation of my first question concerning bad Audio from our TV's.



    The problem started 3 years ago about the time the Digital change over occurred. Also, at that time a Comcast repairman had to go into a junction box near us and found a problem and replaced a Part, plus found water in the box, which had been causing extreme pixels on all our 5 TV's. The pixlel problem disappeared and after 8 days of no TV at all, we again could watch our TV's.

    Coincidence?

    Comcast has finally sent a company repairman a few days ago who spent 2 hours at our house and checked out the Telephone pole cable finding two repairs to be done, then lowered a booster Amplifier on the house, checked under the house, and listened to the sound on all 5 TV's. Still the muffled effect.

    I asked for a check on the Junction box, but, have heard nothing more. I left a phone message for this Repairman, but, no answer back.

    What do you think?


    Continuation.... - New!

    by Derri Anna - 8/23/11 10:15 AM

    In Reply to: All 5 TV sets have a muffled, over amplified audio sound mak by Derri Anna

    More information. A Neighbor stated she does not have any problems with her TV audio and was surprised at the bad audio we had as she stood and listened to our TV's. I tried some experiments. I have 200 music files downloaded from the Internet before Comcast took over. This music is now on a SanDisk Player and I listen while doing my 5 mile early morning Run. The music is perfectly clear, not bass distorted as we hear on our Cable. It is the sound just like we were hearing before the Digital conversion and the repair work of a Comcast employee.

    I then played some vinyl LP's on a phonograph that is not in any way hooked to a Comcast cable and the sound also was perfect, no adulteration as we hear from our TV's.

    Is there such a thing as an electrical problem? Something plugged into a line that affects Audio through the house?

    Who could we call to make a visit here that knows more than Comcast?
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  17. Plug the output of your MP3 player into on of the inputs on the TV. How does it sound via the TV's speakers?
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  18. Member
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    Thank you, jagabo, for answering.

    You have opened another train of thought. My tiny Sansa Sandisk only has an outlet to my headphones, but, using that idea I will try to connect it and other sources into our TV's and check the sounds.

    There is one other thing I forgot to mention. I may well confuse you as I did our Comcast repairman. The same over bass, over stereo, muffle in cave sound, also exists on any DVD we play, too. All are hooked to Comcast. How about that? I told the repairman that but unfortunately did not play a DVD for him. But, the raise of his eyebrow made me aware, later, that he thought my hearing may not be good. He said something about he did not know of any sound reversal, from TV back to DVD Player.

    To be clear, jagabo, we hear all channels of our TV's loudly, but some actors sound like they have head colds and are speaking through their nose. Especially, at night, it can be hard to hear every word uttered by actors. Our neighbor caught that, too. Female actors with higher voices can come through like mild high pitched screaming. Really irritating, and, with that hollow sound.
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  19. Member
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    I am in shock! I thought perhaps my hearing had gone bad. I could not believe it so I called another Neighbor to listen to my DVD's and tell me what she heard.

    None of my Headsets, neither Sony nor SanDisk have plugs which will fit into a TV, so, I totally disconnected Comcast from one of the newer TV's. I then put into my DVD Player two different movies, then one music DVD,
    and, one CD, just to be sure. Good Heaven's! The troublesome, hollow, muffled, too much stereo, sounds were still to be heard. What on Earth is going on?

    There has to be someone who understands Electronics/Electricity and can solve this mystery.
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  20. Member
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    See if you have any audio settings in the menus fro the TV set.

    I have an older Sony Trinitron that has audio settings that could be misconfigured to what you are hearing.
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  21. Member
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    I have five television sets afflicted with the same over stereo, hollow, muffled, in a cave, sound. These Sets are each connected differently. Two are connected to Comcast DVR's and our Receivers, one is connected to a Comcast digital converter box, one is connected only to a temporary Comcast analog converter box, and, one set is only connected to Comcast Cable.

    The Sets range from 1983-2010. I have Panasonic LCD HDTV, a Panasonic Plasma, two Toshiba's and one old Zenith. They all carry the strange Audio.

    The Comcast repairman did mention he heard a hard Base but when he checked three of our sets, he found I had already adjusted the Base as well as the compression. He simply has let us go. If you read up the line of my info you will find where I mentioned this all started three years ago with Comcast having to replace a part in a Junction Box as well as the repairman finding water in the Box. About the same time, the digital change over occurred. None of us know what else to do but suffer with the bad sound.
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  22. Member
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    EdDV already explained the reasons why DTV audio is different than analog. Digital TV audio (AC3) allows a wider dynamic range than analog TV stereo audio provided, which means some kinds of sounds will now seem louder than they used to be while others will seem softer. Sound may be over-amplified because you now have to turn the volume up higher to make out dialog, which is now softer than it used to be. ...but if you are beginning to suspect you have have lost some of your hearing, you are probably right.

    I have Comcast digital service, and don't experience the audio problems you describe. I probably have the volume turned up a little bit higher than I did when I had analog service. I also have to adjust the volume more often when I change channels, or because someone is speaking softly. That is about it.

    However, my parents (also Comcast digital customers in the same community) have significant age-related hearing loss and often use their TVs with the volume turned up pretty high so they can hear dialog more clearly. I have noticed that when the volume is turned up beyond a certain point, the audio from their TVs begins to sound worse.

    Even in different cities, you will have to adjust the volume to suit yourself when watching digital TV and have the same sound quality issues. If your acquaintances in other cities also crank up the audio, they will have the same problem. MP3 player headphones or ear buds are on your ears, if not in your ears. The amplification needed for those is tiny when compared to a TV speaker sitting 10 feet away, even if the MP3 player volume is turned all the way up. That is why it sounds OK. It isn't over-amplified.
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  23. I can think of one possibility but it's a stretch. Maybe the cable system isn't well grounded and you have a ground loop introducing a loud 60 Hz hum. That hum might not be very audible with the small speakers in TVs but could cause distortion to the rest of the audio. That would explain why every TV connected to the cable system has the problem and why it started when the cable box outside was worked on. If you disconnect the cable TV coax and watch a DVD the audio should clear up. Reconnecting the cable coax should reintroduce the hum. The fix for this is ground the cable box where cable enters your house.
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  24. Member
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    Usually Quiet, thank you so much for your advice. There is no loss of hearing in fact I keep the TV lower than normal. Coming from a musical family I am very conscious of noise/sound. As I mentioned, my Neighbors do not hear anything out of normal and I use them to guarantee we really hear what we hear. Chuckle.

    jagabo, the first thing I did was check in with the Wiki and investigate ground loop. There definitely is no hum. But, with no one else around here experiencing what we do, I wondered about an electrical/coaxical cable problem. Something that might spread to all the 5 TV's. Sometimes I use our larger speakers, but, hear no sign of a hum which I know what you mean.

    I am still going to disconnect the TV coax and watch a DVD to see what happens on one of the TV sets, and, check outside for any fix needed with grounding the cable box.

    Gentlemen, I thank you so much. You have been a great help in hopefully leading me in the right direction.

    Sadly, I am the electronic expert around here who hooks up all the speaker systems, balances their sounds, and enjoys the product of my work. Another chuckle! But, it is my fun to read Manuals and follow instructions.
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  25. Paulyvee
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    Excuse me putting my oar in but I have been following this thread from the beginning and I am a qualified audio engineer with 40 years experience in repairing and designing brown goods ( radios and TV's were once always in brown wooden boxes) and audio systems for lecture theatres.

    Going from the described symptoms there are 4 possible areas to investigate.
    a) signal source
    b) signal reception and amplification
    c) acoustics
    d) client - you

    Any or all of these could cause the problem.

    Taking the last first - If you have noticed the effect over a long time but initially it was a sudden effect when something changed it is unlikely that it is you personally ie your hearing at fault but it is not unexpected that you complain possibly more than others as you will be more aware of the "distortion" and to a degree listening for it. This would tend to make the effect worse that it perhaps is.

    You also have to consider that you might have been "anti" the analogue - digital switchover so were looking to complain in the first place.

    This can also be discounted to a large extent because you say that the effect is only present at some locations and sound quality is reasonable at others.

    As to cause 3 - acoustics - this can also probably be discounted as the effect is in several rooms each with different sizes and different furnishings thus different acoustics.

    If you include the loudspeakers in the acoustic equation - converting the electrical sound signal to acoustic waves it apparently happens on different makes and models of equipment so again possible causes - cross modulation caused by overdriving or poor quality - small or faulty speakers are unlikely. Again also partially eliminated because you say it happened on different kit at the same time.

    This only leaves the electronic signal chain.

    a) initial generation
    b) amplification
    c) encoding
    d) distribution
    e) reception
    f) decoding
    g) amplification.

    Each of these can only be eliminated by a step by step process - each being to substitute known good equipment or to drive "suspect" equipment with a known good signal. I you are still with me so far let me know and I can detail a suitable diagnostic approach.

    All the best.

    Paulyvee

    Coventry
    United Kingdom.
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  26. Member edDV's Avatar
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    Various ways to eliminate the cable system and test the rest.

    1. A VCR with VHF NTSC RF Ch3 or Ch4 out playing a quality commercial tape can be used to set a benchmark through the various TV tuners. It will also feed baseband stereo over the RCA white and red connectors.

    2. Connect an antenna to an ATSC tuner/converter box* to compare OTA to the cable audio reception. It is likely you can receive at least one ATSC channel. Digital broadcast is a go-nogo situation. If you get it you get full quality AC3 audio. The converter box will convert the OTA signal to RF Ch3 or Ch4.

    3. Your HDTV sets probably have an ATSC tuner built in. You can connect an antenna, scan for channels and hear the AC3 audio directly.

    4. Your HDTV may also have a QAM tuner that can tune unencrypted digital cable channels (usually the locals as mandated by the FCC). This way you get full HD video and AC3 audio without need to subscribe to an HD plan.

    Try one or more of these and see if the audio is better. If so, something is wrong with cable delivery or cablebox settings.


    * These are the government rebate ATSC tuners offered in 2009. If you don't have one you can probably borrow one. You can still buy one for ~$50 or on eBay.
    Last edited by edDV; 23rd Aug 2011 at 19:35.
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  27. Originally Posted by edDV View Post
    1. A VCR with VHF NTSC RF Ch3 or Ch4 out playing a quality commercial tape can be used to set a benchmark through the various TV tuners. It will also feed baseband stereo over the RCA white and red connectors.
    Be sure it's a HiFi stereo VCR -- otherwise you will get the low bandwidth mono track which always sounds muffled.
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  28. Member
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    Paulyvee, hello from across the Pond!

    The digital age was met with great anticipation hoping for even better pictures on our TV's. Indeed, the change in audio did happen during the few days after the Comcast Repair man opened the Juction Box which was about 3 blocks from our home. He changed the AFC or AFG (I never can remember the proper name) switch which had something to do with 'balance', and, he found water in the box. The reason for the repair was we were without TV for 8 days due to only pixels showing up on the TV screens. We gained back our good TV, but, shortly after that (or, the digital age), we found the Audio causing problems.

    Yes, our Neighbors tell us they are not experiencing the problem though one would think the Junction Box repair would affect all.

    We only use our Receivers/Speakers in one room, preferring the simplicity of just listening to the speakers on other TV's. The Audio is bad no matter which we go.

    Also, remember, even our DVD audio is affected as I learned today, by entirely disconnecting the Comcast cable to the TV, and found that the DVD still gave out that muffled, in a cave, sound.

    Yes, all makes and models in five different rooms are affected.

    All equipment is of top Brand and quality, even the older 1982 Zenith which we rarely use. It is for admiration only being these types of cabinets are no longer made. Chuckle!

    Please, it would be of great pleasure to have you detail a suitable diagnostic approach.

    So far, the worthy words from 'jagabo' and 'usually quiet' have been of much interest as every instinct I have tells me this is encompassed either outside of our house or something gone wrong inside our house.

    Please join us and help.

    Dee
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  29. Member
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    edDV, a great idea and being we have a year old LCD Panasonic TV with QAM Tuner that I have used to gain digital channels without the Comcast converter, and, Comcast soon rid itself of all the better channels such a CNN so that we would have to purchase their Converter box, I will disconnect the temporary Comcast analog converter and reload the basic digital channels again. Maybe that will tell me something more in this puzzle.
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  30. Member
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    jagabo, the remaining VCR's that I have are Hi Fi Stereo so that will be another road to travel in this search for normal sound.
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