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Thread: wdtv + soundbar

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  1. Hello, I've recently been interested in purchasing a 2.1 ht system, specifically one capable of producing a much clearer dialog, as I often times find it muffled and hard to discern. So I've laid my eyes one some of the panasonic models which come with such feature, however I came across a review that's made me doubt somewhat:

    ---Sound:Movies ** (2 stars) (and potentially other sources considered PCM or analog to digital)
    This is where my review get's not so good. First off, I will say my movies probably WOULD sound good, if they were simply BluRay's coming from a player. However, I'm using an HTPC with ripped movies (i.e. movies put into digital format on a hard drive). The problem with the HTB15 is that it relies on the source to determine whether or not to put out Dolby Digital. Meaning, you can't force it into Dolby Digital mode if it determines your source is "PCM", and if it determines the incoming source is PCM, then it only outputs 2 channel audio. The big problem with this is, the 3D surround sound, AND the clear dialog feature (the primary reason for my purchase), ONLY works in Dolby mode. This was painfully evident when I fired up my movies, and the dialogue was so muffled on some of the movies, I had to crank up the volume all the way to hear it. As a baseline test, I tediously hooked up my other setup (receiver/speakers/center) back and forth, back and forth, watching the same scenes. The advantage of the receiver is that once you put it into Dolby 5.1, it can at least derive the mid range frequencies that dominate dialogue, and run them through the center channel. Even basic receivers have this ability. Unfortunately, the HTB15 is too "stupid", so to speak, to do this on it's own.

    The frustrating thing is that this has the ability to force into it's various sound modes, but it only works one way. Meaning, if the incoming source is Dolby, but you want to go to PCM or 2 Channel, you can. But if the incoming source is 2 channel, you cannot have it "translate" it into Dolby, thus getting the clear dialogue benefit.
    But then another reviewer claims it works great with his roku XD?

    So I don't know what's going on, would this be a problem with my wdtv? even if the ripped files are dolby?
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  2. Member
    Join Date: Jul 2001
    Location: United States
    Search Comp PM
    Considering that dialog is usually on the center channel, and that's what you want to isolate, you should go for more of a 3.1 system. A 2.1 is left/right front with a sub.

    What's your spending limit? Maybe someone could advise an alternative.
    Have a good one,

    neomaine

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  3. Yeah, I thought about that too, but I figured that if the clear dialog feature worked with my wd tv it would be my primary option, as it is simpler/cheaper. But yeah, I'm open to suggestions, my budget would be 200 max, I'm not really looking for anything fancy, just a decent entry level ht system would be fine, used maybe? However I'd still like clear whether the soundbar would be able to use that feature or not, if anyone can help.
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  4. The clear dialog feature works by boosting the volume of the center channel (or dropping the volume of the other channels). Without a center channel there's nothing to boost.
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  5. Member
    Join Date: Jul 2001
    Location: United States
    Search Comp PM
    Wow, $200, not much to work with. You're looking at both low end HTIBs and soundbars. With only that to spend, hit some garage sales an lope to fall upon a a slightly older a/v receiver and speakers.

    Otheriwse, you could even look into some mid-level PC speakers. What do you have for a TV?

    My wife and I purchased LED backlit LG TV for her parents this Christmas. I didn't really think about sound knowing (thinking...) they weren't too picky about it. However, some channels seemed to be too 'tinny' for their ears and were physically uncomfortable. I knew it wouldn't be good, but, this seemed really bad. Just can't get acceptable speakers/sound from something so thin.

    So .... I ended up finding a set of 2.1 PC speakers (on discount for US$25) and hooked them up to the available line out port and setting it up so they could adjust the volume with the TV remote. You would have thought I just set up a $10k home theatre for them. They were completely ecstatic.
    Have a good one,

    neomaine

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  6. I think I wasn't clear enough in my OP. According to the review I posted, the clear dialog feature does not work if the audio source is PCM. What still isn't clear to me is whether a wdtv is limited to output audio exclusively in PCM regardless of a file's audio format. From the way he wrote it I got the impression that ripped files played thorough a media center can only output PCM, even if said files were dolby digital. If this is not the case, and my wdtv can output dolby digital, than presumably the soundbar features would work.

    I'd like to clear this first before considering other options.
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  7. Member yoda313's Avatar
    Join Date: Jun 2004
    Location: The Animus
    Search Comp PM
    The wdtv can output dolby digital and dts no problem. The dts will only work on a dts capable receiver of course. So if you have it connected to a tv it won't play. Though with hdmi I'm not sure if there is some magic that might work on a dts only track via hdmi - I suspect not and you will most likely need a dts receiver for dts files.

    But yes you can do dolby digital just fine via fiber optic or hdmi on the wdtv. Check the manual of the specific type of wdtv model you are looking to get for all the details. I have a first generation model and I can output digital audio to my digital amp and I get the full 5.1 audio.

    I don't have a soundbar so I can't answer that part of the question however.
    Donatello - The Shredder? Michelangelo - Maybe all that hardware is for making coleslaw?
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  8. The WDTV series can output 5.1 over the digital outupt.
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  9. Member
    Join Date: Jul 2001
    Location: United States
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    morbid1,

    That may be a limitation of your media center. Personnally, I connect my WDTV to my PC via a Network Share. Though connecting to WMC works, I found the extra steps in keeping the library up to date and codec issues to be a pain. At least when I first started using the WDTV back a few years ago.

    Going directly of the network share takes out the WMC middle man and allows the WDTV to do all the decoding. I've had no problems with any video or audio format from DVDs (mkv) and BluRays (.m2ts).
    Have a good one,

    neomaine

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