New BDP, Old AVR

I read HT's review of the Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player, which was very helpful. I have an older AVR (Pioneer Elite VSX-43TX, 96/24 capable, but no HDMI or DTS/Dolby HD decoders), so if I get the BDP-93, the review suggests that I connect HDMI from the Oppo to my new Panasonic TC-P65VT30 plasma and use analog outputs to the AVR. But what about using either coax or optical out from the BDP-93 to the AVR? At least that would cut down on the cabling and clutter. Also, will I hear the benefits of Dolby or DTS HD audio via analog or digital audio from the Oppo, since the Elite is 96/24 capable?

Peter Kukiel

If you connect the coax or optical digital-audio output from the BDP-93 to the AVR, you won't hear Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD in their full glory—you'll hear only legacy Dolby Digital and DTS, because coax and optical connections cannot carry the new audio bitstreams. The only way to get the full benefit of the new audio formats in your system is to use the multichannel analog outputs from the Oppo (shown above) to the Pioneer.

As for whether or not you'll hear the benefits of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD over legacy Dolby Digital and DTS, only you can determine that for yourself. Some folks say they hear a huge difference, while others say the difference is minimal. I believe it depends in part on the quality of the rest of the audio system and the amount of experience the listener has.

If you have an A/V question, please send it to askhometheater@gmail.com.

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COMMENTS
AVtheaterguy's picture

At the last SONY training I went to back this last May, we were given a great demo of HD audio vs. SD audio, using a SONY Sound Bar HTIB system that had both HDMI and Optical in coming from a Blu-Ray player.

The demonstrator first had the Blu-Ray Configured for the HDMI connection and played a demo clip from Terminator Salvation.

Even through the soundbar we could hear that it was very CLEAR and RESOLVED sound.

Then he switched to the optical connection, and we totally lost all the dynamics.

Then we switched back to HDMI and it was VERY CLEAR how important the HD audio signal is to the experience.

mailiang's picture

There are a few films where there may be a very clear audible difference between lossy and lossless formats, however this probably has more to do with the difference in the mixes from the original master, then from the data reduction scheme.

http://www.hemagazine.com/node/Dolby_TrueHD_DTS-MA_versus_Uncompressed_PCM

JustinGN's picture

First, the guidance on cabling regarding lossless vs lossy sound is spot-on: unless you upgrade to an HDMI AVR or Sound Processor that also supports the various Bitstream formats from Blu-Ray, Multi-Channel analog audio outputs from your BD player are your only option. Oppo's are by far the best out there currently, though when you've got the best, everyone else will try to outdo you somehow; in other words, what's the best today won't necessarily be the best tomorrow.

Regarding the audible difference between lossless and lossy sound, however, it really is something you'll have to hear for yourself. The problem is that, unlike HDMI connections, analog outputs can color or change the sound depending on how they're built. Oppo takes pride in its analog stage, but even it ultimately colors the sound somewhat. Not only that, but lossless soundtracks don't always sound better than their lossy counterparts (this especially holds true in the various Blu-Ray rereleases of major Anime titles). So even if you have bit-perfect sound from disc to DAC, there's plenty of Blu-Ray discs out there with inferior lossless soundtracks.

Even with all that, however...it's usually a good idea to try for the best case scenario (lossless sound in this case), and adapt or change as needed to suit your tastes. It may create cable clutter, but making use of that multi-channel input on your AVR from your Blu-Ray player will improve the sound most likely from your existing BD collection. Just make sure you set it up right.

juanseva_2's picture

Scott, received a cordial greeting again.

Thanks for answering my concerns a few months ago. Was very valuable.

I have a new query. I have the possibility of renewing my little SONY bluray player BDP S-350, and here where I live, I have the opportunity to purchase two Panasonic players, which in some reviews both have good reviews within the price range (200 U $) . I seek to improve the performance of audio and video quality. I've certainly heard that Panasonic has good relevant concepts in the video, thanks to PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus and P4HD. The Panasonic BDT-300 has some nice features, including dual HDMI and 7.1 analog output, among others. The new player BDT-110 has other features of most current software, 2D to 3D conversion, DLNA certification, etc, but I am more interested in quality audio and video that I can get. (the BDT-300 Apparently would be more high level of construction, although the previous year). This Bluray I would use for a small studio where I have an old Sony without HDMI amplifier, but with 5.1 channels of input. The TV is a 47'LED LG with HDMI 1.3a input.
In my country, now both players have similar prices. What do you recomend between these two options?. I want to buy a player with the best quality for audio and video.
Thank you very much for your kind response.

cordially
Juan S. Valencia

juanseva_2's picture

In my case, the change will evident in the quality of sound? The spatial dimension of audio substantially will improve and I can better appreciate the sonic detail of the movies and my favorite music? (with my old Sony STR DE695 amp, without HDMI, but with 5.1 analog input)

thanks again.

mailiang's picture

Remember that with Dolby Digital and DTS audio the LFE channel is designed to play back 10 db higher then the other channels. However with analog, in order to prevent clipping the analog input, there is no 10 db gain. So unless your receiver allows you to adjust the LFE channel separately, it's impossible to compensate unless you raise the AVR's line level out or sub volume which not only effects the LFE channel, but the output on all the bass that's crossed to the sub. And that's not all. With analog, the sub level output to your AVR is dropped by an additional 5 db for each speaker set to small by your player to make room for the the extra bass and again reduce the risk of overloading the analog input. Also does your player, (which does the bass management with analog) have a crossover control or separate time delays for each speaker? Even the more expensive ones like most of the Oppo's do not. So unless you have some serious equipment and a lot of patience you will never get analog to digital to work like digital bass management should.
Keep in mind that the data compression schemes for lossy (standard) DTS and Dolby Digital are lower on Blu-Ray. DTS claims that it's core data rate on Blu-Ray is twice that of other DVD video surround formats. So if your frustrated and not happy with your players analog set up, forget about all those extra cables, plug in to your digital (optical or coax) input connection and let your AVR do the bass management. This way you can enjoy great audio quality with out worrying about it being compromised.

juanseva_2's picture

Mailiang. Thanks for yoru advice.
In fact I have my digital coaxial cable connection, and my amp so indicates (multi channel on).
the sound is a little lighter and has less distortion when the volume is high. Is more clear and unified with my previous red and white analog cable.
But follow your advice and gain a better amp with the latest audio decoding formats in HD, probably largely improve the audio quality I have at this time.
thanks again.

juanseva_2's picture

Thanks for your valuable comments. A few months ago I upgraded my home theater and bought the Panasonic DMP-BDT220, TV Viera 50GT50 and RX-V673 Yamaha amplifier. It's been a big change and I really enjoyed it.
Again thank you very much to all the team Hometheatre.com.
Juan Valencia

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