AVR With No Advanced Audio Decoding

If an A/V receiver does not have DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD decoding capabilities, can the Blu-ray player provide high-resolution audio to the receiver? I have a Sony BDP-S570 Blu-ray player and STR-DA3300ES AVR, which cannot decode the advanced audio formats.

Don Sigman

If the receiver cannot decode DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD bitstreams it receives via HDMI, there are two ways to hear the high-resolution audio, both of which require the player to decode these formats internally. One method is to connect the multichannel analog-audio outputs from the player to the corresponding inputs on the AVR. Unfortunately, the BDP-S570 does not provide these outputs, though the STR-DA3300ES does have multichannel inputs.

The other method is simpler—the player decodes DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD internally and sends PCM digital audio to the AVR via HDMI. Virtually all AVRs with HDMI inputs can handle PCM audio, so this will work with any player that can decode the high-rez audio formats, including the BDP-S570.

The BDP-S570's Audio Settings menu has a control called Audio (HDMI), which can be set to Auto or PCM. According to the manual, the Auto setting "outputs audio signals according to the status of the connected HDMI device." In other words, the player should detect that the AVR cannot decode DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD and decode these formats to PCM internally before sending the signal to the AVR. If this doesn't work for some reason, set the control to PCM, which forces the player to decode everything to PCM before sending audio to the AVR via HDMI.

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

fufanuer's picture

I have a receiver (Yamaha HTR-5990) that has HDMI and 7.1 channels, but it doesn't decode the DTS-HD or TrueHD formats, it only does the Dolby EX and Prologic IIx formats. Based on what you said above (and if my receiver processes PCM), I can set my blue ray player to send out PCM to my receiver via HDMI and I will have DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD sound coming out of my 7.1 channels in loss-less format? I always thought I needed to upgrade my receiver with one that accepts the new BluRay HD audio formats.

What are the downsides to this method? Do you lose bass management, or any calibration settings? Does this limit the choosing of specific audio decoding? For example, if the BluRay has a 5.1 sound track it will only come out 5.1 channels and if it has a 7.1 audio track, it will come only out 7.1? Since I am only sending it PCM, my receiver won't touch the audio and force it out of more channels?

mailiang's picture

Set your player to PCM and you will be good to go. It really doesn't matter which devise does the decoding. With PCM your player will not only decode the lossless 5.1 or 7.1 audio track, but it will also provide other audio options such as the film Director's commentary. Even if you only have a 5.1 channel receiver and you play a Blu-Ray disc with a 7.1 audio track, the additional surround back channels will be down mixed into the rear surrounds by the AVR's processor. By the same token, if you are playing a 5.1 track on a 7.1 system, depending on you speaker set up configuration, the extra surround back channels will receive the rear surrounds audio track as well. However, with most AVR's you can set the additional surround back channels to off for 5.1 sources. Unlike the analog BD player outputs, when using HDMI, all the bass management is still being done by the AVR's processor. There is no need to recalibrate your receiver.


Santeini's picture

Theres no down side to this method,get it done quickly and enjoy the HD sound.

n2hifi's picture

I have the BDP-S570 and thought I found my solution here, but I'm guessing that only works for the HDMI output. I have a Marantz SR-19EX so no HDMI. I think I have tried all of the settings but still only get 2-channel audio on TrueHD disks. DTS MasterAudio seems to work fine. Am I missing something? It seems if the player decodes TrueHD and outputs PCM via HDMI that it would output that same PCM through the digital output. Also, I thought both TrueHD and Master Audio had a core bitstream that was backwards compatible even though that stream doesn't provide the full experience of the advanced codec.