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Need some advice concerning 5.1 system please.

torrenter

Standard Member
Hi guys, I've been thinking of installing a 5.1 Surround System to go with my Panasonic Plasma, but am just confused with what seems like an excessive amount of ports on the back of my TV and BD Players on the market.

Originally, I was going to get a 5.1 speaker set for my PC as I was playing games and watching Blu-rays off my 24" LCD monitor. I was looking at getting a sound card aswell. But then I decided to get a proper TV and just play the Blu-ray movies via an Internal BD player over HDMI, via my Graphics card.

I was content with the 2.1 Speaker set for my PC and the downfiring speakers on the Plasma but now I want more of an experience.

So I have a couple of questions.

1) Do I need another dedicated BD player to go with the Plasma? Or can I still use my Internal one on my PC? The picture looks fantastic as it is and the player loads the films fast. Obviously it would be more conveniant to play films without having to turn the PC on every time though.

2) As the 5.1 system will set up with the TV, what cables do I need? And how could I conceal them. My rooms' a loft conversion with laminate flooring. I won't be looking to make any damage.

My current equipment is:

Panasonic Plasma: TX-P42S20B
Samsung Internal BD Player: SH-B083L
 

Broadz

Distinguished Member
1) Do I need another dedicated BD player to go with the Plasma? Or can I still use my Internal one on my PC? The picture looks fantastic as it is and the player loads the films fast. Obviously it would be more conveniant to play films without having to turn the PC on every time though.

If your PC is capable of outputting a high definition picture and audio via HDMI, you obviously don't need a second Blu Ray player to achieve the same thing. It may be more convenient to not have to switch the PC on - but you'll still need to switch the second Blu Ray player on if that's going to play the DVDs/Blu Ray discs.

2) As the 5.1 system will set up with the TV, what cables do I need? And how could I conceal them. My rooms' a loft conversion with laminate flooring. I won't be looking to make any damage.

You'll only need to connect your TV to your 5.1 system if you intend to feed the audio from the TV's own tuner(s) to the surround sound system. Otherwise, it's just a case of connecting the individual sources to it (Blu Ray, Sky, Virgin, Freesat, VCR, games consoles, PC). Run a cable from each external piece of kit to the surround sound system - and cables from the surround sound system to each speaker. Depending what external kit you have now, and intend to get in the future, will dictate what inputs the surround sound system will need, and what cables you will have to run.
 

torrenter

Standard Member
Thanks for your help here Broadz. So, if I'm using my PC and Internal Bluray player as the starting point and what HD Audio and Video it supports, I can tell you that:

1) My motherboard has onboard audio (108dB SNR ALC889 HD Audio) and on the back panel there is

1 x SPDIF Out (Coaxial)
1 x SPDIF Out (Optical)

aswell as 1 of each of the following

green TRS 3.5mm stereo output, front channels
black TRS 3.5mm stereo output, rear channels
grey TRS 3.5mm stereo output, side channels
orange TRS 3.5mm dual output, center and subwoofer
blue TRS 3.5mm stereo input, line level
pink TS 3.5mm mono microphone input


My Graphics Card has " Integrated HDMI 1.3 output with Deep Color, xvYCC wide gamut support" as well as an "HD audio controller."

"Output protected high bit rate 7.1 channel surround sound over HDMI with no additional cables required
Supports AC-3, AAC, Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio formats."

There are of course many sockets or ports on the back of the TV. I was intending to just buy a decent 5.1 speaker set. Literally just that. But what would be the best way of connecting it all up? That is where I'm scratching my head. How many cables are we talking about?

Your help is much appreciated.
 

torrenter

Standard Member
Ok, so I already have the HDMI cable to TV there. With either Optical or Digital Coaxial to the Surround Sound System. Is that then using the ports on the back of my PC as mentioned? Is that just one cable then and is any one better than the other? I thought there would be more cables. Like between the speakers. Sorry, haven't done it before you see.
 

torrenter

Standard Member
Sorry, I'm still a little confused, especially when I see and read that there is all of this on the back of my TV:

HDMI Input/ Support Feature 3 (1 side, 2 rear)/ Audio Return Channel (Input 2)
Composite Video Input AV3: RCA phono type x 1 (side)
Audio Input (for Video) AV3: RCA phono type connectors (L, R) (1 set, side)
Component Video Input RCA phono type x 3 [Y , PB, PR] (rear)
Audio Input (for HDMI, PC, Component) RCA phono type connectors (L, R) (1 set, rear)
21-Pin Input/Output AV1: AV In/Out, RGB In, Q-Link (rear) / AV2: AV In/Out, S-Video In, RGB In, Q-Link (rear)

Analogue Audio Out RCA phono type connectors (L, R) (1 set rear)
Digital Audio Output (Optical) yes

I mean considering all of the connections of the back of my PC for speakers aswell, I'm not sure what to consider what is "In" and what is "Out". And what you class as the "Surround Sound System". Is that just the speakers? Plus, as HDMI is supposed to carry audio can you explain briefly how the Video and Audio would "flow" in my setup. Just so I can understand it a little better.
 

Broadz

Distinguished Member
Your PC is going to provide your entertainment source - through Blu Ray and DVD discs. You are planning on buying a surround sound 5.1 amp/receiver plus speakers to go with the TV, so that you can listen to the BluRays/DVDs in surround sound.

You will connect your PC to your TV using HDMI. This will transmit high definition video and audio to your TV, so that the picture you view will be in the highest quality possible. The HDMI cable will carry high definition audio too, but as no TV on earth has a high definition audio decoder built into it, this doesn't really matter. It does mean that if you want to listen to the DVD just through the TV speakers the audio will be carried to the TV for that.

You will connect your PC to your surround sound system (which is an amplifier plus six speakers) using either optical or digital coaxial. These methods both allow you to transfer Dolby Digital and DTS audio using a single cable.

Your surround sound system amplifier will be connected to its six speakers (front left and right, rear left and right, centre and sub-woofer) using speaker cables. It will pass sound to the speakers as it receives that sound from the external source.

I can't make it any simpler than that - sorry.
 

torrenter

Standard Member
That's made it a lot clearer, really. I didn't think about an amplifier as such. I unknowingly thought that a speaker set just came with speakers and a subwoofer. So, apart from the speaker cables connecting to the amplifier, there's only two other cables. The HDMI from my Graphics card to TV for HD video and a Digi Coax or Optical cable to the amplifier for Surround Sound. Excellent!

Thanks again mate.
 

torrenter

Standard Member
What exactly are you planning on buying?

Well, a decent 5.1 Speaker setup I hope. Could you recommend anything perhaps? I recently bought my Plasma on the basis that I felt it gave the most value for money and had all the features I wanted.

The fact that it was Plasma (for games), Full HD had a Freeview HD tuner built in. And the same line of thinking went into my first DIY PC. All the parts bought were practically "entry level" into the "top range".

What prices would we be talking about in 5.1 speaker setups using this philosophy?
 

davepuma

Distinguished Member
When you say "5.1 Speaker setup" are you referring to some powered speaker setup or a separate amp and speakers? If you're referring to powered 5.1 speakers, Logitech are your best bet e.g. Z5500

You can get home cinema packages without built-in DVD/BD players e.g. Sony HT-SS100, Onkyo HTX-22HDX and the amp/speaker packages that Onkyo do. These start at around £300 for the HTS3305 but the extra £50 is worth it for the HTS-5305. Richer Sounds sell most of these.

All of the above mentioned systems will handle audio over HDMI so you would only need one HDMI cable going from the PC to the amp for audio decode/process/amplify and video passthrough and one from the amp to the TV to carry the picture.

Obviously separates are the way to go but if you're on budget, I would consider one of the above.
 

torrenter

Standard Member
Hi Dave, when I say "5.1 speaker setup" I mean 5 speakers and a subwoofer. Just because that's how I would install it if I was using my PC. It has audio ports on the back panel - front,rear,c/sub etc. And as that's how I've previously looked at it when first getting a 2.1 setup with my PC. It's all I thought was needed.

But Broadz was telling me the best way to have it set up was to have the HDMI cable from my GPU card on my PC to the TV (which I currently have) and a SPDIF cable returning from an amplifier (is that also a reciever?) to my PC. The GPU also has an HD Audio Controller on it, to send (would that be bitstream?) the high end codecs over HDMI.

Now after hearing about amps on What Hi Fi and the rest, I seeing 4 figure sums! Don't think so, lol! I would prefer to be using the least amount of cables and do I really need an amp then? I mean what does it do, or what would it do that my current 2.1 speaker setup with my PC doesn't or can't?
 

torrenter

Standard Member
Hey guys, sorry to bump up an old thread but I need a little more advice. I recently went and bought the Logitech Z5500 speaker system, and while the sound is great on most sources I'm having trouble getting to play the codecs off the Blurays I rent. It's very frustrating but I though I've spent enough to get the experience. This is what I have bought (first to last) what is connected to what.

1) An internal Samsung SH-B083 Bluray player on my PC.

2) An ATI HD5870 Graphics card with an onboard HD Audio Controller that supports AC-3, AAC, Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio formats, up to 7.1 channels.

The back of the card has an HDMI output, which I originally used to output sound and video to my TV. Then I bought the surround sound system.

3) Logitech Z5500 which supports

Dolby® Digital, DTS®, and DTS®, 96/24 soundtracks
Dolby Pro Logic II (Movie and Music modes)
6 Channel Direct
Stereo x2
Stereo

4) A Sony BDP-S370 Bluray Player which supports

8ch Linear PCM bitstream out
Dolby TrueHD decoding
Dolby TrueHD bitstream out
DTS-HD Master Audio decoding
DTS-HD Master Audio bitstream out
Audio D/A Converter 192kHz / 24bit

5) Sony PS3 Slim Player which supports

LPCM 7.1ch
Dolby Digital
Dolby Digital Plus
Dolby TrueHD
DTS
DTS-HD
AAC

So, after all these purchases (£££), I pop in Shutter Island on Bluray to my Sony player, with an optical cable to the Logitech Z5500, and all I get is Dolby Pro Logic, when the codec is supposed to be DTS-HD. ***! Someone please advise.
 

Broadz

Distinguished Member
with an optical cable to the Logitech Z5500, and all I get is Dolby Pro Logic, when the codec is supposed to be DTS-HD. ***! Someone please advise.

You can't transmit high definition audio using optical or digital coaxial - HDMI only. Optical and digital coaxial will transmit DD and DTS - but not DTS HD and not Dolby True HD.
 

torrenter

Standard Member
Ahh, so I take it that the Logitech's control unit is the Achilles heel of my system then? Whatever player I use here?

Also, even if the control unit had an HDMI input, would it be able to output the HD audio? Or does the Control Unit actually do all the decoding, no matter what player you use?
 
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Broadz

Distinguished Member
Yes, to hear high definition audio you would need an AV amp/receiver which could handle high def audio (the Logitech can't) and you would need to feed it with a cable capable of carrying high def audio from source to target (i.e. HDMI).
 

torrenter

Standard Member
Thanks again Broadz, but does this also mean that neither my PS3 or Sony S370 will be able able to transmit HD Audio AND video at the same time, even if I had the correct Amp/receiver? You see, both the PS3 and S370 only have 1 HDMI output.

Also, just one more quick question. The S370 states that it handles Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio. It doesn't say whether it will do standard DD or DTS. Will it?
 

Broadz

Distinguished Member
You could either buy a HDMI splitter (to feed both a HD audio amp and your TV) or always run both through the amp - which itself will have HDMI out to feed your TV.
 

torrenter

Standard Member
If I do buy a splitter will I still get 1080p and HD audio then? If I decided on getting a dedicated amp instead, would have to replace the WHOLE sound system?

You know I can't believe that all Blurays don't come with standard DD or DTS as a backup in case you can't play HD Audio. Just seems crap to have Pro Logic II as the only alternative. Don't you think?
 

Broadz

Distinguished Member
You know I can't believe that all Blurays don't come with standard DD or DTS as a backup in case you can't play HD Audio. Just seems crap to have Pro Logic II as the only alternative. Don't you think?

I've only come across one Blu Ray disc which had neither DD5.1 nor DTS audio. Don't know which ones you've been watching...

A splitter will send the same high definition signal to both outputs. It's digital - it can't deteriorate.
 

torrenter

Standard Member
Actually this is strange, on the Shutter Island Bluray disc it actually states DTS-HD, Master Audio (one of the same I don't know) AND Dolby Digital. But on selecting optical input on the Control Module, I could only seem to get Dolby Pro Logic II. And in the Bluray menu, it only had DTS HD as an option. Which I could actually see as selected. (Tick in a box)

So, in the Bluray menu it seems that I could select DTS HD, but on the Control Module it would only state Dolby Pro Logic II. Which all seems wrong. I mean, what's being decoded and where? I can't figure it out.

Oh, and on my question about the splitter, I was thinking of bandwidth. Or am I focusing on the wrong thing here?
 
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Broadz

Distinguished Member
I mean, what's being decoded and where? I can't figure it out.

Well, your Logitech certainly can't decode HD audio. And your Blu Ray player can't output HD audio via optical. But I'm surprised if the Logitech can't be set to Auto, which should make it capable of decoding DD and DTS.

Oh, and on my question about the splitter, I was thinking of bandwidth. Or am I focusing on the wrong thing here?

A digital signal is a stream of ones and zeroes. Bandwidth doesn't come into it. As long as the splitter can send the ones and zeroes it receives in its input to both outputs, it works.
 
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torrenter

Standard Member
Many thanks again for your help here Broadz, I just thought that HDMI cables did indeed have a certain bandwidth. Then again, going by what you say if the bandwidth wasn't large enough it wouldn't send the signal at all. Taking note from what you say about Optical cables anyway.

I think I'd prefer any splitting down at the A/V amplifier rather than purchasing a separate splitter, if the cost wasn't drastically different. But if I can get standard DD or DTS on Blurays, than I'm not too fussed. It's definately strange that on the Bluray menu, there was no option to select DD, but that the face of the disc it says it is encoded on.

I'll try setting input to auto, if the option's there. But if DD can't be selected on the Bluray menu I can't see it working. Maybe this is just a one off situation.

Thanks again.
 

torrenter

Standard Member
Once again, I any help on this subject would be appreciated. This Logitech Z5500 system is proving to be a Red Herring. A system recommended to me and raved about by many doesn't seem to work well with other supposed quality equipment.

To be specific, I own both a PS3 and Sony S370 BD player and watching Blurays is really hit and miss when it comes to outputting Surround Sound. I watched a not-so-good film yesterday on Bluray, which according to the front of the disc could play both DolbyTrue HD and DTS. However, the in film settings allowed you to choose between either Dolby True HD 5.1 in English, or DD 5.1 in other European languages. No mention of standard DD or DTS in English.

Using the Audio Settings menus of both players, I could not come up with a way of easily setting up standard DD or DTS 5.1 output. A HDMI lead goes from both players to ports on my TV and an optical cable from the Logitech control pod to whichever player I choose to use.

What I don't get, apart from the above is why when playing the Disc in the PS3 the control pod recognises DTS, but it does not if the disc is in the S370? The S370 does not recognise any 5.1 format on the disc.
This is the second time I've come across all this. Surely, I'm must be doing something wrong here, right?

Anyone have the same problem and/or could advise?
 

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