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PL2x - Some thoughts.

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Steve.EX, Nov 6, 2003.

  1. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    O.K. My "amp" situation fortunately allows me to turn off any channel desired so i am able to observe the results across any two, three channels etc.
    I am, however (and for most of you this was probably the "important" bit) unable to compare directly against the orignal PL2 as the new code overwrites or is an extensive of the original PL2 code and as such my unit now only displays PL or PL2x.
    I am however "comparing" the results on an AB comparison against THX EX and THX 2, whilst obviously the latter two are "digital" they at least offers a "standard".
    The soundtrack i found to expose the new formats abilities was Finding Nemo which is flagged and forces my unit into THX EX, on the fly comparisons with PL2x were posiible via the 2 channel analogue output.

    The degree of seperation on the rear channels or more accurately the seperation of some events on the rear channels with PL2x is quite startling at times, make no mistake it is clearly apparent that there are at least three channels working (surround L/R and surround back), although there is strictly speaking four channels (the surround backs are "touted" as independant from each other also) i'll get to this in a moment.
    When switching to THX EX in many examples that seperation just simply isn't present, which is not to say that PL2x is better - it isn't, the discrete soundtrack has a far greater eveness and cohesive presentation, but clearly the PL2x routine is doing what it says on the box.
    PL2x's results are a little unpredicable at times too i felt, there would be vast seperation when you would "think" otherwise and dynamic punch was similar. These are obviously factors in a matrix derived from 2 channels.
    When listening to the 2 surround back channels alone there is seperation but this it seems, is hugely dependant on what the surround left and rights are doing.
    When switching between 5 channel PL2x and 7 channels PL2x, i personally by a clear mile prefer the 7 channel version, and i do, without doubt feel that it is a step in the right direction, but should not perhaps be considered as an equal to the jump from PL to PL2.
    I will borrow and old DC1 in the not to distant future and compare it against L7.
    Comparing (rear channels) PL2x overlaid onto T3 DD5.1 against THX2, THX2 is preferable by some margin for me, again the soundfield is super stable by comparison. PL2x gives the a much less "pure" presentation with an edgyness that sounds uneven and "over-processed".
    It is difficult to ascertain any gains across the front three (re PL2 and PL2x) as i have no direct comparisons, suffice it to say that it certainly dosen't seem any worse and in all likelyhood there probably isn't a huge amount of difference in the code for the front three.
    Anyway i would much rather have than have not and for T.V sourced movies etc it is "better" - as long as you are using a 7.1 speaker array.
    i am not sure the term "night and day" could be applied for 5.1 set-ups (PL2 to PL2x)

    Steven
     
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    Steven,
    Thanks for the review. I've only skim read it, but found it very interesting, I will take some time to try to fully digest what you have written later.

    Can I ask just one question. Is PLx a value for money upgrade?

    Regards
    John
     
  3. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    John.

    For me yes, others will no doubt think otherwise.
    On my Tag for any multi-channel format (DD/DTS/PL2x etc) i can assign either the surround sides or the surround backs or both to be used simultaneously. Using both, the surround back L replicates the surround side L signal and SBR replicates SSR signals etc.
    There is also the facility to apply Tag Mclaren Surround to the surround backs which derives a common signal from SSL and SSR in a pseudo DD EX fashion.
    Of all of these options PL2x is by far the more preferable for me.
    PL2+TMS is good but PL2x is looking to offer 7 channels and "appears" to be more "active" than the TMS derived surround backs.
    I have only spent a few hours with this thus far and have yet to play with PL2x Music and Game options - i am not a fan of PL2 Music to be honest so am not overly optomistc (or fussed)
    I think PL2x is in it's element with 2 channel analogue OR digital soundtracks and maybe a viable option for those with 7.1 speaker array and DD-EX or DTS-ES but no THX EX or THX 2 (both of which IMHO are THE HC standard for processing DD5.1 soundtracks)
    At 150.00 i have to say it is a bit of a no-brainer for me in that i am happy to pay that just to be able to scrutinise it at home and i had no real doubt's from the positive reviews/thoughts of BETA testers and early users i had observed, this was safe money (you have to respect Dolby really i feel).
    You lucky Arcam owners will, most likely knowing my luck get this up-grade for free.
    As someone who has spent a lot of money yourself, would such a licence fee up-set you?
    What could you buy for 150.00 that would offer an "improvement" to your set-up?
    I am still grateul to have the option to be brutally honest, and do not really consider myself to be an "impulse" or "keep up with the Jones" type of guy.
    It must be a far harder decision for someone who is/was going to buy an int. amp and find out a new format is imminent and have to audition a whole new range of units over.


    Regards

    Steven
     
  4. pwiles1968

    pwiles1968
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    Good Review.:smashin:

    Am I right in saying that you compared 2x from a 2-channel source against THX run from the same 2-channel source? If that is right it is a bit of a result for 2x looks like the format to go for if you listen to a lot of 2-channel sources Sky etc. Although PL2 should have been 7 channel right from the start.

    From memory there should be no difference between 2 and 2 x on the 3 front channels but they have tweaked the matrix for music mode so that things like panorama adjustment are more noticeable, I assume they have tweaked the movie setting also.

    I will be interested to hear what you say about ‘Logic7’ in 7 channel replay. IMO it loses out to PLII in music replay due to the amount of phase shifting they do it tends to smear sound and take the edge off of vocal clarity, but I have only listened to ‘Logic7’ in a car and the matrix is a little different.
     
  5. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    Paul.

    No the comparison was 2 channel analogue derived PL2x against 5.1 derived THX EX and THX 2.

    The reason for this is that the only analogue "competition" i have is DTS Neo 6 which seemed pointless as i felt the Tag implementation of PL2 was superior to and,
    THX EX and THX 2 (from 5.1) are the "standard" as far as i am concerned and i felt the standpoint to which to compare PL2x processing to - particularly THX 2.
    I believe comparisons of PL2 and PL2x are a litlle limited in that the main and most obvious gains (the 2 surround back channels) are not an issue with PL2.

    Regards

    Steven
     
  6. pwiles1968

    pwiles1968
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    Are you saying then that PLIIx from a 2 channel source was comparable to THX EX and THX 2 from a EX encoded 5.1 channel source.
     
  7. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    I would also agree with L7 for movie replay, to me it is like slipping into a deep hot bath - luxurious and enveloping but perhaps lacking in the sharp bite and accuracy of the power-shower.
    Conversely i find L7 and Tri-Field for music to be a thing of beauty in 99% of examples.

    Regards

    Steven
     
  8. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    PL2x for 2 channel (T.V) movies is, for want of a better discription somewhere between an analogue THX 2 and Logic 7.
    In my set-up i could not envisage using it on a 5.1 movie soundtrack, it is (IMHO) nothing like THX 2 when overlaid onto a 5.1 stream.
    It will bring benefits 2 channel sources (digital or analogue) for those with 7.1 speakers.

    Just my (rather early) feelings.

    Regards

    Steven
     
  9. pwiles1968

    pwiles1968
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    I realise it was probably not as good against a 5.1 source and THX. But it was always intended for 2 channel no matter what the website says about improvements in multi-channel replay from 5.1. And at my sort of budget level I’m not going to get anything with THX. Which is a bit of a bummer because I was hoping to buy a Sub and I may just have to upgrade my amp first Marantz SR7400 should be a bargain in 6 months. Unfortunately I cannot really afford to do either. But the lack of centre rear has always bugged me with PLII and I do watch a fair amount of Sky.

    With respect to music I am a bit traditionalist I prefer 2 channel replay myself, I indulge in PLII for some relaxing sessions chilled stuff, but always go back to 2 channel for a real music session.

    You will have to let me know what you think after having lived with it for a while.
     
  10. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    I should of course have included in my first post, but will do so now to avoid ANY further confusion.

    Logic 7 is the obvious matching format for comparison, but as my humble Tag has neither this nor Tri-Field THX-EX and THX 2 were used for purposes of stability, steering and dynamics. Whilst PL2x cannot match (nor is it's design purpose) these discrete channel processing formats, they are at least some form of reference.
    To make it Perfectly clear, IHMO do not sell your THX-EX/THX 2 amps for PL2x.


    Best regards

    Steven
     
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    Steven,
    I hope Arcam do make it a free upgrade :devil:

    I think for what your are getting with PL2X, £150 would not upset me, although I would like to hear it for myself first hand before committing myself. As you quite rightly say, I couldn't spend this little money to improve my current set-up.

    Thanks for your thoughts and the review.

    Regards
    John
     
  12. MarkB

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    Steven,
    Thanks for the review. I agree pwiles that it should have been 7.1 from the start.
    Out of curiosity, is it possible to switch back to the original ProLogicII 5.1 mode, or is it 7.1 at all times (if you are using Surrond Back speakers)?
    Mark
     
  13. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    Mark.
    I beleive this must be generic for all amps, in so much as if in the set-up menu you have defined 2 surround back speakers then by default they are engaged when applying PL2x.
    The only way i am able to get PL2x over a 5.1 speaker array is to tell the unit that i have no surround back speakers. There is no toggle.
    Interestingly i do not seem tp be able to apply PL2x Game to a 5.1 stream be it Halo (X-Box) or a dvd, it woul seem that this option is for two channel only feeds - or my unit (software is not working properly)
    Another option i have yet to explore is what is actually happening if i define 1 surround back speaker only.

    Regards

    Steven
     
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    Steven,
    The toogle (5.1 to 7.1) is certainly not available on the Arcam AV8 (certainly my software version) and you have to do exactly what you do with the Tag, ie tell the system there are no rear speakers present. So you summation that is generic certainly holds water with me.

    How do you find the LF part of PL2X?

    Regards
    John
     
  15. Jase

    Jase
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    Only drawback to that is you'll lose the option of THX Ultra2 modes. If its anything like my Denon that is! Of course if it's only for test purposes ignore my rambling!:D
     
  16. MarkB

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    I take it that it is possible to engage THX Ultra 2 over the top of DPLIIx on the upmarket systems. ??? :confused: ???
     
  17. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    It is not possible to overlay THX2 onto PL2x, for 5.1 soundtracks it is one or the other.

    Steven
     

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