Surround Modes: Stereo vs Direct



I recently acquired a Mac Mini for a HTPC. Until the mini TOSlink cable arrives, I've had it hooked up to the receiver via analog stereo.

I noticed when listening to music under the "Stereo" mode, the sound was pretty muddy, quieter, and more compressed. I switched over to "Direct" and music sounded WAY better. It sounded like a blanket was being removed, and stopped compressing the sound.

So I'm wondering, why is this? Does Direct bypass the surround processor, whereas Stereo runs the signal through it? Would that be enough reason for this significant tone sucking? Would a higher quality receiver do a better job at tone retention for DD/DTS/DPLII modes?

Playing on Direct sounds great, but now I am wondering the reason for this. I don't see why the Stereo option even exists then.

Oh, its a Denon AVR-1603, by the way. I've consulted the manual but couldn't find any information.


Distinguished Member
On the 1603, Direct bypasses bass management and sends full range signals to the front channels. It also bypasses the Tone controls. Stereo uses bass management i.e whatever you've set the speaker sizes to (small/large).

The WB

correct me if im wrong but i think running it direct also disables the video processor giving it a much cleaner sound.
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