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BD Player and audio output.

7171 Views 15 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  JohnnyCanuck
I need some info on this. I hear talk about bitstream, PCM etc, and what I want to know is what is this all about? If I cut to the chase here, is that, is it only possible to get DDHD or DTSHD or all those other high def audio formats send to the AV receiver via HDMI cable? Is optical cable a thing of the past?
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Not quite.

There are four audio formats that are used in HDM releases that are not used in standard DVD. Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD, dts-HD (two flavours: High Res (HR) and Master Audio (MA)) and Unpcompressed PCM.

Some players internally decode some, or all, of these formats. For those that do, you can send that signal to an AVR over HDMI as LPCM or, if the player features analog outputs, you can run 6 cables from the analog outputs of the player to the corresponding 5.1 or 6.1 inputs of your AVR (provided that it has them).

Alternatively, your player may feature the ability to bitstream these formats to an AVR in which case you would need a receiver capable of accepting the bistream input over HDMI (has to be HDMI 1.3a).

Several players that decode TrueHD only extract the core signal from a dts-HD track. The only players that I am aware of that can even bitstream (let alone onboard decode dts-HD) are: Pioneer BDP-95HD, Samsin BDP-1400, Panasonic DMP-BD30, and the LG BH200 (with the 'unofficial' March firmware release).

As far as optical cable (or digital coax) goes, it is not HDM friendly. Simply put, it does not appear to be able to handle the bandwidth of data necessary to accommodate TrueHD or dts-HD. I am not sure of the technical truth of that statement, but the industry is united on the position that you cannot send lossless audio of a toslink cable (something HD DVD and Blu-ray agreed on ;) ).
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Excellent summary.

In general, bitstreaming to HDMI1.3 receivers is considered a better combination than on-board decoding. Here's a couple reasons why:
- many people prefer to leave the decoding to their receiver rather than their player. Since bitstreaming offloads the decoding work, so common opinion is that it's better.
- second reason relates to the point JohnnyCanuck made about "Core" only. Very few BD players decode aside from buying a hugely expensive player, the only option for the best DTS-HD sound is to get a player that can bitstream DTS-HD-MA, and an HDMI1.3 receiver that can decode it.

The ironic part of all this is the current "Bitstream Bomb" problem that afflicts certain receivers out there. See the Issues with Bitstreamed dts-HD Master Audio thread. Gist is, if you have succeptible receiver, you probably shouldn't bitstream DST-HD-MA until the fix/workaround is announced. No joke.

Anyway, if this whole bitstreaming player matched to a receiver with an appropriate decoder reminds anyone of DVD and's basically the same situation. DVD player bitstreams the audio, DTS capable receiver decodes it. Difference is that happens over digital optical or digital coaxial.
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To clarify something I said in my previous post. Just because a player decodes TrueHD internally does not mean that it handles dts-HD properly. Some players (eg. Sony S350, most Philips players) do not handle TrueHD at all. Most others do. Very few players are actually capable of handling dts-HD MA and simply extract what's known as 'Core' from the dts-HD track.
Question here for those with an HDMI 1.3 receiver (still doing audio via SPDIF here).

Can/does bitsteaming to receivers properly handle two audio sources/tracks?

Thinking of IME on this one. IME sound comes from a second audio/video decoder...and that audio track isn't necessarily the same codec.

Then again, probably depends on the player involved whether on-board decoding would even handle that. (edit: bitstreaming isn't the only lossless audio path that might not handle two tracks properly...depending on the player...right?)

Anyway, insight and experience with that appreciated. Thanks.

For that you need onboard decoding. Thats one of the benefits of onboard decoding. The other being you usually need a much cheaper receiver if the player does the decoding. If the player has analog outs, then a much older/cheaper receiver can be used aslong as it has analog inputs. If the player only has HDMI, then a receiver capable of PCM via HDMI can be used, and these are still cheaper than receivers that decode TrueHD and DTS-MA.
Ok so my receiver is hdmi 1.3a compliant and does decode dolby true hd and dts ma and what not,, so shouldnt any BD player be able to send the hi def audio track to the amp? cause i my case i dont exactly want to run you know 6~7 analogue cables from the player to the amp,, kind of defeats to the purpose of putting down $600 to get decent amp that will do it all. I dont understand why manufactures would put out players, getting everyone hyped on the audio and video quality and even if you have the approtiate equipement, if the player dont bitstream, then your kind of screwed. And secondly, if the player can decode the different audio formats (which I dont care, cause I want my amp to do it) should it be able to send the audio over toslink? it can send it analogue but no digital is what im starting to understand here.
Not every BD player decodes all formats. It costs manufacturers money to license technologies and they make decisions accordingly. For example, the Sony BDP-S300 does not decode or bitstream either TrueHD or dts-HD MA. Most other players do TrueHD, either with onboard decoding and/or bitstreaming.

However, only a few players are licensed for dts-HD MA. Most are licensed only for Core and therefore extract a dts track from the Master Audio encoding and decode and/or bitsream the audio as dts. The only players that I am aware of that do cab bistream dts-HD MA are: Sony BDP-S550 (not yet released); Pioneer BDP-95FD; Panasonic DMP-BD50 (not yet released); and the LG BH-200. Note with the LG that it is a dual format player and the dts-HD MA support is enabled only with the 'unofficial' March firmware release. It is expected that an official firmware package enabling dts-HD MA support will be released in May.

None of these players will ever send next gen audio codecs over SPDIF (Toslink or Coax). Apparently, SPDIF cannot handle the bandwidth necessary for the bitrates of any of the next gen formats (TrueHD, dts-HD MA, and Uncompressed PCM).

The only players that can send TrueHD over analog are those with 5.1 analog connections and that have onboard TrueHD decoding. None of these players have onboard dts-HD MA decoding for analog output.

Without getting into a Blu-ray vs. HD DVD debate, one of the better aspects of the HD DVD spec was that TrueHD onboard decoding was required. Every HD DVD player was capable of decoding DD+ and TrueHD and therefore you see almost no HD movies with dts-HD MA soundtracks. The BDA has left it completely open to the manufacturers to choose which licenses they wish to purchase.
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So... wait for Profile 2 players and get one that supports bitstreaming of all the hi def audio formats. Correct?
The announced players that will meet those criteria are: Sony BDP-S350, Sony BDP-S550, Panasonic DMP-BD50, and Marantz BD8002.

THe LG BH-200 appears to meet all the hardware requirements of Profile 2.0 so may be upgraded by LG to 2.0.
"While both support 1080/60p and 24p video and can decode Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus, the S550 can decode DTS-HD High Resolution Audio and Master Audio"

This is talking about the 350 and 550. So those this mean the 350 cant bitstream DTS-HD and MA to the amp??
To reach that conclusion, you need to find a something that mentions bitstreaming. The quote you referenced is talking about on-board decoding of DTS-HD MA, not bitstreaming.

Bitstreaming leaves the decoding to the amp/receiver. Essentially gets the audio bits off the disc, and streams them out.

Decoding is another process altogether, as it means the player does the work, decoding the DTS-HD MA track itself, sending out PCM.

I'm not familiar with the differences between the S350 and S550. Just clarifying the difference between decoding and bitstreaming.
ok so PCM, is that optical or coax connection? If the player can decode true hd, DD+ dts-hd ma etc,, you can send the audio via toslink then?? I feel maybe i put my money at the wrong place getting the onkyo 605 now.
Merve, PCM is a lossless audio format used on Blu-ray discs, not a connection.

It is also the only High Definition Media audio format that HDMI 1.2 or earlier will transmit. If you have an older AVR that is not HDMI 1.3a capable, you will not be able to bistream TrueHD or dts-HD to it. However, Blu-ray players with "onboard" decoders are capable of decoding the next gen audio formats that are licensed for the player (eg. TrueHD) internally and transmitting them over HDMI as PCM or analog outputs if the player is so equipped.

In other words, Dolby Digitial Plus, Dolby TrueHD, Uncompressed PCM, and dts-HD MA will never be sent via Toslink. The Onkyo x05 AVR's are HDMI1.3a capable, with onboard decoding of next gen formats. Therefore, if you buy a player capable of bitsreaming TrueHD, you will be able to decode it on an Onkyo x05.

The difference between the Sony S350 and S550 is onboard decoding of dts-HD MA and (I think) analog outputs. If you have a TX-SR605, it doesn't matter whether you have onboard decoding on the player as long as it can bitstream dts-HD MA or TrueHD to your AVR. Both the S350 and the S550 are capable.
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Ok so if you have a AV that is HDMI 1.2,, and you have a player that can decode the hi deff track, what exactly does the amp do? Does it just show up as like DD or DTS?? And I guess limit you to 5.1 or 6.1?
No, I shows up as "Multi-Channel" or "PCM" and it could be 5.1 or 6.1 or 7.1 depending on the encode.
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