My Onkyo TX-DS989 Dies and what are all these formats anyway?


Onkyo Upgrades TX-DS989 Future-Proof Receiver. I’ve had this Audio-video receiver for about two years now. Blew out an amplifier and also part of the digital processing section by crossing some speaker wires in the back (yes, Virginia, it was dumb to have a bunch of stripped wires back there, I’ve fixed that now).
In any case, its in the shop, but there is also an upgrade for the thing. Hopefully, I can get it fixed *and* upgraded at the same time. The first upgrade (which I have) added DTS-ES and Dolby Pro Logic 2 processing.
This is actually the second upgrade has:
* “THX Ultra2”: (I’m not sure exactly what that means), but it is for 7.1 systems (that is there are two additional speakers in the back). there is someting called CinemaMode processing that detects a Dolby 5.1 program and synthesizes it into a 7.1 program. Nice to be able to get a simulated additional output, but you do need more speakers, so it ain’t free.
* “DTS 96/24”: It also adds DTS 96/24 for audio decoding. Essentially, there are special DVDs that have some additional data (conventional DVDs have 48Khz and this is twice as much at 96KHz). Seems limited in applicability to me.
So what are all those other formats (which I never use for). A good time to figure this ou.
* “Dolby Digital”: The most prevelant format on a DVD today. It is 5 channels plus a subwoofer (5.1).
* “Dolby Digital EX”: Addes a sixth channel (6.1). You do need to add two back speakers to take advantage of it.
* “Dolby Pro Logic II”: This takes a stereo signal and synthesizes 5.1 channesl worth of sound. It has a movie mode and a music mode.
* “Dolby Pro Logic IIx”: Synthesizes 6.1 from a stereo (2.0).
The competitor to Dolby is DTS. Here are their equivalent modes:
* “DTS”: DTS comes on special DVDs (it is a different format than Dolby Digital, the most common format). It uses less compression and is supposed to sound better.
* “DTS-ES”: This is a 6.1 sound format. So there is a new center channel that is matrix in to the rear channels (it isn’t a separate track, but added into those). There is a subformat called DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete which has a separate track. So you need to find DVDs with this DTS-ES logo on it.
* “DTS Neo:6”: This format takes an ordinary stereo (like a regular old TV program) and synthesizes 6.1 channels, so it competes with Dolby Pro Logic Surround which does the same thing.
* DTS 96/24. Already discussed above, its a new DVD soundtrack format that goes up to 96KHz sampling (vs. 48KHz) and 24 bit (vs. 16 bit) sampling.
General conventional wisdom is that DTS sounds better than Dolby Digital, but only a few DVDs have that format. Also there is lots of questions about “Dolby Pro Logic II” vs. “DTS Neo:6”: that is at best inconclusive. I’ve been using Pro Logic, maybe I’ll switch back to DTS Neo:6 when I get my Onkyo back from the shop.

One Reply to “My Onkyo TX-DS989 Dies and what are all these formats anyway?”

  1. I have a 5.1 Bose speaker system powered by a Denon tuner that has a DTS mode. DTS sounds great, noticeably better than the regular Dolby PLII. True, only a handful of DVDs have it, but the ones that do — Saving Private Ryan, Lord of the Rings extended versions, The Fast and Furious — sound incredible. I think DTS does a better job of utilizing the rear speakers to make it seem like the action is truly happening all around you. I wish it was more widely used.

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