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Estero and multi-channel

 

Bronze Member
Username: Jou78

Post Number: 12
Registered: Sep-09
Hi everyone,
time ago i started a thread on how to setup a system that could work out well for both stereo and multi-channel. I got two different advises:
1-Have two rooms one for stereo and another one for multi-channel
2-Spend a fortune on separate + speakers.
Unfortunately neither I have 2 rooms for entertainment nor a fortune to spend on this amazing world . Well, since my preference was music I ended up setting up a stereo system with Esoteric components at a good discounted price:
Esoteric AI-10 Integrated DAC/Amplifier
Esoteric MG20 speaker
Esoteric UZ-1 CD player
HiFace as a source to the AI-10 to play music from my computer.

I could not be happier with this setting for stereo, however, the movie experience is clearly lacking. So, I was wondering on how i could improve the system for movie experience without sacrificing my stereo settings, or, if is just better to forget about it and be happy with the movie sacrifice.

My thought was to perform an experiment with the outlaw 975 processor and the Outlaw M2200 mono block for a decent center speaker (maybe KEF R600c) - the pre-outs for for the L/R of the 975 would of course be connected to the AI-10 for movies only. So my question to this forum is whether or not this setting makes sense at all!? Sadly I cannot give this setting a try until I have them at home so I wanted a piece of advice before spending ~2.5k on the above setting.

Any advice is more than welcome.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17644
Registered: May-04
.

It's impossible to tell you whether new components will solve your problem until we know what your problem is. " ... the movie experience is clearly lacking", is not much information. What's wrong, what do you expect from the system and why do you think changing components will solve those problems?





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Bronze Member
Username: Jou78

Post Number: 13
Registered: Sep-09
Hi Jan,
the main issue when I play movies is the dialogue. It is not well articulated and fades down when there is music and sound effects in the same scene. I end up turning the volume way up to be able to hear the dialogue clearly and then the music and effects sound too loud. Note I use the optical input for movies: I tried the analog (stereo output from the UZ-1) and is even worse. I also tried the PS3 blu-ray player see if the source made any difference, but I only saw an improvement in image quality.

Last but not least is the fact that the music in the movies does not sound even a bit close to what the stereo sound is :stereo is natural, detailed, open ... very musical to my ears. When playing movies the sound of music turns dull and only some special effects keep up ...

These are my main issues when watching movies with my current system. Please let me know if I need to provide further detail.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17647
Registered: May-04
.


This is the amp you own?

http://www.soundstage.com/equipment/esoteric_ai10.htm
 

Bronze Member
Username: Jou78

Post Number: 14
Registered: Sep-09
Yes this is it. Paired with the MG20:
http://www.ultraaudio.com/equipment/esoteric_mg20.htm
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17650
Registered: May-04
.

The discount you received not withstanding, you're using a $10k amplifier, a $4k CD player and a pair of $5k speakers and you aren't happy with the sound?!

OK, you're not unhappy with the two channel music you play through this system, just movies. But I don't see what source you're using for movies and how you have it set up to downmix 5.1 output into the DAC on the two channel integrated amp.

I'm not trying to talk you out of the Outlaw gear, just trying to understand what might actually be the source of your problem with video. More than a few video systems are set up with only two speakers and they are not reporting the same problems you have. This would lead me to think there might be a set up issue which would resolve most, if not all, of your problem.

Obviously, the amp can only take in and process two channels of information. What are you using to feed two channel's of a 5.1 data stream into the amp? And, how have you set up that source to ensure the DAC is seeing the correct information?




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Bronze Member
Username: Jou78

Post Number: 15
Registered: Sep-09
Hi Jan,
I love the stereo sound in that system, and although expensive I managed to get it for ~9k all together (refurbished of course). Anyway, the source for movies is either the UZ-1 (plays DVD as well) or my computer. I connect the UZ-1 using the optical, and my computer using the coaxial: I hook the Hiface to convert the USB to S/PDIF audio output (http://www.m2tech.biz/hiface.html) - amazing what this little device can do. To play from my computer I use JRiver Media Center with DSP audio output for movies. The UZ-1 converts Dolby Digital/DTS into PCM to feed the AI-10. Surprisingly or not, the sound when playing from my computer is better than the UZ-1 (for movies).

The AI-10 is not expanded to support i-Link connection from the UZ-1 that's why I don't set it up with i-Link.

Jan, please let me know if you need more info, do you see anything wrong with this set up?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17652
Registered: May-04
.

I'm having a hard time thinking the music is great but the movies are not. The system can't discriminate between the two sources if they are both input as PCM. All it sees is data packets coming in and it shoud process a music packet just as it does a video soundtrack packet.


Have you tried going into the set up menu of the DVD player and establishing a two channel PCM downmix before it leaves the player?



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Bronze Member
Username: Jou78

Post Number: 16
Registered: Sep-09
The DVD automatically down mixes to two channel PCM, I have really gone through all possible options and I don't get the sound I wished when watching movies, far inferior to the stereo sound.

"The system can't discriminate between the two sources if they are both input as PCM. All it sees is data packets coming in and it shoud process a music packet just as it does a video soundtrack packet."

I am a bit confused about this statement. My understanding, is that although the input for both stereo and movies is the same (PCM), the information they carry it is not. A CD is already encoded as PCM and no information is lost, and my assumption is that when decoding DD to stereo PCM then some information is loss (a.k.a music quality) to accommodate the the dialogue and special effects - is this wrong?

If I am wrong, and you think the outlaw option with center speaker would not help much, then I may step back and not waste money an effort. I wished I had an option to test it without spending any money and effort.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17656
Registered: May-04
.

I've honestly never heard of a DVD player which "automatically" down mixes without being set up to do so in the menu. The optical output of the player is accepting all channels of data coming from the disc. I reserve the right to be incorrect here, but unless you have set up the DVD player to only output a down mixed two channel data stream, it will do as it has been set up to do in the default systems. Default for any DVD player when provided a 5.1 disc will be to output 5.1 information. Check your set up menus again to make sure what data is being output by the player.



PCM is the format for both CD and DVD to my knowledge. If you down mix a 5.1 data stream to a 2.0 stream, yes, there is very slight loss in the dynamic range of the material. This accounts for the entire 5.1 signal being compressed down to only two channels. There should be no great loss of clarity or intelligibility and the losses are rather minimal in the scheme of things. Quite a few listeners with space/budget limitations or a strong dislike for multi-channel operation use two channels and two speakers and simply don't report the problems you say you are having.

If you are hearing a large change in quality of presentation, IMO, you have something else wrong with the system than a simple matter of downmixing - if that is your source plater is outputting the correct format. Posssibly, speaker position needs tweaking? Or your listening chair is positioned in a room null and needs to be moved slightly? Have you walked around the room while playing a movie to determine whether the poor quality of sound is consistent throughout the room?


Since you are in a position where you cannot determine whether the Outlaw products would actually resolve your problem, why not start small? Buy an inexpensive HT receiver and give it a try. If you think this is actually solving your problem, buy the Outlaw gear. I hate to say screw a dealer but most dealers will have a trial period where you can return products for a refund. Use this to try out a full blown 5.1 system and go from there. I hestitate to move you to a combined system since the music playback of most HT systems is never as good as a straight two channel dedicated system.





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Bronze Member
Username: Jou78

Post Number: 17
Registered: Sep-09
Thank Jan,
this is a link to the manual in case you want to take a look:http://www.disc-player.com/teac-esoteric-uz-1-dvd.html

The way i have set it up is:
Analog: 2ch
Digital out: ON
DownMix: Lo/Ro
DTS/Dolby Digital/MPEG: PCM

The room where I have the equipment is not perfect for sound but is not boxy either. The speakers are not in a corner and they are 8-9 feet from each other and I sit at a similar distance in front of them. Of course, I bet there are a thousand more parameters to take into account into a room ... anyway I may follow your advise and drop by Best Buy to grab a temporary gear that I can use for 3 days and return with full refund. I may update the post see if it made a difference

Thanks for the help and time to write the answers!
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