simple Surround questions

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Old 01-05-04, 12:32 PM
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simple Surround questions

Hello All,

I recently came across two sets of Logitech 5.1 speakers. I plugged one set into the computer and get great surround sound, and would like to get the other set working on the DVD player upstairs. They actually are connected & sort of working, but of the 3 mini-jacks that are the input for the speakers, only 2 connect to an RCA adapter that was provided along with the speakers. That last un-connected mini-jack is bothersome. So...

1) Am I missing something, perhaps the rear channels in 'true' surround? The Logitech speakers have a 'matrix' button. I'm not sure what that's supposed to do, perhaps simulate surround? The directions that came with the speakers were spotty to say the least.

2) Why are Dolby receivers for TV such a big box that everything gets routed through? The computer sound card has a decoder on it, it can't be that much circuitry. I've been hoping to find a little decoder that'll work with the DVD player; ideally with 2 RCA inputs and 3 mini-jack outputs. I'm half tempted to put an old computer up there with a 5.1 soundcard to do the job. That would only cost $30 or so for the card.

3) Do all, or most, DVD players come with a dolby decoder? Can I tell by the audio outputs?

4) Are there computer 5.1 speakers and TV 5.1 speakers? If so, how different are they? All the surround-for-TV units that I've looked at have clamp-onto-bare-wire type connecters for the speakers; the Logitech have mini-jacks (tip-ring-sleeve).

5) Is 5.1 surround somehow different than Dolby?

Thanks in advance & please forgive the baby questions. I've searched around the web w/o much luck finding answers.

-Steve G
 
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Old 01-05-04, 01:10 PM
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0. I'm guessing the Logitech speakers have an amp built into the Sub. To make this work with a DVD player, you'd need to have a DVD player with a built in Dolby Digital decoder, and run 5 cables from the player the the sub. See 3. for more details.

1. You aren't getting true Dolby Digital unless you are running optical or coaxial digital cable from the dvd player to your amp/processor. "Simulating surround" is a great way of describing what that matrix button does. See below for suggestions on improving your setup.

2. They are big mainly because of the amps, and the fact that audio gear has a standard width of 17". A inexpensive, small and highly rated receiver is the Panasonic SA-XR25. It uses digital amplifiers, which allows it to be very thin.

3. Some do. If you look on the back there will be 5 RCA outputs - L/R/Center/Right Rear/Left Rear.

4. As you've observed, the interfaces are different, though the speakers perform the same function. In your situation, I would get a receiver, and then cut the mini-jacks off the Logitech speakers and run them as bare wire to the receiver. The sub will only work in this setup if it has an RCA input. You'd run an RCA cable from the receiver sub out to the sub.

5. 5.1 is a concept, and Dolby Digital is an excecution of that concept. DTS is another technology based on 5.1 speakers. Dolby also has a 6.1 format, and some receivers will process that into 7.1 speakers. FWIW Dolby Digital is a true 5.1 technology while Dolby Pro-Logic and Dolby Pro-Logic II are not.
 
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Old 01-05-04, 09:39 PM
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Stereoguy,

Thanks for the reply, it puts thing in perspective. To tell you the truth, I'm leaning towards running the sound through a spare computer just for the heck of it. That'll probably get old after a while and I'll go looking for the Panasonic unit that you mentioned. But in the meanwhile, the spare computer's already here & only needs a 5.1 soundcard. Maybe I ought to make it into a Tivo.

Happy New Years,

-Steve G
 
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