Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Great Sounds

ASTRO's B.yond
Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio
Complications explained

After installing Astro's HD B.yond three weeks ago, I have tested for the availability of the Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio coming in via the B.yond box.
As at today from 4pm to 5pm, the following TV Channels from Astro were found to have the DD5.1 audio.

As usual, all the four HD Channels were in full DD5.1. They are:-
1) Channel 431 -HBO HD -"US Marshals"
2) Channel 573- National Geo HD -"The Universe"
3) Channel 575 -History HD -"Hunter Hunted"
4) Channel 831- ASSP HD -" (L) "USPGA"

A surprise was that some non-HD channels are also in Dolby Digital 5.1 . All others such as TV1, TV2, TV3 and the rest are in plain stereo.

These surprising non-HD channels are:- Channel 413 Star Movies "Hero Wanted", Channel 411 (same as HD's) HBO, Channel 702 Hallmark "The King and Queen of Moonlight", Channel 705 HITZ" Hitz Dosage", Channel 713 MTV "Made", Channel 714 [V] "Backtracks" and shockingly our local NTV7 (on Channel 107) a Hokkien soap drama "Strokes of Life"!! Bravo NTV7!

The radio channels are also in DD5.1! Nice!

To read more about DD5.1 go here to see or if you wish, go here to do a speaker test.
Many have asked me how to go about this connection. Many are still confused about the cables.

Like I have mentioned before, it is a very simple understanding. There are only two ways to go about it.

ONE, if you do not have an external amplifier or a Home theatre set up, you cannot enjoy the Dolby Digital 5.1 function. That would mean that only one cable is required to connect it to your HD TV. That would be the HDMI cable.

This cable carries the HD video signal and the audio only to the HD TV. Almost all HD TV do not have audio DD5.1 feature.

TWO, a separate audio cable called "Digital Co-axial Audio Cable" which is a single cable with a RCA head at each end.

Below is a higher end 'extreme quality' Digital Co-axial Cable made by 'Monster' which is certified by THX. Remember that you get what you pay for.
This specially constructed ultra high quality and technologically correct cable is capable of handling more that Dolby Digital signals unlike the old 'red & white' audio cables. This cable is connected directly from Astro's B.yond box to the Amplifier or Receiver/Home Theatre system. The sound volume from the TV is then lowered or switched off. Your amplifier would then do its job. Five plus one speakers are required for true DD5.1 which would be i) front left & right, centre, rear left & right and a sub-woofer (total : 5 speakers and a sub-woofer). Poorer quality co-ax. cables may pose some audio 'sync' problems. Be smart, buy smart.

The outdated, obsolete composite red, white and yellow cables is bad news for HD. It is for analogue video such as Video Tape Recorders, old camcorders...etc. Quickly throw them away before you get more confused. Want to see something funny?
Go visit an electrical shop/outlet. They ARE still using these! You will be more confused if you ask these shop assistants questions! Trust me!

By the way, I am not into DD5.1 anymore. My new Onkyo Receiver produces Dolby Digital 7.1! Played a Blu-Ray music concert disc "Hit Man- David Foster" Wowie! 7.1 Bingo!

PS3 Game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare2 in full Dolby Digital 7.1 is out of this World. 1080p some more!


nlk said...


My Home theater System only have optical HDMI , no Coaxial..

Please help??

my email

Birds Talking Too said...

Dear Nik,
Most newer Home Theater system have digital co-axial AND optical input. HDMI is not necessary for audio processing.
Even my AVReceiver have 4 HDMI input and 1 output, I do not use it at all. For Astro's B.yond box, there is only ONE digital audio output (sadly no optical)and the other analogue choice such as composite cannot handle digital signals.

The only alternative for you now (my suggestion only) is to look for a separate AVReceiver (a lower output specs so that you can still use your 5 current speakers). Do be careful about your choice. I would personally look for amps that ONLY plays 5.1 or higher and have all digital inputs instead of older analogues. Being 'backward' compatible is good but then, these older analogues cannot give you true 5.1 function. Audio cassettes and VCR are 'history' as far as DD5.1 is concern.

Hope that helps.

Cheers and Regards

Justin said...

we only have 5.1 on selected programmes that are only on HD channels.

Birds Talking Too said...

Yup, Justin.
Eagle Eyes on HBO HD last night was poorly transmitted on Cine Neo6. My auto detect amp says so. We should get at least Dolby Ex II for full DD5.1 to work beautifully.
Hey! Blu Ray Discs do not lie!

Thanks for your comment and visit.

Cheers and Regards