Are Your 7.1 Blu-ray Discs Playing Properly?
We’re well aware that the number of 7.1 home theaters out there today are vastly outnumbered by the 5.1 configuration, but nonetheless, we felt that this was something worth bringing to your attention.
In the past, we’ve had no issues with our DTS-MA 7.1 discs, at least not up until last night. The anomaly came to our attention when we popped in the largely popular Hellboy II Blu-ray Disc. Something didn’t sound quite right… as if the surround back speakers were mixed too hot/bright. With a quick glance to the front of the AVR we noticed something bizarre. The SBL (Surround Back Left) and SBR (Surround Back Right) channels were nowhere to be found — ie. their respective channel lights were not illuminated.
This of course was contrary to what our ears were telling us. Audio was indeed coming from every channel, but the surround L/R speakers were ultra-quiet in comparison to the other five speakers. Stranger still, if we hit the “Display” button on our remote, the audio was listed as DTS-MA 5/2.1 (which implies there are FIVE front channels and only TWO rear) and not the proper DTS-MA 3/4.1 we’ve come to expect.
Now, initially we were quick to blame the player or the AVR — BDP-S350 and RX-V663, respectively — but a quick search online returned a number of threads on various Home Theater forums that detailed the same issue. Unfortunately, our search only led to more confusion, with no definitive answers and a whole lot of finger-pointing at the studios and CE manufacturers.
At any rate, we thought we’d take matters into our own hands, and we gathered up all of the 7.1 discs we own (ten in total) and cycled through them to see if the 5/2.1 mix-up would rear its nasty head.
As a result, we found that only three of the ten discs had the “glitch” (Pan’s Labyrinth, Shoot ‘Em Up, and Hellboy II). And while the results are comforting — far better than all ten discs — it still annoys us that issues such as these exist, but more importantly, that they haven’t been rectified yet.
For now, we’re going to lay the blame — until we get to the bottom of this — squarely on select DTS-MA 7.1 discs, and their interplay with a handful of Blu-ray players (select Samsung and Sony units, ex. BDP-S350/S550). As you might imagine, we’re pardoning the AVR (despite the display anomaly) because the problem seems to arise in the player.
Please reply below if you’ve experienced similar issues with your 7.1 discs. We’d like to close this case as soon as possible. With any luck, perhaps all we’ll need is a firmware update.