The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 All  This Thread  Reviews  Gear Database  Gear for sale     Latest  Trending
Inexpensive 5.1 DTS/AC3 hardware decoder?
Old 14th July 2019
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
simplecarnival's Avatar
 

Inexpensive 5.1 DTS/AC3 hardware decoder?

I would like to acquire a simple hardware decoder for AC3/DTS 5.1 so I can easily analyze the audio mixes in my blu-ray collection. Basically, I just want to listen to the audio on my blu-rays but feed it into my analog mixer, ride the faders, and treat the audio on the blu-ray as if it's a multitrack recording (which, of course, it is).

Theoretically, this $15 eBay decoder should fit the bill:



However, after ordering two of them from different sellers, I've come to the conclusion that this unit is useless. Both units exhibited the same unfortunate behavior: when I feed the digital signal into the coaxial input, the center channel output is EXTREMELY distorted (we're talking hard clipped, square wave distorted) as soon as the channel gets moderately loud. The other channels don't exhibit this behavior as far as I can tell.

Unless there's some sort of impedence mismatch, I don't think the problem is on my end; I tried running a direct box after the center channel output and taking it down 40 db and then feeding the signal into my mixer...and it's still really distorted. The distortion appears to be happening within the unit itself, before it gets to the output.

Any suggestions on a hardware decoder just like this, except that it actually works well? Cheaper is better. I'm not looking for an audiophile piece of gear -- just something that splits out the signal and plays it back acceptably well as line level outputs.
Attached Thumbnails
Inexpensive 5.1 DTS/AC3 hardware decoder?-surround.jpg  
Old 14th July 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
 
NReichman's Avatar
 

Unless you own an OPPO player, or a fancy receiver, it's a PITA to analog decode into the studio. I recommend listening to iTunes and HBOGO, both of which play decoded Dolby Digital 5.1 in macOS just fine. If you insist on hardware, Gefen has a box that does it, and Gefen is serious about getting this stuff right. I have no firsthand experience of it though.
Old 14th July 2019
  #3
Lives for gear
 

I have a version of that box, a few years old, and it worked ok.
Old 14th July 2019
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
simplecarnival's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NReichman View Post
Unless you own an OPPO player, or a fancy receiver, it's a PITA to analog decode into the studio. I recommend listening to iTunes and HBOGO, both of which play decoded Dolby Digital 5.1 in macOS just fine. If you insist on hardware, Gefen has a box that does it, and Gefen is serious about getting this stuff right. I have no firsthand experience of it though.
Thanks for the suggestions, Nathaniel!

I've heard a lot about OPPO, and while I'm not really in the market for a new blu-ray player, I'm not opposed to getting a player that has individual analog outs as a last resort.

I have no particular attachment to my receiver (an ONKYO HT-R530) and wouldn't have a problem swapping it out for one that also has 6 (for 5.1) to 8 (for 7.1) individual line outputs...but that might end up being more expensive than getting an OPPO player. I don't know; I'll keep that open as an option, like getting an OPPO. But I'd rather have a device that sits outside of my current player that can split out the audio.

iTunes/HBOGO/Macs are not an option -- sorry. I don't want to deal with streaming or with ripping blu-rays -- I want to pull directly what I have on my discs (I have a pretty big blu-ray collection) and split it out in analog in real time.

I can't seem to find a Gefen box that does what you describe. I see ones that can take a 5.1 signal and convert it to a stereo output, but nothing that can split the individual channels into line level analog signals. Any chance you have a link?
Old 14th July 2019
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
simplecarnival's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
I have a version of that box, a few years old, and it worked ok.
I'm envious!

Any chance you might want to sell it?
Old 14th July 2019
  #6
Lives for gear
 
NReichman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by simplecarnival View Post
Thanks for the suggestions, Nathaniel!

I've heard a lot about OPPO, and while I'm not really in the market for a new blu-ray player, I'm not opposed to getting a player that has individual analog outs as a last resort.

I have no particular attachment to my receiver (an ONKYO HT-R530) and wouldn't have a problem swapping it out for one that also has 6 (for 5.1) to 8 (for 7.1) individual line outputs...but that might end up being more expensive than getting an OPPO player. I don't know; I'll keep that open as an option, like getting an OPPO. But I'd rather have a device that sits outside of my current player that can split out the audio.

iTunes/HBOGO/Macs are not an option -- sorry. I don't want to deal with streaming or with ripping blu-rays -- I want to pull directly what I have on my discs (I have a pretty big blu-ray collection) and split it out in analog in real time.

I can't seem to find a Gefen box that does what you describe. I see ones that can take a 5.1 signal and convert it to a stereo output, but nothing that can split the individual channels into line level analog signals. Any chance you have a link?
Like the OPPO players, this also might be discontinued:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...cher_with.html

Good luck! eBay might help.
Old 15th July 2019
  #7
Gear Head
 

I have that one working fine with Spdif. On my unit the Ls Rs outputs were swapped, and there was some low level hum (easy to notch out). It often adds a 1-2 frames of delay. For the cost, it works well enough.
Old 19th July 2019
  #8
Gear Addict
 

I did something similar years back using a Yamaha surround receiver which had direct outs for each channel.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
simplecarnival's Avatar
 

So I purchased -- and then returned -- one of these... https://www.amazon.com/SKSL-Digital-.../dp/B019RF7ZVA ...since it didn't work at all as far as splitting out the sound out of the HDMI cable.

I seriously considered picking up the Gefen box that NReichman described upthread, but upon closer inspection, that model handles all of the Dolby surround modes but not DTS. So half of my blu-rays probably wouldn't work with it.

Ultimately, I ended up ordering a $200 (used) 7.1 receiver that has line outs for each channel as well as speaker outs. It hasn't come in yet, but it should do the job. It should be pretty convenient to use, since the blu-ray player will always be attached to the receiver and I won't have to hook up a separate device whenever I want to isolate some audio channels -- I can just run the line outs directly to my patchbay.

Thanks for the suggestions, everybody!
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump