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SageTV HD Theater - Media Player Discussion related to using the SageTV HD Theater as a Media Player, i.e.: in use while not connected to a SageTV server. Questions, issues, problems, suggestions, etc. relating to using a SageTV HD Theater as a Media Player should be posted here. Use the SageTV Media Extender forum for issues related to using it while connected to a SageTV server.

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  #1  
Old 08-01-2015, 11:20 PM
peternm22 peternm22 is offline
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HD300: Digital PCM vs Digital Bitstream

Hi Everyone,

Trying to fix a problem that isn't SageTV related in itself, but SageTV might be able to fix it for me.

I have an HD300 and I know that HDMI 1.3 Bitstream is required for Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, or DTS-MA. The content I watch on SageTV is at best Dolby Digital 5.1.

My HD300 is connected via HDMI to a Yamaha receiver.

I'm trying to understand the difference between the Digital PCM and Digital Bitstream options. I seem to get the full 5.1 sound regardless of which one is selected. The only difference is that the Digital Bitstream option causes my receiver to say "Dolby Digital" on it's status screen.

Am I losing anything by using Digital PCM instead of Digital Bitstream? Again, only dealing with Dolby Digital 5.1, and not any of the newer HD audio content.

I've been getting quite regular audio dropouts with one of my sources (either connected directly to the Yamaha, or through my SageTV server and then played back via the HD300). Google tells me this isn't an uncommon problem between Yamaha receivers and Motorola satellite/cable boxes. Switching my HD300 to Digital PCM seems to fix these audio dropouts. As long as there aren't any other unintended consequences, I think this might be my fix.

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 08-01-2015, 11:57 PM
peternm22 peternm22 is offline
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It appears that selecting Digital PCM just outputs a stereo signal from the HD300. The receiver then does some magic (I'm assuming something like Dolby Pro Logic), and outputs 5.1.

Some of the channel separation seems to be lost, which makes sense.

I thought the HD300 could do multichannel PCM. I'm guessing I'm not understanding what that means exactly.

Is it possibly for the HD300 to decode Dolby Digital 5.1, and output it as 5.1 PCM? (not stereo PCM).

Thanks.
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  #3  
Old 08-02-2015, 12:37 PM
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stanger89 stanger89 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peternm22 View Post
I thought the HD300 could do multichannel PCM. I'm guessing I'm not understanding what that means exactly.
It means if you've got a file with multichannel PCM (eg an early Blu-ray) it will output that as multichannel PCM.

Quote:
Is it possibly for the HD300 to decode Dolby Digital 5.1, and output it as 5.1 PCM? (not stereo PCM).
Apparently not, there aren't any other settings. It's possible Sage didn't license multichannel DD decoding.

The other possibility is that it's an EDID problem, perhaps the AVR is reporting it can only support 2 channel audio.
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  #4  
Old 08-02-2015, 01:58 PM
peternm22 peternm22 is offline
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Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post
The other possibility is that it's an EDID problem, perhaps the AVR is reporting it can only support 2 channel audio.
AVR reports it's receiving 5.1. AVR is perfectly fine with Apple TV and blu ray audio too. It only starts dropping audio when the source is my satellite receiver (I've tried two different satellite receivers, both have the same problem). Whether the satellite receiver is connected to the AVR or through SageTV (and then to the HD300), I get audio dropouts on certain channels. If I plug either the satellite receiver or the HD300 directly to the TV, the audio dropouts go away.

I have a file recorded in SageTV that I use to test this with. Since it has constant audio dropouts if played through the AVR.

Stereo PCM isn't ideal, but it's a lot better than getting audio dropouts with DD 5.1.

I did read on another forum that someone fixed this problem by just putting an HDMI switch in between the source and Yamaha AVR. Any thoughts if that might be something worth taking a look at?

Thanks.
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  #5  
Old 08-02-2015, 02:21 PM
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KryptoNyte KryptoNyte is offline
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What Sage tuner are you using, and if it's the HD-PVR, how are you getting audio from your set-top-box?

When you download a dolby digital test file, and then play that file on the HD300 via Sage (thru the AVR, with the AVR verifying DD), do you still get the audio drops?
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  #6  
Old 08-02-2015, 02:53 PM
peternm22 peternm22 is offline
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I'm using the R5000 mod on my satellite receiver. It records the stream as it is (no re-encoding like the HD-PVR).

Dropouts don't happen on every channel, or every recording. Some recordings are far worse than others. I recorded "Kill The Messenger" on Friday night, and it was almost unwatchable with the amount of audio drop outs. No video dropouts at all.

If I bypass my Yamaha AVR, and plug the HD300 directly into the TV, the drop outs go away.

Let me be clear, I don't think this a SageTV problem. I think the way my TV provider (Shaw Direct) encodes audio causes some type of incompatibility with this particular Yamaha AVR. I found another person on another forum with the same AVR who also experiences the same intermittent dropouts with Shaw Direct. I've also seen reports of other people with certain Yamaha AVR's experiencing dropouts when using Motorola cable boxes (Shaw Direct uses Motorola satellite receivers).

Another test I performed:

1) I was recording a show in SageTV with the R5000. I was watching it delayed by a few minutes with the HD300. Dropouts were occurring, not super frequently, but enough to be annoying.
2) While the show was being recorded, I connected a different satellite receiver to another input on the AVR. Not only is it a different satellite receiver, it was also a different model.
3) I begin watching the show on the just connected satellite receiver. Audio dropouts still occurring. I make a note of exactly where a few of these dropouts have happened (what dialog was said before and after).
4) I switched back over to the HD300 and began re watching the same show. Only this one was recorded with a different satellite receiver.
5) The audio dropouts in the recording corresponded exactly to what I had marked down when I was live viewing the other receiver.

This means one of three things:
1) It's a source problem at Shaw Direct.
2) It's a local reception problem with dish.
3) It's a problem with the Yamaha AVR.

I think the first two can be ruled out. After many searches online (including Twitter), this isn't a common problem. If it was a source problem, all of Shaw Directs customers would be getting dropouts, this doesn't seem to be the case. Also, bypassing the AVR and going directly to the TV fixes the dropouts.

This all leads me to believe it is a problem between the Yamaha AVR and Shaw Direct. The R5000 tuner just records the audio as is, and the HD300 just passes this untouched to the AVR.
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  #7  
Old 08-03-2015, 09:03 PM
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BobbyDing BobbyDing is offline
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I have had similar dropout issues with HD300 recordings recorded on HDHR4 and played on a Denon AVR (Dolby Digital). It happens only on my local NBC. Many, but not all the dropouts have been fixed by turning off the automatic/dynamic gain/volume settings on the AVR. I suspect something is wrong with the stations audio that causes the AVR to over correct. If/when I get some time, I may try automatically converting these recordings to a different format. Perhaps the conversion will clean up the dropouts.

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  #8  
Old 08-03-2015, 09:46 PM
peternm22 peternm22 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobbyDing View Post
If/when I get some time, I may try automatically converting these recordings to a different format. Perhaps the conversion will clean up the dropouts.

Bobby
I looked into this as well, but most of the preset comversion settings seem to affect the audio in one of two ways:

1) Leaves it intact, and merely remuxes it with the converted video.
2) Converts it to stereo, thus losing the discreet 5.1 AC3 channels.

Does anyone know if any of the SageTV preset conversion profiles can compress the AC3 a "little", but still retain 5.1 sound? Can AAC sound be in 5.1 channels?


I ordered an HDMI splitter off Amazon earlier today. I went with a splitter instead of a switch since I figured the splitter would have to boost the signal in order to send it out to two different devices.

I went for one of the splitters that reportedly strips off HDCP. I figured if it doesn't fix my audio problem, I could always use it when/if I get an HD-PVR in the future.

I'll report back on the success/failure of the splitter once I get it.
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  #9  
Old 08-03-2015, 09:57 PM
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BobbyDing BobbyDing is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peternm22 View Post
I'll report back on the success/failure of the splitter once I get it.
Please. And the make/model of the splitter if it works.

Thanks!

Bobby
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  #10  
Old 08-04-2015, 12:10 AM
peternm22 peternm22 is offline
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I ran my "known bad" recording through Handbrake, and made sure to have the audio re-encoded. It was originally 5.1 ac3 384kbps, so I change it to 5.1 ac3 448kbps.

With the new file, the audio blips are completely corrected when playing through the AVR.

This obviously isn't a practical solution, but it again points to an incompatibility between my AVR and my satellite provider.

I hooked up a PC to the AVR via optical and tested the recording this way. I played it through the SageTV client and VLC, and both resulted in audio dropouts.

I went into the settings for ac3filter (what the SageTV Windows client uses for SPDIF output), but none of the settings seemed to have any effect on the audio dropouts. Same goes for the VLC audio settings. I'm not even sure if the settings I changed had any effect on audio output one way or another. I was trying to find a way to add a filter or processing to the signal before sending it to the AVR. Not much luck there.
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  #11  
Old 08-04-2015, 05:26 PM
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KryptoNyte KryptoNyte is offline
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Somewhat extreme, but for the amount of time that you're spending on this, is there a point when it make sense to just grab a new AVR and unload yours on Ebay or Craigslist?
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  #12  
Old 08-07-2015, 07:18 PM
peternm22 peternm22 is offline
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The powered splitter idea was a bust. Audio dropouts persist when I use it.

I've gone through several rounds of emails with Yamaha support. They are aware of an issue with Shaw Direct receivers and their AVR's, but they said it was only a problem with HDMI and not optical. I get dropouts on optical too (this is when I directly connect to the receiver as well, completely bypassing SageTV).

Any recommendations for non-Yamaha AVR's? Looking in the $300 range. I did a ton of research when I bought this one a year ago, but I guess that was for nothing.
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  #13  
Old 08-07-2015, 07:56 PM
peternm22 peternm22 is offline
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On the bright side it looks like the splitter I bought does bypass HDCP.

I currently only have one non-HDCP display to test with (an old LCD monitor with a DVI input). Connecting it to an Apple TV with a DVI-to-HDMI cable gives me an HDCP warning message on playback. Putting the splitter between the monitor and Apple TV causes the HDCP error to go away and allows playback.

The splitter I bought is the ViewHD 2 Port 1x2 Powered HDMI Mini Splitter for 1080P & 3D | VHD-1X2MN3D. I bought it off Amazon.ca, but Amazon.com carries it as well.
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  #14  
Old 08-08-2015, 11:03 PM
trk2 trk2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peternm22 View Post
Any recommendations for non-Yamaha AVR's? Looking in the $300 range. I did a ton of research when I bought this one a year ago, but I guess that was for nothing.
Have you tried beta firmware 20110124-2 for your HD300? If not, I'd give it a try before buying a new receiver.

http://forums.sagetv.com/forums/showthread.php?t=57929
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  #15  
Old 08-09-2015, 01:20 PM
peternm22 peternm22 is offline
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Originally Posted by trk2 View Post
Have you tried beta firmware 20110124-2 for your HD300? If not, I'd give it a try before buying a new receiver.

http://forums.sagetv.com/forums/showthread.php?t=57929
Just loaded this firmware onto the HD300 and it didn't change the audio dropouts. That firmware seems to deal with DTS-MA problems, I'm only have issues with good 'ol fashioned Dolby Digital.

I hooked up a 10ish year old Panasonic AVR to the optical output of the HD300 and I didn't get any dropouts on my "known bad" recording. The left surround speaker output on this AVR no longer works though, so that's why I'm not currently using it (that was actually the reason why I bought the Yamaha).
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  #16  
Old 08-10-2015, 08:27 AM
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stanger89 stanger89 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peternm22 View Post
Any recommendations for non-Yamaha AVR's? Looking in the $300 range. I did a ton of research when I bought this one a year ago, but I guess that was for nothing.
I'd probably look at Denon or Pioneer.
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  #17  
Old 08-10-2015, 09:21 PM
ccsmoke ccsmoke is offline
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I picked up a Denon X3000 about an year ago through amazon, its a decent receiver. It has a rare multi-zone capability in which one can use the HDMI inputs for other zones. Most multi-zone receivers allows for only component inputs for other zones. Its about 2 years old so they go for around $500 which is 1/2 off and have good speaker inputs which allow the use of http://www.amazon.com/Sewell-Direct-...8YP9HP21BB7XWV.

If multi-zone doesn't interest you then X1000,2000 would work around your price point. Amazons returns seem decent to me.

Did you try a different source Blu-ray or OTA etc. ?

This could help to see if incoming signal is good. Line splitters, line of sight with dish, cabling can also have effect along with their compression. Most set top boxes also have audio setting usually mono, stereo, and dynamic.

If the Panasonic AVR is from a home theater in a box, there is good chance that it will only do Dolby Digital 2.0 out of optical, so it may not notice the dropouts.

Last edited by ccsmoke; 08-10-2015 at 09:23 PM.
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  #18  
Old 08-10-2015, 10:36 PM
peternm22 peternm22 is offline
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Originally Posted by ccsmoke View Post
Did you try a different source Blu-ray or OTA etc. ?

This could help to see if incoming signal is good. Line splitters, line of sight with dish, cabling can also have effect along with their compression. Most set top boxes also have audio setting usually mono, stereo, and dynamic.

If the Panasonic AVR is from a home theater in a box, there is good chance that it will only do Dolby Digital 2.0 out of optical, so it may not notice the dropouts.
I have a blu-ray player and an Apple TV. No dropouts on either, and I've watched tons of hours on the Apple TV.

Incoming signal is great. Had a lot of the satellite wiring replaced, a new LNB for the dish, and a new multiswitch. This wasn't done strictly for the audio problems though, we wanted an addition receiver and the current satellite setup was maxed out so we needed a big upgrade. Signal is peaked and all that jazz.

I've tried all of the audio settings on the receiver(s). Only thing that plays well with the Yamaha is setting them to PCM output.

Panasonic AVR isn't from a home theater in a box. It does Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 over either optical or coaxial. No HDMI though, and obviously none of the newer HD audio formats that are on blu-rays.

At this point, I'm guessing there are some minor "blips" in the audio signal that the Yamaha can't deal with. Obviously there is something about the Dolby Digital signal from Shaw Direct that the Yamaha just doesn't like. Here is the exact quote form Yamaha support:

Quote:
The issue is from the HDMI chip used by Motorola. The situation is not limited to Yamaha but all home theater receivers following latest HDMI protocol.

This older generation chip does not properly understand an 'HDMI repeater' as the receiver is not a 'Display' under HDMI protocol.
They then said that using optical audio would fix the problem, but that didn't fix it.
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  #19  
Old 08-17-2015, 08:08 PM
valnar valnar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peternm22 View Post
Any recommendations for non-Yamaha AVR's? Looking in the $300 range. I did a ton of research when I bought this one a year ago, but I guess that was for nothing.
I highly recommend the Pioneer Elite stuff, although that's above your price range so perhaps the regular Pioneer line would be good. I personally like it better than Denon. I find Pioneer to be a fuller sound.
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