DVD 5.1 downmix to stereo (analog out) - fixed yet?


#1

The issue arose with 1.03.49 (the firmware update that implemented DVD Menu Functionality).  Since that update, the WDTV Live downmixes 5.1 from DVD .iso’s poorly.   This is a fundamental function of a media player and should’ve been addressed immediately, but seems to have persisted through all firmware updates since that one.

Extensive testing has been done by numerous users - for more info, see:

This thread —> http://community.wdc.com/t5/General-Discussions/Very-low-volume-when-playing-back-DVD-ISO-files/td-p/79238

and here —> http://community.wdc.com/t5/Firmware/5-1-audio-tracks-much-quieter-than-2-0-tracks/td-p/86433

The problem is only with the 5.1 downmix to stereo from DVD .iso’s.  5.1 tracks from all other containers seem to downmix perfectly.  This is not an issue with our ripping software - so don’t suggest it.  This is not an issue with our receivers - so don’t suggest it.  I run analog stereo out from the box to stereo connections on the receiver.  The .iso’s play perfectly on a PC, but not from the WDTV Live.  The 2.0 tracks on DVD rips are perfectly normal (like the audio in the menus), but the 5.1 tracks are extremely quiet.   So if you are using the WDTV Live to watch a DVD .iso, you have to adjust the volume WAY up after you leave the menu and begin watching the feature/episodes…then remember to turn it back down before the menu comes up again or you’ll nearly blow you’re speakers and scare the ■■■■ out of your neighbors…

WD, please address this issue.  I’ve waited patiently for a long time now hoping to see this get fixed.  I was extremely pleased with the WDTV Live when I first got it and have suggested it to many people that I know, but I have since become cautious when it comes to bragging about its merits.  As I stated before, this is a fundamental problem with the box and will eventually lead me to another company’s product if it’s not rectified.

Thanks.


#2

I checked both topics and they’re dead with old replies… Dude, are you sure your media player is not simply bad?


#3

No, I don’t think it is a bad box. I also have the problem with very soft dialog volume levels with the 5.1 mixdown to stereo. If the movie has a Dolby stereo soundtrack, that usually is OK (loud enough), but a lot of movies do not have stereo soundtracks. Last night we were watching Fair Game and the dialog was so soft that I had to turn my TV’s volume up all the way! The music was really loud, but the dialog was very soft. As the original poster said, this has been happening with the newer firmwares.


#4

That being the case, has it been posted on the official firmware thread? That’s the place WD looks for bugs o.o


#5

It’s certainly not a bad box.  If I revert to old firmware (prior to DVD menu functionality), the problem goes away.  It’s definitely from an error in newer firmware.


#6

The same audio issue has appeared on a number of audio forums. There seems to be an issue with the digital to analogue sound processor chip (DSP) not decoding the sound track correctly. Not all DSP chips are created equally. I have experienced the problem with a number of DVD’s. There are a number of badly mastered DVD’s on the market especially PAL DVD’s. Maybe if people disclosed the manufacturer and model number of their amplifiers and their DVD region, the issue could be isolated to a particular DSP chip.


#7

thepanoguy wrote:

The same audio issue has appeared on a number of audio forums. There seems to be an issue with the digital to analogue sound processor chip (DSP) not decoding the sound track correctly. Not all DSP chips are created equally. I have experienced the problem with a number of DVD’s. There are a number of badly mastered DVD’s on the market especially PAL DVD’s. Maybe if people disclosed the manufacturer and model number of their amplifiers and their DVD region, the issue could be isolated to a particular DSP chip.

That’s a clever idea!


#8

“Maybe if people disclosed the manufacturer and model number of their amplifiers and their DVD region, the issue could be isolated to a particular DSP chip.” 

 

If that were the case, then the issue wouldn’t disappear when reverting to older firmware. 


#9

It could be that the newer firmwares conflict with the chipset, making both of you correct at the same time. Wild guess, anyone?


#10

Jeddia wrote:

“Maybe if people disclosed the manufacturer and model number of their amplifiers and their DVD region, the issue could be isolated to a particular DSP chip.” 

 

If that were the case, then the issue wouldn’t disappear when reverting to older firmware. 

So you are saying that you don’t want WD to know what the failure conditions are? How do you expect them to fix the problem?


#11

I don’t work for WD or have any contacts with the WD staff. I am just a user who reads forums for educational value. I am a qualified electrician with extensive experience with building and modifying audio equipment. Therefore; I know just a little more than the average consumer about technical devices.

People with no technical qualifications persistently rant about the quality of consumer products, the reliability of software and product functionality. WD may be a large manufacturing company. That is insignificant compared to how many millions of consumers use the end product. It is impossible for any manufacturer to write software to compensate for every application. That is why companies use open source software and upgrade the software as required.

Leave the emotional debate in the closet and approach the issue rationally and scientifically.

The 5.1 / 7.1 audio decoding issue is not exclusive to WDTV boxes. If people blaming “buggy” WD software care to Google and read the posts on various audio sites and forums they will find that there are reports of anomalies when decoding 5.1 / 7.1 audio.

Part of the decoding issue is the DSP chip. Some DSP chips were designed before streaming boxes were invented. Those DSP chips were designed to be compliant to the then available hardware technology. The possibility is that those chips may not decode 5.1 / 7.1 audio correctly from streaming devices introduced later in the market.

There are also issues of badly mastered DVD titles especially NTSC converted to PAL. Those DVD’s play correctly when played through stand alone hardware DVD players. There is no way of knowing how those DVD’s will perform when ripped and played through computer software.

Computers don’t contain any video hardware devices. The CPU and GPU are software programmed to act as the hardware decoding. What will work on a computer does not translated to what will work on a hardware decoder.

There are also issues of badly compiled pirated movies and TV shows that do not conform to any recognised video standards. People compile those shows, upload those productions to a server, and then downloaded by other users who complain their steamer box malfunctions.

SBS Australia is one of the biggest sources of non-English speaking TV shows and movies subtitled to English.  I possess a hard to obtain Italian detective miniseries that was subtitled by SBS Australia. The DVD works correctly when played through a hardware DVD player and computer software. When I try to stream the individual movies, I loose the subtitles. The reason is that the original miniseries was produced for an Italian audience. The TV series was purchased by an Australian TV network (SBS) and the English subtitling was done in-house to suit an Australia English audience. The English subtitling is contained on a special track on the DVD and superimposed onto the original Italian DVD master.

The point I am making is:

If people are not prepared to disclose the DVD title, the manufacturer and model number of their audio amplifier, and continuously rant about software issues, how are WD expected to investigate audio issues? OR maybe the real issue is that it may be found that the DVD title and the DSP chip in their amplifier are not compliant and compatible with later technology.

Therefore the only way to resolve audio issues is to compile a database of DVD’s and amplifiers and report exactly what is happening to the audio signal. ie centre channel missing; centre channel working, main channel missing, right channel working, left channel missing; etc, etc.

My amplifier is a Yamaha RX-V457 amplifier. I have no audio issues with the latest WDTV live software.


#12

What has this issue got to do with the (stereo) amplifier.

Before buying an AV receiver this was an issue for me and remains an issue for many.

AC3 5.1 inside a VOB container doesn’t downmix properley

AC3 5.1 inside an MKV container does downmix well.

Customers read the units’ specifications and have an expectation based on that. They don’t care about chipset constraints.


#13

thepanoguy, you do not understand the problem that we are talking about. What we are talking about is the downmix of the 5.1 audio to stereo in the WD box. This has nothing to do with what amplifiers we are using, or what decoding chipsets are in the amplifiers. The stereo output from the WD box is not digital. It is simply 2 channel analog.

The problem is that when the stereo output of the WD box is used, and the movie has a 5.1 soundtrack, the volume level of the dialog is very low, while the output from the other channels is very loud. The 5.1 audio is converted to stereo inside the WD box and it is output as 2 channel stereo. The points that you are bringing up about external amplifiers and chipsets have absolutely nothing to do with this problem because the problem is internal to the WD box.


#14

I worked in the servicing industry for many years. I have set up audio and video for many people and modified audio equipment.

If a person only possesses a stereo amplifier, and not a 5.1 amplifier how can they prove that the audio output from the WDTV Live box is being down mixed incorrectly? What are they using as a 5.1 reference source? How are they conducting the A-B tests?       

I am using the latest WD firmware. I am using rips from the original DVD’s not pirated copies. I have tried to replicate the stereo issues reported on this site; unfortunately I cannot. According to the posts in this thread, I must have a defective WDTV Live box and buggy firmware.

I have set up my 5.1 amplifier to use both the Toslink and analogue stereo outputs. I can A-B the source audio in both 5.1 and stereo. The 5.1 audio plays correctly. Switching the audio to stereo, I can A-B the stereo audio with the Toslink stereo using the amplifier to down mix to stereo. The audio sounds identical when using a pair of headphones. When listening to the speakers, there is no residual audio in the centre or surround speakers. I can decode the 5.1 audio from the analogue stereo, and A-B the audio with the Toslink 5.1 audio. The audio out sounds identical.

The only difference I can perceive is that the Toslink has an artificially boosted bass. According to the Toslink specifications, that is normal.

Refusing to disclose the video title, amplifier manufacturer and model number and making a statement that the analogue stereo audio down mix is incorrect without submitting any proof is unscientific. How are the WD people supposed to resolve a technical issue without technical information?

Eventually; like most of the forums on the internet, technical people on this site will refuse to acknowledge the posts or help.

FOOTNOTE:

Sigma manufactures the chips used in the WDTV Live boxes. The testing facilities in the WD research laboratory are better than I possess. If the analogue audio down mix issue is as bad as reported in this forum, the issue would be reported in other forums. There would also be a consumer backlash. I searched the internet and I cannot find mass reporting of the analogue audio down mix issue.

The WDLXTV site contains no mass complaints. If there was a serious issue, the WDLXTV developers would be aware of it.

If people do have a genuine complaint, the appropriate course of action would be to contact the WD service department directly and explain the audio problem.   


#15

thepanoguy…you don’t seem to be comprehending what is being stated clearly - let me try to say it again…

When using the analog stereo out jack from the box, and connecting it to the stereo-in jacks on a receiver, the 5.1 downmix from DVD rips are too quiet.  From ALL DVD’s.  Now, the downmix is being done by the box, not the receiver (prior to signal-out).

Try ripping any DVD that has both a 5.1 AC3 track and a 2.0 stereo track.  Then play that image on the WDTV Live.  If you switch back and forth from the 5.1 track and the 2.0 track (which not all DVD’s have, btw…), you can hear the difference…it’s insane.

Conversely, if you are playing an .mkv, the 5.1 track sounds perfect.

You are making a great argument - eloquently, I might add - but completely missing the point at the same time.

This has NOTHING to do with our receivers.  And it has nothing to do with the source DVD’s (it is ALL DVD’s).  The boxes aren’t “bad”, because if we roll the firmware back it’s fine.  As far as WD not being able to “resolve a technical issue without technical information”, I don’t see where any technical information above and beyond what I’ve just provided is necessary.  The downmix for analog stereo-out happens IN THE BOX - exactly what else do they need to know?


#16

thepanoguy, while what you are saying has truth to it, you clearly do not understand the problem that we are talking about. Please re-read what Jeddia and I wrote above. Your posts have absolutely nothing to do with the problem that we are discussing.

thepanoguy wrote: I worked in the servicing industry for many years. I have set up audio and video for many people and modified audio equipment…Eventually; like most of the forums on the internet, technical people on this site will refuse to acknowledge the posts or help.

I am a Senior Electronic Engineer with over 30 years experience in hardware and software design. I have designed the video circuitry for very sophisticated medical x-ray equipment that has been saving lives daily. My name is in the NASA technical hall of fame. I don’t want to sound mean, but I am a very technical person and I can tell you that your comments are way off base to the topic that we are discussing.


#17

Does anybody else want to chip in and tell us what they do so we can all feel inferior! It really does not matter what your qualifications are if people are getting the wrong end of the stick plus this is the internet where you can become anything you want to. :wink:


#18

the panoguy,

it may appear an onslaught against you but the concern to people is that we don’t want your comments to diffuse a demonstrably real problem. I worked as a research engineer in telecommunications for many years so can get my head around technical issues.

Your arguments are totally misguided. My tests are as “scientific” as needed. I’ve already made comments in this and other threads:

(1) The audio codec stream is the same AC3 5.1. If the container is a VOB the downmix in the WD TV Live  is flawed. If the container is an MKV the downmix in the WD TV Live works as it should.

(2) I went to the effort of testing every firmware version back to 1.02 .21. Every firmware after this version demonstrated the problem.

(3) For all these tests I used the same stereo audio system incorporating a Technics integrated stereo amplifier. I used the WD TV Live stereo audio out with audio set to “stereo”.

When I purchased an Onkyo TX-SR608 AV receiver I still use stereo speaker output  and use the WD TV Live HDMI digital out. The AV receiver downmixes the AC3 5.1 audio stream correctly irrespective of the container.

CONCLUSION: The WD TV Live firmware is faulty. Furthermore, I don’t think the problem would be difficult to rectify.


#19

richUK wrote:

Does anybody else want to chip in and tell us what they do so we can all feel inferior! It really does not matter what your qualifications are if people are getting the wrong end of the stick plus this is the internet where you can become anything you want to. :wink:

I agree with you…I never posted anything like that before, but I felt like I had to disprove thepanoguy’s implication that there were no technical people here who could understand/help with the problem. Since he listed his qualifications, I listed some of mine. Sorry…I won’t so that again!

thepanoguy, I hope that you understand that I was not attacking you…AS MikeF said, the concern is that we don’t want your comments to confuse a real problem that some of us are experiencing.


#20

Well the fact still remains that no one has given any concrete examples of ISOs/ripping software combinations that exhibit this problem. My ISOs do not have this problem,  so by virtue of the logic being used in this thread there is no problem. However I am sure some people are having problems.

Come on folks just give WD some information to go on, e.g.

  1. DVD title, NTSC/PAL, region

  2. Ripping software, settings etc.