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back to article Freeview HD sacrifices surround sound for World Cup scramble

Freeview HD may have kicked off to a song and dance about pin-sharp pictures for the World Cup, but many buyers have been disappointed to discover that things sound far from rosy when it comes to the audio side of the service. Some of the adverts and even Freeview’s own web site talk about surround sound as a benefit of …

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Stop

You missed...

...the centre speaker.

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Flame

Well as they say....

'Early adopters always get burnt'

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Boffin

Jonny Come Latelies you mean.

I think anybody expecting Freeview HD to be good is going to get burnt. There just isn't going to be the bandwidth to compete with Freesat, Sky, cable or possibly even the interwebs. Freeview is always going to be the poor relation.

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Silver badge

Not so bad.

A good receiver can pull decent surround out of a stereo source anyway. Mine does (Onkyo 507). Not as good as real 5.1 of course but I think it's exaggerating to imply that Freeview HD means no surround sound.

Just saying :)

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FAIL

"A good receiver can pull decent surround out of a stereo source anyway"

P.T. Barnum was right.

People who'd like an image to go with this, should google for "tactical facepalm".

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Silver badge
Boffin

Huh?

It's called Dolby Pro-logic II.

http://www.axiomaudio.com/dolbyprologicII.html

It's not some vague filtering that creates 3D out of nothing. It is genuinely multiple channels encoded into two. If the producer wants the sound of a donkey to come out of the left rear while the sound of a chicken comes out of the left front then Dolby Pro-Logic II can do that using a stereo source.

I've always assumed that channel separation and dynamic range are somewhat compromised but it is incorrect to say that Freeview 'sacrifices' surround sound. It just doesn't support the best possible way of providing it.

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WTF?

Surrounded by idiots!

I purchased a Panasonic TX-P50G20 plasma HDTV last week. You can imagine my confusion when it came to the audio side of things. I have my optical SPDIF output sending to my reciever and only get 2.0 PCM? What gives? After searching around I find that to my horror that Freeview HD have some weird coctail of audio to satisfy bandwidth and audio description peragatives and that many manufacturers got caught short in their rush to get kit into the shops in time for the world cup. They had all assumed (falsely) that we would be just like every other European country and using DD+ for surround sound broadcasts. Not so.

I emailed Panasonic about this and they have basically said they TV does not have the chippery to transcode HE-AAC to DD and no firmware update to fix this was forthcoming. There is even some debate as to whether it can output 5.1 LPCM via the HDMI2 return path. Not that many people have ARC capable recievers anyhow.

This truly sucks. So in order to get surround sound I will have to invest in a satellite dish and use the Freesat HD tuner inside instead. This is OK for the BBC and ITV channels but I am so out of luck for Channel 4 HD if and when they decide to broadcast in 5.1 (Currently only BBC HD send 5.1 streams from what I understand).

This is all down to the crappy DTG, BBC, Freeview, Ofcom or whoever not mandating that transcoding HE-AAC to DD must be a requirement in their rushed specification.

As ever. Early adopters beware. WHAT A FARCE!

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Silver badge

Take it back to the shop

It obviously doesn't do what you wanted it to do, so you have probably been mis-sold.

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Bronze badge

For many people ...

... it means precisely that.

Even where Freeview is broadcasting 5.1 audio, it's not in a format that most set top boxes or TVs are capable of passing on to home AV gear.

You might be able to create a psuedo-surround mix in your AV amp, but it would surely be better if the surround mix that's broadcast on Freeview HD from time to time could actually be fed into that amp, and delivered to the speakers.

With a very few exceptions, it cannot. The necessary bits to allow that to happen won't be mandatory until next year.

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FAIL

This...

...is why I use MythTV.

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WTF?

Tell us more

How do you use MythTV to watch Freeview HD?

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FAIL

Umm

There are no commercially available T2 receivers to stick in a Linux box right now, so no, your smug little comment is stupid and irrelevant. Fail fail.

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Anonymous Coward

Not entirely true...

There is at least one available, but it is aimed at the professional market and has a price tag to match. Not that it makes any difference to me as Freeview HD won't be broadcast here until next May, by which time the commercial tuners should have arrived.

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Silver badge
FAIL

UK Terrestrial HD is a joke

First, OFCOM refuse to contemplate terrestrial HD, in case it upsets Mr Murdoch. Then when Sky have had a sufficient head-start, OFCOM mandates a provisional, next-generation standard that instantly makes obsolete the existing HD-Ready digital TVs, in order to ensure there's enough space for tat merchants and +1hour repeats of channels that show nothing but repeats. Now the failure to nail down the audio specification means yet more obsolete equipment.

OFCOM - One F**king Catalogue Of Mismanagement

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Silver badge
FAIL

Who needs 5.1 speakers anyway?

Firstly, what does the extra tenth of a speaker do?

Secondly, you've only got two ears. You can't tell whether a sound is coming from in front or behind without turning your head.

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WTF?

Weird

I'm really really hoping that the whole post is sarcasm - if not, you should really learn about your own hearing system. If you only have ear drums, then I take your point, but you should really learn what your ears are for, and why they're a funny shape.

Even the wiki article is a good start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_localization

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Rob
Bronze badge

The .1 in 5.1....

... usually refers to the sub woofer.

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Megaphone

...two ears...

You may have two ears, but you clearly have no brain. Yes, you CAN (well, everyone except you, apparently) tell if a sound is coming from behind you. At certain frequencies you may not be able to (this is termed a front-back reversal), just as there are certain frequencies when you can't tell if a sound is from the left or right. This occurs when the wavelength of the sound corresponds to the diameter of your head.

However, compared with other animals, humans are terrible at accurately locating the exact source of a sound. Our ears (outer ears, that is) being stationary, are not capable of pinpointing where sounds originate from, but they can give us a coarse idea.

But most definitely, we can, most of the time, determine whether sound has come from behind us.

Off you toddle, Mr Styles. Have a happy time in your monophonic, one-dimensional world.

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Troll

@ A J Stiles

Are you a troll or just uninformed?

Assuming the latter - the.1 is the subwoofer (bass)

"Secondly, you've only got two ears. You can't tell whether a sound is coming from in front or behind without turning your head." - I'd suggest you go see an ear specialist!

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FAIL

Picture limitations too.

Looks like the video quality will be limited to 1080i30 too http://www.dtg.org.uk/news/news.php?id=3270. Another complete balls up that will mean we'll have to keep buying new equipment every time they decide to bring in something new or that should've been there in the first place.

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Anonymous Coward

onkyo yamaha and co not blameless

I think the 5.1 amp makers should be getting a kick in the spuds for not decoding ACC on their thousand features you don't really need receivers .

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FAIL

surprised...

that anyone puts up with the awful quality of Freeview anyway. I'm in the UK for a couple of months a year and regularly surprised at how terrible most Freeview channels look. The snooker was on last time I was there, on the red button channel the balls look like they've been drawn with about 16 pixels each - you can see gigantic jagged edges on the frickin' things!

Is this because of all the junk 'premium rate services' taking up tons of bandwidth to subsidise the cost of the whole system, or what? Sheesh, if I lived over there I'd be on freesat or Sky fast as anything.

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Unhappy

I agree...

I fully expect the World Cup to look like some stop-motion Lego men running around - especially on ITV. Freeview is astonishingly poor quality. But Sky is maddeningly expensive.

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Silver badge

What do you expect

The red button channel has a lower data rate than the BBC channels (about 1/2 of the average bitrate that BBC One has for example).

This is because it was intended as a data channel, and is used to carry additional video as a convenience. That's why it is the red button, not BBC 5.

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WTF?

Blood Boiling Angry

Seriously someone at OFCOM needs to kick all this into touch. We have a Freeview HD service that is crippled (London transmitters running at 1/10th power til 2012) we have no decent boxes with full 5.1 support and we as consumers have to take this crap!

I'm glad I went down the Freesat route - I just wish it would get the investment and media support it deserves as Freeview HD just makes me angry

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FAIL

Typical Tech Standards

Half-Assed, over complicated, standards rushed out to meet some invisible and pointless marketting effort. Just one extra line in the spec mandating transcoding would have solved it.

The whole tech industry keeps doing the same thing. HDMI, 3D, blu-ray, bluetooth, the list just goes on.

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Coat

For all the above ranters without a clue

Some actual information, might help you get your heads around what's going on, rather than just ranting like Clarkson in a rape crisis centre....

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2010/06/questions_around_surround_soun.html

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