Recording DVDs in surround sound
March 25, 2005
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Are there any DVD recorders with optical or coaxial audio inputs? I'm getting conflicting reports from salespeople and customer service reps when I ask about models that can record in 5.1-channel surround sound. Any suggestions?
One of the big reasons behind the success of the DVD format is its native support for surround sound. Run a single cable from your DVD player to your digital-ready A/V receiver, and--assuming your receiver is driving a set of 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1 speakers--you'll get a full surround effect, putting you in the middle of the action.
Most digital cable and satellite TV set-top boxes also offer digital audio outputs, which can transmit surround soundtracks from channels that offer them (HBO and Starz, for example). Integrated digital video recorders (DVRs) provided by your cable or satellite company can record these programs with their surround soundtrack intact for later playback. To date, though, DVD recorders can't record in 5.1 surround; they're strictly limited to stereo.
There is a workaround, however: play back your home-recorded stereo DVDs using your A/V receiver's Dolby Pro Logic II mode. It's not native surround sound, but it will create a palpable surround effect that you can hear from all directions--even though the source has only two channels.
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