Understanding Home Theater Sound Types: 2 Upmixing Formats

We started a new series on the blog last week, Understanding Home Theater Sound Types. If you’re new to all this (or even if you could just use a refresher), make sure you read that post before this one. We covered some of the basic terminology, plus two classic surround sound formats, Dolby Digital and DTS.

This week, we at Experience Audio Video want to help you understand two more formats that do something called upmixing.

What Is Upmixing?

Upmixing isn’t an everyday word, so we’ll start with a quick explanation. Some video/audio formats, like CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays produced commercially by large entertainment companies, are encoded with multichannel audio in one or more of a number of formats (like Dolby Digital or Atmos). Provided your system is compatible with the format the media is encoded with, you’ll receive sweet surround sound naturally.

But not everything you might want to watch or listen to is formatted in surround sound. Much recorded music is stereo encoded, and some video sources may also provide stereo audio only.

Upmixing, then, is the process of reading a stereo audio source and converting it on the fly to utilize the additional channels in a home theater system.

There are two leading types of upmixing formats/algorithms: Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS Neo:6.

Dolby Pro Logic II

One of the two main formats or methods for upmixing stereo audio to a multichannel matrix, Dolby Pro Logic II can decode recordings encoded as stereo and upmix them to a 5.1-channel multichannel matrix, giving you “faux surround” sound.

DTS Neo:6

DTS Neo:6 does essentially the same thing as the previous type, potentially with better audio mapping (more realistic “faux surround”).

Understand that this isn’t standalone tech: your system needs to be able to process true surround formats, too. But upmixing capability is a nice addition to a home theater system.

 


A Great 2020 Resolution: Upgrade Your Home Audio

The new year is here in full force, and if you’re like most of us, you’ve already made some resolutions for the year.

Maybe you’re making 2020 the year you get fit. Or perhaps you’re setting a more intellectual goal for yourself, to read a certain number of books or to finally learn another language.

Here at Experience Audio Video we applaud those efforts, of course— even if we can’t be much help with your physical fitness or intellectual goals.

What we can do is encourage you to make just one more resolution for 2020. Why not make 2020 the year you finally upgrade your home audio? Here are a couple reasons to upgrade your home audio in 2020.

A Matter of Quality

Have you ever had a day where you visited two similar establishments in the same day and you noticed some real quality differences? Maybe you grabbed a quick fast food lunch near work and then went to a high-end restaurant for a dinner date. Or perhaps you’ve been out shopping and ended up with a big box discount store and a high-end retailer in the same trip.

When juxtaposed like this, you can’t help but notice the differences. Both experiences are serviceable, but one is clearly better than the other.

It’s the same way with home audio. Cheap home audio gets the job done. You can hear the music, after all. But are you enjoying it as much as you could? Definitely not.

The bottom line: improved sound quality is one great reason to resolve to upgrade your home audio this year.

It’s Your Home— Enjoy the Time You Spend There

A better system translates to a better and more enjoyable listening experience. Do you want to keep settling for fast-food-level home audio? Or are you ready to upgrade to something more akin to fine dining? Make 2020 the year to switch.

 


2020 Trends in Home Theater: Our Top 2 Predictions

Now that it’s 2020, it’s time to take a look at upcoming trends in home theater. As with any area of technology, new developments are happening all the time. So what are the most significant developments that look to trend in 2020? Here are the top 2 predictions from the Experience Audio Video team.

Soundbars Reign Supreme

We know, soundbars aren’t exactly a home theater aficionado’s dream, but trends are trends. 2020 looks to be a promising year for soundbar technology. All sorts of manufacturers are trotting out improved models at CES. Functionality, intuitiveness and sound quality are all on the rise.

Of course, as a custom home theater installer, we’re never going to recommend you settle for a soundbar alone. Your home theater needs more. But consider how much bang for your buck you could get for any secondary TVs in your home—ones that aren’t a part of your main home theater setup.

Some of the new offerings include innovative approaches to accommodate 5.1 channel sound and more. While these soundbars can’t match a full surround setup, they are nonetheless impressive.

8K Ascending

The other trend we’re watching is toward 8K displays. We’ve been seeing prototypes at shows like CES since 2013, but displays have only become available at retail in the last couple years. They’re still quite expensive, but prices are dropping. Samsung’s 55-inch 8K display is offered at around $3500 today, a reasonable price for cutting-edge equipment.

There isn’t a ton of native 8K content available yet, but it’s a mistake to dismiss 8K as a trend on this basis alone. That’s because, according to Digital Trends, 8K displays will upscale 4K content, giving a significant difference in clarity. In simpler terms, your 4K content will look even better on an 8K display than on a 4K.

 


Why You Want a Media Center PC for Your Home Theater

One home theater component we get a lot of questions about at Experience Audio Video is the media center PC. What’s the value of having a media center PC? In the age of streaming sticks and smart TVs, what makes a media center PC a worthwhile investment?

It’s true that smart TVs and streaming devices have changed the landscape somewhat, but for a truly deep, immersive home theater experience, you’ll still want a media center PC. Here are a few reasons why.

A Media Center PC Simplifies Your Home Theater

First, a media center PC simplifies your setup. Have you ever visited someone’s home and been invited to “help yourself” to the TV? Easier said than done, right? A typical TV setup can involve 4 or more remotes, and good luck recovering if you turn devices on in the wrong order.

This is one problem you can solve with a media center PC. With one device controlling all your entertainment options, you simplify the process of running your system and accessing your content. With a few basic instructions, your guests can control what they need so they can enjoy your home theater.

A Media Center PC Gives You Greater Consumption Options

Streaming sticks and smart speakers are great, but they have their limits. You’re limited to the subscriptions you’re paying for, and even then, not every service works on every device. Want to watch an obscure foreign film from the 1980s? Good luck finding it on a major streaming platform.

To make matters worse, most smart devices can’t play the media you own outright. Most of us have a hefty collection of purchased music and movies that we can’t access on our Rokus, Fire TVs or Apple TVs.

A media center PC is the solution to your back catalog of content. And a quality modern media center PC can handle your streaming services, too.

 


Why You Want a Media Center PC for Your Home Theater

One home theater component we get a lot of questions about at Experience Audio Video is the media center PC. What’s the value of having a media center PC? In the age of streaming sticks and smart TVs, what makes a media center PC a worthwhile investment?

It’s true that smart TVs and streaming devices have changed the landscape somewhat, but for a truly deep, immersive home theater experience, you’ll still want a media center PC. Here are a few reasons why.

A Media Center PC Simplifies Your Home Theater

First, a media center PC simplifies your setup. Have you ever visited someone’s home and been invited to “help yourself” to the TV? Easier said than done, right? A typical TV setup can involve 4 or more remotes, and good luck recovering if you turn devices on in the wrong order.

This is one problem you can solve with a media center PC. With one device controlling all your entertainment options, you simplify the process of running your system and accessing your content. With a few basic instructions, your guests can control what they need so they can enjoy your home theater.

A Media Center PC Gives You Greater Consumption Options

Streaming sticks and smart speakers are great, but they have their limits. You’re limited to the subscriptions you’re paying for, and even then, not every service works on every device. Want to watch an obscure foreign film from the 1980s? Good luck finding it on a major streaming platform.

To make matters worse, most smart devices can’t play the media you own outright. Most of us have a hefty collection of purchased music and movies that we can’t access on our Rokus, Fire TVs or Apple TVs.

A media center PC is the solution to your back catalog of content. And a quality modern media center PC can handle your streaming services, too.