While it's been a year since I added a blu-ray player to my system, I didn't get to enjoy my man-cave for most of the past year. So now that my head's a little clearer of late, I returned to the cave only to find that no matter what I did when watching BR discs, I couldn't get my Onkyo 706 to light up the TrueHD nor the DTS-Master lamps, nor would the LCD display show the relevant text.

After reviewing the setup menu of the 706, everything looked proper to me. So I turned to the menu of the Panny DMP-BD65. I played with switching from the default of "Bitstream" for each of Dobly and DTS sources (which I found interesting to have this split into two items), to "PCM". Setting PCM got the PCM lamp lit on the 706, and the display text now read "Multichannel", but it still wasn't lighting the icons for TrueHD nor DTS-Master. WTF?

Time for one more look at the Panny menu. Slowing down, and reading the entire screen, I notice that the last option at the bottom of the screen says something terse about Secondary Audio, which is defaulting to "On". What this really meant, and what it should have more clearly read is, "Do you want to down convert HD audio in ALL cases? Yes (On) or No (Off)?

Of course, the solution was set that accursed Secondary Audio option to Off. Back to the movie. And the receiver text now shows "Dolby TrueHD" or "DTS-Master HD" as applicable. In terms of the audio, the difference in the dynamic range is immediately apparent. Whereas with "regular" Dolby Digital, I usually set the volume to about -21 for a comfortable level and clear vocals, the same conversation scene requires the volume to be set at about -12 to be at the same perceived SPL. No, I haven't used my RS SPL to confirm that as yet. smile

I spent the next hour reviewing various scenes from the LOTR discs, the Dark Knight, David Gilmour's An Night to Remember, and a couple of others just for fun. That was last night. Today I began watching Avatar again. I'll get back to it tonight.

I can't believe that it has taken me this long to get it right. If only Panny had made a more logical default setting, or even phrased the menu more clearly. Why would anyone who has the gear for the HD audio streams (such as, oh, just about anybody who bought a BR player?) choose to down convert in all cases?

Between this improvement and the time I've spent in the last few weeks on the Xbox 360, I continue to be impressed at the incredible values that my M22s and QS8s have turned out to be. I cannot adequately describe how good they sound. It puts the local big-box (and big $$$) megaplex cinema to shame. Those who own them know this. Those who do not, should.

Given my past year, I now feel like I appreciate the good things life offers *that* much more, and being able to enjoy the many experiences of music and movies with my family comfortably at home is a real treat.