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Looking for 7.1 Audio Content for Your New Home Theater? Go Through your PS3 Shelf May 11, 2010

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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I spent this last weekend building an entire next generation home theater system for my room.  I already had a 1080p native 120hz HDTV, but while playing LEGO Rock Band I knew I was missing the immersive audio experience only surround sound could provide me.

Back when DVD was the king, I had a 5.1 audio reciever.  When I upgraded to blu-ray the reciever was obsolite and I ended up pulling it and putting it and the speakers into storage, where they’ve mostly been collecting dust.

I had the speakers already, and a subwoofer, and I knew they’d be compatable with a new reciever anyway (saving me some money), so I went on newegg and got a fantastic deal on a home theater reciever.  I figured all I needed was a reciever and maybe some extra wire, and that would be all.  Turned out, my whole room needed to be upgraded.

I was now requiring power from seven different sources.  TV, reciever, subwoofer, Xbox 360, wii, PS3 and HD-DVD adapter, so I needed to buy a heavy duty power strip.  I also needed to buy a much larger TV stand.  Easier said than done, TV stands are mostly designed to be as horrible as possible to electronic components.  Most are overpriced and entirely enclosed.  If you put an Xbox 360 inside an enclosed enviroment and leave it running, in all likelyhood your whole house will burn to the ground pretty quickly (your 360 will likely red ring first but it will keep running).

I figured with so few movies supporting 7.1, even on blu-ray, the need of seven satellite speakers was low.  I figured the five I already had were going to be adaquate, but to be forward thinking, I made sure the reciever supported 7.1, DTS-HD MA, HDMI, and Dolby Digital TrueHD (and of course uncompressed PCM).

I was pretty right about the 5.1 being standard on my movie shelf.  All of the Blu-Rays I had were native 5.1 in some way, either through uncompressed PCM, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital, and DTS-HD MA.  Very, very few movies I had were 7.1.

Then I checked my game shelf.  I hadn’t updated a lot of my PS3 games in a while, and I decided to pop them in and download the new versions.  Uncharted 2: Among Theieves‘s version 1.7 update alone took about 5 minutes.  Then I started going through the audio options in Uncharted 2.  Dolby, DTS, but then I saw Uncompressed PCM 7.1 on the list.  Wow, that was really nice of the developers to include that.  The surround tracks really gave a whole new level of atmosphere to the game’s visuals.

I figured this had to be a fluke.  So I decided to go trophy hunting through another recent Sony game I had, Infamous.  This also had uncompressed 7.1 native audio.  I tried an older one, Heavenly Sword, which doesn’t even support trophies, and it had 7.1 uncompressed audio too.  Now, I already knew that God of War 3 supports 7.1 from several user posts in the game’s official forums.  Heck, even the platform’s bomb Lair has a 7.1 audio track.

So that’s a stack of games for a single platform that natively supports a superior sound system.  However, Sony doesn’t post audio specifications on the back of their packaging anymore.  Best I could notice was look for a Dolby or DTS logo on the back near the copyright information.  Best I can get in my Xbox 360 games is last generation Dolby Digital 5.1, and since my 360 is so old I don’t even have an HDMI connection on it to use audio and video, I have to use a last gen optical connection to get all my audio output.

Please Sony, if you’re going to include HDTV support specifications on the back of your game boxes, also include your audio support specifications.  I know you’re looking for things to rub in Microsoft’s face, you’ve got something and don’t even realize it.

FYI, I had tried Heavy Rain when calibrating the system, it maxes at 5.1, which is why I figured at the time that 5.1 audio was standard.

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