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Surround Sound on Blu-ray disc

Blu-ray is an optical disc format used to store and play high-definition video and audio. A Blu-ray disc is read by a thinner, blue-violet laser rather than the red laser used with conventional DVDs. This means that a Blu-ray disc can store over five times the amount of data that a standard DVD can.

What audio formats do Blu-ray discs contain?

The content creator, the studios, decide which audio formats to place on the disc. You can see the audio formats available on a Blu-ray disc by looking at the details on the cover.

There may be many including
1. LPCM,
2. Dolby Digital (5.1 surround or Dolby AC-3),
3. DTS or DTS 5.1 surround,
4. Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround,
5. Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround,
6. DTS-HD master audio,
7. Dolby ATMOS.
8. DTS:X

ATMOS is not sound but information about sound and rides in a container audio format like Dolby Digital Plus or Dolby TrueHD. ATMOS has to be decoded and uses additional height speakers for overhead surround sound.

Blu-ray Primary Audio Streams

Linear PCM(LPCM)

LPCM is uncompressed audio encoding. It is a standard for Blu-ray. LPCM is a lossless audio coding that delivers CD quality sound, therefore it occupies huge disc space. Used to transmit uncompressed digital audio information via HDMI. LPCM supports up to eight channels of audio, which can provide 7.1 soundtracks.

Dolby Digital (DD)

Dolby Digital, also known as Dolby AC-3 or DD 5.1, can automatically provide a stereo version of the audio tracks so you can make your favorite movies or videos sound great on any devices. It is a lossy format in that it compresses the audio to save space on the disc. Dolby Digital supports up to six channels (5.1) of audio. Such audio codec can be sent through HDMI or digital optical connections.

Dolby Digital Plus (DD+)

Dolby Digital Plus, known as DD+ or E-AC-3, is a lossy audio encoding format. Dolby Digital Plus™ (E-AC-3) provides up to twice the efficiency of Dolby Digital while adding new features such as up to 7.1-channel audio, support for descriptive video services, and support for Dolby Atmos. Dolby Digital Plus is widely used by streaming and broadcast services to deliver surround sound audio at lower bitrates. DD+ is an advanced surround sound audio technology that enables the Dolby Audio experience across home theaters, smartphones, operating systems and browsers. It supports 7.1 surround sound on Blu-ray discs, which allows for better audio quality. Dolby Digital Plus cannot be sent over coaxial (orange) or optical digital audio connections. Use HDMI.

Dolby TrueHD

Dolby TrueHD is a lossless multi-channel audio codec which is used in home-entertainment equipment such as Blu-ray disc player. Dolby TrueHD supports up to 7.1 channels of high-definition audio on Blu-ray, and provides the most authentic surround sound experience available for your home theater. Dolby TrueHD cannot be sent over coaxial (orange) or optical digital audio connections. Use HDMI.


DTS, known as DTS 5.1 or DTS Surround, is a popular home theater audio format that was developed in 1993 as a competitor to Dolby Labs. DTS is limited to a maximum of six audio channels for it compresses the audio to make the footprint smaller. It can provide surround sound codecs for 5.1, 6.1 and 7.1 setups.

DTS-HD High Resolution Audio

DTS-HD High Resolution Audio is an extension of DTS 5.1 and increases surround sound support to 7.1 channels. It is a lossy format which compresses the original audio to disc and loses some of the resolution in the process.

DTS-HD Master Audio

DTS-HD Master Audio is a combined lossless audio codec created by DTS, and commonly used for surround-sound movie soundtracks on Blu-ray disc. With upwards of 7.1 channels of discrete surround sound and connected via copy-protected HDMI cables, DTS-HD Master Audio is at the pinnacle of surround sound technology for home theater.

How to connect Bluray for Surround Sound

Using an HDMI cable, plug the Blu-ray player's HDMI OUT into the Audio/Video Receiver HDMI IN, plug the AVR's HDMI output into the TV HDMI IN (arc) port.

Set the input source of the Audio/Video Receiver to Blu-ray(HDMI IN), set the input source on the TV to HDMI ARC.

Audio and video is sent from Blu-ray to the AVR where the audio is decoded. The AVR plays the sound and forwards the video to the TV to display. Audio Return Channel ARC is not used in this case, however if you use apps on the TV like Netflix, make sure the sound setting is set to HDMI ARC within the settings menu. You'll also need to enable HDMI CEC which different TV makers refer to by their own market name such as AnyNet (Samsung) or CEC (Vizio) or Simplink (LG) or AquosLink (Sharp) etc.

Why can't I just connect my Blu-ray player to my TV?

You can but you will not get surround sound, only stereo. Your TV will not decode the surround sound audio from the disc. Your TV also does not have the power amplifier or proper loudspeakers in a surround configuration. The audio video receiver does so you need to use a capable AVR connection.

How do I know if my AVR can decode the advanced audio codecs like Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus?

Blu-ray players came out in 2006 and Dolby TrueHD was available at that time. Your AVR also needs HDMI version 1.3 which came out in 2009. Therefore, if your AVR was made after 2009 and it is a major brand name like Denon, Sony, Onkyo, Yamaha, Pioneer etc, then the chances are very good that it will decode the advanced audio codecs.

Does my AVR have Dolby ATMOS capability?

Audio Video Receivers with Dolby ATMOS first became available in 2014. These were top of the line AVRs. Check the specifications online or in the user manual. Look for Dolby ATMOS displayed on the AVR.

Look for a description in the specifications such as the following:

Video functions: 8K/60Hz, 4K/60Hz, 4K/120Hz, upscaling to 8K.
Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/yes.
Streaming services: AirPlay 2
Supports: HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.3, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, 3D Signal Pass-through.

Surround sound: DTS:X, DTS Neural:X, DTS Virtual:X, Dolby Atmos, DTS HD Master, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization, IMAX Enhanced.

Remember, ATMOS content must be available from the source you are using, Blu-ray disc or streaming media. Dolby Atmos content will be delivered to your Dolby Atmos enabled AVR via Dolby Digital Plus (streaming media) or Dolby TrueHD (Blu-ray Disc). A Dolby Atmos stream contains audio metadata that describes the positioning of sounds within the room. This object audio data is decoded by a Dolby Atmos AV receiver and scaled for optimum playback through the available speaker systems of every size and configuration.

What’s the difference between PCM and LPCM?

PCM audio usually refers to 2-channel uncompressed audio, while LPCM describes multichannel PCM audio.

Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD cannot be sent over RCA digital coaxial or optical digital audio connections, and if they are used, then the player will automatically use the standard Dolby Digital track. HDMI connections are used for these higher audio formats.

A Blu-ray disc with a lossless soundtrack may have the DTS version, the Dolby TrueHD version, or both.

What is the difference between Dolby Digital and DTS?

Dolby Digital and DTS both support 5.1-channel audio (five speakers and one subwoofer). More advanced versions of the formats support 7.1-channels, HD surround sound and overhead speakers, in the form of DTS:X and Dolby Atmos. Some prefer one or the other and some cannot tell any difference between the two.

The major differences are the compression levels and bit-rates. Dolby Digital compresses 5.1 digital audio down to a bit-rate of 640 kbits/s (kilobits per second) for Blu-ray discs. DTS is less compressed and supports higher bit-rates of up to 1.5Mb/s (megabits per second).

Although Blu-ray and HD DVD are both high-definition media formats that rely on blue-laser technology, there are some important differences between them. A standard HD DVD can hold 15 GB per side (30 GB on a dual-layer disc), whereas Blu-ray can hold 25 GB per side (50 GB on a dual-layer disc).

While the two formats are not compatible with each other, they both offer superior audio/video quality.

Standard DVD has a maximum resolution of 480p (or 480 lines). In contrast, Blu-ray has the capacity to store all of the data needed for high-definition video, so it is able to reproduce the high-definition images at a resolution of 1080p. The UHD Blu-ray offers 4K video but you need a UHD Blu-ray player.

In addition, the extra disc space means there's room for significantly more content and special features.

The Blu-ray players are backward compatible and should play conventional DVD discs. The UHD Blu-ray players also are backwards compatible.

Setup Audio on Blu-ray players

Bitstream and PCM - Bitstream means the audio will be sent from the player to the audio video receiver or soundbar for decoding. Be sure to select the proper input on the soundbar or AVR. PCM means the player will decode the audio and send out as 2-channel sound. If using an HDMI cable connection, set the audio to AUTO. If you cannot hear any sound using your particular gear, try setting to the audio to PCM. This may give you sound.

About Surround Sound

Surround Sound:
Surround sound is the attempt to store and reproduce, as close as possible in three dimensions, the actual sounds of a real life event had you been there in person right in the middle of the action. From a concert hall performance to a speeding car, surround sound makes you feel as if you are hearing and experiencing a real event. The sound "surrounds' you from all sides. This is accomplished by using multiple loudspeakers placed around the listener, front, back and sides.

Dolby ATMOS adds additional height channels plus moving audio. Sound objects, up to 128, can be directed to any speaker and move around the listener. For example an airplane flying overhead can start at the right rear height speaker and move to the side speaker and then to the left front height speaker so that the sound appears to be as realistic as possible. The studio creator determines the audio dynamics instead of tracks being sent to their own channel. The audio video receiver or soundbar must have ATMOS capability.

Stereo sound (2 channels, left and right) was the first attempt at "surround sound" in that it separated the sounds into two channels and gave the listener more than one dimension of sound. With the correct speaker placement the listener heard a much more realistic representation of the original sound event. Over the years, surround sound has gone from 2 to 8 channels of sound and more. Currently the technology is mostly 6 channel with some 7 and 8 channel sound sources.

There are both analog and digital surround sound encoding methods. Surround sound is a key component in home theater audio systems. Currently there are 6 channel (5.1), 7 channel (6.1) and 8 channel (7.1) components with the 5.1 systems being the most common. The Dolby Digital 5.1 standard has been chosen for the High Definition TV audio format for broadcast television and can be found in many AV receivers currently. Some AV Receivers have 6.1 or 7.1 capability.

Surround Sound Speaker Designations  

FL = Front Left  1
FR = Front Right 2
C = Center 3
SL = Surround Left 4
SR = Surround Right 5
SW = Subwoofer .1
SBL = Surround Back Left 6
SBR = Surround Back Right 7

Multiple loudspeakers surround the listener

Surround Sound on DVD

DVD has a limited amount of space on the disc to store video and audio. Because video information uses most of the space on a disc, there is only room for so much audio, and for this reason the audio is "compressed" or "encoded" and then "decompressed" or "decoded" on playback. The method of compression or encoding is accomplished in various ways where one way may be more efficient than another. The proof of which way is best is up to the listener on playback.

Dolby Labs is one company which has achieved a level of success over the years with sound techniques. Dolby has developed several ways to manipulate sound data and store it on DVD audio tracks. DTS is another company in this arena. The audio encoding standards developed by these companies have been incorporated into DVD movies and Audio/Video Receivers so consumers can enjoy surround sound from DVD.

The following chart explains the different surround sound formats

Surround Sound Format Discrete/
Digital/ Analog Speakers Description
Dolby Prologic II Matrixed Analog 5.1 Primary movie use is for non-Dolby Digital movies, non-digital broadcast TV, games, and music.
DTS NEO:6 Matrixed Analog 5.1 Excellent music format. Can also be used for movies.
Dolby Digital Discrete Digital 5.1 Primary movie surround sound audio format for DVD and HDTV broadcast.
DTS Discrete Digital 5.1 Alternate DVD-based movie format.
Dolby Digital EX Discrete
(rear matrixed)
Digital 6.1
Updated movie format on some DVDs.
DTS-ES Discrete Digital 6.1
Updated movie format on some DVDs.
Dolby Digital Plus Discrete Digital up to 13.1 HD-DVD and Blu-ray movies.
Dolby TrueHD Discrete Digital up to 13.1 HD-DVD and Blu-ray movies.
DTS-HD Discrete
down sampling
Digital up to 13.1 HD-DVD and Blu-ray movies.

Dolby Digital and DTS are six-channel (5.1) digital surround sound systems and are the standard soundtracks in major motion pictures on standard DVD, music, and digital television audio (HDTV). They both use the 5.1 speaker format. The format consists of three speakers across the front and two speakers in the rear. The .1 is a sixth channel called Low-Frequency-Effects and is sent to a subwoofer.

A DVD-Video disc can have up to 8 audio tracks or streams of audio data. Each track can be in different formats:

* Dolby Digital (AC-3): 1 to 5.1 channels
* MPEG-2 audio: 1 to 5.1 or 7.1 channels
* PCM (Pulse Code Modulation): 1 to 8 channels.

Additional optional formats are provided also:
DTS 5.1 for example. These require external decoders and are not supported by all players.

The ".1" refers to a low-frequency effects (LFE) channel that connects to a subwoofer. This channel carries an emphasized bass audio signal.

Linear PCM is uncompressed (lossless) digital audio, the same format used on Audio CDs and most studio masters. It can be sampled at 48 or 96 kHz with 16, 20, or 24 bits/sample. Audio CD is limited to 44.1 kHz at 16 bits. There can be from 1 to 8 channels. The maximum bit rate is 6.144 Mbps, which limits sample rates and bit sizes when there are 5 or more channels.

The 96 dB dynamic range of 16 bits or even the 120 dB range of 20 bits combined with a frequency response of up to 22,000 Hz from 48 kHz sampling is adequate for high-fidelity sound reproduction.

Lossy audio compression: Lossy is an audio compression method where pieces of data are intentionally discarded to reduce the size of the data stream. Depending on the amount of compression, a lossy-compressed stream can be close enough to the original in accuracy and quality that the difference is insignificant. If the compression is higher, the lossy-compressed stream can sound quite different from the original.

Lossless audio compression: Lossless is a compression method where no pieces of data are discarded and therefore can reproduce bit-for-bit the originally recorded audio.

Matrixed audio decoding: Matrixed channel audio is audio that, when properly decoded, simulates more audio channels than actually exist in the audio files or streams. For example, decoding two-channel stereo audio using Dolby Prologic II can deliver five matrixed channels over your receiver. Generally matrixed audio is analog, although it can be digital as is the case of the rear center channels of Dolby Digital EX 7.1.

Discrete audio decoding: Discrete channel audio is audio that is encoded, transmitted, stored and played back as separate channels. Generally, multi-channel discrete audio is encoded digitally. An example of this is Dolby Digital 5.1. Discrete audio decoding is preferred over matrixed audio decoding.

Here are the various surround sound technologies of recent times:

Dolby Prologic (Matrixed Analog 4.1 Surround):
Dolby Prologic is an analog matrixed surround sound standard created by Dolby Laboratories in the 1980s. It is 4.1 surround with Front-left, Front-center, Front-right, Surround-center, and subwoofer. Dolby Prologic was succeeded by Dolby Prologic II in 2000.

Dolby Prologic II (Matrixed Analog 5.1 Surround): Dolby Prologic II is an analog matrixed surround sound standard created by Dolby Laboratories in 2000. It is 5.1 surround with Front-left, Front-center, Front-right, Surround-left, Surround-right, and subwoofer channels. Prologic II can process both Dolby Prologic and stereo sound sources and simulate 5.1 surround pretty well. While the movie industry has clearly standardized on discrete digital encoding standards such as Dolby Digital and DTS, the music and video game industries still rely on Dolby Prologic II as a standard for surround. Dolby Prologic II has a movie mode, music mode, matrix mode and game mode. The music mode adds center and surround channels, but does not change the nature of the left and right channels. The movie mode is designed to provide a 5.1 experience for movies that are not digitally encoded. The game mode supports decoding for video games.

DTS NEO:6 (Matrixed Analog 5.1 Surround): Like Dolby Prologic II, DTS NEO:6 is an analog matrixed surround standard that can up-mix stereo content into a 5.1 or 6.1 surround format.

Dolby Digital (Discrete Digital 5.1 Surround): Dolby Digital is a family of digital surround encoding technologies from Dolby Laboratories. It is also known as AC-3 (Adaptive Transform Coder 3). It's capable of various channel configurations, however, it is most widely implemented as 5.1 surround. It includes Front-left, Front-center, Front-right, Surround-left, Surround-right, and subwoofer channels. Dolby Digital is a lossy encoding technology limited to 640 kbits per second, however, the DVD disc format limit it to 448 kbits per second. Since Dolby Digital treats each channel discretely and is digitally encoded, Dolby Digital requires a digital decoder to provide the 5.1 audio standard. Most home theater receivers can decode Dolby Digital, however, to get the signal from a source such as a DVD player to the receiver you must use a digital audio connection such as optical or coax.

DTS (Discrete Digital 5.1 Surround): DTS (Digital Theater Systems) is a competing standard to Dolby Digital. It's a discrete digital surround standard that offers multiple channel surround including Front-left, Front-center, Front-right, Surround-left, Surround-right, and subwoofer channels. Similar to Dolby Digital, it differs in one primary way. It offers lossy encoding up to 1536 kbits bandwidth on DVDs compared with Dolby Digital's 448 kbits. Depending on your sound system, you may notice a broader dynamic range and less hiss. Like Dolby Digital, DTS requires that your home theater receiver support decoding DTS and also requires digital audio connections (optical or coax).

Dolby Digital EX (Discrete Digital 6.1 and 7.1 Surround): Dolby Digital EX is an update to Dolby Digital which adds a matrixed Rear-center channel to a 5.1 setup. This can be accomplished through one (6.1) or two speakers (7.1). In 7.1, however, the two rear speakers operate as a mono channel.

DTS-ES (Discrete Digital 6.1 and 7.1 Surround): DTS-ES is Digital Theater Systems' competitive technology to Dolby Digital EX. Like Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES builds on DTS and adds a center rear channel using one or two speakers. It differs from Dolby Digital EX in that the 6th Rear-center channel can be stored discretely in the source audio, as opposed to matrixed as it is in Dolby Digital EX.

Dolby Digital Plus (Discrete Digital 13.1 Surround): Dolby Digital Plus, also known as E-AC-3, is a new standard by Dolby Laboratories that provides beyond 8 channels. Current HD-DVD and Blu-ray implementations, however, limit it to 8 channels. Dolby Digital Plus increases the lossy encoding up to 6 Mbps. It is the required surround sound standard for HD-DVD and Blu-ray high def discs. It's also the future standard for ATSC HDTV broadcasts. Current digital audio connection standards (optical and coax) do not have the bandwidth to support Dolby Digital Plus. HDMI version 1.3 is the only currently supported connection methods for Dolby Digital Plus.

Dolby TrueHD (Discrete Digital 13.1 Surround): TrueHD is a next-generation lossless surround encoding standard. Supporting up to 24-bit/96 kHZ audio at up to 18 Mbits, it's a mandatory standard on HD-DVD and is optional on Blu-ray disc. It uses a HDMI 1.3 connection standard.

DTS-HD (Discrete Digital Surround, virtually unlimited channels): DTS-HD is Digital Theater Systems' answer to Dolby TrueHD. The specification allows for unlimited channels that can be down-mixed to the number of channels supported on the home system. The bit-rate is also flexible in that it can be as low as lossy DTS, or all the way up to lossless quality. DTS-HD is an optional standard on HD-DVD and Blu-ray high def discs.

THX: THX is a certification and standard created by Lucasfilm both for video content and for audio and video equipment. There are numerous THX certifications including: THX Ultra and THX Ultra2 (the THX standards for dedicated home-theater installations in a 3,000 cubic foot room); and THX Select and THX Select2 (the THX standards for non-dedicated and smaller 2,000 cubic foot home theaters). There has been much debate about the validity of THX certification and whether it provides measurable value in component and home theater design or do licensing fees just elevate pricing.

  • Audio / Video Receivers - User Guide



lossy Dolby Digital Mandatory @ 640 Kbit/s Mandatory @ 504 Kbit/s Mandatory @ 448 Kbit/s
DTS Mandatory @ 1.5 Mbit/s Mandatory @ 1.5 Mbit/s Optional @ 756 Kbit/s
Dolby Digital Plus Optional @ 1.7 Mbit/s (note 4) Mandatory @ 3.0 Mbit/s N/A
DTS-HD High Resolution Optional @ 6.0 Mbit/s Optional @ 3.0 Mbit/s N/A
lossless Linear PCM Mandatory Mandatory Mandatory
Dolby TrueHD Optional Mandatory (note 2) N/A
DTS-HD Master Audio Optional Optional N/A

note 2: All HD DVD players are required to be able to decode Dolby TrueHD to two channels, however all current players handle 5.1 decoding.
note 4: On Blu-ray Disc, a Dolby Digital Plus audio is stored as two separate components: the 'core' Dolby Digital bitstream at 640 Kbit/s (which is independently playable), and the 'extension' bitstream at 1 MBit/s.

How do I connect my Bluray player for surround sound?

You can use a soundbar or an audio video receiver but they must be capable of decoding the audio format you select. Use the Blu-ray player to select the sound format you want from the disc using the remote control and navigating to the sound menus on-screen.

The cable connections should be HDMI for the best audio.

Be sure to select the correct input on the soundbar or AVR.

Be sure to select the correct input on the TV to view the disc.

Blu-ray player rear panel

HDMI cable

Connect HDMI cable from player HDMI out to AVR HDMI input. Connect AVR HDMI OUT to TV HDMI input.

Bluray to Audio/Video Receiver diagram with audio decoding for surround sound and out to TV (HDMI).

Audio Video Receiver HDMI inputs and the output.

Audio Video Receiver rear panel with inputs and speaker connections

Be sure AVR can decode Dolby Digital Plus and ATMOS if you want those formats.

Audio Settings

Using the remote control for the Blu-ray player, press the HOME button.

Press the arrow directional pad to navigate the on-screen menus and press ENTER to select options.

Check the audio settings of the Blu-ray player. Press the HOME button (or MENU button) on the Blu-ray remote. Use the arrow buttons and the center button of the navigation pad area on the remote to move to the setting to check or change.

Normally you want the HDMI audio setting to be AUTO and the Optical/Coaxial audio to be BITSTREAM. Some Blu-ray players do not indicate BITSTREAM but show "Dolby Digital" instead. You should be able to set HDMI or the Dolby Digital settings to PCM. Changing to PCM may be required if you have older components or components that cannot process a raw audio bitstream.

Sony Blu-ray Player Main Menu

Sony Blu-ray Player Audio Menu Settings

Optical-to-Coaxial OR Coaxial-to-Optical Digital Audio Converter, Bi-Directional Digital Coaxial to/from Optical Toslink SPDIF Audio Converter/Adapter/Repeater

Some Blu-ray players may only have a digital coaxial audio output while your receiver may only have optical inputs. You can use an adapter to connect.

Bluray player connections for TV or Audio Video Receiver without HDMI


An older audio video receiver without HDMI, only optical or digital coaxial inputs can still process Dolby Digital 5.1 for surround sound. An older stereo receiver cannot process surround sound but can still give better sound than the TV speakers. Use the white and red audio outputs from player.

Video and audio connections from player to older TV

Video and audio connections from player to older TV

Component video connections are better than composite video but not as capable as HDMI connections.

Bluray Basics

Blu-ray Players

The 1st generation players may not have the latest capabilities but some can be upgraded via a firmware update available by internet download. Many of the 2nd generation players include expanded capabilities such as having 7.1 analog outputs, HDMI 1.3 and decoding for the newest audio codecs.

If you have a Blu-ray disc with a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio source and you have a A/V Receiver with Dolby Digital 5.1 decoding and you have 5 loudspeakers plus a subwoofer connected to your A/V Receiver, you can use an optical or coaxial digital audio cable to connect your Blu-ray Player to your A/V Receiver.

However, if you have a set of 5.1 channel direct analog inputs on your receiver, then this is an even better option, as the 5.1 channel analog outputs of the Blu-ray disc player already contain a decoded surround sound signal.

Also, if you have a higher-end Audio/Video receiver that has direct HDMI inputs (that are not just simply pass through connections), your AV receiver would be able to accept the ucompressed digital audio signal from the Blu-ray Disc player, which is even better than using the 5.1 channel analog signal or the digital audio signal input options. Consult your AV Receiver user manual to see if any HDMI inputs are pass-through only, or if the receiver can decode the audio signal properly.

Now, if you have the newer high-res Dolby TrueHD audio source, then you cannot use your optical or digital coaxial cable connection from player to AV Receiver. Why? Because these simply do not have the bandwidth required to carry the newer datastream. So what are your options?

1) Use the multiple RCA analog audio cables from player to AV Receiver if the player can decode the audio.
2) Use a HDMI 1.3 hookup if you have a HDMI 1.3 capable AV Receiver and player.

Hookup Diagram Blu-ray

BLU-RAY Disc Surround Sound Audio

Blu-ray disc movies can contain new surround sound technologies to complement the newer High Definition video. The newer Audio formats are as follows:

Dolby TrueHD


* 100 percent lossless coding technology.
* Up to 18 Mbps bit rate.
* Supports up to eight full-range channels of 24-bit/96 kHz audio.*
* Supported by High-Definition Multi-Media Interface, the new single-cable digital connection for audio and video.
* Supports extensive metadata including dialog normalization and dynamic range control.

*Dolby TrueHD can support more than eight audio channels. HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc standards currently limit their maximum number of audio channels to eight.


* Delivers studio-master-quality sound that unlocks the true high-definition entertainment experience on next-generation discs.
* Offers more discrete channels than ever before for impeccable surround sound.
* Compatible with the A/V receivers and home-theaters-in-a-box (HTIBs) of today and tomorrow.
* Dialog normalization maintains the same volume level when you change to other Dolby Digital and Dolby TrueHD programming.
* Dynamic range control (Night mode) enables you to customize audio playback to reduce peak volume levels (no loud surprises) while experiencing all the details in the soundtrack, enabling late-night viewing of high-energy surround sound without disturbing others.
* Selected as the mandatory format for HD DVD and as an optional format for Blu-ray Disc.

Dolby Digital Plus


* Mulitchannel sound with discrete channel output.
* Channel and program extensions can carry multichannel audio programs of up to 7.1 channels* and support multiple programs in a single encoded bitstream.
* Outputs a Dolby Digital bitstream for playback on existing Dolby Digital systems.
* Supports data rates as high as 6 Mbps.
* Bit rate performance of at least 3 Mbps on HD DVD and up to 1.7 Mbps on Blu-ray Disc.
* Accurately reproduces what the director and producer intended.
* Interactive mixing and streaming capability in advanced systems.
* Supported by HDMI, the new single-cable digital connection for high-definition audio and video.


* Can deliver 7.1 channels and beyond* of enhanced-quality audio at up to 6 Mbps.
* Allows multiple languages to be carried in a single bitstream.
* Offers audio professionals new creative power and freedom.
* Compatible with the millions of home entertainment systems equipped with Dolby Digital.
* No latency or loss of quality in the conversion process.
* Maintains high quality at more efficient broadcast bit rates (<320 kbps for 5.1-channel audio).
* Selected by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) as the standard for future broadcast applications; named as an option by the Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) Project for satellite and cable TV.
* Selected as the mandatory audio format for HD DVD and as an optional audio format for the Blu-ray Disc.

*Dolby Digital Plus can support more than eight audio channels. HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc standards currently limit their maximum number of audio channels to eight.

DTS-HD Master Audio

*7.1 Discrete Channels
*Bit for Bit Identical to the Original Master
*Optional for Both Blu-Ray Disc and HD-DVD

Dolby Digital Plus is basically a step-up from SACD and DVD-Audio, but offering up to 7.1 Discrete channels (and the capability to do more, although BD and HD-DVD will only currently support a maximum of 7.1 discrete channels).

These new soundtracks are certainly better than their DVD counterparts as Dolby 5.1 is limited to 640kbps and DTS is limited to 1509 kbps on DVD. Twice the resolution of DVD at the minimum for audio, with dramatically better clarity.

HDMI 1.3 allows your next-generation disc player to pass the Dolby TrueHD, Plus or DTS HD Master Audio directly to your receiver or preamp, and be decoded and processed using your preamp or receiver's Digital / Analog Converters. This assumes of course that your hardware is capable of decoding the signals.

What surround standard you'll use in a home theater environment to listen to music will depend on whether you are listening to music from CDs and digital music (MP3s, wav, AAC, etc.), or from DVD-Audio. Since CDs and digital music generally include only stereo 2-channel audio, you should choose non-discrete surround encoding standards such as Dolby Prologic II or DTS NEO:6. For DVD-Audio, you'll generally want to use one of the discrete digital encoding standards such as Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS.

DVD Movies
For standard DVDs, a huge majority of the discs support Dolby Digital 5.1 (AC-3). Many DVDs support DTS and other Dolby Digital variants (Dolby Digital EX and DTS-ES). Which audio option you choose when playing a DVD movie depends on your home theater system. You should choose the standard that sounds the best and optimizes your amplifier/speaker setup.

For example, if you are setup for 7.1 audio, then choose DTS-ES or Dolby Digital EX. If in doubt, Dolby Digital 5.1 is a safe choice. Remember, to use a digital standard you must have the digital optical or coax connections to your compatible receiver with proper decoding capability.

HDTV Broadcast and Cable
For broadcast HDTV, both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Prologic II are generally supported. However, which format you actually receive in the broadcast signal is determined by your local broadcaster and/or cable company.

With certain channels and networks, even when programming says it's in Dolby Digital 5.1 it may not reach your system in digital 5.1. When that happens, setting your audio receiver/amplifier to Dolby Prologic II will likely provide the best results. Many receivers will revert to this setting if a Dolby Digital signal is not available. Keep in mind that just like DVDs, in order to use a digital standard you must have the digital optical or coax connections to your receiver from your cable or satellite set-top box.

High Def DVD Formats and the Future HDTV
For HD-DVD, Blu-ray and future ATSC HDTV, the standard are Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD. These standards will drive future audio systems. All of these devices also support today's Dolby Digital 5.1 standard.

In order to enjoy the benefits of any of these formats you must have:

  1. A compatible source device
    Your source devices such as DVD player, game console, set-top box, etc., must be compatible with, or at least allow pass-through of the encoded digital audio standard.

  2. The right connections
    In order to pass digital standards such as Dolby Digital from your source, you must have the right connections between the device and your receiver - either digital coax or optical.

    For the new high bandwidth standards, such as Dolby TrueHD, you must have a compatible digital audio connection such as HDMI 1.3 or IEEE-1394 (Firewire).

  3. A compatible receiver or amplifier
    In order to decode the content from the source device, you must have an audio receiver or audio amplifier that is able to decode the audio standard you choose.

    For example, if you are watching a DVD with DTS audio content offered as an option, and your receiver supports Dolby Digital but doesn't support and decode DTS - don't choose DTS in the DVD menu system.

  4. The right speaker setup
    Lastly, in order to get the benefit of 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 or more, you must have the right speaker setup. You should have at least 5 speakers (Front-left, Front-center, Front-right, Surround-left, and Surround-right) and a subwoofer connected to your audio receiver or amplifier.


4K UHD Blu-ray

Ultra HD Blu-ray is a separate media format from traditional Blu-ray. They're both optical discs that use 405nm "blue" lasers for reading and writing data. However, regular Blu-ray discs range from 25GB to 50GB and can only contain up to 1080p video.

Ultra HD Blu-rays start at 33GB and can go up to 100GB. They also have higher data transfer rates, ranging from 82 to 128 megabits per second compared with standard Blu-ray discs' 54Mbps. Ultra HD Blu-ray supports up to 2160p video resolution.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray format supports the Dolby Atmos and DTS-X surround sound formats. If you have a 4K TV, you're probably going to want an Ultra HD Blu-ray player purely for its ability to play 4K video. Yes, you need a new player as UHD Bluray will not play on a standard Bluray player.

With a 4K Blu-ray player, you need a 4K TV to view the higher video resolution. 4K TV will have HDMI inputs for the player and HDMI output for soundbar or Audio Video Receiver which also need to be compatible. This is not to say a non-4K TV or soundbar or AVR cannot be used, however the video and possibly the audio may be downmixed.

4K TVs were available in 2012, before eARC arrived in 2019. So some 4K TVs and AVRs will be only ARC capable. eARC is required for Dolby TrueHD on a Blu-ray disc if using the audio return channel. You can look at the TV, soundbar or AVR to see if they are 4K. Most of the ports should be labeled HDMI 4K, but some TVs do not label them. Check owner manual.

Is 4K really better than 1080p?

4K video resolution is an effective quadrupling of 1080p. At 3840 pixels across and 2160 up and down, 4K has four times as many pixels on the screen, with a total of over 8 million pixels. There are many factors which determine if you actually perceive a better image. Screen size, video source, HDMI cables, component capabilities, video settings and more.

TV displays have advanced very fast over the last years, going from 720p to 1080 to 4K to 8K but the source content has struggled to keep pace. More and more 4K content is slowly becoming available especially when it comes to streaming platforms (YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.) and movies (Blu-ray). The number of 4K broadcast TV channels is still limited.

The first HDMI version that supported 4K resolution was HDMI 1.4. However, it only supported 4K at 30fps. HDMI 2.0 supports 4K/60fps, while HDMI 2.1 supports 4K/120fps and 8K/60fps.

HDMI cables :
• premium-high-speed cable (4K at 60fps and support for HDR content),

• ultra-high-speed HDMI cable (4K/120fps or 8K/60fps with support for HDR content).

Do I have to buy a 4K capable soundbar or audio video receiver to get surround sound from 4K Blu-ray?

No, but ideally this would be the way to go.

Most new receivers (2023) support 4K and are compliant with HDCP 2.2. Most also support HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and HLG. Some even support 8K and HDCP 2.3. Old AV receivers, however, may not support 4K or may have limited support for 4K. Some support only 4K at 30fps, and some support 4K at 60fps but not on all HDMI ports.

Audio Video Receiver HDMI INPUTS 4K

If you have 4K video sources connected to your AVR for surround sound and you want to watch the 4K content on a 4K TV, then yes – a 4K pass-through capability on the AVR or soundbar is necessary.

What is 4K Ultra HD pass-through?

A receiver that supports 4K ultra HD pass-through has HDMI inputs and outputs that are HDCP 2.2 compliant and that enable 4K signals coming from 4K video sources to pass through and reach your 4K TV without any signal quality loss.

Audio Video Receiver HDMI OUT

TV 4K HDMI inputs

The top Sony and Panasonic 4K Blu-ray players have two HDMI ports on the back. One for video/audio and one for audio only.

Blu-ray players with two HDMI outputs

This option is one solution if you have an older receiver without 4K support. Some Blu-ray players may have two HDMI output ports – one that sends HDMI video and audio and the other that sends only audio.

If you have a Blu-ray player with two HDMI outputs, you can connect the HDMI video/audio port directly to one of the HDMI inputs on your TV and connect the HDMI AUDIO OUT port to one of the HDMI inputs on your AV receiver. If your TV is connected to the receiver via HDMI ARC, then you don’t even need to connect the Blu-ray player to your receiver.

Connection diagram for Blu-ray to AVR to TV (surround sound)

Audio Video Receiver or Soundbar must be 4K capable.

Connection diagram for Blu-ray to TV (no surround)

Connection diagram for non 4K receiver or soundbar with HDMI in

Connection diagram for non 4K receiver or soundbar without HDMI in (use optical cable or digital coaxial cable)

What are the Supported Audio Formats of the 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc Player?

Dolby audio with HDMI connection

DTS audio with HDMI connection

Audio with Optical/Coaxial connection

HDCP - High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection

As an evolving form of copy protection, HDCP has proven to be a benefit to content owners. However, the protocol adds complexity and confusion for end users, which has become even more apparent with the arrival of 4K video. When 8K video arrives there will surely be revisions of HDCP.

Content creators/owners do not want to lose money by allowing content pirates to distribute copies. They think an end user is not going to pay full price for original content if they can obtain a copy for half price. But by frustrating the pirates, the honest end user is also potentially frustrated if they do not have all the compliant gear. It is the same old story, the innocent are punished along with the guilty.

Not all content is HDCP encrypted but any major corporation that produces current content most likely will make sure their content is HDCP protected. This means that when an end user tries to view media that is HDCP protected from a non-HDCP device, they’ll receive a version that is lower video quality than the original or none at all (blank screen).

Version - - - Year - - Interface

HDCP 1.0 - 2000 - DVI cable connections

HDCP 1.1 - 2003 - DVI and HDMI cable connections

HDCP 1.3 - 2006 - DVI and HDMI cable connections

HDCP 1.4 - 2009 -

HDCP 2.0 - 2008 - Interface Independent

HDCP 2.1 - 2011 - Interface Independent

HDCP 2.2 - 2012 - Interface Independent

HDCP 2.2 - 2013 - HDMI (not backward compatible)

HDCP 2.3 - 2018 - HDMI (backward compatible with 2.2)

HDCP compliant devices

Source: A source can be a DVD player, Blu-ray player, Xbox, etc.

Sink/destination: these are typically the final destinations of the transmitted media. Examples include TVs and projectors.

Repeater: This is a device that can act as both a source and a sink. It accepts information from another source and then re-transmits it to another repeater or a sink, thereby acting as a source itself.

Authentication: there are specific steps to ensure that both the source and the sink are HDCP-compliant and authentic devices.

Data Encryption: the data is encrypted before being transmitted via the cable, and this is to repel man-in-the-middle attacks or attempts at piracy.

Key Revocation: the protocol also identifies which devices are compromised and can thus revoke their keys or permissions to transmit or accept HDCP content.

The video game industry has not adopted HDCP, instead developing various other protection mechanisms such as Denuvo. So if you want to hook up an Xbox or PlayStation to a 4K display for games ONLY, then you don’t need to worry about HDCP.

If you have a smart TV and stream content directly from the TV operating system without any external devices or cables, that is, from the TV built-in apps, then HDCP doesn’t apply.

HDCP 2.2

The problem introduced by HDCP 2.2

HDCP 2.2 was created to protect 4K content and fix previous HDCP flaws. The issue is it is backward INCOMPATIBLE. So, if you have an HDCP 2.2 Blu-ray Player playing 4K video, you need an HDCP 2.2 compliant TV to decrypt the 4K video sent by the player. If you insert an audio video receiver between the source device and the TV, it also must be HDCP 2.2 compliant.

But, if you have an HDCP 2.2 Blu-ray Player and an HDCP 2.0-compatible TV, what do you do?

Typically, you go get a new TV, or you watch only 1080p or lower video content. You can still watch High Def video content but during setup, your player should select 720p or 1080p instead of 4K UHD or you can select 720p or 1080p from player menus - Settings - Display type or the like.

Component video cable connections if available can be used to view High-Def video. So if your TV and player have component video ports you should be able to view the source content, just not in 4K. Some audio video receivers can up convert or down convert video resolutions.

So the next time you go out to buy a TV or a streaming device, make sure you buy one that is HDCP 2.2 compatible and ensure that every point in your A/V signal chain is HDCP 2.2 consistent if you want to watch 4K video.

HDCP 2.3 is backward compatible with HDCP 2.2

Even if all your devices are HDCP compliant and compatible, you may still experience HDCP errors.

How to fix some HDCP errors

HDCP errors happen when there is a problem with the physical connection or communication between your source device and TV. Often, it's a simple matter of reconnecting the HDMI cable:

Unplug both ends of the HDMI cable.

Turn off or unplug power from the TV and source device.

Wait a few mins.

Reconnect both ends of the HDMI cable.

Turn on or replug power to the TV and source device.

If that doesn't do the trick, try these additional suggestions:

Try using a different HDMI input on your TV.

Use a different HDMI cable.

HDMI Splitter

In the past some manufacturers have produced products such as HDMI splitters which can strip the HDCP encoding but keep the content signal and pass along to the TV. Some splitters will down-res the video which is allowed. These splitters could be challenged legally but the outcome is unknown for a specific device.

Keep in mind that not all HDMI splitters can bypass HDCP. You have to get the right splitter. Many will not work. To bypass HDCP 2.2, you must avoid a direct connection between the source device and the receiver. Instead, use an HDMI Splitter. Some can remove HDCP 2.2 encryption and allow audio and video display.

J-Tech Digital 4K 60HZ HDMI Audio Extractor Converter SPDIF + 3.5MM Output Supports HDMI 2.0, 18Gpbs Bandwidth, HDCP 2.2, Dolby Digital/DTS Passthrough CEC, HDR10

𝐀𝐔𝐃𝐈𝐎 𝐄𝐗𝐓𝐑𝐀𝐂𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍 - Extract the digital HDMI audio signal from the HDMI input and convert it to 2 channel analog stereo output or multi-channel Audio (SPDIF) output. **NOTE: This unit will only pass Dolby Digital/DTS audio formats, it will NOT decode these formats for the analog output. If using the analog output, make sure your HDMI source is set to PCM audio.

𝟒𝐊 𝐔𝐥𝐭𝐫𝐚 𝐇𝐃 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐇𝐃𝐌𝐈 𝟐.𝟎 | 𝟏𝟎𝟖𝟎𝐏 𝟏𝟒𝟒𝐇𝐳 | 𝟏𝟎𝟖𝟎𝐏 𝟏𝟐𝟎𝐇𝐳 - Supports the highest video resolution to 1080P@144Hz, 1080P@120Hz, 4K 50/60HZ (YUV444). Supports HDMI 2.0b (18Gbps) HDCP 2.2 and DVI compliant; Supports HDR10(We suggest using HDMI 2.0 certified cable to get HDR10 compatibility) 𝐀𝐔𝐃𝐈𝐎 𝐄𝐃𝐈𝐃 𝐒𝐄𝐓𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆𝐒 - 2CH for L/R or SPDIF stereo output; 5.1CH for SPDIF Output, Supports uncompressed audio such as LPCM. Supports DTS Digital / Dolby Digital pass through (device does not decode the digital audio, you will still need an end display that is compatible with those formats) ; DOES NOT SUPPORT ARC (audio return channel) FUNCTION.

720p = HD
1080p = FHD
4K = UHD

Can an Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray Disc be played on a 4K Bluray player to a High-Def TV but not 4K TV?
Yes, you can play Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs on a standard HDTV. What will happen is the player will downconvert the 3840 x 2160-resolution video on the disc to a 1080p format your TV can display. It will also bypass any high dynamic range (HDR) metadata since standard HDTVs aren’t capable of processing that information.

Many Ultra HD 4K Blu-rays also come packaged with a standard Blu-ray version. So, even if you do buy movies on Ultra HD Blu-ray while saving up for a 4K TV, chances are you won’t even have to do video downconversion.

Yes, you can use a 4K Blu-ray player with a 1080p or non-4K TV since the player is backward compatible. The player can downscale the video’s UHD resolution to the FHD format compatible with a non-4K TV.

The HDMI port on your FHD TV will instruct the Blu-ray player to send 1080p signals instead of 4K data. Metadata such as HDR would also be bypassed as standard HDTVs cannot process that information.

How to play 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on old 4K TV / bypass HDCP 2.2

People who bought a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, hoping to use it with an old 4K non-HDCP 2.2 TV that was purchased before 2015, may find that the player refuses to output 4K when playing a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc.

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players require HDCP 2.2 to be supported by the TV, otherwise it will restrict the output to 1080p. HDCP was created to protect the content owners, not consumers. HDCP 2.2, like the old version before it, will only succeed in frustrating consumers. If you purchased your TV before 2015, there is a very significant chance that your TV does not support HDCP 2.2. (Netflix 4K also requires HDCP 2.2.)

HDMI 2.0. Old 4K TV did not support HDMI 2.0, this means they cannot accept 4K 50p/60p. However, old 4K TV with HDMI 1.4 can support 4K 24p – that is sufficient for most 4K movies, if the HDCP 2.2 issue is solved.

In case your TV does support HDCP 2.2, but the player is not outputing 4K, one or more of the followings may be true:

You used the wrong HDMI port of the TV – on some TV only one of the HDMI ports support 4K, e.g. HDMI (MHL) port.

You used the wrong HDMI port of the player – advanced players have two HDMI output ports, one for video and one for (pure) audio. For display purpose, only use the one marked for video.

Player setting – check that the player is set to output 4K. Try 4K 60p, 4K 50p, and 4K 24p.

TV setting – try different HDMI settings of the TV for the HDMI port you are using – if you use a Samsung TV, try disabling UHD Color

HDMI cable problem – try different cable – a more expensive cable is not always better than a low cost one, and a cable not specified for HDMI 2.0 does not imply it must fail to support 4K. Try several different cables.

How to play 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on TV without HDCP 2.2

If your TV does not and cannot be upgraded to support HDCP 2.2, not all hope is lost. You need to find a product that bypasses the HDCP 2.2 problem for you:

(1) a HDMI splitter that defeats the HDCP 2.2, or
(2) a HDCP 2.2 to HDCP 1.4 converter.

Defeat / Strip / Workaround HDCP 2.2

An HDMI splitter that defeats the HDCP 2.2 presents itself as a HDCP 2.2 device to the player, so the player can output 4K, but strips the HDCP signal from the video before reaching the TV.

Convert HDCP 2.2 to HDCP 1.4

A HDCP 2.2 to HDCP 1.4 converter presents itself as a HDCP 2.2 device to the player, so the player can output 4K, but converts the HDCP signal to the old 1.4 standard that is supported by old 4K TV.

HDMI / HDCP is inherently complex and there have been many compatibility issues among devices and TV. The chance of incompatibility in making an unsupported configuration work (4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray with 4K output to non-HDCP 2.2 TV) increases. No matter what product you buy, check out the return policy first – it is best to buy from a place that allows you to return it if it does not solve your problem, and/or is just incompatible with your player or TV.

Set the player to output 4K 24p

After procuring the product and setting it up correctly, if the player is still not outputting 4K, player settings need to be adjusted to 4K 24p:

Panasonic UB900 – Player Settings -> HDMI: (1) Set 4K (50p / 60p) Output to Off and (2) HDMI(AUDIO) Output Mode to Audio Only

After settings are changed, you may need to turn off/on the TV again and/or reinsert the HDMI cable.

If it still does not work, verify the correct HDMI ports are used, TV and player settings, and try different cables.

HDMI Versions

• HDMI 1.0 = High Def video + L/R audio.
• HDMI 1.1 = HDMI 1.0 + DVD-Audio.
• HDMI 1.2 = HDMI 1.1 + SACD.
• HDMI 1.3 = HDMI 1.2 + enhanced HD Video + Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Audio.
• HDMI 1.4 = HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC), ARC Audio Return Channel
• HDMI 2.0 = 18Gbps bandwidth
• HDMI 2.1 = Video resolution up to 10K


HDMI cable

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Audio Video Receiver Listening Modes (Decoders):

Dolby Digital: reproduces audio recorded in Dolby Digital & received via bitstream (HDMI/digital Optical/digital Coaxial)

Dolby Digital Plus: reproduces audio recorded in Dolby Digital Plus & received via bitstream (HDMI only)

Dolby TrueHD: reproduces audio recorded in Dolby TrueHD & received via bitstream (HDMI only)

Dolby Atmos: reproduces audio recorded in Dolby Atmos & received via bitstream (HDMI only).

Atmos can also be used on speaker systems with various speaker layouts – including 2.0/2.1, 3.0/3.1, 4.0/4.1, 5.0/5.1, 6.0/6.1, 7.0/7.1, 2.0.2/2.1.2 and 3.0.2/3.1.2

DTS: reproduces audio recorded in DTS & received via bitstream (HDMI/Optical/Coaxial)

DTS Express: reproduces audio recorded in DTS Express audio & received via bitstream (HDMI only)

ES Discrete: reproduces audio recorded in DTS-ES Discrete audio & received via bitstream (HDMI/Optical/Coaxial)

ES Matrix: reproduces audio recorded in DTS-ES Matrix audio & received via bitstream (HDMI/Optical/Coaxial)

DTS 96/24: reproduces audio recorded in DTS 96/24 audio & received via bitstream (HDMI/Optical/Coaxial)

DTS-HD HR: reproduces audio recorded in DTS-HD High Resolution Audio & received via bitstream (HDMI only)

DTS-HD MSTR: reproduces audio recorded in DTS-HD Master Audio & received via bitstream (HDMI only)

DTS:X: reproduces audio recorded in DTS:X audio & received via bitstream (HDMI only)

Upmixing Listening Modes (Post Decoding):

Dolby Surround: expands 2-channel or 5.1 audio to play over systems with more speakers e.g. 7.1 or 5.1.2

DTS Neural:X: expands 2-channel or 5.1 audio to play over systems with more speakers e.g. 7.1 or 5.1.2