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Multimedia Answers: Simulated surround sound matter of taste

Thursday, March 13, 2003

By Don Lindich

Q: I have an Onkyo surround sound system. I would like to have all my speakers playing when I am not playing DVDs. How do I accomplish this?

-- Dorothy

A: For playing music from CDs, cassette tapes and radio stations, check the surround modes on your receiver. If you have one that says hall, club or simulated surround, it will play all of the speakers. In these modes, the speakers in the rear will play modified information from the front speakers to provide an artificially created surround sound. Remember that almost all music is designed to play in two-speaker stereo, not surround sound. The "simulated surround" will not represent the program material as the artists and producers originally intended. Some people like the artificial effect; most audiophiles and purists abhor it. You will have to try it yourself and decide if it is for you.

If you are watching television channels or VHS tapes, Dolby Pro-Logic or Dolby Pro-Logic II is the proper setting for surround sound. When your surround system is set to a Pro-Logic mode, the rear speakers will play only if the program is recorded in surround sound. If the rear speakers are silent when watching your television, you will have to change to a simulated surround mode if you want the rear speakers to play.

Be sure to check my Web site under recommended products for more information on surround sound.

Comcast 'prod' can't shake love of satellite

Recently, I received a letter from Comcast raising my high-speed Internet access rates $15 per month, a whopping 35 percent increase. The letter offered to keep my Internet access rates the same if I subscribed to any cable television package.

Those who read my column or correspond with me know I much prefer satellite to cable for subscription television. I have used Dish Network for almost seven years and have been 100 percent satisfied, and would be very reluctant to change. Moreover, according to market research firm J.D. Power, Comcast ranks at or near the bottom in performance, reliability, costs and several other service categories in comparison with the two major satellite providers, Dish and DirecTV.

In short, there was no way my dish was coming down! I called Comcast and found that if I had basic cable and high-speed Internet, it would be a few dollars cheaper than having high-speed Internet alone. So, I could have cable TV, satellite TV and high-speed Internet for less than just having satellite TV and high-speed Internet. I decided to pay the few extra bucks and keep my household totally cable TV-free. It's a matter of principle, after all. (Related article)

Visit Don's Web site, www.multi mediaanswers.com, to submit your questions, view past columns, and learn more about audio, video and digital photography.

Click here for an archive of previous Interact articles

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