Recently I purchased a new home theatre set up, complete with a receiver that is capable of all the latest and greatest HD audio formats. As I already had a PS3 and Bluray had won its war of attrition against HD-DVD I figured it was also time to start a Bluray disc movie library.
So I ran out and picked up Spiderman 3. Wow, Bluray is real cool, and not just because the PS3 OSD tells me that its playing at 30mbit. Unfortunately I have one of the older generation “fake 20 p” HD TVs, so I don’t get the full 1080p awesomeness that this Bluray disc taunts me with as I peruse the back cover.
I figure I can more than make up for my perceived visual impotence with my new sound penis extension. And my self worth was re-established once I hooked up the digital optical out from my PS3 into my new Yamaha amp. Partially. Yeah it was fantastic sound. And yeah, the neighbours three doors down were impressed. But it wasn’t as 100% totally unreal as my poor cochleas had hoped. My amp was saying “Dolby Digital 5.1″ as was the OSD from the PS3 on the TV – DD 5.1?? That’s old school man… I’d started to feel like I was back in the 90′s.
So how do you get the little light on the player to say Dolby TrueHD or DTS-MA? This had now gone further than the simple pursuit of the best sound possible – audio purist style. No, this was now about getting that bloody light on my amp to give it up and tell my how HD my audio was!! Pffth, who cares about the high quality audio, I want the friggen icon!
Step 1. Confirm the PS3 can do these awesome new formats that I have never seen/heard of but really really want for some reason. Yes it does, its plastered all over the box… excellent sign.
Step 2. Reseach my predicament. First stop, Yamaha manual. Turns out, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-MA and other lossless codecs with bitrates higher than the entire Internet 10 years ago don’t work over optical. You need HDMI 1.3a or better. Lucky the PS3 has said HDMI ability. Problem: I only have one HDMI cable, going from PS3 to TV. So I hook up ebay and grab another… now I have HDMI coming out every orifice of my body. Excellent. BTW they charge about $70 or more for HDMI cable in local stores (Australia) – I got mine for $20 delivered from HK and it took under a week – yaay, operation big success.
Step 3. Why the hell isn’t it working still?????? Dammit, I had to pull my amp out *AGAIN* to fit this damn cable, and each time I do a random speaker becomes disconnected and various other really annoying stuff happens.Dammit, dammit dammit. Still DD 5.1. WTF? I’m so meant to be in TrueHD heaven right now (not that I knew what TrueHD even sounded like at this stage).
Step 4. Forums. Sony forums. Anyone who has ever read a Sony PS3 forum knows that this is pure hell. My first experience was when I really *needed* to get DLNA working after patch something.something. The first question is usually good, but all bets are off after that – it quickly degenerates into words like “Fanboi” and “PS3/Xbox/Atari 2600 sucks” and various other crap that I seriously don’t want to deal with in my seemingly endless pursuit of TrueHD! It’s kind of like ASP.NET forms where they have questions like “How to make ASPnets sites of the web. Please answer” or “Want to make gamez, what do i need to dlz”.
Anyway, I digress. Long story short PS3 does have TrueHD and other HD audio format abilities, its just that it cannot output them in a raw format (bitstream). So what you have to do is go into the Bluray settings in the PS3 settings menu, and select PCM. PCM is a base digital format which is lossless and all the other good stuff you simply must have these days if you are ever to have sex again (or for you audiophiles out there, for the first time). The PS3 internally transcodes the TrueHD etc to PCM. Once this setting is enabled, the OSD on the TV says TrueHD!! Yaay.
But dammit, no little light on my amp! All I get is PCM, seriously I feel like its in Windows 95 WAV format… I quickly shrivled. Hey its cold out.
As it turns out you cannot make the PS3 output the HD audio signal for decoding in your precious new amp. It must do it internally. Ah, crap… they (white coats) assure me that the PCM conversion is also lossless – big whoop. I want my bloody light. I’m over it. This sucks, and I’m severely disappointed – it would have been easier so enable the light using a soldering iron. I’m gonna watch some Spidey using crap PCM.
I sit down with a coke and some popcorn in my disgustingly small living room with my equally disgustingly overpowered home theatre system. Man I’m pissed, maybe a little too much so. As the thoughts of my little TrueHD light’s impotence slowly leave my tired mind, the sand man starts doing some really cool stuff and i soon realise -
OMG – WOW it sounds good…
F@&^ the light.
Edit: I think PS3 doesn’t support DTS-MA? Whenever I put my Bluray movie into DTS-MA mode, it shows up as DTS 1.5 mbit in the PS3 OSD?