Freesat and surround sound

If you’ve got a Freesat HD box, and want to listen in surround sound when you’re watching HD programmes like Dr Who or Damages, then you’ll be glad to know things are pretty straightforward.

Those who aren’t familiar with surround sound should first check out the first part of this feature, for the background information. Up to date with that? Great.

Good news for Freesat viewers:  you’d have to look very long and very hard to find a surround decoder, whether standalone or built into an AV Receiver or AV Amplifier, that didn’t understand Dolby Digital, which is what’s used on the Freesat HD channels.

The quick summary: if you don’t have a surround decoder with HDMI sockets, just connect the Freesat box to the TV via HDMI, and then use an S/PDIF digital connection to link the receiver to your surround decoder for Dolby Digital 5.1 channel surround.

When you’re shopping, making sure that you buy a Freesat HD box with a digital audio connection that matches the ones on your surround decoder, if it doesn’t have both optical and co-axial inputs.

If your decoder has HDMI (most recent AV amplifiers/receivers), connect the Freesat box to the decoder with an HDMI cable, and the TV to the ‘TV out’ HDMI connector on the decoder.

In both cases, hook up the speakers, and you’re now ready to enjoy surround sound from your HD channels. Switch to a non-HD channel, and the receiver will usually switch to PCM stereo, and you’ll hear that through your front speakers, automatically.

And really is all there is to it. If you’re interested in surround from Freeview HD, the next part of this feature explains what you need to know (and it’s a bit more complex).

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