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Subjective Sound Quality

Hopefully next year, I will invest in the newest HDTV standard and drop a few thousand on a "golden ratio" (5:3) set with built in DTS capability. Until that time arrives, I had to use the older Dolby Pro Logic encoded source material which included several late VHS HiFi movies in addition to various surround sound encoded live NTSC shows. Since I also don't possess a separate powered subwoofer, I merely used the DE decoders to unscramble and output a line level signal for the rear channels only. This configuration worked out extremely well and could even be considered a valid marketing strategy whereby existing high grade front ends would be "augmented" rather than "replaced."

No matter what I listened to, Dolby Pro Logic exhibited periodic artifacts. Some sounded like clicks and pops while others just pleasantly "hummed" in the background. I believe that DTS has improved upon this with their less compressed multiplexing scheme. On Dolby's website, it's clearly stated that DTS has less compression than Pro Logic. At more than 367% less compression, DTS proves to be a much higher grade audio signal.

Hiss wasn't an issue and the rear surround channels had good high frequency extension. As a reminder, I had to lower the level of all analog audio to the inputs below the 370mV distortion limit in order to avoid the dreaded digital "cracking" which is rather obnoxious and distracting. Somehow, this dedicated discreet decoder appeared to do a better job overall when compared to the built-in electronics of the ROCCO 5.1 fully powered setup. Let's hear it for the component advantage!

Conclusion

Some great products take time to be fully market accepted. I'm convinced that the DE series of audio decoders would be welcomed with open arms into the U.S. and other markets and to that end, I think all readers so inclined to do so should email Jazz Speakers. Every ground breaking product will have a few growing pains and the 005 & 006 assumes that most buyers will not utilize the analog inputs. Therefore this reviewer's recommendation comes with a caveat: if you can purchase one of these cost effective units, do so with the intention of plugging into digital sources only. With that said, you should find that Dolby Pro Logic and DTS encoded audio tracks take on a whole new, previously unheard of dimension in your personal listening environment.

William Yaple
01/22/01

 





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