Blu-Ray HD Audio Coding, worth $1000 Upgrade?

Just when I thought I had it all I realized that with the rise of Blu-Ray there are now new Surround Codings such as DTS-HD MASTER AUDIO that my tuner won't process to the full capacity of the coding. DTS-HD can, "This bit stream is so fast and the transfer rate so high that it can deliver 7.1 audio channel, 96k/24-bit sound identical to the original studio master." (From
I currently have a Pioneer Elite VSX80-TXV with 110 watts a channel (AB amplifier) running Paradigm Studio 60V2's bi-amped, Titans in the rear, CC170 Center, and a JL Audio Fathom 113 sub with PS3 doing Blu-ray duty.
I am considering the Pioneer SC05 Tuner with is 130 watts Class D amplification, and of course it does the DTS-HD as well as a couple of other new codecs that I don't know about. It also can upscale non 1080P source information as well, whereas the VSX is only 1080P video pass through.

It is about $1000 upgrade after selling off my old tuner and Pioneer Elite DVD player that I don't use anymore.
My system is used 40% Movies, 40% HDTV, 20% Music.

Any thoughts, suggestions, or alternative theories are gladly accepted!

It looks like you have a $1000 jones to upgrade your system. The Pioneer Elite VSX-80TXV is an entry-level (for Elite, that is) receiver that has/had an MSRP of $650. THe SC 05 has an MSRP of nearly three times that. If you want to stick with Pioneer Elite, I guess a $1K upgrade is the way to go, but there are more economical ways to get the functionality you say you want.

You can go about this two different ways: 1) Get a Blu-ray player that has internal decoding for all the new lossless codecs and plug the player's 7.1 analog outputs into the 7.1 (or 5.1) analog inputs that your Pioneer Elite VSX-80TXV undoubtedly has. 2) Get a new AV receiver that supports HDMI 1.3a and decodes the new codecs. You don't have to spend $1500 to do that.

For solution 1, you could get a Panasonic DMP BD35K if you only need 5.1 channels, or the Panasonic DMP BD55K if you need 7.1. You can get the BD35K for as low as $244 at Other low-cost players with built-in decoding include the Sony BDP-S550 at around $341 and the Pioneer BDP-51FD at $414 @

For solution 2, you could get the Onkyo TX-SR706 with 100 wpc for $488.61. Onkyo has led the way in implementing full support for HDMI 1.3a and decoding the lossless codecs. In fact Onkyo's TX-SRx06 product line is their second generation of HDMI 1.3a products. If you want more power go with the 130wpc TX-SR806 beast instead for $619.99 at

By the time you sell your Elite receiver, you're looking at a $300 solution with the TX-SR806, not $1000, and you're doing it with more power, from a company that has been successfully making full HDMI 1.3a products for nearly two years.

I have an Onkyo A-9555 integrated amp for my LP-based 2-channel rig and I love it. Their WRAT technology makes for a clean, fast amp with very low noise floor and wide frequency extension, and yet not a hint of harshness. And speed, clarity, and a low noise floor are exactly what's needed for HT.
Johnnyb53, couldn't you also use the Panasonic BD35 to convert the audio to multichannel LPCM rather than decode to analog? Then use a single digital audio cable to the receiver instead of several analog cables.
If I am not mistaken, your pioneer elite already has hdmi imputs, and the PS3 decodes the new formats internaly. So, your already there.
Denon 3808ci net in your price range.
I had the same thought, but my "new guy" where I shop didn't agree. Can someone else shine some light on this?

I actually have noticed that when I run a Blu-Ray that has DTS-HD and set my Tuner to Auto Surround, that the tuner chooses Stereo!

I always have a jones to upgrade my HT. I have a $2,000 set aside, but the less I spend on this upgrade, the more I have for later upgrades! I have to do things in small steps to keep in the good graces of my wife. My "new guy" where I shop (My old guy got out of the business) is encouraging me to go this direction next.

I only use 5.1, no place for additional speakers, and it allows me to Bi-Amp my Studio 60's.

I will definently be looking at some of the Tuners you all have mentioned.
If I'm reading the specs correctly, the receiver only does HDMI pass through so it won't process the audio signal, it merely passes through the video via HDMI. In other words, it's nothing more than an HDMI video switcher.

If all you're looking is 5.1, just have the PS3 decode the audio internally into LPCM and send the LPCM over the toslink to your receiver and you're done with no money spent.
Your new guy is wrong. The PS3 decodes both the newer hi-rez formats if you have followed up on downloading to the newer firmware. It will send the full bandwidth video and audio signal over an HDMI cable to the Pioneer. The Pioneer digital display will show PCM, and will output the full signal to your speakers. Also, you don't want to set the pioneer to auto surround. Leave it in auto mode and it will switch to pcm. I have the VSX-72txv by the way, so I am familiar with your unit. You can also find a ton of info over at AVSform under the blu-ray player thread.
Thank you for the information. Stupid question: What is PCM?
I just talked to my "old guy" and he thinks the SC-05 is not a good choice either!
He suggested if I am going to spend that kind of money on a tuner that I should look at the new Rotel line.
I looked through every menu and can't find anything on my tuner settings for PCM. Not sure what I am missing here.

Does anyone know when the new Rotel's will actually be out?
When you think about it, there's so much "gray area" for the average audio enthusiast to consider, regarding everything from they type of equipment he should consider, to the best connections, best decoding options, best scaling options, best settings, yada, yada, that's it's almost a total crap shoot, basically! I mean you make your choices, guess your connections, set your settings, tweak your parameters, and hope for the best, seems. Don't it though?!
I bet you could even ask 100 different people with the same exact basic system, how to connect the gear, which conenctions are best, and with what settings and parameters they should use, and you'd get 80 different answers, easy!!!
Simply amazing. It's gotten so confusing that even the experts are not so sure, often - lol.
Iplaynaked, you make a good point. That is the exact reason I post here! I want more than one opinion. I like to collect a good amount of information from a variety of sources then make an "informed" decision.
Part of the fun for me is the process of building my system.

With that said, does anyone have other suggestions? I am really curious to hear from someone who has upgraded to DTS-HD Master. Does it make a big difference?

If I go with a lesser expensive tuner, what 7 channel amplifier would you recommend?
I need to correct my earlier comment. To do 5.1 over toslink (or coax) for that matter you would have to reencode to DTS or DD. The only way to get lossless 5.1 out of the PS3 is to have a receiver that is capable of receiving LPCM over HDMI, which your receiver does not appear to have the capability to do. Alternatively, you could get a Blu-Ray player that decodes everything internally like the PS3 but also has 5.1 analogue outs to hook up to the analogue ins on the receiver.
"I am really curious to hear from someone who has upgraded to DTS-HD Master. Does it make a big difference?"

I have just recently started to listen to the ps3's new codecs in my home theater system with blu-ray,and,in a word, "impressive". I did not expect that much of a improvement in sound quality,you know, being a two channel guy, but now you can color me impressed.

I feel the biggest improvement in the sound over DD or DTS is that the sound field is now of a more organic nature with an over-all better sound stage,more natural to say the least. Definitely a BIG upgrade and worth the technology IMO...

"Iplaynaked, you make a good point. That is the exact reason I post here! I want more than one opinion. I like to collect a good amount of information from a variety of sources then make an "informed" decision."

Actually, I'm stretching it a bit, saying even the experts are confused. Yes, no one knows it all. It's always a constant learning curve. Yet, many many experienced professionals in this industry have a solid fundamental grasp on all important aspects of audio/video systems - quite a bit more knowledge and experience than the average enthusiast. So, trying to sort through all the opinions is like listening to all the different opinions expressed in the audience of the Oprah Winfrey show, and trying to resolve the truth! Basically, if you really want to learn something, in the end, you're better off getting expert advice, doing a bit of studying, and then doing hands on tinkering yourself. It's all good though. Like you said, It's fun.
Still though, now and then, there's some new thingy that pops up that throws ya for a loop a little bit. You combine all that with all there is to learn and it can get very involved trying to do these systems for the best possible results, given all the changing variables that are constantly being presented to system designers.
It's like a never ending class room learning the facts, and keeping up with every changing technology and product selection. I tell ya...
Coach, what version software is your PS3 using? You need version 2.41 or higher to enable the lossless audio. You do not have to search for pcm. it should come up automatically if your pioneer is set to auto and you run a blu-ray movie through an hdmi cable. You will also find everything you need to know over at avsforum under the bluray player PS3 thread. There are several hundred pages devoted to its use.
Hey Coach.
As you have mentioned above that you plan more incremental future upgrades (add rear speakers maybe), you really need to get a 7.1 receiver w/ multi HDMI inputs and internal decoding of Dolby True as well as DTS Master. I have an Onkyo 805 which is fabulous. It has better amps than the newer Onk 806 (although they both rate 130w x 7). You can find a new-in-box 805 on eBay for under $725.
I upgraded from Rotel processor/amp to Pioneer Elite 94 receiver and am absoutely thrilled. Dolby digital sounds significently inferior compared to the new codecs; on blu ray discs, the previews are still in dolby digital while the movie is in the new codec(s). I never realized how bad dolby digital sounded before--it is easy to compare with the review/movie seconds apart). Notwithstanding sound effects, dialogue is soooo much better. On the new Godfather BluRays (I am a BIG GF fan and have seen the DVD's and HD TV broadcasts many times; there are sounds on the BluRays I had never heard before (the clock in the Marlon Brandos office during the opening scene; never heard it before--as well as a pipe dripping when Clemenza gives Michael the gun he uses to kill the police captain). You gotta do it if you want max performance/enjoyment.