Downmix Dilemmas

Hi Friends,

I’m here to listen to your experiences of hardwares and softwares down mixing surround into 2.0.

I went for years without watching films at home, not even having a display, and naturally covid changed all that. I set up a very nice projector ceiling mounted, with a black screen between my Zu Druids, stuffed it with rock wool, spaced it off the wall, it makes for a great baffle. Black Fabric is really the way to go, I use Rose Brand Boost 122.

Being a 2 channel system, I’m starting to notice some serious congestion in my downmixes on some films while streaming. Recently watched Godzilla, KOTM on HBO Max (I actually had the pleasure of working on it). The SPLs kept dropping out when there was a lot of action. It's to the point where the congestion is a distraction. And when I say congestion, we all know I mean intermodulation distortion, plain and simple, from siphoning 5, 7, or an atmos number of channels through two.

I did wire this room for 6.1 (I wouldn’t want two speakers on my rear wall for aesthetic reasons), but am not entirely sold on adding more speakers to my space, even if they're little gallos.

I’m really just using a Roku stick right now, set to PCM stereo, and not every streaming service offers me the option of 2.0 vs surround soundtracks. If this Roku is doing the down mix, well it’s doing a pretty bad job.

But before I go spending more money, are there devices that make cleaner mixes, or is the whole process just inherently broken? I’d go pre/pro with room correction if I really needed to, but this Denon S10 set I use (including the CDP as my DAC) is just so nice to look at, and I had to wait FOREVER to find a set in 120v. Replacing it feels like throwing away years of patience.

Would a Shield TV Pro do any better than my Roku? An Apple TV? PS5 (had one, scalped it lol). Mac mini is out, I believe, they make HTPC use cumbersome. I just really want all the streams, easily, without having some clunky third party interface.


Roku Streaming stick as media source
Panasonic PT-AR100U Projector
DVDO iScan VP30 to break out the coaxial from HDMI
coaxial audio into Denon DCD-S10
PRA S10 Preamplifier
Sony TA-N77ES amplifier (My POA-S10’s are getting overhauled)
Zu Druid V, 2x 25Ω resistors on each.
91’ screen, stuffed with rock wool, spaced off wall 3"

This is nothing to do with down mixing. You're streaming. Forget the mix. That is a distraction. Find a better source.
Never noticed it but I don't stream. I play ripped files through a Roku for 2.0 and a BluRay for 5.1.
All good.
This is nothing to do with down mixing. You’re streaming. Forget the mix. That is a distraction. Find a better source.

I really do miss the video store experience, and ultimately I’m watching to see new content. Of the four productions I was a costumer on pre-pandemic, two are on Netflix and one is released on Apple. The theatrical release (Free Guy) slated for July 2020, just got tabled ’til some guy’s nose in a theatre can’t kill us all.

And I know that streamed offerings are by no means comprehensive, I do buy physical music discs to support small artists. Or if a film is not available streaming, and I really enjoy it. But real estate is just too precious here to store a large catalog of physical media if it’s available elsewhere.

I understand that streaming is more compressed than blu ray or OTA. Surely there’s someone here who has experience decoding new media services on the various devices for this? Any Shield Pro or Apple TV users to weigh in comparing to Roku? Yes, these devices are all low-end, but there must be one slightly less affected.
I disagree with MC.  Streaming as a source isn't as good a Blu Ray, (see other posts I have made today) but the gap isn't that far.  2 channel just isn't good for video.  It works, but most video was mixed with the idea that a separate middle channel would handle the dialog.  And then if movies such as Godzilla are the listening fare, you really want a sub for the LFE.  A 3.1 system would be the bare minimum, and surrounds would help especially with action movies.  You could also investigate sound bars since you don't want more speakers, but I hate them, so in good conscience I won't say more.
   Define your budget.  It doesn't have to break the bank, especially if you buy used. You could start with just an AVR (decent new ones for $500) and just add a center and a sub and then add other speakers later if you wish
I disagree with MC.  Streaming as a source isn't as good a Blu Ray, (see other posts I have made today) but the gap isn't that far.  

We're watching talkies, that's the problem. If there's no live organ, is it really a movie?