Sound Advice Column Week 8, 2011 : 5.1 surround sound from cable/satellite boxes, iPad 2, At-LP120-USB Turntable update

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Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 8, 2011

Q. I just switched from cable to satellite and no longer get Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound from high-def channels, as I did with Comcast. I have the satellite box connected the same as before, with HDMI to the TV and an optical digital cable to my non-HDMI surround sound receiver. Is there anything I can do?

-Len Nawrocki, The Villages, FL

A. Go to your satellite box’s setup menu, and under audio settings check the digital audio output. It should be set to Dolby Digital, bitstream, or a similar name depending on the make and model of your satellite box. You do not want PCM or stereo, which is what I am sure it is set to now as it is typically the default setting and your system was just installed. Once you change the digital audio output setting I am confident you will have surround sound again.

Q. I want to purchase an Apple iPad, but prefer to wait for a 2nd generation model. Do you have any idea if and when Apple will make them available?

-Jim Wilson, Hayward, CA

A. Some companies provide me with advance notification of product introductions, but Apple is not one of them and if it was then I would not be able to comment. Apple is notoriously tight-lipped about new products and I have found lots of rumors on the web, including some which have already been proven wrong such as “Second Generation iPad Rumored to Be Announced on February 1.” The most reasonable bit of info I found was “late spring or summer.” I’d plan on waiting at least that long and if it comes out before that, be pleasantly surprised.

Don’s Dealfinder: I used to have a feature on my website called “Don’s Dealfinder” where I pointed out amazing deals on top-quality electronics. I recently ran across a stunning deal that I felt needed a mention in the column as the product has been mentioned the past two weeks.

The deal is on the Pro-ject Debut III turntable, an entry-level audiophile turntable that was discussed and compared to the $200 Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB turntable. I said the Debut III provides richer sound than the Audio-Technica, albeit at almost twice the price at $369 MSRP. If you read the turntable columns and are thinking the Debut III is the turntable you want, now is your chance.

I discovered through an online message board that Magnolia Home Theater (found in select Best Buy stores) has been selling the Debut III in the white finish for only $199, the same street price as the Audio-Technica. The Debut III in a special finish normally sells for $399. I have never seen the Debut III offered at a discount at all, so 50% off rates as jaw dropping and represents a unique opportunity. I verified the deal in my local Best Buy store and will probably return there tomorrow and buy one myself. Even though I do not need it, some deals are simply too good to pass up! I do not think this offer will last so if you are interested you had best act now. Just remember you will need a phono preamp if your receiver does not have one as the Debut III lacks the Audio-Technica’s internal phono preamp or USB connection.

Questions? Email Don

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