Dolby Digital connectinon does not work, great Olympus/Epson deal

Week of September 21, 2003

Q:   I just bought a Sony DVD player and an Onkyo receiver.   I connected them with a single digital connection, as the instructions for both the DVD player and the receiver show.     But my Dolby Digital surround sound does not work. What am I doing wrong?

-Scott Hersch, Upper St. Clair, PA

A:   In some DVD players, the digital output is not active out of the box and you have to turn it on in the player’s audio setup menu. You can access this menu with the DVD player’s remote control.   I am confident that once you turn on the digital output, your Dolby Digital surround sound will work.

Many people connect and use their DVD players without ever looking at the setup menus.   This is a mistake.   Things may look and sound fine as-is, but there are special picture and sound settings in the menus that can enhance your viewing experience.   Though different players have different options in their setup menus, there are two options you should look for the next time you turn on your DVD player.

The first setting to experiment with is called ” enhanced black level”, or something similar.   Some TVs look better with the enhanced black; some look better on the regular setting.   Try both and see what looks best on your TV.

The second setting is under the audio menu.   Many DVD players have a setting that will create a simulated surround sound effect with only two speakers.   This is great for people who only use the speakers built into their TV, or those with a DVD player connected to a sound system with only two speakers.   The surround effect is not as strong as it is when you have multiple speakers, and it cannot make sounds come from behind you, but the sound is more enveloping and spacious sounding.  

The name given to this surround setting varies between manufacturers, but should be easy for you to pick out.   For example, Panasonic calls their simulated surround V.S.S., for Virtual Surround Sound, and Sony calls it SRS TrueSurround.   Some high-end TVs offer simulated surround as well, which will allow you to enjoy the effect when watching TV channels and VHS movies.

Q:     I recently read your article about the compatibility of digital cameras, software, and printers.   I plan to buy a new camera and printer to use with my Macintosh and would like to use the Print Image Matching (PIM) system you discussed.   I have had good luck with Olympus film cameras so I was thinking of their 4-megapixel Stylus 400 for $449.   Does this camera use PIM, and you have any advice regarding a printer and software that would work well with it and a Mac?  

-Claire Moyer, Northfield, NJ

A:   The Olympus camera is a good choice and supports PIM, as do almost all of their models.   For your printer, I recommend Epson’s Stylus Photo 825.   It is a PIM printer, and includes PIM software called Film Factory that runs on a Mac as well as Windows.   The printer also has a slot for printing directly from the camera’s memory card.   It is a true bargain at $99.00.  

I have three other bits of advice.   The first is to spend an extra $50 and get the Olympus C-50 at $499.   It is a five-megapixel camera, as opposed to the $449 Stylus 400’s 4 megapixels.   It is $50 well spent.   Second, use Epson photo paper with your Epson printer.   Third, I would act fast!   Until September 30th, you receive a $75 rebate when you buy an Olympus camera with an Epson PIM printer.

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