Dolby Pro-Logic vs. Dolby Pro-Logic II

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich
Week 4, 2007

Q: Recent receiver reviews and your writings indicate Dolby Pro-Logic II is an important feature.Since my 1998 Yamaha 992 receiver states it has “Dolby Pro -Logic”, I assume it pre-dates DPL II.   Is there a perceivable sound difference?If so, how, and is it worth considering an upgrade?

-Gary Kerber, Minneapolis, MN

A: Your receiver does not have Dolby Pro-Logic II.The sonic differences in sound between Dolby Pro-Logic and Dolby Pro-Logic II is very large and it is definitely worth upgrading.

The difference is in the surround effects and the spectrum of sound the surround speakers can produce.With Dolby Pro-Logic, both the left and rear surround speaker play the exact same sounds.You can interchange the left and right surround speakers of a Pro-Logic system and you would not hear the difference.In fact, some old Pro-Logic receivers did not even distinguish between the right and left surround speaker terminals.There were two sets of connectors marked “surround” and that was it.

What’s more, the surround speakers in Dolby Pro-Logic do not play full range.They don’t have very deep bass and they don’t play high frequencies, either.So, in effect you have two surround speakers that only play the midrange and sound exactly the same.

Dolby Pro-Logic II is an engineering marvel created by Jim Fosgate, probably the world’s most influential engineer in matters of surround sound.Dolby Pro-Logic II creates stereo, full-range surround sound from Dolby Pro-Logic tracks that were originally monaural and less than full-range.Most of your television watching, such as cable TV, over-the-air and satellite broadcasts, and even VHS tapes and video games are all watched in Pro-Logic or Pro-Logic II. Most people will use Dolby Pro-Logic or Pro-Logic II much more than Dolby Digital as Dolby Digital typically only comes into play with HDTV and DVD broadcasts. (There are a few scantly-used, oddball formats that use it but I won’t get into them here.)

When you hear the difference between Pro-Logic and Pro-Logic II, you will never go back.The difference is like the difference between high-speed internet access and dial-up access… it is that much better!The entire room seems to come alive in a way you will never hear with Dolby Pro-Logic, and the soundtrack and surround effects are much more real and convincing.Dolby Pro-Logic II can also be used with ordinary CDs, vinyl records, your iPod, FM radio, or any other music source to enjoy music in surround sound. Purist audiophiles frown on this, but Jim Fosgate himself is a big fan of multichannel music and intended the system to be used that way.

If an upgrade is within your means and good sound from music and movies is important to you, I strongly recommend getting a receiver with Dolby Pro-Logic II.

Digital camera to flash drive update:Thanks to J.P. Jones at the Fresno Bee for telling me about the Syncbox from Macally.It will allow you to transfer digital pictures from your camera to a flash drive.It is priced at $49.99 and can be seen at

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