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#27293 - 01/08/05 11:59 PM S/PDIF unlock problem
ScottH Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 10/07/02
Posts: 83
Loc: NY, NY, USA
I just got digital cable, and hooked up the digital out from my cable box to the coaxial2 input on my 950, which is assigned to Video 1 (I have S-video, composite video, right and left analog audio connected to Video 1). If I go to a channel that has dolby 2.0 or 3/2.1 I get sound and can use the digital audio feed with the assorted surround modes.

If I go to a channel that is sending a PCM stream, I get no sound, and if I try and change the surround mode I see "S/PDIF unlock" on the right side of the display. Page 31 of the manual shows how to lock a data format. So I attempted to unlock the Video 1 input, but it was already set to Auto, so this is not the problem.

If I switch the input to analog, I see PCM 48k and can process that signal, but this can't be the way this is supposed to be handled. By the way, I'm doing this with NY channel 7 and HBO via Cablevision.

Any ideas?
Thanks

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#27294 - 01/09/05 01:30 AM Re: S/PDIF unlock problem
gonk Offline
Desperado

Registered: 03/21/01
Posts: 14049
Loc: Memphis, TN USA
It sounds to me like the cable box you are using does not provide a digital audio signal for analog stations - there's nothing to lock on to. This is the norm with Scientific Atlanta's standard definition digital cable boxes, unfortunately. I was able to swap my SA box out for a Pace box (the DC-510), which does provide analog-to-digital conversion so that the analog channels' audio is available at the digital audio output.
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#27295 - 01/09/05 01:34 PM Re: S/PDIF unlock problem
ScottH Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 10/07/02
Posts: 83
Loc: NY, NY, USA
duplicate post

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#27296 - 01/09/05 01:40 PM Re: S/PDIF unlock problem
ScottH Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 10/07/02
Posts: 83
Loc: NY, NY, USA
Thanks gonk.

It would be more intuitive if it said "no signal", so does "unlock" means no signal (or if you are not on auto signal sensing, the signal it's looking for is not there)?

I found a few threads briefly discussing S/PDIF unlock "problems"
In this thread coto914's 950 is out for service for the problem.
In this thread 2 stott seems to be sending a signal the 950 isn't recognizing.
And in thread 3 the interconnect seems to be the culprit.

It would be nice to know there's nothing wrong. I haven't seen many postings by coto914, but I'm wondering what his problem was.

Is my best solution to switch the input to analog for these stations, and back to digital for the ones sending digital? Not elegant, but it will work for now.

Thanks.

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#27297 - 01/09/05 01:50 PM Re: S/PDIF unlock problem
gonk Offline
Desperado

Registered: 03/21/01
Posts: 14049
Loc: Memphis, TN USA
What cable box do you have? The behavior that you're experiencing sounds a bit different than the cases your search turned up, because it appears to correspond so consistently to the analog cable channels (and because there is a large portion of digital cable boxes that create this problem). If you have a Scientific Atlanta box, your cable provider may also offer Pace Micro boxes, which would allow you to use the digital output on all channels. The support call center staff and the payment station staff may not have any clue what you are talking about, but some of the installers will likely be aware of the issue.
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#27298 - 01/09/05 04:00 PM Re: S/PDIF unlock problem
ScottH Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 10/07/02
Posts: 83
Loc: NY, NY, USA
Yes it is a Scientific Atlanta, model Explorer 4200.

According to Cablevision's website, "All digital channels are transmitted in, at a minimum, stereo and Dolby Digital, but they vary in format from Dolby ProLogic all the way up to Dolby Digital Version 3 ("5.1")."

So I guess this exempts the analog channels. I checked it out and with a few exceptions (HBO, Fox Sports, MSG and YES), all of the channels below 100 don't pass a digital signal out of the cable box. So the cable company can send the digital audio with the analog stations if it cares to, but it doesn't for most of the channels.

I just had a nice conversation with a friendly but useless customer service rep. They don't have Pace Micro boxes. My other choice is the HDTV box, if I had a HDTV.

I'm planning on getting an HDTV that can use the cablecard, and has digital optical out. Does anyone have expericence with either the cablecard or the HDTV box and their abilities to pass a digital audio signal to the 950?

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#27299 - 01/09/05 04:25 PM Re: S/PDIF unlock problem
gonk Offline
Desperado

Registered: 03/21/01
Posts: 14049
Loc: Memphis, TN USA
With very few exceptions, the channels below 100 (the analog channels) do not include digital audio. As you noted, their adspeak of "all digital channels are transmitted in, at a minimum, stereo and Dolby Digital, but they vary in format from Dolby ProLogic all the way up to Dolby Digital Version 3 ("5.1")" does not include the analog channels, which are the channels that tend to get the most viewing in my household. Since the channels are by definition "analog" I've never been too upset by that, but it is annoying that SA chooses to omit any A/D conversion on those channels - making the digital output much less useful.

There is some discussion about the SA Explorer 8000HD in this thread , including at least one Time Warner market (Wisconsin, where tekdredger is located) using 8000HD's that support digital output of analog stations. That market is using the 8000HD's with the DVI output disabled. Since the general concensus is that cable box makers haven't figured out how to make best use of DVI yet, having the DVI disabled isn't going to cost you any picture quality, but it will mean having to use one more component output.

I haven't had a chance to play with cablecard receivers yet, nor have I heard much about them. Does the Time Warner in NY support cablecard? If so and if you're upgrading to HDTV anyway, then it seems like a reasonable approach to consider.
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#27300 - 01/09/05 05:53 PM Re: S/PDIF unlock problem
ScottH Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 10/07/02
Posts: 83
Loc: NY, NY, USA
Thanks gonk.
I'm actually in Westchester now, north of NYC, and we have Cablevision, not Time Warner.

I am not sure which HD box Cablevision is using (but they too have disabled the HDTV out: "At this time, the television industry has not determined a standard for either the HD signal transmission or the connection of HD equipment to other home entertainment equipment. Because of these unresolved issues, Cablevision's digital box currently is not capable of passing an HDTV signal.") I didn't realize that.

I do know that they support cablecard, as a friend of mine is using it. Unfortunately I haven't been over to his place to use it yet, so I'm not sure if it's A/D converting the analog audio, or what HDTV format it is sending to his display. I'll let you know when I go test it out.

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#27301 - 01/09/05 09:20 PM Re: S/PDIF unlock problem
ScottH Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 10/07/02
Posts: 83
Loc: NY, NY, USA
I just got off the phone with my friend who has Cablevision and an HDTV cablecard. His TV outputs the digital audio via toslink. He gets a digital audio signal on the same channels I get, and on the HDTV channels. But he doesn't get digital audio on all of the same analog channels that I don't get.

I think Cablevision uses the Explorer 4200HD box for HDTV.

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#27302 - 01/09/05 09:44 PM Re: S/PDIF unlock problem
gonk Offline
Desperado

Registered: 03/21/01
Posts: 14049
Loc: Memphis, TN USA
The digital audio output will likely be dependent on the cable receiver - whether a set top box provided by the cable company or a cablecard tuner built into a TV. Some of the Scientific Atlanta HD boxes as well as all of the Pace Micro boxes include analog-to-digital converters that produce a digital signal from those analog channels, allowing the box's digital audio output to always work. I'm not sure about Motorola and Pioneer boxes, or about the current batch of cablecard tuners in TV's.
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