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Are low audio levels common?

Discussion in 'TiVo Premiere DVRs' started by BeeEss, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. Sep 4, 2013 #1 of 11
    BeeEss

    BeeEss New Member

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    Aug 29, 2007
    Hi, all:

    I have a TiVo Premiere that seems to have an overall audio output level that is much lower than any of my other sources. The effect is noticeable on both the analog and HDMI outputs (that is, TiVo audio over analog is quieter than my other analog sources, and TiVo audio over HDMI is quieter than my other HDMI sources.) This has been the case for two receivers to which the TiVo has been connected (an Onkyo TX-SR605 and a Denon AVR-X3000.)

    It does not seem to be affected by what is playing on the TiVo (Dolby Digital cable channels vs. stereo channels, or TiVo apps like Netflix vs. live/recorded cable TV.) All told, TiVo sound seems to be about 10dB lower than any other source (Apple TV, game consoles, Mac Mini, analog CD, etc.)

    Both the Onkyo and the Denon have source level adjustments, so I can crank up the input gain on the TiVo's input so that the level is more or less matched to other sources (so that I don't get blasted out when I change inputs.) But the Denon's adjustment only works for the main zone, and I have a whole-house audio system connected to Zone 2. That's causing me some heartache, because if someone switches from TiVo to music (or any other source) in Zone 2, the levels are way out of balance.

    So I'm curious if anyone else has seen this, and if there are any possible solutions. I'm wondering if maybe it has to do with my CableCard (or cable company - Cox in OKC) but I don't have a standard cable box to check against. I've also wondered if there is some way to access any "non-standard" TiVo settings that would somehow allow for an audio output gain adjustment. I'm also researching if there is some way I can apply the gain adjustment in my receiver to both zones, but that doesn't seem terribly likely.

    I'd be willing to upgrade to a Roomio if it would alleviate the problem, but if it's a cable/CableCard issue, it doesn't seem like that would help.

    Any thoughts?

    --BeeEss
     
  2. Sep 4, 2013 #2 of 11
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    The HDMI output should be a pass through of the source AC3 audio, so TiVo should not have any effect on that. Unless you have the audio output mode set to PCM?
     
  3. Sep 4, 2013 #3 of 11
    BeeEss

    BeeEss New Member

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    Aug 29, 2007
    Thanks, Dan203!

    The TiVo is set to AC3, and it's passing the Dolby Digital signal properly for encoded material. But even on stereo (non-Dolby) broadcasts, the TiVo audio level is significantly lower than similar material played through any of my other sources. It's the strangest thing - almost like there is some sort of system-wide attenuator in the TiVo that affects all audio outputs on any type of source material.

    I'm starting to wonder if the signal it's getting from the cable company is somehow quieter than normal (although I don't know that there's really any way to test that.) If that's the case, I would guess it's probably something I'm going to have to live with (I doubt they'd "turn it up" just for me :p)
     
  4. Sep 4, 2013 #4 of 11
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    Nevada
    Could be your cable company. They actually receive shows with Pro level audio such as SMPTE302M or DolbyE and mix the AC3 stream from that themselves. So their equipment could be lowering the volume. Also about a year ago a new law kicked in that required strict loudness compliance for all broadcast networks (LKFS) so the lower volume could be due to that.
     
  5. Sep 4, 2013 #5 of 11
    CoxInPHX

    CoxInPHX COX Communications

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    Jan 14, 2011
    Phoenix, AZ
    I have this same exact issue, and have asked in a few other forums and no one seems to notice or claim to hear the difference.

    I also have Cox so perhaps it is an issue with just Cox and CableCARDs.

    All my TiVos do clearly have an approx 10dB lower sound level on Cable channel sources. Levels across some channels are even much lower like EPIXHD.

    Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Rhapsody etc. through the Premieres do not have the 10dB reduction, Neither do PC pushes and pulls via pytivo.

    Also, when I had a Cox DVR the sound from that was approx 10dB higher. I still have a Cox HD STB and again the sound is 10dB higher than the TiVo.

    I am using all HDMI directly to the TV and Optical Audio out to an AVR, using the TV for switching sources.
    Changing from Dolby to PCM has no effect on the overall volume levels.

    Transferring a recording to the PC, the sound is also much lower than other content. If I turn off Dolby Digital in Windows Media Center on the PC, I will then get a level that I would describe as normal.
     
  6. Sep 4, 2013 #6 of 11
    BeeEss

    BeeEss New Member

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    Aug 29, 2007
    Thanks, Dan and CoxInPHX!

    Good to know I'm not alone. Perhaps one of these days when I'm *really* bored I'll call up Cox and see if they have any suggestions; maybe even grab an STB for comparison.

    If the attenuation did turn out to be TiVo-imposed (and I can't think of any rational reason why they would do such a thing), it sure seems like there would be some sort of possibly not-so-official OS tweak that would have popped up somewhere in all my searches along the way. I had a TiVo HD before this one, but I honestly can't remember if it exhibited the same problem.

    Of course, if it's the cable operator or a function of the CableCard, I'm probably just going to have to rig something on the other end of the signal chain. I've had the same CableCard for quite a while now; maybe they've got a different brand or firmware or something these days. Couldn't hurt, I guess.

    If I figure anything else out I'll be sure to report back.

    Cheers,
    BeeEss
     
  7. Sep 4, 2013 #7 of 11
    CoxInPHX

    CoxInPHX COX Communications

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    Jan 14, 2011
    Phoenix, AZ
  8. Sep 4, 2013 #8 of 11
    JoeKustra

    JoeKustra Cable only TCF Club

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    Try Pandora. It should not be affected by your cable card.
     
  9. Sep 4, 2013 #9 of 11
    BeeEss

    BeeEss New Member

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    Aug 29, 2007
    Yowza! Pandora just about blew me off the couch. Definitely looking like it's something to do with cable service or CableCard. I'll troubleshoot what I can through Cox - doesn't sound like I've got much to lose by trying.
     
  10. CoxInPHX

    CoxInPHX COX Communications

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    Jan 14, 2011
    Phoenix, AZ
    Cox will be no help, Guaranteed.
     
  11. proudx

    proudx New Member

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    Sep 16, 2008
    When comparing to your cable box makr sure you turn off any compression settings and ensure you are set to dolby digital. Compression settings like wide,nArrow,Etc. set it to none And compare it to the tivo levels
     

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