A new crop of Blu-ray players were unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. With the exception of the most expensive players, the new players were all missing multi-channel analog audio outputs. You may ask, why are multi-channel analog audio outputs important? Well, for those of us who don’t have a home theater receiver with HDMI, it’s very important. Multi-channel analog audio outputs allow us to take advantage of Blu-ray’s best sound quality available in either Dolby TrueHD or DTS Master Audio, both lossless audio formats. These formats support surround sound configurations of either six or eight channels. Known as 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound, separate RCA cables are connected between the Blu-ray player and the receiver (the “.1″ stands for the subwoofer’s channel).
Why did they disappear? Despite lots of googling, the Hub could not find an answer so we’ll leave it to speculation. It’s not because of the copy protection requirements that led to the removal of component video. One potential answer is that consumer electronic companies saw the exclusion as a way to cut costs. Another theory is that they are attempting to drive the sales of new receivers. Most receivers manufactured in the last three years include HDMI. In another words, if your receiver is more than three or four years old, you may be out of luck if you buy a new Blu-ray player. This is likely since you don’t upgrade your receiver as often as your cell phone. One of the reasons the Hub purchased it’s Pioneer VSX-1014 back in 2005 (on clearance) was it had the multi-channel audio inputs making it fairly future proof or so I thought. Please add any other conspiracy theories in the comment section.
Alternatively, you could use the optical audio out on your blu-ray player and you would still enjoy surround sound quality on par with a DVD. Most folks would probably be happy with this. But that’s not why Tech of the Hub is here. The Hub is here to get you the best audio and video experience possible without busting the bank. Personally, the Hub was blown away when he first heard the Dolby TrueHD soundtrack on The Dark Knight. In another words, don’t settle for second best. So, in that spirit, we’e included a list of blu-ray players still on the market that have multi-channel audio outputs.
If you are looking at blu-ray players priced $500 and under, the only one recently released that includes multi-channel analog outputs is the OPPO BDP-93. It’s considered to be the standard that all other players are judged against.
Blu-ray players that have multi-channel audio outputs:
Panasonic DMP-BD85K, DMP-BDT350, DMP-BDT300
Samsung BD-6500, BD-C6800, BD-C6900
Pioneer BDP-320 (the Hub’s blu-ray player)
If you know of any others, please comment and I will add them to the list.