Dolby Digital

Echostar Knowledge Base
The Dish Network User's Resource

What is Dolby Digital®?

What do I need to have to hear DD?

  1. Dish receiver with digital audio output:
  2. See Receiver Comparison Chart for other features.
  3. Dolby Digital receiver or a "5.1 ready" receiver fed by an external DD decoder.
  4. Use the optical digital audio connection, set your A/V receiver to the digital input.
  5. 5 speakers plus optional sub-woofer.

The 4000/5000 add-on module has optical and coaxial outputs. Available in limited supply from dealers, $69 MSRP.

Do I set my Dish receiver to Dolby Digital, PCM, or Mixed?

DD: Digital audio is output only when a DD soundtrack is available.
PCM: Output is always standard PCM stereo, even if DD is available.
Mixed: Output is DD when available, PCM at all other times.

Even without a DD soundtrack there is a noticeable improvement in sound quality by using the digital connection.

For the vast majority of users, "mixed" will be the correct setting.

Go to: Menu, 6, 8
DISHPlayer: Home > Settings > Screen & Audio > Digital Audio
921: Menu, 4, 4

What channels have DD?

On August 29, 2000 Echostar flipped the switch and began broadcasting STARZ!-East in Dolby Digital. Many channels have since been added.

STARZ! added DD to its West feed on Aug 27, 2001. DISH added this to channel 351 soon after.

Look for (DD) on the Dish Channel List.

If I don't have the right equipment, will I be able to hear these channels?

Yes, except for the HDTV channels which require an HDTV receiver. You will get the regular PCM soundtrack rather than DD.

How much does it cost?

The DD soundtrack is made available at no extra charge.

I tuned to a DD channel but my A/V receiver was in Pro-Logic mode.

Not all movies, especially older ones, will have a 5.1 soundtrack. Also, DD is not necessarily 5.1. A stereo signal can be compressed as DD 2.0. Your DD decoder can then apply Pro-Logic processing when playing it back.

Why is the volume lower on DD programs?

The audio level is about 3db lower than the regular soundtrack when using the digital output. This is part of the DD specification - the recording level is lowered to provide more dynamic range. Dish Network has already lowered the sound on other channels as much as they’re willing to go before the adjustment causes problems. The variation will remain, you’ll just have to use your volume control more.

The HDTV receivers have a DD decoder built-in to provide a stereo down-mix, so will have the volume difference on the analog outputs as well as the digital.