I did some experimenting with this and found some interesting info. I checked the four major network channels in my area at different times throughout the day and the NBC and FOX affiliates were the only ones to consistently broadcast audio out of the center channel. ABC and CBS hardly ever sent anything through the center channel, save for the random commercial or The Bachelor. I checked local news, national news, primetime shows, and daytime filler on all networks. My dad is in the same market as me but is running a Yamaha receiver and DirectTV so I asked him to do the same experiment. He got the same results as I did! So now we know my equipment is working fine but something is odd at these stations or their networks. Still strange to me because I've had many 5.1 setups in my adult life and this seems like a relatively recent issue to me. I did some googling and it seems some live singing performances are forced into stereo because mixers don't want to mess with making singing in 5.1 sound good. Not sure if I interpreted this article correctly: http://www.remotewest.com/the-penseive/some-notes-on-51-and-music.html
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So then why do you think it changes mid-show for me and only during musical performances? And other people I've asked watching the same show on different platforms don't have the same issue.
Did the TV industry recently change how they film and record audio on their shows? This is a recent issue for me. Maybe it's just a network channel issue. I'll have to see if I can find similar shows on traditional cable channels. Or could just the xfinity box be near its end of life?
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@Divitom Finally someone with the same issue as me. I wish I could be of some help but I'm stumped too. Did you resolve this yet? I've noticed this issue even within the same show. When watching SNL, the monologues and the skits sound just fine with the center channel loud and clear in 5.1 But when the musical act comes on and they start singing, that's when the center channel goes dead. The receiver still displays 5.1 though. I'm not surprised to see you mention shows like The Voice, Grammy's, AGT as those all involve some sort of singing or musical performance.
This is a recent issue though. I've had the same setup for 3-4 years now and this only started a few months ago.
I'm running optical cable right from my box to my Denon. My Denon is old and doesn't have HDMI inputs so I can't try that way. I've tried different optical cables, different speakers though but the result is the same. I hope to find the same show on a streaming platform so I can see how that behaves but I haven't been able to find such a show yet.
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