Surround sound problem with separate receiver/speakers

I'm not sure where to post this topic, but this area seems correct. If not, please let me know.


Surround sound is very important to me...just as important as video. So I have always used either a soundbase/bar or a separate receiver with separate speakers when viewing cable channels.


I'm currently using a separate a properly functioning Denon 591 receiver with a total of five speakers plus a subwoofer (5.1). I've used this same setup before with DirecTV with no problems. However, the problem I'm having now is that NO Spectrum cable box will output surround sound through  my system, except for their dubious SPM101H, aka Spectrum 101, box (the absurdly small one with no clock). Three technicians all said this box was very unpopular and not reliable. The problem is this is the ONLY Spectrum box that properly outputs 5.1 sound to Denon receiver and speakers. These same three technicians assured me my connections were all correct, and tried four different cable box models, and agreed that only the 101 provided surround sound. The problem has nothing to do with my surround receiver, or cables, or connections.


However, turning on the 101 is an ordeal. Every time I turn it on, it goes through a two step process of rebooting and scanning for channels...usually two, and sometimes, three times. I usually have to manually turn it back on once or twice. Once it properly displays channels, it works very well.


I've called Spectrum several times and no one has any idea what the problem is. I just called earlier today and the representative had no idea what I was talking about when I described my separate surround receiver and separate speakers, and she was unable or unwilling to put someone else on the line who might help me.


This is, to say the least, extremely frustrating. But I put up with this because that's how important surround sound is to me, and the 101 box is the only one that provides surround sound with my setup.


Can anyone help me?

Proven Sharer

Re: Surround sound problem with separate receiver/speakers

I've moved your query over to the TV Equipment section which is where you should find other comments about interfacing TVs with sound bars, exernal audio receivers, and using HDMI or component cables if you keyword-search for them. 


So now you have discovered why the technicians tried to talk you out  of using the converter, which has a bad reputation in the field.  Spectrum's tech staff doesn't suppport intercabling of home theater or component video systems, they just deliver the TV signal to an output connector on their set-top converter boxes.  Some forum member  have experience in that area and will tery to help you out.


In order to get an accurate response to your request, you'll need to provide the forum readers with some details about how your various boxes are intercabled, such as:

"My Denon 591 audio receiver receives an HDMI signal from the Spectrum SPM101H settop converter and then sends it over to my video display projector (make and model ?).  My Blu-Ray & DVD player (make and model ?) uses a second HDMI input into the receiver.  All HDMI cables are standard grade, v 1.3, less than 8 feet long." 


Re: Surround sound problem with separate receiver/speakers



I posted a thread on the subject of "missing" surround sound on Spectrum cable boxes. 

Check this setting in the Settings Menu:


Press Settings on the remote

Scroll down to "Devices"

Scroll up to "Audio: Analog Output" (NOT "Audio: Digital Output, which must be set to HDMI if using an HDMI cable)

If set to "mono" change it to "surround"

That should do it. 


I found that apparently the Spectrum 201 DVR box (and maybe other boxes) are defaulting to "mono" , which of course would not support surround.  When that happens, the symptom is sound from the center channel speaker only (and subwoofer).   I found, as you did, that the Spectrum basic 101 box apparently comes with the default to provide surround sound, which is odd.  The way I found this out was after much fooling around with my Surround Sound receiver (Pioneer) and cables and settings, I realized that it was probably the cable box, as unlikely at that seemed.  I brought the basic 101 box from my kitchen into my theater room and voila, the surround came back to life.  So I then knew it was the cable box, but why?  


My other thread covering this issue with a fix is entitled "No Surround Sound on Spectrum 201 DVR" SOLVED.   It may be that after a reboot, some boxes, like my prior Cisco 8642 are defaulting back to "mono" and therefore you suddenly lose your surround sound for no apparent reason.  


Unlike your experience, I have two of the Spectrum 101 boxes in my home and have not had issues with either of them, but when cable boxes are "recycled" to new customers from old customers, I'm not sure of the quality control in fully testing them out. I say that because I had a Cisco 8642, and when it stopped working, I was given two different Cisco (87xx) boxes by customer service to replace it.  The first one just keep rebooting all night and the second one would not provide 1080i resolution, even though  selected in the menu (fuzzy pics on a 65" screen, which suggests more like 720i).  They finally gave me a Spectrum 201 DVR but it wouldn't provide surround sound until I stumbled on the solution shown above.   Anyway, hopefully you can now use the box you want by using the fix I suggested. 


Cheers, Dan