Customer Review

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Does what it's supposed to do...but homework might prevent the need for it, March 16, 2011
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This review is from: Gefen Digital Audio Decoder (GTV-DD-2-AA) (Electronics)
UPDATE...January 2012
The longer I use this product, the more I want to kick myself for not doing the homework I describe below. The most irritating quality of this product is the time it takes for it to recognize input signal then begin outputting it to my Vizio sound system. Sometimes it takes a few seconds...sometimes almost a minute. If power is cut to the device, getting it going again is dicey. It finally got to the point where I simply took it out of the loop and if I want to watch over-the-air TV I just use the Panasonic TV's exceptionally crappy speakers. I am very close to replacing the whole shebang--Vizio sound bar, Sony sub, Gefen converter--with a system that decodes Dolby signals from the get-go. I can't say this enough--DO YOUR HOMEWORK! As a result of all this, I am lowering my grade by another star to three out of five. Does what it's supposed to, but not very well, and for an exorbitant price.

Original review:
I needed this device because (a) I did not read the instruction manual for my Panasonic TC-P42S1 plasma TV thoroughly before buying a sound system to attach to it, and (b) the Vizio sound system I attached to it does not decode Dolby Digital signals. Had I read the instruction manual for the TV, I would have realized that ATSC signals fed through the Panasonic and out the optical digital output are done so only in Dolby Digital, and that there is no option in the TV's audio setup menu to change that. With that knowledge, I could have selected a different sound system for my TV...one that does decode Dolby Digital signals. Could have, should have, would have...but didn't. All these variables presented themselves when I disconnected my cable television service and went with an over-the-air antenna. I had audio signal just fine from everything but antenna-sourced signals which, of course, are ATSC. It was then I realized the shortcomings of my A/V setup, and subsequently researched to find the solution: I needed a digital-to-analog audio converter (DAC). And not just any DAC--it had to be specifically tasked for Dolby Digital signals. This need increased the cost of the device by at least $40 and as much as $70 depending on where one looks for their electronic goodies. My guess is that Dolby's licensing requirements are the cause of the increased cost, along with some additional engineering required to handle Dolby signals in addition to "standard" PCM signals. In any event, the little box works as expected and sends clear analog audio to my Vizio sound system. My only real gripe with the device is that the analog output is not quite as strong as it could be, but it still plays plenty loud. I would complain about the price more, but in reality I could have prevented the expenditure by popping a few more bucks for a TV with selectable audio output, or by selecting a different sound system. As it is, I'm not terribly heartbroken--the savings I realize from having no cable for one month will offset this expenditure.
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Review Details

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3.9 out of 5 stars (199 customer reviews)
5 star:
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$129.00 $93.55
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