In order to get Dobly Digital 5.1 sound out of a Laserdisc player, you need two things. First you need a player that is capable of outputting an AC-3 signal (AC-3 is the old school name for Dolby Digital) and a RF demodulator to decode that signal. My Pioneer CLD-704 Laserdisc player is AC-3 capable so I needed a RF demodulator. They don’t sell RF demodulators anymore so you are forced to look for used ones. They often pop up on eBay so if you need to get one that is a good place to look. I happened to have been able to find one locally through the classifieds and I got it for a great price too.
The problem for me with most RF demodulators is that in order to get the sound from them into your receiver you need a set of analog 5.1 inputs. My receiver has a single set of 5.1 inputs but I have two devices that need one. The Marantz DP-870 and my Pioneer DV-45A SACD/DVD-A player. This is the main reason I picked the DP-870; it has a set of 5.1 inputs, most of the other RF demodulators do not. So I run the output from my Pioneer DV-45A into the Marantz’s 5.1 inputs and then run the output from the Marantz into my Outlaw 1050’s 5.1 inputs. I was a little worried about sound degradation due to running the Pioneer through the Marantz but the Marantz has a bypass mode. When you activate the bypass mode the input and output jacks are connected through relays which have no active circuits in them so if there is any sound degradation it is kept to the bare minimum.
I have been very happy with my Marantz. It doesn’t see a whole lot of use because I primarily watch DVDs, but when I break out a Dolby Digital Laserdisc it is nice being able to hear them in all of their 5.1 glory.
Marantz DP-870 Features/Specs
- High quality Dobly Digital AC-3 DSP decoding chip, manufactured by Zoran
- AC-3 RF input, for connection to compatible Laserdisc players
- Coax and optical digital AC-3/PCM inputs, for connection to other sources, such as DVD, DSS or HDTV
- Individual channel level controls and internal test tone generator, for precise system setup
- Master volume control and mute function
- Adjustable delay time
- Bypass feature
- Rear panel speaker configuration switches that match the DP-870 to a wide range of speaker types and sizes
- 6 discreet channel inputs and outputs with standard RCA jacks for easy connection between existing surround sound pre-amp/processors and power amplifiers