Surprisingly, as decoded by PL II the Dolby Surround soundtrack often sounded more spacious and "sweepy" than the Dolby Digital soundtrack. Directional surround cues were clearly present, as in the lateral swooshing sounds of combat during the prairie massacre of the Indian family, something standard Pro Logic could not have accomplished. But those directional cues weren't always perfect.
In the scene where Kevin Costner approaches the Indian village for the first time, I distinctly heard the French horns in the left surround channel - as well as where they belonged, across the front - as the music faded up. The PL II playback also sounded slightly brighter, and a bit harsher, though I don't know how much these effects are attributable to differences in the laserdisc and DVD mixes.
As I expected from past experience with Onkyo receivers, the TX-DS696's Dolby Digital performance was first-rate. The receiver delivered ample spatial sweep and precision for both Costner's western epic and the DVD of Lawrence of Arabia. Indeed, it plainly revealed the flaws - by current standards - in the soundtrack of David Lean's 40-year-old film classic, even as remastered for Dolby Digital 5.1.
Copyright © 2013 Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.