I would hook up your cable box hdmi to the denon, then to the pioneer plasma. You won't have any degradation to the signal that way. Second, if your cable broadcast is sending 5.1 DD I would leave your receiver in "standard" surround mode, then it will decode it and send the proper sound to the proper speaker without any extra surround processing. Third, when you listen to music there are always other fun surround modes which add processing to the sound. Most of the time these make things sound too spacious, throw of the balance, add delays, etc. Two channel music (ie CD) is always recorded and mixed using 2 speaker channels. The "correct" way to listen to this is in the stereo or direct mode. Receivers have many other modes which are there as more of a personal preference. If you want to have the entire system playing stereo that's when you would select 5 or 7ch stereo, or plII, or another mode. Technically though the most natural sounding would be stereo. Also use the Audyssey eq setup with the microphone, a very nice result!
I am not a "techie" - just a simple retired guy - and need some basic help from other 3808 owners:
1. Should my Comcast DVR be connected with my HDMI cable to the 3808 (which is what I currently have), or directly to my HDTV (Pioneer PRO 111FD)? I have removed the speakers from the HDTV and have an audio optical cable from the Pioneer to the 3808 which is currently used for audio on antenna-received broadcasts.
2. What settings on the 3808 do others use for listening to cable HD channels where the sound input shows as 5 channels on the receiver? Is it "Dolby Digital", or "7CH Stereo" or "Widescreen" or something else?
3. We listen to a lot of classical music from the Tuner, Internet radio and CDs. All sound good on 7CH Stereo. But for movies (both 5.1 and old stereo) I find I have to reduce the setting for my center channel in order to hear the surround sound properly? Is this normal, or is something wrong with my settings?