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How to select an audio channel if the Audio menu does not appear in Update Rollup 2

How to select an audio channel if the Audio menu does not appear in Update Rollup 2

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I recently heard from a customer who lives in Spain and has been using Media Center 2005 for a while.  After installing Update Rollup 2 for Media Center 2005, they reported to me that they could no longer change the audio channel for their television shows from stereo to SAP because they could not find the Audio menu in the TV Settings menu on their system anymore.  After digging through the source code and asking around on the team a little bit, here is what I found out about this scenario:

In Media Center 2005, there was an Audio menu under Settings | TV.  This Audio menu contained an audio channel spinner that let you choose between stereo and SAP.  It also contained other spinners and text boxes that could be used to configure captioning for television shows.  The Audio menu was configured to always be displayed in the list of TV Settings menues, no matter what locale you lived in and configured your OS for.

In Update Rollup 2, the captioning settings have been broken out into a separate menu under Settings | TV.  This left the stereo/SAP spinner as the only item in the Audio menu.  Therefore, we added a condition to the Audio menu itself so it would be hidden in locales that did not support SAP.

In the case of this customer, they indicated to me that Spain technically does not support SAP, but they do support NICAM DUAL, which works roughly the same way to deliver alternate audio tracks for television shows.  However, Media Center treats Spain as a locale that does not support SAP and hides the Audio menu entirely.

I am not sure if there are any countries or regions other than Spain affected by this logic change in the Audio settings menu in Media Center 2005.  There is not any workaround to enable this menu in an affected country or region, but there are a couple of registry values that can be updated to cause Media Center to use the SAP audio channel instead of the default stereo channel.

You can click on the Start menu, choose Run, type cmd, and then run the following 2 commands in a cmd prompt to set the registry values necessary to enable the SAP audio channel in Media Center 2005:

  • reg add "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Settings\VideoSettings" /v PreferredLanguageID /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f
  • reg add "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Settings\VideoSettings" /v SAPOn /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f


  • I live in Switzerland and have the same problem since updating to Rollup 2. SAP (Zweikanalton) and not NICAM is definitely broadcast here; Swiss TV, Eurosport and some German channels I receive via cable use it daily.
    Which leads to the question: Which locales support the display of this Audio menu? I possess english language MCE 2005 CDs (plus rollups etc), my original settings were english (uk) for english dates, but modified for 24hours and CHF currency, location is Switzerland (required for my EPG cable settings via zip code which works fine).
    I do not want to manually modify registry settings as I switch SAP settings regularly depending on languages broadcast; usually a pair of german or french or italian and english depending on local primary language of which Switzerland has 3.
    As a workaround how about a "tweak" utility, or put the menu back in a new patch/rollup.
  • Rather than just a single menu in the Settings page it would be nice to be able to select SAP settings on a recording-by-recording basis.

    I'm interested in programs where the SAP track is Descriptive Video Service, but not at all interested in SAP Spanish. It's inconvenient to have to look forward in the schedule and plan out when I am going to have to manually adjust the audio channel preference.
  • Hi Gerry - I had to dig into the code for the audio settings page to figure out what locales currently support it and which don't. The following logic is used to decide whether or not to show the audio menu:

    (Region Supports SAP) && (Broadcast Standard != DVB-T)

    So if you are not using DVB-T for your broadcast provider, the display or hiding of the SAP menu will depend solely on the region your system is configured for.

    The following is the list of locales that currently support PAL in Media Center 2005 Update Rollup 2:

    US, CA, TR, JP, BE, KR, TW, MX, CZ, SK, HK

    I'm trying to find a list of what these all stand for (some lke US = United States and JP = Japan I know, but I'm not sure on all of them).
  • Thanks for the research, Aaron.

    BE (Belgium), CZ (Czech Republic), SK (Slovakia), TR (Turkey) are in Europe, but where are all the rest? Certainly ES (Spain), (CH) Switzerland, DE (Germany) are missing and probably lots of others. I would assume that most of mainland Europe would support SAP, so the list of locales should be larger (I know UK has NICAM).

    Is it possible to manually add a locale to the supported list (via the registry or whatever) as a workaround? This should solve the issue for most people.

  • Hi Gerry - Unfortunately there is not a way to add a locale to this list via a registry key or anything like that. I am still trying to find out how that list was originally created because it seems to be missing a lot of locales that use SAP or its equivalent.
  • Hi astebner. I also live in Spain, but I am using DVB-T, and some channels are transmitting 2 audio channels, one in Spanish, and the other one with the original audio, how can I choose the audio channel?

    Thank you.
  • Hi Alejandro - I am not sure the exact way to choose an audio channel for a DVB-T channel. Have you tried the suggestion in this blog post and found that it didn't work?
  • astebner, I have tried it, but it doesn't work...

    You have written that the condition is:
    (Region Supports SAP) && (Broadcast Standard != DVB-T)

    Any suggestion?

    And another thing, I can't access the teletext... is this a problem with Media Center 2005 and DVB-T?

    Thank you.
  • astebner, do you know something about my problems?

    Thank you.
  • Hi Alejandro - I am currently out of the office on vacation. I will need to look at some of the source code for this part of Media Center when I get back into the office in January to answer your questions definitively.

    I am not sure that Media Center supports changing audio channels on a DVB-T signal since it is specifically conditioned out in the code that I posted pseudo-code for above.

    I am also not sure what (if any) teletext support is offered for DVB-T. Are you not seeing a Subtitles menu at all in the Settings | TV section of Media Center?
  • Teletext over DVB is not supported by MCE 2005. The missing component is a simple ETSI EN 300 472 WST decapsulation filter, but Microsoft has not implemented this.

    As to multiple audio channels over DVB, there are two different systems being used:

    1. A single MPEG audio stream marked as "dual channel", i.e. carrying two monaural channels with different content.

    2. Multiple MPEG audio streams.

    MCE 2005 supports _neither_ system. The DVB support in MCE 2005 is still quite minimal...
  • Hi, I don't see the subtitles menu in the Settings | TV section of Media Center.

    Here, in Spain, the multiple audio channels come as mutliple MPEG audio streams.

    If Microsoft wants the MCE 2005 as the centre of the living room, I think they will need to improve the DVB-T support...
  • I came across another loss of menu functionality due to Rollup 2. Subtitles (via Teletext) are either "OFF" or "ON when sound is muted". Before an unconditional ON was possible. I used this to have original audio and subtitles in local language (just like Region 2 DVDs). I can't do this either any more! Can you supply the registry settings to change this (like in your original post).

    Another issue which may not be appropriate here is the support of MCE for VPS. This is used in Europe to program video recorders so that they still record a complete program even if the schedule changes at short notice. This is useful for recording after live shows which overrun for any reason. The EPG is not dynamic; I lost 20 minutes of a film because the start was delayed by a preceding delayed tennis match. VPS uses "virtual" start times which are updated via the Teletext TV schedule. In Europe VPS is often combined with "Showview" which makes programming a recorder much easier. There may be issues I haven't considered which need to be resolved in marrying VPS with the EPG.
  • I'm the original customer in Spain who was having trouble with DUAL and figured out the registry key. Finally (finally!) they got digital TV turned on in my town this week, and I rushed out to buy a DVB card only to find that I have no dual audio and now no subtitles either. Googling for "mce dvb subtitles" turns up...this blog post. It would be funny if it weren't happening to me!

    It's really sad that as great as MCE is, it still suffers from these gaping holes. I really don't think they have anyone testing or doing any spec-writing in Europe. And they're really missing the market.
  • I'm also looking forward to subtitle support for DVB-T. The network is benig tested at the moment but will go live 1/4/2006 and cover almost all of Denmark.

    I've been receiving DVB-T since last summer on MCE2005. Until now subtitles has not been much of an issue since the broadcast I've received had the subtitles blended into the pictures. But they are now changing to proper dvb-t subtitling. I can receive (the same channels) from 3 differens regions and the 2 new ones does dvb-t subtitling but the 3.rd will also change over before 1/4

    In Denmark (as in many other countries, lie sweden and finland) only few programs get a audio sub (mostly programs for children) and we enstead rely on subtitles.
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