10/17/10

The gang over at Electronic House posted an article (and video) depicting the latest audio/video upgrades to PS3's Netflix Instant Watch capabilities: 1080i picture and 5.1 sound (Dolby Digital Plus).

Blu-ray Disc broke 20% in sales last week. Not too shabby...

The "Master Audio (7.1ch)" soundtrack is pretty good (but does sound like it was recorded in 1991). The picture on Blu is absolutely incredible! The first 5-10 minutes at the start of the film really show off the talents of Walt Disney two decades ago (Little Mermaid, Alladin, Lion King). The rest of the movie looks great, but not a "stunning" as the intro (backstory).

10/4/10

The Digital Bits posted some interesting numbers. Apparently Blu-ray Disc hardware (players) are in 17% of American homes (over 52 million). Half of those appear to be Playstation 3 game consoles (suprise). If you haven't had a great, in-store Blu-ray Disc demo (picture AND sound), you might go and "kick the tires" and see for yourself how much better the Blu-ray Disc format looks (and sounds) over DVD and HDTV broadcasts. "Blu-ray Disc...The best way to watch movies at home...Ever!"

Oh, and the 3D feature found on most new Blu-ray Disc players and flat panel displays (taking movie technology back to the 1950's) actually removes picture quality from your Blu-ray titles (about half the quality). Hollywood's promoting 3D to get folks to spend money at the theater again (offering something you couldn't get at home). By all means, go and see these movies in the theater with your 3D glasses on, but don't waste your money on a pair of glasses for every member of your family ($100 a pair), plus the added costs of new hardware (TV and Blu-ray Disc player).

Here's a link from CBS news reporting on the Dangers of Watching 3D Programming found on Samsung's website (with a few side effects listed below):

- altered vision

- lightheadedness

- dizziness

- involuntary movements such as eye or muscle twitching

- confusion

- nausea

- convulsions

- cramps

- disorientation

7/29/10

It's be awhile, folks..."The Book of Eli" is a great Blu-ray Disc title for "DTS-HD Master Audio". The shoot-out scenes are absolutely incredible. Be sure you're listening to Uncompressed at home.

We're glad to see the Blu-ray Disc has become "main stream" and now almost every surround receiver being manufactured offers "uncompressed" audio decoding ("TrueHD/Master Audio"). To push the sound experience to the ABSOLUTE limits, be sure to check out these titles on Blu, which offer 4 times the recorded audio quality of normal Blu-ray Discs ("192kHz" instead of only "48kHz")...

5/1/10

Well the year's about one-third over and it's been a minute since we've spoken. Learned something a lot of you probably already know, but we came across a DVD which offered an actual UNCOMPRESSED audio option ("LPCM"). Although is was only the "Linear PCM" variety (and only 2-channel), the "LCPM" track sounded much, much better than the "Dolby Digital" and "DTS" options (both in "5.1"). We weren't really Led Zeppelin fans before, but now we're pretty much on board. We had to pick up the Blu-ray Disc version of the same concert (for $15 at Amazon.com) and it's "TrueHD" soundtrack sounded even better (of course) than the DVD version's, 2-channel, "LPCM" recording. Check 'em out today (and let us know if you've found any other DVD's with an UNCOMPRESSED ("LPCM") soundtrack).

Next, we'd like to clearly explain the advantages of having a "multi-amplifier" Home Theater system. More amps doesn't actually mean "more power" (louder). It actually means "cleaner power" (better sound). Your overall surround effect in your listening area (living room) will improve when using separate amplifers to power your speakers. Sound effects moving from left to right and from the front to the back of the room will do so quite "effortlessly". Also, with each amp working a fraction as hard as it would be otherwise, the actual clarity of the audio will increase over using an integrated receiver. Even though the numbers match, an integrated receiver rated at "100 watts x 7" won't sound as good as a preamp with 7 amplifiers rated at "100 watts each" (or even 3 or 4 stereo amps rated at "100 watts x 2"). You're not adding watts, you're adding "power supplies". An integrated receiver has ONE power supply. Three or four stereo amplifiers have 3 or 4 power supplies. And 7 amplifers have 7 power supplies. It's like even if you had a motor for every wheel of your car it wouldn't really go any faster, but it would be incredibly responsive.

(Good)...Integra's "flagship" receiver with every possible feature currently available and almost the largest power output of any "integrated" (preamp and amp together) model on the market today. Out of our 4 examples, this one will sound the WORST on your speakers...($2,300)

(Great)...This is Integra's "top-o-the-line" product. A preamp (with the latest bells and whistles) and a separate, multi-channel amplifier. This combination will produce much better audio quality than an integrated receiver. It won't be any "louder" (it will just sound much better)...($4,100)

(Better)...Below we have Integra's lower, mid-range receiver (w/PREOUTS) paired with 4 of their entry-level, stereo amplifiers. Even though the power output of this system is about a third less than system above (with just one big amp), this less expensive setup will actually sound better because it's using 4 power supplies (instead of just one)...($2,400)

(Best)...And finally, we're using the same "lower, mid-range" receiver (because it has PREOUTS), and we're using the same "entry-level" 2-channel amplifer. But this time we're using an amp for each speaker. This, of course, sounds better than using 4 amps (because we now have 7 power supplies). Also, if your speakers have "bi-amp" capability, then you can connect one side of the amp to your tweeter (100 watts) and the other side of your amp to your woofer (100 watts) and increase the overall clarity of your Home Theater even further...($3,600)

Be sure to check out these other systems based on the same simple theory. Even the most inexpensive equipment (when configured this way) will offer 10-fold the audio quality for the money you've spent.

Budget Setup ($750)

The Biggest Bang For Your Buck ($1,500)

The Ideal Setup ($13,500)

The Ultimate Setup ($120,000)

3/31/10

DVD sales keep dropin' and Blu-ray Disc sales just keep goin' up. Continue to check out Amazon.com's sales on older (and sometimes newer) Blu-ray Disc titles. Make sure the titles you're picking up have "DTS-HD Master Audio" (or least "Dolby TrueHD") soundtracks (and not just compressed "Dolby Digital" or "DTS").

Lord of the Rings Trilogy on Blu-ray Disc (releases 4/6) got a decent review over at High-Def Digest.com. The video on the first 2 films seems to be pretty poor but the uncompressed audio (Master Audio 6.1) is rated the best on "Return of the King". These 3 movies are only the theatrical releases. There's a trailer on each disc advertising the upcoming BD release of the "Extended Editions" previously released on DVD. Be sure to give it a look (Netflix rents Blu-ray Discs).

It's been awhile since we all got together at A/V Truths and there's something that's been on our minds. There was an article on the very last page of the April/May 2010 issue of Sound & Vision by Ken Pohlmann that raised a good point. Mr. Pohlmann states that in the last 30 years, Home Theater video quality has increased tremendously (VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, HDTV, Blu-ray Disc), while home audio has pretty much stood still (Compact Disc). Of course, he did mention DVD-Audio and SACD (but only to say that those superior formats are pretty much done).

Ken Pohlmann continued to praise the latest UNCOMPRESSED audio formats ("TrueHD" and "Master Audio") for taking digital sound quality further than it ever has before. Ken also mentioned the unreleased spec for Blu-ray Disc called "Profile 3.0" which promises (much like DVD-audio) a 50 gigabyte disc with only audio on it (sampling rate greater than 24-bit/192kHz???). Pohlmann laments that in a world of MP3 players (and hardly any "audiophiles" left) that few studios (or manufucturers) have really signed on to "BD-Audio". We think he was trying to remind us that, "While you're slipping on your 3-D glasses, kiddies, let's not forget to crank those high-fidelity ('TrueHD/Master Audio') soundtracks we've been blessed with..." (or something along those lines). Well said, Mr. Pohlmann.

1/28/10

Our good friend DAVID YIP wasn't satisfied with only 3 stereo amplifiers to run his 5 tower speakers. He figured, "Why not have 5 amplifers for 5 speakers?" When it was clear that his Integra amps could NOT be bridged and that he would NOT be satisfied using only the left (or right) side of the Integra's to power his Klipsch, Mr. Yip suggested something revolutionary. He figured he could split each channel's signal from his preamp (Onkyo "TX-SR876") and use one side of the amps for the high-end inputs on his Klipsch and connect the other side of his amps to the low-end inputs. One amp (both sides) to each speaker. The results were amazing. The amplifiers didn't over-heat and the speakers didn't explode. Hopefully Mr. Yip's discovery will help others achieve their Home Theater dreams. (just remember to remove the "jumpers" on the back of the speaker) Thank you, Mr. Yip!

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