This is for all the movie studios out there. Not a big deal, but at the start of most Blu-ray Disc titles you've all released, there's a lovely "trailer" for your specific titles currently available on the BD format. The great editing and fast pace of each trailer really gets us exicited, making us (and others) want to go and watch even more movies on Blu-ray Disc (good job).
When it gets to the technical part of the "advertisements" and they mention "up to 7.1 channels of high-definition sound" we always cringe because you're awesome trailers are only recorded in COMPRESSED "Dolby Digital". Some of the BD trailers are only in 2-channel (stereo) Dolby Digital (shame on you Warner Bros.)
The completely uncompressed audio on BD is what makes the upgrade worth the price of admission. Even your 5 to 10 second intros (after the trailers but right before the movie starts) which show your studio logo with the BD logo and some catchy fanfare (Fox, Sony, Disney, etc.) are also in compressed "Dolby Digital" (and need to be recorded in "TrueHD" or "Master Audio").
This is as odd as if the THX intro at the start of some movies only played out of one speaker (and no subwoofer). Some Blu-ray Discs actually play a short "TrueHD" or "Master Audio" demo before the film starts (and after you've pushed play). If these demo's weren't actually recorded in these uncompressed formats (and only "Dolby Digital"), then these audio formats wouldn't carry much weight.
We would like to add that Hollywood's commentment to the uncompressed audio formats ("TrueHD" and "Master Audio") on Blu-ray Disc are greatly appreciated. Home Theater has never sounded better. Getting the public aware of movie playback that sounds as "open" and "warm" as a record player yet as "sharp" and "detailed" as a compact disc is key to putting BD in every home. Thanks for your time.
Please re-release some of your earlier BD titles that only included the DVD (compressed) soundtrack (with new, uncompressed soundtracks). We promise we'll buy them. Thanks again!
Blu-ray Disc sales continue to increase by over 100% while DVD sales continue to fall. Again, this will go on for the next 5 to 10 years. Don't give up on DVD, because all BD players give your DVD collection an audio/video facelift before sending the images (and soundtrack) to your Home Theater. Below are some BD players that are great quality (and priced great, too).
Panasonic "DMP-BD60" ($150)
Sony "BDP-S360" ($150)
Samsung "BD-P1600" ($150)
Panasonic "DMP-BD80" ($200 to $250)
Remember, Blu-ray is TWICE as sharp as Hi-Def broadcasts (DirecTV & Comcast) and the "uncompressed" audio sounds much better than DVD. Most new releases on Blu are priced around $20 at retailers.
A great demo scene (not pictured above) from "Ironman" (on Blu) is when Pepper Potts and the men from S.H.I.E.L.D. are trying to find Obidiah (Jeff Bridges) in that dark room underneath the "arc-reactor". The echo of their voices and footsteps shows how large and "mechanical" the room is. There's distant "chain-rattles" and "electrical pops" bouncing across the rear speakers (which adds to the tension). When Obidiah finally shows himself (and starts chasing everybody), the sound really picks up. This (of course) leads right into Tony Stark's (Ironman) and Jeff Bridges' (Obidiah) huge fight on the freeway. A pretty good "TrueHD" soundtrack all around.
("LPCM") All Blu-ray Disc players can decode this format which is capable of encoding at 24-bit/192kHz and having up to 7 speakers. Of the 3 completely uncompressed HD audio formats the "Uncompressed PCM" is the lowest quality, but still far surpasses regular "Dolby Digital" and "DTS" (and "Dolby Digital Plus"):
("TrueHD") This is the other of Dolby's formats for Blu-ray Disc, also available in up to 7 speakers. It can be encoded at up to 24-bit/192kHz and is the second of 3 uncompressed HD audio formats, sounding better than "Uncompressed PCM".
("Master Audio") This is the BEST of the 3 uncompressed HD audio Blu-ray Disc formats (sounding better than "DolbyTrueHD") and capable of being encoded at up to 24-bit/192kHz and 7 speakers. This is the top-of-the-line for Blu-ray Disc surround sound (or ANY surround sound, so far).
NOTE: Currently all 3 uncompressed HD audio formats are mostly available at 24-bit/48kHz (or less). Blu-ray Discs can be recored at up to 24-bit/96kHz (for 7 speakers) and 24-bit/192kHz (for 5 speakers). The "96kHz" and "192kHz" recordings sound much better than the standard ("48kHz") recordings.
In the next 5 to 10 years expect to see "Ultra-High Definition" (UHD) video which refers to "4K" (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) and "8K" (7,680 x 4,320 pixels) while Blu-ray Disc is only "2K" (1,920 x 1,080 pixels). Most Blu-ray Disc releases are copied from a digital source which is at least "4K" (and somtimes "6K" or "8K") which was in turn created from the orginal film strip. Most of your digital movie theaters (hard drive instead of film strip) are projecting images at around "4K" and most HDTV manufacturers have a "4K" model in the works (or a test model for display). You can also purchase a "4K" projector for your home even though there's no "4K" content to take advantage of (yet).
Around Christmas time ("Black Friday") look for entry-level Blu-ray Disc players ("Profile 1.1") to be around $99 and high-end ("Profile 2.0") Blu-ray Disc players to be around $149 (with a slight chance of some "Profile 2.0" players being closer to $99 as well). Remember to get a Blu-ray Disc player with Ethernet capabilites and both "TrueHD" and "Master Audio" logos. If your old receiver doesn't have HDMI connections you'll have to spend a bit more ($249 by December) and get a BD player with "7.1ch Analog" output and built in decoders for "TrueHD" and "Master Audio". Click THIS link to see what kind of BD player you'll need.
Also, Blu-ray Disc owners and retailers, remember you'll only get the most video quality (1080p) out of your BD player when you use an HDMI cable. A component cable will only give you "1080i" (which is half as clear as it could be). When showing off this new technology you'll want to make sure you impress your friends (and customers) with the best possible images. More importantly, if you haven't connected the audio properly all you're hearing is the standard (DVD-quality) soundtrack. Once again, click THIS link to make sure you're hearing the "UNCOMPRESSED" digital audio found on most Blu-ray Discs.
It's been awhile, gang...Blu-ray continues to slowly replace DVD (again, this will go on for the next 5 to 10 years). Look forward to feature-laden BD players (Pansonic, Sony & Samsung) for around $100 this Christmas (Black Friday). There are currently players around that price available (but most don't offer support for uncompressed audio or Ethernet connectivity).
Warner Bros. studios is planning the first BD-Live chat with actual audio (instead of just text) for the upcoming release of Terminator Salvation. While it wasn't the best "Terminator" film, it certainly wasn't the worst ("Rise of the Machines"). As usual, the first 100,000 people who sign up will get participate.
Once again folks, we can't over-stress the need for your receiver displays to light up with actual "lossless" (uncompressed) audio formats ("LPCM", "TrueHD" & "Master Audio"). If you're using an HDMI cable between your BD player and receiver and you're not seeing those words on the display, then you're probably not hearing those formats. What you're getting instead are compressed DVD-quality soundtracks (which are much lower quality than Blu-ray Disc).
Looks like EngadgetHD jumped right on this and found out that the new PS3 "slim" properly decodes "TrueHD / Master Audio" over HDMI as a welcome improvement over the original PS3. Let's hope it's true. Thanks, EngadgetHD!
Long time viewers will recall that the orignal PS3 will only send "Uncompressed PCM" (LPCM) signals over an HDMI cable. The PS3 reads the "TrueHD/Master Audio" signals off the Blu-ray Discs and down-converts them down to "PCM" signals. While "PCM" doesn't sound as good as "TrueHD/Master Audio", the "PCM" does sound much better than the standard "Dolby Digital/DTS" signals found on DVDs. Thanks for hearing us, Sony!
Good news today as Sony announces the PS3 for $299 which will be available September 1st. Let's hope it'll be able to internally process "TrueHD / Master Audio" and send it out (unchanged) over an HDMI cable to your capable receiver. We'll see...
Marantz has released 3 new Blu-ray Disc players which are strangely similar to Denon's new models (and flagship model, too). The BD5004 (for $549) can only send those "TrueHD/Master Audio" signals over an HDMI cable to a capable receiver, the BD7004 (for $799) decodes the "TrueHD/Master Audio" signals internally and sends them out over the 7.1ch Analog Output and the UD9004 (for only $5,999) is labeled as a "Flagship Universal Blu-ray Disc Player" (SACD, DVD-Audio, DivX, etc).
Marantz and Denon seem to have similar design specs and once again, it seems that most Blu-ray Disc player manufacturers are offering a player WITHOUT internal decoders for "TrueHD/Master Audio" (for people with newer, HDMI-cable receivers) and then a player WITH internal decoders and "7.1ch Analog Outputs" (for people with older, non-HDMI receivers) at about a third more cost. These slightly more expensive models are great for people who want to hear the UNCOMPRESSED soundtracks on Blu-ray Disc but don't want to waste money on a brand new system just because their $2,500 receiver from 4 years ago doesn't decode "TrueHD/Master Audio" signals over an HDMI cable.
These slightly more expensive models of Blu-ray Disc players (with internal decoders and "7.1ch Analog Outputs") are really for anyone who already owns a receiver with "7.1ch Analog Inputs", but no HDMI inputs ~ click right HERE for more details)
Be sure to check out "Watchmen: Director's Cut" on Blu-ray Disc. The "Master Audio" soundtrack is truly reference quality. Probably (once again) the best demo material released so far. Go rent it today! Don't forget (if your Blu-ray Disc player is connected to the internet and you own a copy of "Watchmen" on Blu-ray Disc) that this Saturday night (7/25/09) at 9:30pm (PST), director Zack Snyder is going to sit in and answer questions during another one of Warner Bros. "BD-Live" events. Be sure to sign up today! (click right HERE for that)
Here's the latest pair of Blu-ray Disc players from Denon. The $699 model (DBP-2010ci) offers Profile "2.0" (w/Ethernet) and built-in "TrueHD/Master Audio" decoders (w/7.1ch Analog Output) and the $499 model (DBP-1610) gives us the Profile "2.0" (w/Ethernet) but only streams "TrueHD/Master Audio" over an HDMI cable to your capable receiver. This seems like a trend with Blu-ray Disc player manufacturers to offer a player for folks with brand new receivers (for less) and then a player for people with older, non-HDMI receivers (for a bit more).
Special thanks to David Doriguzzi for letting us know about Wal-Mart's $98 Blu-ray Disc player from Magnavox. Mr. Doriguzzi pointed out that breaking the $100 mark is a major milestone for the Blu-ray Disc format, signaling that the format has finally arrived. Blu-ray Disc is doing twice as well as DVD at the same point in its life-cycle. Thanks David!
Of course, now don't forget...This player does not internally decode "TrueHD" or "Master Audio". It may not even steam these two (uncompressed) HD audio formats (over an HDMI cable) to your capable receiver. If anyone out there picks up one of these players, please let us know if you can get the display on your receivers to show the "TrueHD" or "Master Audio" when using Wal-Mart's $98 Blu-ray Disc player. Thanks.
On a side note, small speakers generally won't sound as good as a larger speaker. While it's nice to have tiny, little speakers (with a powered sub), they will (generally) never sound as good as a handfull of tower speakers in your living room (with a powered sub). If you have room (and the budget) for a bunch of large speakers and sub in your living room, go for it. If you have to go with the smaller speakers (to keep your Home Theater out of site), please go with any other brand than the Bose (all other speaker brands make similar products that'll "out-shine" the Bose in performance and price).
Adcom (under new management) has re-released their old "555" model of stereo amplifier. Under the new name Adcom GFA-555SE, this amp promises 200 watts x 2 (600 watts bridged mono) RMS. We'll be inserting 7 (seven) of these monsters into our Ultimate Setup ($120,000) instead of the discontinued "GFA-5802". Though we haven't tried it out, Adcom promises vast improvements over the original "555".
The Mighty Dr. Oravetz has obtained the Oppo BDP-83 ($499), the World's Second Universal Blu-ray Disc player - the first being Denon's DVD-A1UDCI (for $4,500). Here's what the good Doctor had to say:
"Picture: Best I have seen. Great colors and the Blacks are nice and deep. I have played Fifth Element and the depth in the scene where Leloo jumps from the building is spectacular...Another subtle scene is in the beginning in the pyramid. The hieroglyphics on the wall are more discernable, and I notice more in the shadows than before.
Audio quality is also Awesome. Of course I am happy with the HD Audio formats, but I am equally pleased with the SACD output...the format is awesome and it is too bad people enjoy cheap MP3 quality."
Have you cranked your Home Theater today? When was the last time you played the "Helicopter-Outside-the-Window-with-the-Chain-Gun-While-the-Fire-Sprinklers-Rain-on-Morpheus-and-the-Agents" scene from The Matrix (on Blu)? As the camera switches between Neo and the Agents, the front and rear speakers quickly swap effects (bullets and rain and back again). As Neo's bullets hit the standing water, they flawlessly pan from left to right (and back again). The icing on the cake is the final camera shot (looking up at the helicopter) as hundreds of spent shells "swoop" past us on their way to the ground. If you're tired of the "Lobby Scene", this is what you're been looking for. It all begins when Agent Smith simply says, "No."
These are the 3 HD audio formats you'll find on most Blu-ray Disc titles. Some have one, two or even all 3 of these formats on the same disc (for you to sample). While "Uncompressed PCM" or "Linear PCM" (LPCM) sounds much better than DVD's two compressed audio formats ("Dolby Digital" and "DTS"), you'll find that "PCM" doesn't sound quite as good as "TrueHD" and "Master Audio". And out of the 3 HD audio formats on Blu-ray Disc, the "Master Audio" sounds the best.
Dolby vs. DTS
Most Blu-ray Discs offer the standard DVD audio ("Dolby Digital" or "DTS") in addition to the uncompressed HD audio ("PCM", "TrueHD" or "Master Audio"). This is for BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY with older Home Theaters still using the "fiber optic" or "digital coax" cable for audio from the Blu-ray Disc player. You've got to be sure to select the uncompresssed soundtracks ("PCM", "TrueHD" or "Master Audio") over the compressed ones ("Dolby Digital" or "DTS") everytime you put the disc in the player.
Completely Uncompressed Digital Audio
There have been several "redux" of titles that were released almost 3 years ago (when Blu-ray Disc first appeared). Aside from getting a "sharper" picture, these "redux" titles usually offer much better audio quality, too. What you'll find is if the original disc only had compressed audio ("Dolby" or "DTS"), then they upgrade the sound to uncompressed signals ("PCM", "TrueHD" or "Master Audio"). If the disc already at least had "Uncompressed PCM" (the lowest quality HD format), then they'll remix the soundtrack in "TrueHD" or "Master Audio".
Look for more and more titles that get the "special" treatment with improved sound and picture transfers. When you're on the fence about buying a certain Blu-ray Disc title, check and see what audio track it has. If it's only got compressed audio ("Dolby" or "DTS"), it's not going to sound any better than your DVD version of the film. At least make sure you're getting one (or more) of the uncompressed audio formats ("PCM", "TrueHD" or "Master Audio"). This information should be on the disc's packaging. Also, make sure you're buying the latest verison of the film as it usually has better audio/video quality.
There's a review over at "Electronic House" on the brand new Oppo "BDP-83" Universal Blu-ray Disc player ($499 retail). This player truly does it all (and for $4,000 than Denon's Universal Blu-ray Disc player). The Mighty Dr. Oravetz has promised to give us his thoughts on Oppo's new player as soon as he gets his hands on one. Remember when choosing Blu-ray Disc players to get one that's "Profile 2.0", "Ethernet-Capable", can stream "TrueHD" and "Master Audio" over an HDMI cable or be able to decode "TrueHD" and "Master Audio" INTERNALLY (and send them out over multiple RCA cables).
With the DTV transition just one week away, the gang over at "Home Theater Magazine" has posted an article giving a few tips on getting the best reception, what to expect next Friday and what will follow over the next 30 days following the shut off. The good news is that some digital stations will improve their signal strength by increasing the power output of the station or by changing the channel they're broadcasting on. After the transition it'll be a good idea to re-Autoscan your channels to see if any new channels pop up (or if you're missing a few of your old ones). Go get your converter FREE box today!
Pioneer has unleashed 3 new Blu-ray Disc players. All 3 claim to be Blu-ray Disc Profile "2.0" and (at the $400 and $600 levels), decode "TrueHD" and "Master Audio" internally (plus 7.1ch analog output). The $600 player is the "Elite" model and doesn't seem to offer much over the $400 model. We'd like to remind everyone at home that the "Pioneer Elite" brand is just the regular "Pioneer" brand with a better face on it (don't shoot the messenger). We'd like a closer look at these players before recommending them to our viewers. All of Pioneer's previous Blu-ray Disc players promised INTERNAL "Master Audio" decoding but only down-converted the signals to standard "DTS". We'll let you know what we find out. Have a great weekend!
There's an article over at "Electronic House" about the government's DTV signal strength mapping tool which works a bit like MapQuest and seems to be fairly accurate. With only 10 days 'til the Digital Transition it might be a good idea to check your signal strength at home so you can decide how big an antenna you need (and where to place it). HD is FREE (doesn't cost a thing).
Another article from over at "Electronic House" discusses Microsoft's plans to bring 1080p signals to the XBOX 360 this fall. This should have something to do with the new HD content on Zune. Just remember that the 1080p content from satellite, cable and the internet doesn't look quite as sharp as Blu-ray Disc and none of those suppliers have enough bandwidth for 7 channels of completely uncompressed digital audio.
Don't forget that Conan takes over "The Tonight Show" (for Jay Leno) tonight on NBC. Most of the folks that love Jay hate Conan. We'll see how it goes. Either way, Leno will be back in the fall and an hour earier (as you aleady know). "The Tonight Show" was one of the first HD programs available back in 1999 from terrestrial (over-the-air) broadcasts. It's still available 100% free with your HDTV and "rabbit-ears" (or old TV, converter-box and "rabbit-ears"). Be sure to tune in @ 11:30pm (10:30pm/Central) right after your local news. Enjoy!
Despite what you find in most retail electronic stores, you should really try to purchase five to seven of the same speaker for your Surround Setup. Most movie soundtracks are recorded in the studio on 5 to 7 identical speakers, so movie soundtracks sound the best when played back on 5 to seven identical speakers. If you can't go for large, floor-standing speakers, then bookshelf-size speakers with a powered subwoofer is the next best thing (but tower speakers with a powered sub is even better).
Finding The Best Speaker For YOU
Bring your favorite CD to the "speaker store" (one with FEMALE vocals on it). The hardest thing for a speaker to reproduce is "female vocals". Any speaker can deliver "crisp" highs (treble) and "deep" lows (bass), but the MIDRANGE (human voice) is what should measure accuracy in a speaker's preformance. Keep things simple by only listening to a PAIR of speakers at a time. When you've found a pair that sound the best to YOU (not the salesperson or anyone else), then simply purchase 5, 6 or 7 of them to fill out your Home Theater.
An article from "High Def Digest" reports that a third of U.S. homes have HDTVs as of February this year. That's about 94 million households nationwide. Unfortunately, 14 million of those HDTV-equipped homes aren't actually WATCHING Hi-Def content. Remember to ask your local cable/satellite provide for an HD box and HD programming package. It's usually only $5 to $10 more for an HD box upgrade and usually only $5 to $10 more for an HD programming package upgrade ($10 to $20 more to put Hi-Def images on your HDTV). Or, once again, if you've got a good pair of rabbit ears you can get FREE Hi-Def channels. Anywhere from 20 to 40 channels (depending on where you live).
Even if you don't own an HDTV, you can get an HD box (and HD channels) for your "old-school" (ANALOG) television. The HD signals will get watered-down to DVD quality (picture and sound) for an upgrade over regular cable and satellite. If you're already paying $175/month, why not get better audio/video quality for $185/month instead. There's only about 2 weeks left before the ANALOG signals go away forever. But don't worry if you have regular (non-HD) cable or standard (non-HD) satellite and an ANALOG television. Your cable/satellite provider will continue to receive the HD signals and down-convert the audio/video quality before sending them to your house.
"High Def Digest" is fairly accurate when reviewing the audio/video quality of new releases on Blu-ray Disc. They've just recently taken a look at A Bug's Life on Blu and given the highest "marks" we've ever seen. The DVD was always top-notch demo material. Safe for kids but loud and crazy enough for the grown-ups. It's impressive to play a movie that people have seen dozens of times and still have them be completely "wowed" by the overall experience. One frequently asked question was, "Is that the same DVD we have at home?" And we'd open the player, hand them the "Bug's Life" DVD and instantly prove to them that all the sound they just "experienced" was really on that disc...They just have to know how to "unlock" it.
The gang over at "Electronic House" reports that HDMI version "1.4" is on the way. All kinds of groovy new features like ethernet capability, two-way audio and best of all 4,096 x 2160 (aka "4K") resolution. "4K" is roughly 4 times the resolution of Blu-ray Disc (1,920 x 1,080 ~ aka "2K") and similar to the picture quality of what's shown in all-digital movie theaters. While HDMI keeps getting better and better, please remember that HDMI won't always offer the best picture over component cables. If you're only sending "1080i" signals, you might not even need HDMI. Also, a single HDMI might be more convenient over 8 RCA cables from your Blu-ray Disc player, but it won't always sound better. Be sure to try it both ways to see which offers a better signal, the ANALOG or DIGITAL connection.
Home Theater Magazine reports on the FCC's analog shut-off test last week and how it spawned over 55,000 phone calls nationwide. Again, we've all had at least 10 years to figure this out. Get your FREE digital channels (up to 40 in some areas) and your FREE digital converter box (from Uncle Sam) today! Check our our HDTV Truths page to find out where you stand in all of this.
And not to harp on this again, but a "quick" reminder that the PS3 cannot stream "Dolby TrueHD" or "DTSHD Master Audio" signals over an HDMI cable from your Blu-ray Discs. Even if you have a newer receiver with "TrueHD" / "Master Audio" decoders, you will only be hearing the third (and lowest quality) HD audio format ("Uncompressed PCM"). Now the "PCM" signals sound much better than regular "Dolby Digital" or standard "DTS", but it doesn't quite measure up to "TrueHD" or "Master Audio".
Completely UNCOMPRESSED digital audio
The PS3 has received firmware upgrades to allow it to read the "TrueHD" and "Master Audio" tracks off of Blu-ray Discs and convert them into "Uncompressed PCM" signals (instead of compressed "Dolby Digital" and "DTS" soundtracks). However, the inability to send "TrueHD" and "Master Audio" is not a software limitation, but actually a HARDWARE limitation. Unless you purchase a stand-alone Blu-ray Disc player that can send "TrueHD" and "Master Audio" over an HDMI cable (not all players can do this) or decode them INTERNALLY and send them over 6 or 8 RCA cables (only a few can do this), you won't be getting the full sound quality out of your Blu-ray Discs.
If you can believe it, Circuit City is back with an "online-only" retail store. "Electronic House" can tell you more right HERE. If they back their products, there's no reason why it shouldn't take off. We'll see.
Integra's (Onkyo's) new flagship preamp is now available, the DHC-9.9 will be preferably connected to Integra's (Onkyo's) DTS-9.4 7-channel amplifier. Again, it's nice to see manufacturers offering separates. We'd still prefer 3 or 4 two-channel amps over one, big 7-channel amp. Or if you can swing it, 5 to 7 one-channel (mono-block) amps. Nothing sounds better.
Denon's new receiver's (2010 models) are beginning to show up. Above is the AVR-4310CI for $1,999 with the AVR-1910 at $549 and the AVR-1610 for only $379. All 3 new models feature "TrueHD" and "Master Audio" decoding along with the new "ProLogicIIz" (again, that's "z", not "X"). It's amazing how quickly the new HD audio formats have "trickled" down to the entry-level receivers. Make sure you're getting your new receiver's display to show those HD audio formats ("TrueHD" and "Master Audio"). If not, you might as well be listening to DVDs on your Blu-ray Disc player.
We saw an article over at "Electronic House" talking about how Wal-Mart is gearing up to take on Best Buy. The sad fact is the Best Buy is following similar steps as the now bankrupt Circuit City. Removing your mature and well-informed staff (at $17/hr) and replacing them with high-school kids who don't seem to care about the products they're selling (at $12/hr) will eventually ruin your stores. Not to say that all young people are lazy (or that all older people are hard workers), but there's not a lot of motivation when living at home means you don't have many (if any) bills to pay. If Best Buy wants to save some money, they should shave a few million off of each of their top-level executive's salaries instead. Wal-Mart might succeed if simply reading the owner's manual for any product makes you more tech-savy than your average sales person (if it hasn't reached that point already).
Over at "Home Theater Magazine" there's an article on how the FCC is getting ready for the June 12th ANALOG CUT-OFF DATE (which is about half a month away). The first HD signal was broadcast in 1996 and we've had continuous HD broadcasts and television shows since 1999 (in the United States). We've all had about 10 years to get ready for this transition. What's sad about all of this is that a lot of people who own HDTVs aren't actually watching HD signals (programs). They've spent hundreds of dollars on brand new flat-screen televisions and connected them to standard-def (digital) cable and satellite systems. Most of these HDTVs will receive FREE Hi-Def signals with a decent pair of "rabbit-ears". And most large, metropolitan markets have at least 30 or 40 (FREE) Hi-Def channels for them to enjoy (rural areas "only" have 10 to 20). If you own an HDTV, make sure your satellite/cable box is Hi-Def ("digital" does not ensure "Hi-Def"). If you own an HDTV (and don't have cable or satellite), make sure you've got a good antenna. If you don't have an HDTV, get your free HD converter box from Uncle Sam today! According to engadgetHD it looks like there are still about 3 million homes that aren't ready for the digital switch next month.
Blu-ray Disc continues to chip away at DVD. This will go on for another 5 to 7 years. While viewing Blu-ray Disc, make sure you've selected the UNCOMPRESSED audio track. It'll sound much better than standard "Dolby Digital" or standard "DTS". Also, your HDMI cable might not be giving you the sharpest picture on "1080i" HDTVs. You might check and see if a component cable is a bit sharper. Make sure your ANALOG CABLES are high quality.
This is the best version of the film currently available. The "Master Audio" track (6.1ch) is truly amazing. You really notice the "openess" of the sound when they're fighting inside the elevator while the T-1000 is stabbing at them from the roof. Too many features (over 8 hours plus online content) to see in one sitting. Everyone seems to be selling it for around $20 (so pick it up today). Remember to get the "Skynet Edition" (2009) and not the original Blu-ray release (2006).
Here's a great article over at Electronic House about Denon's new receivers and Blu-ray Disc players arriving in the next couple of months. Check it out.
A little news from Home Theater Magazine congradulating us (the general public) for Blu-ray Disc doing so well this year (over last year). Apparently "word of mouth" is the key. Picture quality is usually the emphasis, but we've always felt that COMPLETELY UNCOMPRESSED DIGITAL AUDIO is the real benefit of Blu-ray Disc over DVD. Spead the word.
The Mighty Dr. Oravetz has sent us a link to an article over at CNET discussing their recent review of Dolby ProLogicIIz (that's "z", not "x"). Those of you familiar with "Dolby ProLogicIIz" will remember that it's Dolby's new "9.1ch" format that adds a front left and right "height" channel to the mix and is complete backwards compatible with standard "5.1ch" and "7.1ch" recordings. Be sure to check that out.
And the latest "DVD/Blu-ray Disc" numbers from Home Media Magizine are pretty self-explanitory. Enjoy.
Both DVD and Blu-ray shot up last week (DVD almost doubled from last year and Blu-ray Disc more than tripled). Blu-ray takes 13% of the market share (as you can cleary see).
Not suprising, Neflix ships its 2 billionth disc and the customer who received it in the mail also received FREE Netflix for life. Good times.
Something we knew all along, Microsoft promised Toshiba HD-DVD Support back in the format war days. For those of you who don't remember the "Format War" click right HERE for a recap of the last 6 months of that "epic" struggle.
From over at Big Picture Big Sound the Panasonic DMP-BD80 debuts at the same price as the "DMP-BD55" ($399) but with more internet features.
Blu-ray Disc continues to go up (not as much as last week) while DVD continues to go down.
Amazing image on this Blu-ray Disc. Again, it's a 4,000-line master (aka "8K") captured at 1,080 lines (aka "2K") for an absolutely beautiful picture. We've never seen a sharper HD film. Most Blu-ray Discs are created from a 2,000-line master (aka "4K"). The "Master Audio" soundtrack is top notch (if you don't mind Dave Matthews). Give it a look on your 1080p display (looks great at 1080i, too). We'll, of course, be adding this title to the Blu-ray Test Disc page. Rent it on Blu today!
More of the Blu-ray vs. DVD sales from over at Home Media Magazine for the week of 3/15/09. Blu-ray takes a little bit more of DVD's market (up over 50% from last year).
The week in Blu-ray vs. DVD sales from over at Home Media Magazine for the week of 3/8/09.
Be sure to check out the new "TrueHD/Master Audio" receivers now available. We'll be adding them to the Uncompressed Audio page. Enjoy.
The world's first receiver with Dolby ProLogicIIz debuts. Apparently studies have shown that people's ears respond to front left and right "height" channels instead of "surround back" speakers. All of this is achieved with "post-processing" because there are no "ProLogicIIz" recordings. Can't wait to see DTS's version ("Advanced NEO").
Go see the "Watchmen" movie. It's even better than "The Dark Knight". Don't worry if you don't read comics. The less you know about the story, the more you'll enjoy the film. Below we've got the best trailer (doesn't reveal too much). Be sure to click the red "HQ" square for the best quality.
The Mighty Dr. Oravetz has sent us some photos from a local Circuit City. Hey, Bunger? You out there? We can't help but just shake our heads in disbelief. Enjoy.
Click right HERE for an article from Big Picture Big Sound reporting on a new Blu-ray Disc release that's recorded from a 4,000-line master (4,000 x 8,000 pixels). Your Blu-ray Disc has about 1,000 horizontal lines (1,080 x 1,920 pixels) and is usually mastered from a 2,000-line (2,000 x 4,000 pixels) recording. The Grand Canyon IMAX Adventure Blu-ray Disc is mastered from a 4,000-line (4,000 x 8,000 pixels) recording for an amazingly clear image. The better your source, the better your image. The same is true for audio.
Be sure to take a look at the new Sony Blu-ray Disc players due out this summer. The "BDP-S560" is only $350 and has built-in Wi-Fi. The "BDP-S360" is only $300 and just has a normal Ethernet jack.
This movie sounds incredible! At 4 times the normal sampling frequency (kHz) than other Blu-ray Discs (24-bit/48kHz), the uncompressed audio really becomes even more transparent. This Blu-ray Disc offers two different "TrueHD" soundtracks (one at 48kHz and one 192kHz) and when switching back and forth the difference is truly amazing. The "TrueHD/192kHz" really does sound 4 times better than the "TrueHD/48kHz". At 192kHZ you've got to read subtitles (Japanese "TrueHD"), and the English "TrueHD" dub is only at 48kHz. Now if the rest of the Hollywood studios would start encoding their Blu-ray Discs at even 96kHz (twice the audio quality of current Blu-ray Discs) we'd be doin' alright. Go and rent this on today on Blu!
More info on Phillips 56-inch 21:9 HDTV. Apparently it has a resolution of 2560 x 1080 (16:9 has 1920 x 1080). No word yet whether or not the TV "zooms" the 2:35, 16x9 images from your Blu-ray Discs (or DVDs and HD broadcasts) to get rid of the black bars or if we'll start seeing Blu-ray Disc players (or DVD players and HD boxes) with 3 monitor options (4:3, 16:9, 21:9). Time will tell. It's five grand and only available in Europe (probably Japan, too).
The digital transition is apparently causing problems where the Midwest meets the South when a Southern Missouri man shoots his own TV over frustrations involving his FREE government converter box.
Posted over at IGN.com, check out the T2 Blu-ray specs promising "DTSHD Master Audio 6.1" and all the film versions and bonus features of all the previous releases. Don't worry, you can still get the normal version of the film (without the head) for a fraction of the price. Good stuff.
Big news today from over at Home Theater Magazine that over a third of all local TV stations turned off their ANALOG signals leaving some folks without their favorite channels, no doubt. Looks like about 200 stations have already switched, about 500 more will switch today (at midnight?) and over 1100 stations will wait until June 12th to make the switch. Click right HERE for an article from Variety which reports on how the transition has already started affecting the public. And finally, click right HERE for an article from EngadgetHD complaining about the delay and how the transition has been in "the works" for over a decade now (suprise). Good times.
A new addition to our HDTV Truths page, be sure to check out CheckDTV.com which finds all the FREE local digital TV stations available in your area (after typing in a zip code). It seems to be about 95% accurate (not perfect, but still very helpful).
Blu-ray Disc's share of the market is down 3% from the previous week (giving DVD a 3% increase). This information comes to us by way of The Digital Bits who has been keeping track of DVD sales vs. Blu-ray Disc sales YTD (year-to-date).
In the news today, Obama signs DTV delay allowing the analog signals to stay until June 12th (sort of). It looks like 40% of all local television stations are going to switch (or have already switched) by February 17th. Click right HERE for that story. And apparently, the rest (other 60%) of those local stations are free to switch at any time between now and June 12th. Four more months, folks.
Concerning the question: "June 12th or February 17th?", Obama waits to sign DTV transition bill until Monday. Apparently this bill would allow stations to switch at any time they felt like it between February and June. We'll wait and see what happens come Monday.
Lionsgate announces T2 on Blu (redux) arriving around the same time as Terminator 4 (Salvation) hits theaters. The original Blu-ray release had terrible picture (MPEG2) and sound (DTS-ES 6.1), while this new version hints at "AVC" video and a "DTS-HD Master Audio" soundtrack. Sony Pictures did the same thing for "The Fifth Element" (redux) on Blu over a year ago.
We've added Clearview Studios to the "Sponsers" section of our Home page. Here's some samples of their art below. Be sure to give their site a look. Enjoy.
Big news from Washington D.C. today as the DTV delay bill passes the House and goes to the President's desk. It was the Obama administration's idea so he'll probably sign it. We'll let you know when it's "official".
This is something we're adding (and updating every week). The "Nielsen Ratings" guys (posted over at "thedigitalbits.com") are keeping track of DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales. As Blu-ray eats up more and more of DVD's market-share, we'll see one number get bigger (while the other gets smaller). Enjoy.
Click right HERE for a great article from Home Theater Magazine that offers great advice for the DTV transition (no word from Capitol Hill, yet) for folks with (or without) HDTVs who are using an ANTENNA to get their TV channels.
Not really a suprise, the Senate Votes Again on the DTV transition, trying to get it through the House of Representatives the second time around.
Here's a little More on Dolby/DTS "height" surround sound formats from Home Theater Magazine. Dolby's calling their's "Dolby ProLogicIIz" and DTS's calling their's "Advanced NEO" (not "NEO X"). Again, Dolby's turns 7.1ch audio into 9.1ch by adding "height" speakers while DTS turns "7.1" into "12.2" (also by adding additional "height" speakers).
An article sent to us by Steve and Sheri Lane, the DTV transition still February 17th after the House of Representatives voted it down. Aside from the 6.5 million Americans who aren't ready for the switch, click HERE for an article reporting on nearly half of the nation's 39 million HDTV owners that aren't viewing Hi-Def broadcasts. Which is kinda strange when you figure that each market has anywhere from 10 to 40 HD channels available (for FREE) with a decent pair of rabbit ears. Check out our HDTV Truths page (if you haven't already).
The vote passed unanimously in the Senate yesterday for the optional DTV transition delay (yes, "optional"). It looks as if (due to costs) local TV stations can choose to switch over on February 17th or June 12th. Also, a lot of those local affiliates will be switching from the UHF channels to the lower, VHF channels after the transition (so you might have to redo your "AUTO CHANNEL SCAN"). The bill still has to clear the House of Representatives.
On February 15th you can watch the Simpsons in Hi-Def during their 20th Season Premier.
We mentioned Denon's DVD-A1UDCI, the "World's First Universal Blu-ray, Super Audio CD, and DVD-Audio Player" a few weeks ago. Turns out it's got 2 HDMI outputs (one for audio and one for video), Denon's proprietary "Compressed Audio Restorer" (which helps "Dolby Digital/DTS", CDs, MP3s and WMAs sound better), "Dolby ProLogic2x" and "DTS NEO 6" decoders (for up-converting 2-channel sources) and 32-bit/192kHz Audio "DACs" (Digital to Analog Converters). All of this technology can be yours for only $4,200.
Here's an article about Hawaii's Digital Transition which happened last Thursday. Turns out that less than a tenth of percent of the population had problems. Good news for the rest of us...On the other hand, click HERE for an article stating than an estimated 6.5 million Americans aren't ready for the digital switch. Enjoy.
A moment of silence for Circuit City tonight. Fond memories from Chase Bunger, Dr. Oravetz, Leeland Ellison and the entire staff of A/V Truths. Visiting Circuit City's website gets you a brief explaination of their situation, an apology and a "thank you" for 60 years of patronage. They will be missed...(and thanks to everyone who reported in on this story!)
There's been a lot of projectors and screens with wider "CinemaScope" (2.35:1) size screen but now Philips has a CinemaScope HDTV so you won't have BLACK BARS when you watch Indiana Jones, Transformers or The Matrix. Click right HERE for a brief, VISUAL instruction on the difference between "Widescreen" (16 x 9) and "CinemaScope" (21 x 9).
The HTSA (Home Theater Specialists of America) has recommended to the FCC (U.S. Congress) that June 1st, 2009 be a possible new DTV transition date instead of February 17th, 2009 (because almost 8 million Americans aren't ready for the switch).
Blockbuster (Not to be out-done by Neflix) has aquired CinemaNow to handle all of the "Watch Instantly" fanfare. Click right HERE for more on that. As of now, it's NOT a subscription-based site, it's a pay-per-view site.
And HERE'S an article discussing the options put before President-Elect Obama concerning the DTV transition.
Pioneer has discontinued its production of LaserDisc players. Click right HERE for that story over at Electronic House and click right HERE to take a look at Pioneer's last LaserDisc player on their website.
Announced at this year's CES, Pioneer's new receivers, the "VSX519V" ($199) offers HDMI inputs and the ability to decode "Uncompressed PCM" audio signals. Then the "VSX819H" ($299) and "VSX919AH" ($399) both offer "TrueHD" and "Master Audio" decoding. Pioneer's not our favorite brand, but try finding receivers with built-in decoders for all 3 uncompressed HD audio formats at that price. (we'll add them to our Uncompressed Audio page as soon as Pioneer posts them on their site)
More on Dolby and DTS racing to get their "height-channel" surround sound formats to market before the other guy. As we mentioned the other day, we've got Dolby ProLogicIIz (9.1ch) and DTS NEO X (11.1ch) continuing the "Coke and Pepsi"-like war between the relatively similar audio formats. Both of these new formats take existing 7.1ch (or 5.1ch) audio signals and use POST-PROCESSING to add in several additional "height-channels"(example: front left & right, high & low).
More confusion over the DIGITAL TRANSITION. Here's an article discussing how people with expired coupons and too many unanswered questions are plaguing retail outlets. Those of you with questions, check out our HDTV Truths page for a little clarification.
Here's a late update of Saturday's 2009 CES report from the reporters of Home Theater Magazine. And here's today's 2009 CES report from Las Vegas. Non-stop, folks...Non-stop.
More from CES 2009 by the nice folks over at Home Theater Magazine.
Also, the word on the street is that Blu-ray Disc is taking up 2 times the market share DVD was back in the day at the same point after its introduction. Good job, Blu.
Something interesting, the Obama administration might delay digital transition due to almost 8 million Americans who aren't ready for the switch. Hopefully congress'll just put more money towards more FREE government boxes and keep the February 17th date.
Here's another recap of CES 2009 from Home Theater Magazine. Some of the highlights are new Blu-ray Disc players from Pioneer and JVC's first Blu-ray Disc player. Strangely enough, "Dolby ProLogic2z" (yes "z" instead of "x") which will add (from existing 5 and 7-channel recordings) front left & right "height" channels. That is, you'll have front left & right low and front left & right high. That sounds like THX's proposed "10.2" surround format. It offered front right & left (high & low) plus 2 speakers directly above the listening area up on the ceiling. The "10.2" format also called for only 1 surround back channel (instead of 2).
There's gonna be a lot of info this week on account of Las Vegas' hosting of the 2009 CES (Consumer Electronics Show)...Let's get started.
Be sure to check out the New Panasonic Blu-ray Disc players. They even have a Blu-ray Disc/VHS combo model (wow, really?).
Like the days of the DVD/HD-DVD combo disc, watch for Disney Blu-ray Titles w/FREE DVD copy included. One Blu-ray Disc and one DVD in each package. (Why not, right?)
Truly amazing, check out All the new SONY televisions this spring. The "XBR" line features "240Mz" (frames per second) video and built-in ethernet ports.
A joint endeavor by several electronics manufacturers, the "Cell" computer chip in HDTVs being able to upconvert signals from 1920x1080p to 3840x2160p on a 56-inch display and record up to 6 HD channels at once.
For BD-Live capability, Samsung Blu-ray Disc players with Wi-Fi built-in for all the online content on Blu-ray Disc titles. (much easier connection)
Finally, a recap of the 2009 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Vegas from Home Theater Magazine. Enjoy (more to come).
Hollywood tried (and failed) to get the FCC to shut off the analog outputs on all cable and satellite boxes (for copyright protection). Click right HERE for that story. That sounds like Hollywood's demand that 1080p signals only come out of HDMI ports (component 1080i only) on Blu-ray Disc players. Most people don't know that component cable has enough bandwidth for 1080p signals. But seriously, thank you, FCC! (for the digital transition, free digital converters and now for this)
LG has just announced an HDTV with an Ethernet port built-in for streaming Netflix content directly to it. Click right HERE for more on that. But don't forget, those "300 HD titles" are only in 720p and not in 7-channel uncompressed audio like Blu-ray Disc.
Happy New Year, gang! We've just posted our newly remodeled HDTV Truths page. With all the questions we've been getting about the "digital transition" next month, we figured we'd better change our focus. It looks like the FREE Government Coupon (for digital converter boxes) webstite is still up and running, but the word on the street is that they're running out of money. Better go get yours ASAP and be sure to check out our new HDTV Truths page. Thanks!