Q&A # 182 - June 6, 2000
Q In a recent Q&A, you mentioned that EX has to be taken from the surround channels. Does that mean the surround channels will not be as effective?
A They would be less effective only if the surrounds were active at the same time as the EX channel. At any one instant on the waveform, the surrounds or the EX channel can be supplying signal, but not both at the same time. So, I would imagine that the producers will apply complex sound effects to the surrounds at a different time than they will with the EX. There could be some uncomplicated background sound going on in all three channels simultaneously. To test this, switch your system over to Pro Logic instead of DD or DTS, and turn your center channel off during a scene where there is a lot going on in that channel. You will see that the front left/right speakers don't have much sound. And, when there is a mono left/right signal, all of it should be going to the center (decoded with Pro Logic). But, some of the high frequencies leak back into the front left/right because the decoding is not a perfect system. One of the reasons why the Pro Logic rear channel has a limited bandwidth is that it is extracted from the original two-channel stereo signal. The center channel is full bandwidth, and that removes a lot, so if the rear channel were also full bandwidth, there would be almost nothing left for the front left/right. For EX, the rear is extracted from the two surround channels, and they are full bandwidth, so the EX could be full bandwidth if the producers want to use it that way, but I think they might not utilize it that way if they want to have sound coming from the EX and surrounds at the same time, or if they want to avoid bleeding of high frequencies from the EX back into the surrounds.
Q Regarding your recent comments on DVD-A, here is some further info. DVD-A actually offers 96/24 for 5.1 (using MLP), not just 48/24 or 44/24. Companies are also talking about making the discs compatible with DVD-V players (DVD-V means DVD -Video or the standard DVD players we have right now) by adding a DD or DTS track along with the DVD-A stuff. This way people can buy the music today and play the DD track in their DVD-V player and then when they upgrade to DVD-A, they don't have to change the software because a DVD-A track is already there.
A Thanks for the input. MLP (Meridian Lossless Packing) has obviously improved the ability to store higher sampling rate data.
Q I notice that many, if not most, HDTV-ready monitors do not do 720p. What will be the consequence of having such a monitor when 720p sources become available? Will the HD decoders convert a 720p signal to 1080i and what will be the fidelity? I am tempted at this point to buy a 16:9 Pansonic Tau monitor or a rear projection Toshiba, but both lack 720p capability. Should I just be patient and wait till the technology settles down (if it ever will now that its digital)?
A There are a handful of projection and direct view DTVs now that will handle 720p. However, it may be that programming just never, or very rarely, goes there. Right now, a typical DTV might up-convert 480i to 480p, and everything else to 1080i. Anytime there is down-conversion or up-conversion, there will be artifacts. Many TV stations up-convert their 480i to 480p before broadcasting it. So, the programming is not really even 480p. HDTV has not taken off like everyone had hoped. A lack of programming, a lack of consumer base of HDTVs to receive the programming, and the extreme cost of converting to HDTV broadcasting technology, are holding it back. The good news is that a DTV can be used to full advantage with a progressive scanning DVD player. The picture quality is spectacular. What I will be looking for is an HDTV that offers the choice of up-conversion, down-conversion, or native resolution viewing, rather than converting the signals automatically whether you want it to or not.
Q I am evaluating what to do in a new home theater. When I look at the new Pioneer HDTV with added surround sound for about $9,000 vs. a large Runco projector at $100,000 with all the bells and whistles, the Runco doesn't look like "good value". What should I be comparing? Isn't technology moving so fast that waiting will bring easier use and better quality video?
A High-performance projectors like the Runco are like high-performance amplifiers. The cost-effectiveness begins to flatten out, and improvements vs. more dollars are subtle. But, they are better. The Runco, which, is one of the best brands out there, has greater sharpness and color quality. It can also handle 1080p, so if you had a 1080i signal, a line doubler would convert it to 1080p, and the Runco would display it. That kind of capability, plus the fact that the Runco is not a mass produced item, make it very, very expensive. However, if I could afford one, I would buy it.
Q I have just completed a finished basement which consist of two rooms. One of the rooms is to be for a home theater set up. The room is 12' x 17' with a 7' 6" ceiling height. While the walls are still in the framing stage (not sheet rocked) I want to pre run my speaker wires to fixed outlet boxes which would act as the connection box for when I mount my speakers. I planned on placing these boxes at the four corners of the room, but what would you suggest for the height of the permanent box location. I also want to purchases a surround sound processor and I plan on hooking DVD, CD, VCR and Mini Disc player so I can have music and TV together. I would like to spend between $400 and $600 for a processor, so would you have a brand or product in mind that you would suggest as if you where having to purchase it for yourself?
A I would put the boxes along the baseboard, but about 2 feet in from the corners, rather than right in the corner. This applies to the rear as well as the front. For EX, you should probably run two cables inside the wall, between studs that are about 6 feet apart, and just leave them there until you are ready to mount two EX speakers on the wall.
Q I just rented a DVD from a certain national chain which shall remain nameless (but rhymes with clockduster) and discovered an odd covering on it that I hadn't seen before. A thin, round, clear sticker perfectly and entirely covered the disc. Underneath (or perhaps embedded within) the sticker were two thin metallic strips, obviously for the anti-theft scanner thingy at the the door. Printing on the sticker read, "Removal of the DISC-SHIELD will cause permanent damage." I don't believe that its removal can cause damage, but I'm wondering if its presence can damage my player. I've seen what damage an unbalanced airplane propeller can cause -- and I assume that's exactly the reason why there are two metallic strips instead of one. But it still bothers me. Is this sticker something to worry about?
A I would imagine "Clockduster" has tested this for any problems, and I would assume the thin strips are very light. Also, many CD players (which use similar transport mechanisms) have a weighted disc that holds the CD in place and which helps to maintain a steady spin. So, I don't think this clear plastic sticker will harm your player. However, removing the sticker could damage the disc, because the data are contained on an aluminum layer that is very close to the printed surface. Even writing on that surface with a pen could damage it. It is a shame that security concerns have to make usage for honest consumers so complicated.
Q I have a Marantz SR-7000 receiver with Paradigm PS-1000 and Angstrom Omega 5 speakers. The Omega 5s go down to 70 Hz, whereas the Omega 5 center channel goes down to 50 Hz. How can I integrate the sub? Should I set the sub down to 50 Hz and miss out on the 50 Hz - 70 Hz range on the other speakers or set the sub to 70 Hz but then have overlap from the center channel? You'll probably tell me to set the receiver to crossover, but I understand the crossover is at 100 Hz, and the sub is in the corner, so I can sometimes localize it, which gets annoying.
A I would set the sub low-pass to 60 Hz for a start. With your setup, you should listen for boominess, and adjust the low-pass downward from whatever point you start at until it disappears.
Q I am putting a Velodyne FSR 12 with two Thiel 2.3s in a stereo-only system in my living room/family room. The room is over a basement and the carpet is thick. Do I need to set the Velodyne on a speaker stand or an amp stand? Would a piece of granite under it (spiked or not) add any tightness to the bass? Would it be better to just sit it on the floor? I am new to this but saw an article somewhere about putting an MKII Sunfire sub on a piece of MDF board on the carpet and then some Vibrapods underneath the sub. Would this help the Velodyne? Would spikes (or cones of some kind) be better than Vibrapods for this?
A Since your room is heavily carpeted, I think you will be fine just setting it on the carpet without any spikes or board underneath. Carpets make excellent damping devices, and I have never had a problem putting speakers and subs right on top of them without any additional items between the sub and the floor.
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