Q&A # 206 - November 14, 2000
Q In your opinion(s), what names would be considered high quality drivers for speakers that are a combination of others companies drivers? Is it more common to have a company build speakers using OEM tweeters, midrange, and bass drivers or using their own design drivers? How do you know what drivers are in a speaker?
A There are a number of excellent drivers made by such companies as Dynaudio, SEAS, Scan-Speak, Cabasse, Focal, and Vifa. They are so good, in fact, that most speakers use them. Sometimes they are off the shelf models, but often, a speaker designer will have one of these companies take a basic model and modify it specifically for them. In such cases, the driver will have the brand of speaker printed on the driver rather than the driver manufacturer. Even so, sometimes you can tell whose drivers they are because of the distinctive look that they have.
Q My Sony S300 DVD player has two selections for 4:3 TVs: Pan & Scan, which crops the picture at left and right, and normal, which displays the widescreen to produce black bands at top and bottom.
I have never been able to observe any difference with any of my DVDs between these two modes.
My question is: Does Pan & Scan depend on some feature of the DVD programming, or is there something wrong with my player?
A The option you speak of does require the DVD itself to support it. No DVDs that I am aware of offer the auto Letterbox to P&S on-the-fly option (originally, DVD was supposed to have it, but this feature never materialized).
More and more DVDs are including both P&S and widescreen on the same disc. On those discs you will, of course, have to insert the side you wish to see, unless it is a short movie where both versions can be on the same side, but different layers.
Q I recently bought a Bose Lifestyle 30 system to be the backbone of a home theater I am building in my new house. My question is: How do I hook up 2 digital sources to the system? I will have a DVD and a RCA DirectTV satellite decoder. The satellite box can decode both HDTV/Satellite and over the air DTV and over the air analog signals. I notice that the Lifestyle 30 only has 1 digital input. What is the best way to be able to connect both my DVD and satellite receiver to the Lifestyle 30?
I plan to output my video using the new Sony HDTV LCD projector. Did I make a mistake buying the Bose? Is it normal to only have one digital input on a home theater system?
A You would need a digital switcher in front of the Bose. These often do not come cheap, because they are not the same thing as a switch box for analog signals such as S-Video. You best bet is to run the DVD using the digital connection and use your DSS with analog connections.
Q I'm in the process of purchasing a TV with component video. I have a DVD player with component video output. Will I be able to see the difference between cables with a 200 MHz vs. 400 MHz bandwidth?
A Probably not. The bandwidth of DVD is 13.5 MHz, while for HDTV it is approximately 30 MHz. A good quality cable is still a good thing to have though. You can get good cables for fair prices from http://www.bettercables.com, and they offer Canare which is one of the more popular cables in the broadcast industry.
Q I read your comment about 24/96 audio, and how as long as the player can do the D/A conversion and output it through the analog outs, you don't really need an outboard DAC. However (I'm still new at this), after reading several reviews of the Theta Casanova, it seems that at least this unit and several others will actually down-sample signals coming from the analog outs from a CD/DVD transport. Thus, if your DVD transport cannot output a 24/96 sampling rate digitally and if the preamp (if you're using something like the Theta) forces the analog signal back into digital, then you really will never fully hear the 24/96 signal. Does this make sense that such a high-end preamp would do this or did I read the review wrong?
A Some surround processors do not accept 96/24 on the input, but most have been upgraded now to support 96/24 digital input. Yes, processors like Lexicon, Theta (Casanova), and Meridian will convert the analog inputs to digital, then back to analog. Theta offers a true pass through on their Casablanca. The analog-to-digital conversion (A/D) is so the processor can do its thing with Digital Signal Processing (DSP). Pass through is for use with two-channel stereo that might be coming out of your DVD-A player as analog, having been decoded from 96/24. The volume control would still be usable, but no A/D or DSP would be involved.
Many new receivers offer an analog pass through so the above does not happen. If you are using a high-end processor, you really want to feed it a digital audio signal that is 96/24 and only convert to analog at the very last possible moment.
Some DVD players will actually output a 96/24 signal on the digital output, unless a disc uses CSS (copy protection), and then it must down convert to 48/24. The Meridian DVD players (800 and upcoming 596) can actually encrypt the data and still pass a 96/24 legally when CSS is enabled.
At some point, a digital standard will emerge that will allow DVD players (DVD-A) and SACD players to output a 96/24 (or a DSD for SACD) digital signal using copy protection. The standard is not here yet.
Q Earlier this week I purchased a Sony KP53HS10 TV which I am enjoying. I chose it over the Toshiba 40" in your review after a side by side comparison. The Toshiba, for me, was too small -- I felt I was watching the movie rather than being part of an experience. The reason I am writing is to inquire about a setup DVD by AVIA that you referred to. I understand that the DVD can be used to adjust color and other details. Is this a professional product or is it something that a consumer could use for adjustment? If it is something I can use, do you know where I can purchase it (web site)?
A Avia is something that anyone can use. It is available directly from their website at http://www.ovationsw.com. You can also purchase it at a discount from various web dealers such as http://www.express.com and http:// www.kencranes.com. AV Science offers the disc at a fair price (http://www.avscience.com).
Q I'm in the middle of setting up a theatre, and I'm trying to get some information that will give me an unbiased opinion into why certain CRT projectors are better than others and which line doublers, multipliers, or quadruplers that would suit the projector that we choose.
A 7" CRTs run best at 480p, 600p, or even 720p on a 16x9 screen. On a 4:3 screen, you may also be able to run at 768p.
8" CRTs work best at 600P, 720P, and 768P on a 16x9 screen. On a 4:3 screen, you may also be able to go to 960p.
9" CRTs work best at 720p, 768p, and 960p. On 4:3 screens, you may also be able to go to 1080p.
The resolutions mentioned above are not set in stone. It all depends on what is called the beam spot size. The smaller the beam spot size, the higher resolution you can run the projector.
480p is called line-doubling. 720p is called line-tripling. 960p is called line-quadrupling. With current DVD, you will find 480p to deliver the best picture because you are getting all of the real information. When you go above 480p, you are now scaling the image and creating new information through computer interpolation. Direct multiples like 720p and 960p are always better than something in between. But to remove the visible line structure you need to run at your projector's sweet spot.
I am using a Dwin HD-700, and I run it at 720p on a 16x9 screen. 720p is a little to much for the Dwin. 600p is clearly not enough.
Q I have researched the Toshiba TW40x81 and the Mitsubishi WT46805 TVs and have not come up with a strong motive to choose one over the other. I know that you guys like the Toshiba but what makes you pick that one over the Mitsubishi? For the record, the rest of my peripherals are all Pioneer. Does this have any bearing on my choice?
A Our choice of the Toshiba is because it has better gray scale tracking from black to white. When we measure the gray scale tracking, we are using a DVD like Avia and looking at the window test patterns. They are measured in IRE. We measure 30 IRE up to 100 IRE. We are looking for each measurement to be 6500 ± 250 degrees K. On the Mitsubishis, we have found them to be over 7,000 degrees (> 250) in the 50-70 IRE range. The Toshibas do a much better job.
Also, the Toshibas will let you change aspect ratios on progressive sources. Mitsubishi and Pioneer lock you into FULL mode. If you try and watch a 4:3 DVD (Pan & Scan) or a non-anamorphic DVD with a progressive DVD player, the image will be stretched out.
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