Why are the studios waiting for Blu-Ray profile 3.0?

 Blu-Ray, Home Theater, Home Theater Equipment  Comments Off on Why are the studios waiting for Blu-Ray profile 3.0?
Feb 102009
 

Why are the studios waiting for Blu-Ray profile 3.0 to begin
seriously releasing Blu-Ray music only discs? For those of you who are not familiar
with profile 3.0 it is a simple update to the existing Blu-Ray versions.
Profile 3.0 allows an audio only disc to start by itself, without menus when
placed into the Blu-Ray player.

While skipping all of the menu nonsense sounds great, I ,and
I am sure many of my fellow audiophiles would happily buy music only Blu-Ray
discs now and wait for the upgrade for auto start. Profile 3.0 uses the
existing formats, including the lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio
along with uncompressed audio in stereo and multi-channel. This is a huge leap over
the current Redbook CD and even DVD-A and SACD.

DVD-A and SACD have essentially killed each other off with a
little help from downloadable music formats. It doesn’t take a quantum physicist
to see that the public has moved towards mobile media but there is still a
strong demand for solid medias. Vinyl continues to grow as a new generation
becomes aware of its superior sound quality and CD sales, while slowing are
still the choice for many of us.

Get it right this time and start selling the profile 3 discs
now, they work just fine on any Blu-Ray player. Getting the media out there now
will create an enthusiastic following, which will make the advent of profile
3.0 players a marketer’s wet dream. Give the early adaptors something special
for their loyalty, bring out the profile 3.0 media today.

Build a Good Home Theater for Under $1,000

 Budget, Home Theater, Home Theater Equipment  Comments Off on Build a Good Home Theater for Under $1,000
Jan 282009
 

I was given the challenge of building a good home theater for under $1,000. In addition, the premise was that I had received a $1,000 gift card from Amazon and needed to build a complete, 5.1 home theater system that met my previous definition for what a home theater is and offered some kick ass quality.

Building a home theater for under $1,000 while making it a solid performer, is indeed a challenge that requires a considerable amount of thought, bargain hunting and a little compromise. The compromise comes in the form of a smaller display and a lack of Blu-Ray. For many this won’t be seen as a compromise however.

I started by locating an acceptable display that met my requirements for being a real home theater, that meant a screen size of at least 36 inches. In order for the system to be future proof, it needed to be HD and have HDMI capability. This is a pretty tall order if I wanted to spend $1,000 on the TV alone and have a quality display.

I found the Sharp Aquos LC37D44U 37-Inch 720p LCD HDTV that has 2 HDMI ports and a brilliant picture. At 37 inches, the lack of 1080P is unnoticeable and this TV is a bargain at the moment. Cost: $570.99

Now I needed the heart of the sound system and it was clear this years models were out, I needed a refurbished unit from last year. I found a number of Sherwood and Sony receivers that fit my budget but I wanted good sound I could build on, not a system that would be stretched right out of the box. I decided on the Yamaha HTR-5840 XM-Ready 6.1-Channel A/V Surround Receiver. This receiver claims 100 watts per channel, a mark I find extremely suspect and would guess the real specification if tested would be closer to 60 watts, but that is more than enough to drive a well thought out home theater system. It decodes all of the standard Dolby and DTS formats currently available on DVD.

The compromise here is a lack of HDMI switching and no HD audio support but that can be remedied using the 6 channel analog inputs when it is time to upgrade to Blu-Ray. Cost: $129.12

To make the most of the Yamaha receiver I knew it would be best to stick with bookshelf style speakers and I wanted a package that included the sub so that the entire system would remain consistent wherever the sound panned during a movie. I expected this to be a tough search but to my amazement, the Polk Audio RM10 Speaker System fit my budget thanks to a great sale. These speakers offer a considerable upgrade from your home theater in a box speakers or your budget brands. Cost: $211.36

The DVD was going to be easy as the prices for very good upscaling players have dropped substantially. I did want HDMI and 1080i support at the minimum, 1080p wasn’t a consideration since the display is 720p. What I found is the Samsung DVD-1080P8 1080p Upconverting DVD Player, a solid performer at a great price. Cost: $35

Now I just needed my cables and speaker wire. As I have mentioned before, you don’t have to spend much for a good HDMI cable and to prove my point I selected the Premium HDMI – HDMI Male to Male Gold Plated v1.3 Certified Category 2 – 6 ft / 2M for PS3 HDTV LCD TV Blue-Ray cable. Despite the lengthy name and PS3, Blu-Ray claim, it is a simple HDMI cable that is 1080p capable and it more than enough to provide a perfect picture. Cost: $1

Since the Yamaha receiver doesn’t support HDMI I need a optical, digital cable, again, I don’t need anything fancy, an optical cable is an optical cable and any one will do. The 2 pc 6′ Digital Audio Optical Optic Fiber Toslink Cable was the perfect answer. Cost: $4.15

Now I just needed speaker wire and following my own advice, it had to be 12 gauge, oxygen free. The product I chose is the Acoustic Research PR221 Speaker Wire 12 AWG Oxy Free Copper, 50 ft spool. Acoustic Research makes good speaker wire without breaking the bank and 50 feet of wire will easily cover most home systems. Cost: $30.53

The final cost of my home theater came to $982.15 and gives me a solid performing home theater for under $1,000. The products and prices on Amazon change often but I am confident that you can go there any day of the week and build a similar system for under $1,000.

One consideration I didn’t address is the value of a projector if you have the right room. A projector system is the bargain way to get a big image for a low price and should be considered if it can work for you.My next challenge will be to see what kind of system I would put together if money were no object. I am looking forward to this one.

What Analog Cables Do I Need?

 Budget, Home Theater, Home Theater Equipment  Comments Off on What Analog Cables Do I Need?
Jan 262009
 

Analog audio cables differ from their digital friends in purpose
alone. The same cables that work well for your coax digital connection works
just as well for any other audio/video connection, provided it is a 75-ohm
cable. Unlike digital signals however, the cable used can color analog signals.

The changes made by analog cables are subtle at best and
with most systems, no difference can be detected. Audiophiles spend years
finding the perfect cable match for the sound they desire, be it warm, flat,
expanded bass or any number of other characteristics. For those of us on a
budget however, spending a thousand dollars a foot on cables won’t noticeably improve
your sound.

You do want quality interconnects however but you don’t need
to spend a lot of money, you just need to make sure the cables are well
constructed, 75-Ohm, shielded models. I prefer the custom cables from Blue
Jeans Cables
, and in case you were wondering, I have no affiliation with
these good folks, I just love their products and for the money feel they are
the way to go.

Monster
Cable
, as I have stated before are well built and reliable but you pay a
heavy price to cover their marketing and they are simply, very overpriced. Don’t
spend any more than necessary on analog cables, just make sure they are 75-ohm
and well shielded to avoid signal crossover to other cables and avoid picking
up noise from power cables and RF signals in your home.

Speaker cables are where I am willing to spend a little more
but I don’t go crazy.  I only use 12
gauge, oxygen free cable in my main system. That may sound expensive but the
bulk cable found at Home
Depot
is high quality and inexpensive.

If you must go to a smaller gauge, never go below 16 gauge.
If you have a large room where cable runs go beyond 20 feet, I wouldn’t try
anything below 12 gauge unless there is simply no way to use it.

Choosing
Digital Cables

What Digital Cables Do I Need?

 Budget, Home Theater, Home Theater Equipment  Comments Off on What Digital Cables Do I Need?
Jan 252009
 


What cables do I need? This is one of the most common questions in home theater and it is one surrounded in myth and marketing deception. This article will focus on digital cables, HDMI, Coax and Optical cables to be precise.

Digital cables have the simple job of passing along a signal, and this is the important part, it is a digital signal. Digital signals make it to the destination or they don’t, the cable can’t add warmth or bass, it can’t bring out the high end or improve the image on your HD Television. Digital either works, or it doesn’t.

Bandwidth is the only factor that matters when buying digital cables like HDMI, Coax or Optical. HDMI cables carry both the audio and video in a single, easy to use cable. Marketing by stores and manufacturers (I am looking at you Monster Cable) implies that you need an expensive cable to make that new Blu-Ray look and sound right on your new 1080p display.

This is where they begin to flat out lie to the public, as I said above, a signal either makes it or it doesn’t, any HDMI cable will work, you get a picture or you don’t. HDMI cables are self-checking for errors so they work, period. There is no magic cable that improves the picture or sound, so one last time for those in the cheap seats, YOU EITHER GET A SIGNAL OR YOU DON’T, it is digital.

Digital audio cables are a little different however the general facts remain true, the cable doesn’t improve or change the sound of a digital signal, they simply pass on the ones and zero’s which cannot be colored or changed by the cable. The only thing that is different here is that you need to ensure the cables are 75 ohm, which gives more than enough bandwidth for digital audio.

Not all cables are 75 ohm, the skinny cords that came in your DVD player box are NOT 75 ohm, they should not be used for anything. Coax and optical digital cables do not error check but again, as long as you are looking at a 75 ohm cable you don’t need anything else.

Radio Shack offers these cables at a reasonable price, Monster Cable  is outrageously priced but there is not anything physically wrong with them, they are a good cable brand. I prefer Blue Jeans Cables, they are hand made and look great, all for a very reasonable price.

Blue Jeans Cables can be ordered in different colors to make component identification behind a rack easier. They also carefully match the ends so you know exactly which cable in a bundle does what without tracing it back to the source. I use them for my digital cables so that all my cables match but I could easily save a few bucks by going to Radio Shack.

Analog cables require a bit more consideration than digital, I will be discussing them in the next article.

Choosing Analog Cables

Organize a DVD and Blu-Ray Collection

 Blu-Ray, Budget, DVD, Home Theater  Comments Off on Organize a DVD and Blu-Ray Collection
Jan 242009
 

 

 

Organizing a large DVD and Blu-Ray collection is more than
just putting the movies on a shelf. You need a tracking system and an orderly
way of arranging the movies so you can find what you want quickly.

When I was living alone and had less than 500 DVDs, I was
able to maintain them with less effort than I am able to now, I always knew the
movie was there, I just didn’t always know its exact location. Then my good
friend and neighbor got his first DVD player and I started loaning movies out.

Loaning movies out must be done with extreme caution, I only
have two people I loan movies too and I don’t feel a bit bad about telling
everyone else no. Loaning movies complicates things unless you keep careful
track of your movies but there is a solution that makes keeping track of your
current movies easy. It also keeps track of your wish list and best of all, the
movies you loan out.

DVD Profiler comes in
a free and premium version. The free version does everything you could want but
the premium version is inexpensive and includes a few bonus features. Adding
your DVD, Blu-Ray or HD-DVD discs is as easy as entering the name, UPC, reading
the disc in a DVD drive or by using a hand scanner. The DVD Profiler database is kept up by
enthusiasts and includes every region, version and variable you can imagine, so
you always have the exact information that applies to your DVD or Blu-Ray.

DVD Profiler allows
you to sort by genre, actor, media type and more making it easy to find exactly
what you feel like watching. It also has excellent reporting capabilities, all
of which can be printed out. In addition, they have a mobile and online version
so you can check your wish list at the store or make sure you don’t already
have a disc and trust me, when your collection starts to get big, you can
easily forget what you already have.

Now that you have your collection loaded up it is time to
organize your shelves. I use alphabetical, which is the easiest but there are
other options I will discuss below. I print out a report in DVD Profiler and start loading the shelves,
it makes alphabetizing faster. I go through all of my collection once a year to
check for out of place or missing movies. Large collections, especially with a
teen in the house, have a way of getting unorganized.

I also take the time to go through my list to identify any
discs that failed to make it into the database or have vanished, usually into
the depths of a bedroom. I track everything down and make corrections if necessary.

Alternative organization methods are as numerous as movies
themselves, I have seen by director, year of theater release, and even by the
style of case. I would suggest keeping it simple, genre is a good option that
makes sense. I also separate my DVD, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD collections, more for
appearance than anything else.

Now that you know how to find the best prices, store your
collection and keep it organized – the sky, well ,shelf space is the limit.

Collecting
DVD and Blu-Ray Movies
    DVD and
Blu-Ray Storage