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  1. #1

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    Default Blu-Ray sound quality

    Morning: I'm looking hard at the Sony $400 machine. I plan to run the 7.1 analog outputs into my Denon 3802. How much better is the sound quality going to be than my Oppo, which I use optical audio out? I don't wanna buy BR just to buy it...I really want an upgrade.

    I also wonder how much does BR look natural and not just some extremely sharp slick screen image? I'm a guy who likes matte photos...

    help please?

    Mike

  2. #2

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    In my experience, blu-ray makes what is originally there more noticeable in both video and lossless audio. So well mastered disks with new sound tracks and video are a great improvement over their dvd counterparts. But if the original video is soft or marred with specs and dirt from inadequate cleaning or the audio is just a warmed over version of a mediocre dvd version, there won't be much improvement. I read a review for the upcoming star trek classic series release where the original camera used a soft lens for close up shots of women. And it was almost comically jarring going from the sharp scenes to the soft ones because the extra detail of blu-ray made the transitions so obvious.

    With audio, they often remaster the sound, so you're may be getting the double benefit of a remastered track with greater detail and range and lossless. I've noticed the improvement in the bass the most. Some scenes now bottom out my psw450 where I didn't have that problem before. So if you have a good rig and well mastered disks, you should definitely notice an improvement in both audio and video. Optical won't even pass a lossless digital signal (only hdmi) there is so much more information.
    Last edited by cheddar; 03-02-2009 at 10:20 AM.

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    HD Audio from Blu-ray is fantastic, i notice a big difference.
    Same goes with the video, it "does" make things extremely sharp, clear, etc. As far as looking natural, that has more to do with the settings on your TV in my opinion.

    Some Blu-ray movies look and sound better than others of course. Personally, Blu-ray is all watch, and all i've been watching for quite a while now. I use netflix to rent Blu-rays, and i'll buy the occasional Blu-ray if it's a movie i really want to own. Some people seem to think Blu-rays are still $35 a pop for a new movie, but if you search around you can always find them much cheaper than that.

    Anyways, this is just my opinion. I love Blu-ray, and have no interest in standard DVD's anymore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by metal83 View Post
    I use netflix to rent Blu-rays, and i'll buy the occasional Blu-ray if it's a movie i really want to own. Some people seem to think Blu-rays are still $35 a pop for a new movie, but if you search around you can always find them much cheaper than that.
    I've seen Frys and Amazon dropping prices on slightly older titles into the low teens. New releases should run in the low 20s on amazon.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by cheddar View Post
    I've seen Frys and Amazon dropping prices on slightly older titles into the low teens. New releases should run in the low 20s on amazon.
    Yep, prices have definitely come down. The last Blu-ray i bought was The Dark Knight, and i got that for around $20-$22 (can't remember exactly).

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    blu-rayboxsets.com has good deals on catalog titles... Ive bought a ton of flicks off this site and never had a problem
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilGabriel View Post
    Morning: I'm looking hard at the Sony $400 machine. I plan to run the 7.1 analog outputs into my Denon 3802. How much better is the sound quality going to be than my Oppo, which I use optical audio out? I don't wanna buy BR just to buy it...I really want an upgrade.

    I also wonder how much does BR look natural and not just some extremely sharp slick screen image? I'm a guy who likes matte photos...

    help please?

    Mike

    The extent that BR will look "natural" is dependent on how the source footage was processed when transferred to BR.

    Some movies shot on film have transferred...ah...'faithfully', while others are decried and denounced as perversions because of how Dolby Noise Reduction (DNR) or Edge Enhancement (EE) has been applied to make the movie "pop".

    So, it depends.

    A movie like Patton has been branded as 'ruined' for BR by the film purists because all the original film grain has been removed and the picture 'beautified' to the point of faces being called 'waxy'.

    I have Patton on BR and don't really notice - so I guess I would call myself a non-purist.

    If you visit the avsforum, there is a forum section for BR 'software' which is where you will find the related 'sticky threads' for BR picture quality and film grain.

    Enjoy the journey

    H9: If you don't trust what you are hearing, then maybe you need to be less invested in a hobby which all the pleasure comes from listening to music.

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    I agree with both Cheddar and Metal83 although I will qualify my opinion based on my system. I am using optical for sound and so far have stuck with 5.1. Obviously I use HDMI direct to my 60" Sony for the video. My upgrade to a Panasonic BD-35 Blu-ray was from a 2-year old well reviewed Sony NS75H up-converting player.

    The results (my subjective opinion): The sound on almost every BR is a vast improvement even in 5.1. As for picture quality, it's a somewhat mixed bag but getting better. There are BR's being reissued with new covers (and usually sound) + a few new extras that really are not any better than their SD counterparts. The newer or remastered BRs can be a HUGE improvement in detail, color depth, contract, etc. It just so much depends on the disc itself. I will say that up-converting technology has gotten a lot better in the last couple of years so even an upgrade to a new BR player can bring positive benefits beyond just on BR.

    As for BR itself, I would never want to go back or give up the option to buy BR. My thinking was that disc prices are falling; for new movies the sound and video is noticeably better; and for older movies (non-BR) the up-conversion is usually better. I considered the $180 I spent for my BD-35 (admittedly several discounts in there) to be a no-brainer.
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  9. #9

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    Unless you output the BR player using HDMI you can't get lossless uncompessed audio.

    Use the HDMI output and it is a rather big difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vette C6.r View Post
    Unless you output the BR player using HDMI you can't get lossless uncompessed audio.
    You can with analogs.

  11. #11

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    Sami's right. Your player just has to decode TrueHD and DTS-HD MA internally, (uncompressed PCM doesn't need to be decoded) convert it to analog, and send it out over analog outs and you can listen to all three lossless formats provided the AVR can accept analog on its end. The AVR would have to eventually convert all the digital signals to analog anyways, the player is just doing this step earlier in the chain. So you can still get great results this way.
    Last edited by cheddar; 03-02-2009 at 12:24 PM.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by cheddar View Post
    Sami's right. Your player just has to decode TrueHD and DTS-HD MA internally, (uncompressed PCM doesn't need to be decoded) convert it to analog, and send it out over analog outs and you can listen to all three lossless formats provided the AVR can accept analog on its end. The AVR would have to eventually convert all the digital signals to analog anyways, the player is just doing this step earlier in the chain. So you can still get great results this way.

    So, how many of the newer BR releases (of newer movies) use the higher end (lossless, etc. audio formats)? The Sony does internal decoding and outputs with 7.1.

  13. #13

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    It's rare to see a new release from the major studios that doesn't have at least one lossless track. Which type of lossless track varies by studio, but all three are pretty much equivalent as long as the original master is a quality track. Unfortunately 7.1 tracks are very rare at this point. There are a handful, but most are 5.1. Certain countries actually do better than US studios as far as audio goes. For instance, many asian blu-rays not only have 7.1 tracks but also have all three lossless codecs on the same disk. When or if the US studios will ever give us such a choice of audio options is an open question.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by cheddar View Post
    It's rare to see a new release from the major studios that doesn't have at least one lossless track. Which type of lossless track varies by studio, but all three are pretty much equivalent as long as the original master is a quality track. Unfortunately 7.1 tracks are very rare at this point. There are a handful, but most are 5.1. Certain countries actually do better than US studios as far as audio goes. For instance, many asian blu-rays not only have 7.1 tracks but also have all three lossless codecs on the same disk. When or if the US studios will ever give us such a choice of audio options is an open question.

    Thanks a lot for the input. I had been interested in the new Panasonic with on-board decoding but cannot find it anywhere. So, I guess I will go with the Sony.

  15. #15

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    Penny are over-priced right now.
    Sony was $229 @overstock. They just went up the price but I think $255 still not too bad. Shipping would be around $20 depends on your location.
    http://www.overstock-king.com/p-451-sonys-bdps550-blu-ray-disc-player-with-71ch-bonus-view-and-bd-live-ready.aspx

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilGabriel View Post
    Thanks a lot for the input. I had been interested in the new Panasonic with on-board decoding but cannot find it anywhere. So, I guess I will go with the Sony.
    they are hard to find right now, i believe they are going through another product line transition.
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  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by cheddar View Post
    Sami's right. Your player just has to decode TrueHD and DTS-HD MA internally, (uncompressed PCM doesn't need to be decoded) convert it to analog, and send it out over analog outs and you can listen to all three lossless formats provided the AVR can accept analog on its end. The AVR would have to eventually convert all the digital signals to analog anyways, the player is just doing this step earlier in the chain. So you can still get great results this way.
    Great info guys. I am still trying to get a handle on if I need a receiver with HD Audio or if my Sony S300 blue ray player will take care of creating HD audio. I am waiting for an upgrade disk from Sony that either creates HD Audio or improves on what was originally in the player. I still have not purchased an AVR yet so trying to decide on whether to get a pre-amp/amp combo or an AVR. Seems like most of the pre-amps(except the latest and more expensive models) do not offer alot of features that are now standard in AVR's (i.e. Audyssey,HD Audio,etc). Also wondering if my upgraded blue ray player will be as good regarding HD audio as the latest AVR's. Thanks for your input.......

  18. #18

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    If you can put together an HDMI system from beginning to end, then where the lossless audio 'decoding' takes place is not that important as you are just uncompressing TrueHD and DTS-HD MA to its original uncompressed PCM digital state. Since it's lossless, you get the same thing whether it's decoded in the player or the AVR. And if you are using a budget blu-ray player, chances are the DACs and other processing will be superior in your AVR so it doesn't matter where the decoding takes place.

    However, if you're going with analog cables between the player and the AVR, then the quality of the DACs in the player vs. the AVR are important. Digital to Analog conversion is not a lossless digital process and the result will vary depending on the quality of the DACs in the player and the AVR. So by using the analog cables, you are using the player's DAC chips instead of the AVRs after the decoding process. And if you are using a budget blu-ray player, you might be getting less quality than if you could have transferred the signal digitally to the AVR.

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    Just confirmed with Sony that their s300 blueray player firmware upgrade will include HD audio formatting. They indicated no differnce between AVR & player. Wondering if that also means DAC conversion is also the same quality? Hopefully, Sony would get it right but ????. Will be using HDMI cable between player and avr. Does that mean DAC conversion will be done at the player before it gets transmitted to the avr? If I understand things correctly, if HD Audio and DAC is being done by the blueray player, I can set my avr to "pass thru" this info to speakers without avr doing any processing. Wonder how this works in regards to other features included in avr such as THX, etc.

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    I have the Sony BDP-550 and use 5.1 analog out into my B&K AVR. The DAC's in the Sony seem to be adequate and I don't have any complaints as far as the Sony BR players ability to decode. I've found that audio quality does vary, both for movies and concert BR dvd's. When it's done right, it's very good. The Jethro Tull live 2003 BR is an example of an outstanding HD audio track on a concert DVD. I've found some older movies that were transferred to BR as having only a marginally improved sound track. Overall the HD/lossless audio is a nice improvement. YMMV.
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  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Murray1 View Post
    Just confirmed with Sony that their s300 blueray player firmware upgrade will include HD audio formatting. They indicated no differnce between AVR & player. Wondering if that also means DAC conversion is also the same quality? Hopefully, Sony would get it right but ????. Will be using HDMI cable between player and avr. Does that mean DAC conversion will be done at the player before it gets transmitted to the avr? If I understand things correctly, if HD Audio and DAC is being done by the blueray player, I can set my avr to "pass thru" this info to speakers without avr doing any processing. Wonder how this works in regards to other features included in avr such as THX, etc.
    HDMI is a digital transmission interconnect. It only transfers digital signals. Analog interconnects only transfer analog signals. Try not to confuse decoding/"uncompressing" TrueHD and DTS-HD MA digital signals to uncompressed PCM with converting the decoded uncompressed PCM to analog. The AVR has to have the digital uncompressed PCM to apply any processing "THX" modes etc. The analog signal is only needed at the very end when the final digital result from all the processing is converted to an analog signal to be sent to the analog speakers.

    Analog outs are usually only necessary when an AVR lacks HDMI, so it can't receive the digital lossless audio signals either by bitstreaming (decoded in the AVR) or uncompressed PCM (after being decoded in the player). So the player does any decoding, then adds the extra step of converting the digital result to an analog version and dumps this to the AVR over the analog outs. It's not that Sony's internal DACs would somehow screw up the signal. It's just that audiophile level DACs exist that add that extra bit of quality to the conversion that some people want. And people pay more for these DACs either in a player or in components that come after in the chain. And yes, this signal could pass through the AVR untouched and be suitable for outputting to the speakers. But in reality, AVRs usually apply additional processing to the signal (digital surround modes, etc.) which require an additional analog to digital conversion so the extra digital processing can be applied and an additional digital to analog conversion so that it can be output to the speakers.

    As you can see, that's a lot of conversion to be done using the analog outs and is only worth it if you have a high end player with a very good DAC section (probably talking thousands of dollars here) or if you don't have hdmi and have to use analog outs for backwards compatibility with older equipment.

    But for most users with HDMI, decoding the formats in either the player or AVR makes little difference as the resulting digital uncompressed PCM is the same either way. Then the AVR applies whatever digital processing it does and uses its own DACs to convert the final result to analog and out to the speakers. Again, you can pay more for better DACs and digital processing in the AVR, but it isn't necessary to hear good lossless audio in the first place.
    Last edited by cheddar; 03-04-2009 at 01:23 PM.

  22. #22

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    Cheddar,

    You must be an electronic engineer or something. Took me a number of reads to digest your post. Thank you so much for the info. On another thread, it appears Onkyo 806 is having some glitches regarding video and audio. Do you have any idea if the Denon 2809ci has better avr processing? Sounds like the Denon does not experience the same problem as the Oink.

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    I haven't heard anyone report any issues with the Denon AVR2809.

    cnh

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    That thread mainly appears to deal with a glitch in the video part of the AVR. From the post it affects onkyo AVRs with the faroudja chip. I don't have any experience with this glitch, but basically, an AV component depends on a chip to do its scaling when going from one screen resolution to another. So if you have a dvd source at 480p and want to watch it on a 1080p display, a chip in either the HDTV, AVR, or the player must scale up the image from 480p to 1080p (basically estimating the position of all the added pixels using the known pixels in the 480p source).

    While this mid-level model appears to have a problem, the good thing about onkyo is that they actually use a higher level chip (the reon) in their high end model. Onkyo does tend to sort these things out after the fact with firmware updates. My onkyo preamp also had a lot of problems that had to be sorted out by firmware updates. But it also had a lot of features that Denon didn't offer at the time. Like an affordable preamp with the reon chip.
    Last edited by cheddar; 03-04-2009 at 08:27 PM.

  25. #25

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    I can make a few recommendations:

    Ensure you're television can properly display a 1080/24fps format. Mpeg2 compression on DVD didn't help with the "natural" look and that's why many videophiles stuck with Laserdisc. Provided you're at 24fps you should get as natural picture as currently possible. For natural film like quality try "No Country For Old Men" or "Zodiac". Both offer reference film-like quality's.

    For audio; the lossless formats to this point have been somewhat disappointments. The average bitrate's have been clocking in at 4mbps. The DTS-HD MA format is capable of clocking as high as 24mpbs. To give you some perspective standard DTS discs were clocked at 1.5mpbs. The holy grail (up till this point) is about to be released on March 24th. The animation film 'Akira' which is said to have 5.1 channel 192khz/24bit support at a whopping 12mpbs. To give another frame of reference Transformers Dolby True HD track was clocked at around 4mpbs. The soundtrack information of Akira is almost the same as the ENTIRE BATMAN BEGINS MOVIE!!!

    Akira is said to finally unlock the potential of lossless audio. The differences are said to be striking. It's like listening to SACD but only for a movie. I have mine on order.

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    its definitely worth it for the 24 fps just got an 58 inch plasma that displays it and in sound as well, if you have everything setup right audio and visually is amazing. :D
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilGabriel View Post
    Thanks a lot for the input. I had been interested in the new Panasonic with on-board decoding but cannot find it anywhere. So, I guess I will go with the Sony.
    I think Samsung has a new model out that does onboard decoding and has analog outputs too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LuSh View Post
    Akira is said to finally unlock the potential of lossless audio. The differences are said to be striking. It's like listening to SACD but only for a movie. I have mine on order.
    Blu-ray losselss audio maxed out meets or exceeds the specs of DVD-Audio. It should be interesting to see how they use the potential not only for movies but for music as well if they ever get around to it.

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