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iPod Classic Flash Storage Upgrade and iPod Battery Replacements
Convert iPod Classic HDD to Flash Storage with iFlash adapter + 128GB SDXC Card $99!
Apple Audio/Video Setup Guides for iTunes, Airplay, Displays, More:
See Topic-based info at page of How-To Guides/Info for new Mac/OS X/iOS Users
Setting Up OS X to Output 5.1/7.1 Surround Sound via HDMI to Receiver/HDTV
Question from a reader (reply bounced) - due to length/images moved to a separate page.
(Also has general OS X Audio/Multichannel setup info & notes on Mac HDMI to AVR/HDTV config.)
Tips for fixing HDCP Errors playing iTunes HD Content with Notes, Causes & Tips that have helped in the past. (An HDCP compliant display is required of course - some are not.)
OS X Audio Problems (Fusion Drive and USB related):
Here's a few related threads (some very long now) from Apple's forums:
An Apple forum thread on Mavericks Bluetooth Audio problems has a tip on using Bluetooth Explorer that's part of Apple Hardware IO Tools, but it requires a (free) Dev acct to download.
Avid/Pro Tools Mac Guide: OS X 10.9 Optimizations and Troubleshooting. Also Pro Tools 11.3 Info & Downloads, MobilePre Drivers and Pro Tools 12 System Requirements.
Room EQ Wizard (REW) software is free & has a Mac OS X version (but uses Java Runtime)
DIY Speakers: How to Make a Good Sounding Pair of Bucket Speakers for $40. (Better DIY speaker/subwoofer kits sold by Parts Express and others.)
News, Tips and Updates:
(Aug 25, 2015) Apple Logic Pro X v10.2 update introduces Alchemy, "the ultimate sample manipulation synthesizer" and more new features. See the Logic Pro X 10.2 release notes for details. And Apple's Logic Remote for iPad v1.2.2 gets a new tabbed Transform Pad and X/Y Pad Smart Controls for Alchemy instruments and "Multiple stability and connectivity improvements".
(Aug 25, 2015) Apple MainStage v3.2 update also adds "Alchemy" sample manipulation synthesizer and more. See the Mainstage 3.2 release notes for details.
(Aug 20, 2015) Yamaha AV Controller iOS App (iOS 6 or later) v4.31 lists these changes:
(For Yamaha BD-A1010 owners, see this note on player settings for using AV Controller app.)
- Functionality improvement
- Compatibility with 2015 network AVR models
- MusicCast function compatibility
(Aug 13, 2015) iTunes 12.2.2 Update: See release notes, including Apple Music fixes.
(July 30, 2015) Yamaha RX-A1020/2020/3020 Receiver Firmware Update 1.91:
If not available via network update check, some use Yamaha Canada support site for Downloads (entering complete model number there - i.e. RX-A1020, RX-A2020, etc) as it avoids USA site "easypass" login/acct rqmt. Here's the info on v1.91 per the download page:
- Improves connectivity of network music and streaming services
Yamaha RX-A1000/2000/3000 Receiver Firmware Update 3.65:
Although not posted yet to web download pages (as of mid-August 2015 still showing previous 3.50 D/L), there's a v3.65 firmware update available via the network check. Some feedback says it helps with Pandora radio problems they had. (Although the previous v3.50 update was supposed to help with issues like that. v3.50 post below includes a Tip for Sirius users with connect problems.)
(June 3, 2015) Apple Beats Pill XL Speakers Recall:
Apple issued a press release on a Voluntary Recall of Beats Pill XL Speakers due to potential Battery overheating that could pose a fire risk. Complete details and instructions for owners at Apple's Beats Pill XL Speaker Recall Program page.
(June 1, 2015) Samsung BD-F7500 Firmware Update v1020.0. (Likely other F series blu-ray players also have an update.) As before, no info on what's changed/fixed in v1020 firmware. (As of post date the info pop-up doesn't list anything later than 1018 from Oct. 2014.)
(May 14, 2015) Final Cut Pro X 10.2.1 and Motion 5.2.1 Updates - see details.
(Apr 30, 2015) Videolan (VLC) notes libbluray 0.8.0 and libaacs 0.8.1 released.
(Apr 28, 2015) Yamaha has a press release on the RX-V379 Receiver with 4K, HDCP 2.2 and Bluetooth for $299.95 MSRP. Curious about power rating so I checked the RX-V379 specs page and it shows "Rated output power (20Hz-20kHz) 2ch driven: 70 W (8 ohms, 0.09% THD)".
(Apr 13 2015) Apple posted Final Cut Pro X 10.2, Motion 5.2 and Compressor 4.2 Updates. (Page has full release notes and apple press release.)
(Apr 10, 2015) Press releases on HDMI 2.0a Specification released with HDR support and DTS:X "Open, Immersive, Flexible Object-Based Audio" coming to Cinema and Home.
(Mar 31, 2015) FYI on Walmart Exclusive Interstellar Collector's Edition
Some notes on things to check (Neo case and disc scratches) before leaving the store and a FYI on audio levels:
- Neo Case Scratches: Neo cases are infamous for being easily scratched. Despite picking packages that looked perfect, several samples bought in store had horizontal scratches across the Neo case. (An appx 1" wide stripe, most visible if viewing Neo case from an angle.) I suspect abrasions during the packaging process, as the shrink wrap showed no damage. Some had vertical scratches also but a horizontal 'stripe' in the gloss was more common. Every package bought looked perfect before unwrapping - the neo case looked pristine. You could not see case scratches/abrasions until removing the shrink wrap.
(FYI: I later saw a "Gravity" SE Neo case with the same scratch pattern.)
- Disc Scratches: Check all discs for scratches - he returned/swapped twice over disc scratches. (DVDs in his case, but some have also had scratched Blu-rays.) Turns out his first package's DVD was the best (only 1 ding, 1 match head sized discolored spot). It played OK except for an apparent 1 second 'jump' at 1:25:24 (Chapter 11) which after trying a 2nd DVD (with many long scratches) did the same thing. (Perhaps a layer change point?) Regardless check discs before leaving the store if possible. (Always good to check for damage even if buying a standard package/case or steelbook. It can save a return trip plus limited supply/exclusives may not be available later.)
- Audio Levels: I was asked to test play the (exchanged) 2nd DVD with long scratches as the buyer didn't feel like sitting through a 2nd test in the same day. Haven't played the Blu-Ray yet but I'd suggest caution on your subwoofer/speaker volume due to very high levels at times with the DVD here. (Not seen level tests for clipping yet.) Issues with Dialog in some scenes reportedly was director intent. Most bass seems to be 30Hz and up, with some exceptions. My sub amp has an excellent limiter (SVS Sledge 1KW) but not all do. (BTW: Saw 3 reports of overheated JBL ES250 subwoofer voice coils.)
I didn't see Interstellar in theaters but enjoyed watching it at home. Looking forward to a second viewing later, using the Blu-Ray version when I can be less conservative on volume level. (When playing the DVD I had to keep adjusting volume back as my better half was reading in an adjacent room - 'bouncy' floors, thin walls + decent sub results in a lot of transmission.)
Despite the packaging issues noted (potential case/disc scratches), at $22.96 (release day in local store, YMMV as no longer online) the Walmart Interstellar Collector's Edition is a very attractive set and I could live with the Neo case scratches I've seen. (I do wish Neo cases had better disc holders though.) The Collector's Edition also includes an Interstellar 48-page Art booklet and Film cell (as do some other initial releases). The film cell choice is random though - some samples are very nice and others are poor (out of focus, picture of an object only or room, too dark, etc.). Some Film cells are IMAX aspect ratio, some scope. Of course already ebay auctions for the Film cells. (As usual some samples at prices that are nuts IMO. One sold for $147.26 and another over $200.)
Reader Tip for owners of Samsung HW-H750 soundbar that can't connect to app after recent firmware (auto) update (1114.7) - reset the soundbar by powering on, holding remote's Repeat button until "INIT" appears on display. Then try connecting again after HW-H750 power up.
Tip for Removing a 'Stuck' Subwoofer Plate Amp:
Had an question from a SVS sub owner regarding my older post on SVS Ultra Bash amp repairs ask how to remove the subwoofer's plate amplifier as even with the mounting screws removed it would not budge. I've added tips I've used for 'stuck' plate amps to the Amp failure/repair page.
(Minor) Blu-Ray Disc Scratch Repair:
Had a friend upset over damage on a blu-ray disc from "possibly the worst disc package he's ever seen" ('Black Sails' season 1) - an extremely tight cardboard sleeve fit. (I'd have used an exacto knife to extend the radius of the 'opening' perhaps but too late.) The first disc removed had over a dozen scratches/scuffs near the hub (straight out) and two long diagonal scratches across the disc, with one scratch having a long 'zig-zag' (Z) pattern. I've seen deeper scratches but can't say as I've ever seen that many on a 'new' (removed once) disc. (Granted I did not see how carefully it was removed but from the looks of it there may have been some grit in the package/surface during original insertion - although these were so tight I wonder if the cardboard was sealed after placing the discs inside - I'm not kidding.)
Since these were not my discs (and being BR's) I didn't want to try the (cheap) disc spinner/'buffer wheel' I had used on some of my badly scratched (usually DVD) discs in the past. (Or the 'plastic polish' compound I'd used on some HD-DVD 'fogged' discs.) But I remembered an old tip on using (spray) Furniture Polish and had an old can of "Behold" on hand to try - it helped. Before using the polish, at appx 40min in you'd see the video pause/jump ahead a few seconds (and trying to rewind back past that point would hang). No glitches seen after applying the spray polish. Hopefully it lasts awhile but easy to apply again.
(Dec 1, 2014) Multiple Subwoofers: Benefits and Setup - a Q&A with Harman's Todd Welti (Principal Engineer in Acoustics) and Kevin Voecks (Manager of Product Development). (Here's a page with Harman White Papers on Audio setup, design and science.)
(Nov 26/29th, 2014) Oppo has posted OPPO BDP-80 Firmware Update BDP80-26-1020 and BDP-83 Firmware Update BDP83-60-1110 (also for BDP-83 Special Edition) to fix the "Wrong Disc" error/eject problem with X-Men: Days of Future Past blu-ray. Info on the problem per Oppo:
"This is caused by the new "BD+" protocol (or Digital Rights Protection system) applied to this title which requires longer decryption time than the value allowed by the player. This firmware adjusted the decryption time and resolved this issue."
Never owned an Oppo but Kudos to them for continuing support for older models to fix this.
(BTW: Saw a later Oppo post saying that only the BDP-10x series players support seamless branching, and may be a factor in audio dropouts with some discs used with BDP-9x and earlier player models. Also said seamless branching was required to fully support Dolby Atmos.)
(Nov 2014) Yamaha Aventage Receiver Firmware Updates (fix Internet Streaming)
Firmware Updates for RX-A1000/2000/3000 (firmware v3.50), RX-A1010/2010/3010 (firmware v1.60) and RX-A1030/2030/3030 (firmware v1.60). If not available via network update check, some use Yamaha Canada support site for Downloads (entering complete model number there) as it avoids USA site "easypass" login/acct rqmt. All those updates seem to have the same change info - here's an example from RX-A2000's v3.50 download page:
- Improves connectivity of network music streaming services
Hopefully this update fixes the earlier reports on problems connecting to Sirius and Rhapsody.(Oct. 14, 2014) Oppo BDP-83 problems with X-Men Days of Future Past Blu-Ray:
Sirius Tip: If you still can't connect to Sirius after the firmware update, Yamaha support suggests deleting the existing Sirius account info from the Receiver and setup the Sirius acct. again.
Several reports that the X-Men DoFP Blu-ray disc (just released) wouldn't load - BDP-83 displays "Wrong Disc" and tray ejects. A reader said his BDP-83 was using the latest firmware from March 2012, so he reported the problem to Oppo. (Update: Fixed in new OPPO BDP-83 FW Update.)
The Days of Future Past 3D disc played OK in Samsung BD-F7500 (FW v1017.0) and the 2D disc worked in a (2009) Sony BDP-S1000ES with last FW 14 update from 2012. A later report said no issues with DoFP disc in an Oppo BDP-93, so later models (103/105) may be OK also.
(Update: Also saw a report on DoFP Disc errors in an LG BD611 with up-to-date firmware.)
(Oct. 3, 2014) Criterion blog post on Exchanging Defective Discs includes an address to send your disc(s) for replacement, although some owners have reported playback problems with other titles of that era (2009-2010) so YMMV. (Problem is reportedly due to a specific mfg plant?) Owners of now defective OOP titles are concerned if replacements will be available. "Bronzing" often present on affected discs, but not always. Problems ranged from total inability to play to freezes at later points in playback.
(Sept. 29, 2014) An Onkyo press release notes Firmware Updates to Enable Dolby Atmos® on TX-NR636, TX-NR737 and TX-NR838 Receivers. (On Sept. 18th, a Pioneer press release noted a Dolby Atmos Firmware Update for Pioneer Elite SC-85/87/89 receivers would be available by the end of the month.)
(Aug 19, 2014) Glad to see Onkyo announce a Repair Program for Audio/Network Connection failures in some 2009-2012 mfg Receivers. This hopefully covers the (sometimes repeat) "HDMI board" Failures. (Previously in some cases they did out of warranty repairs per some owner reports.) This may make my rarely used Onkyo TX-NR3007 worth something now.
(Jul 6, 2014) An in-depth Review of SVS's SB13-Ultra Subwoofer by Josh Ricci.
(Jul 2, 2014) S&V posted a Review of Onkyo's TX-NR636 AVR, a HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2-compliant receiver with a street price under $600. However I see it has "AccuEQ" room EQ/Calibation and not Audyssey. (Hopefully their HDMI board problems are a thing of the past. Regardless the brand would not be on my short list. Seen too many failures.)
(June 23, 2014) Dolby's Blog has info on Dolby Atmos: Coming soon to a living room near you. And here's PR on Atmos related products from Yamaha, Pioneer and Onkyo. (Personally I'd suggest not buying early Atmos receivers at this stage. Just as with most new tech, often it's best to wait for a mfr's 2nd generation.) Also consider changes coming in HDMI (2.0, 2.0a) and HDCP (2.2).
(June 16, 2014) Sad to hear Audio Engineer Tom Nousaine passed away. He was a true pioneer in subwoofer testing (and audio myth busting) in the 90's and many benefited from his work. An archive of over 30 of his articles (in PDF format) are at his website: www.nousaine.com.
(May 5, 2014) In-Depth Review of JL Audio E-Sub e110 and e112 by Josh Ricci. (His reviews make most others look like a press release.)
(Apr 29, 2014) Info/History on Steve Jobs' Stereo System Components
(Apr 8, 2014) For SACD fans, a reader sent a link to a Super Audio CD reference site SA-CD.net that also covers Blu-Ray audio.
(Apr. 7, 2014) Samsung BD-F7500 (Blu-ray player) (and other F series perhaps) Firmware Update v1016.3. As with the last 3 updates, no info on what's changed/fixed on the web page or in the download zip file. (Web page version text is a jumbled mess.) Saw a post from a BD-F5900 owner regretting updating to 1016.3, citing a change in interface/behavior for playing back his networked media files. (As with most FW updates, if you're ok currently it's often best to not update.)
(Apr 1, 2014) AH posted an article on Sealed vs Ported Subwoofers. (My main use is Movies and I prefer ported, but my old subs can also be set to sealed.)
(Feb 23, 2014) Subwoofer Experts Explain Their Designs (SVS, HSU, PSA, Velodyne, Axiom)
(Feb 21, 2014) Parametric EQ and streaming audio on iOS: What's the hold-up? (EDN)
(Jan 23, 2014) Yamaha AVR Firmware Update for Spotify Connect. For CX-A5000, RX-A3030, RX-A2030, RX-A1030, RX-A830, RX-A730, RX-V775WA, RX-V675, TSR-6750WA models.
(Dec 24, 2013) This isn't news to most readers but AH has a recap/repeat on Truth vs Hype about Expensive HDMI Cables that has a LOL comment ("I was going to buy a new car, but I bought an HDMI cable instead") below a table on insanely expensive ($1000+ per Meter) HDMI cables. But we all know that you can get quality HDMI cables for under $10 (often a pair - i.e AMZ basics) and even the typical 'Brand Name' HDMI cables cost far too much and are often way over-hyped in stores. But for even more laughs, read the review comments on a $500+ USB cable in EDN's USB cables and Audio: Can You Hear the Difference? (Also check out the related links (i.e. cable 'break-in' - I'm not kidding) at the bottom of the article.)
(Dec 20, 2013) New 2013 Mac Pro How-To/Upgrade Guides and Tips
List of Apple's new Mac Pro (Late 2013) articles including using multiple monitors, audio, installing/removing ram/flash storage, power usage and more. The Late 2013 Mac Pros have dual Video cards which are supported in Final Cut Pro X 10.1 (and later) and Motion 5.1 (and later). Unfortunately some new Mac Pro owners have had problems with them initially, which hopefully will be fixed in later updates. And some wish there were Nvidia card options which would offer CUDA support/acceleration for some apps.
Settings Tip for Using iPad/iPhone Remote Control App for Yamaha BD-A1010 BD Player:
I've seen several posts from owners of the Yamaha BD-A1010 universal/blu-ray player frustrated that their iPad/iPhone (or Android) using the free Yamaha AV Controller app could not "find" the Yamaha BD-A1010 on their network. (Despite some reports, the iOS AV Controller still works with Firmware 1.7712 in a BD-A1010 here.) The Yamaha BD-A1010 *must* have the player's Network Control option set to Yes. (See manual page 33.)
This might get overlooked since some Yamaha A/V Receivers (like my RX-A2000) -do not- require any Network/Standby setting to be enabled for the Remote App to work, but the BD-A1010 (and perhaps other players) require Network Control to be enabled. (The RX-A2000 was powered on using the standard remote (IR) since Network standby was set to OFF.) Both BD-A1010 & RX-A2000 were connected via Ethernet to an Apple 802.11n Base's Ethernet hub. (Personally I don't leave Network Control/Standby (or any 'fast start') settings enabled as I don't like having rarely used devices like this in (basically) sleep mode. However if you don't leave it enabled, every time you turn on the BD-A1010 you'd have to enable it for the network Remote App to work.)
Panasonic Blu-ray Remote 2012 App v1.0.4 "Fixed issues on iOS 7". This is a Remote control app for Panasonic DMP-BDT120, DMP-BDT220, DMP-BDT221, DMP-BDT320, DMP-BDT321, DMP-BDT500 and DMP-BBT01 models. (v1.0.4 still current as of August 2015.)
No HDMI Audio after Wake from Sleep in OS X Mavericks: Tested for this reported problem here with my Mac Mini running OS X 10.9. Rather than rebooting I found another way to restore HDMI audio. Updated with later tests (OK). (Also retested ok with OS X 10.9.4.)
(Dec 3, 2013) Klipsch Launches (Headphone) S/N Verification to Fight Counterfeits (PR)
(Nov. 25, 2013) Yamaha BD-A1010 Firmware Update v1.7712 (BluRay/Univ. Player)
FW notes only say "Continuing YouTube service after YouTube SSL Certificate change".
(Nov 25, 2013) Panasonic DMP-BDT220/320/321/500/BBT01 Firmware v1.63
Linked page has (PC) self-extracting .exe D/L or Update via Network Update check.
(The US DMP-BDT320, BDT500 & BBT01 Firmware page shows v1.63, but download link is still v1.53 as of Aug 2015.)
V1.63's changes only say "Playability of Blu-ray Disc".
I generally avoid installing updates right away but did test with a BDT500 model and found the 1.63 firmware fixed a 4-5 minute delay playing Great Gatsby (2013) Blu-Ray with firmware 1.53.
BTW: After seeing a BDT220 owner problem report w/1.63 firmware, I verified that all Homeland Season 1 Blu-Rays played OK in my Panasonic BDT500 w/1.63 firmware. (He said Homeland S1 discs weren't recognized in a v1.63 updated BDT220 but worked in another BDT220 w/1.53 FW.)
I also saw 1 report of problems playing Star Trek Into Darkness 3D disc with Panasonic BDT500 firmware 1.63 but I had no problems with a v1.63 firmware BDT500 playing that 3D disc.
(FYI: Later heard that v1.63 disables analog video out for BDT-500 during BR/AACS playback.)
Fundamentals of USB Audio (EDN)
USB audio: Asynchronous is the only choice for compromise-free audio (EDN)
Mixing - Headphones, loudspeakers...and subjectivity (EDN)
OS X 10.8.5: No Audio after Wake from Sleep - Notes from our page on OS X 10.8.5 update Problems & Tips. [Fixes included in Supplemental Update for OS X 10.8.5.]
Active noise cancellation: Trends, concepts, & technical challenges (EDN)
Loudspeaker operation: The superiority of current drive over voltage drive (EDN)
555-based class-D headphone driver makes great practice amp (EDN)
(Sept 18, 2013) The Great Gatsby Freezes in Panasonic Blu-Ray Player (Tip) [FW 1.53]
A reader said he returned "The Great Gatsby" (2013) Blu-Ray Disc twice for replacements, but it still would not play in his Panasonic bluray player. (Disc had no scratches or damage.) The Great Gatsby 3D Blu-Ray played fine in both Panasonic BDT500 and 320, but the (2D) Blu-Ray disc seemed to freeze the Panasonic players - display showed 00:00:00, no response to remote or buttons on player. I asked if the player firmware was up-to-date (v1.53 as of 9/18/2013) and if he tried all the usual tips (disable BDLive, with/without SDcard inserted, reformat card/clear stored data, disconnect power from player/reset, etc) - no help. The same disc played OK even in older Sony (S1000) & Yamaha (A1010) players.
After searching I found a similar note from another Panasonic player owner and asked he wait 4-5 minutes for the disc to load. (Despite player being unresponsive, just wait.) That worked. Not exactly sure why, but that disc (and perhaps some others) takes a lot longer to start in some Panasonic players. (So long I suspect others may do as he did - cycle power/pull the plug and/or return the disc.) Maybe Panasonic can address this in a future firmware update. (I assume something to do with DRM/java but that's just a guess.)
[Update (11/25/2013): Test with a BDT500 showed this issue was fixed in Firmware Update 1.63.]
(Aug 27, 2013) Pioneer BDP-51FD, -LX71, -LX08, LX01BD Firmware 1.74:
Should be at US site soon, but I've used firmware from their Japan and EU sites OK before (same fw), but my 51FD is in storage now and the usual Firmware update disclaimers apply. V1.74 Firmware is currently available at www.pioneer.eu/eur/support/software/BDP-51FD/page.html and per the
version history (PDF):
"CHANGE HISTORY for: BDP-LX71, BDP-LX08, BDP-51FD, LX01BD
Linked Pioneer page also has firmware update instructions.
(26-08-2013) Ver 1.74: Enhances playback compatibility with certain BD-ROM
Yamaha Aventage Receiver Firmware Updates released for (2010 models) RX-A1000/2000/3000 (firmware v3.43), (2011 models) RX-A1010/2010/3010 (firmware v1.37) and (2012 models) RX-A1020/2020/3020 (firmware v1.58). [See above for later A1020/2020/3020 firmware.] There may also be updates for other models. If not available via network update check, some use Yamaha Canada support site for Downloads (entering complete model number there) as it avoids USA site "easypass" login/acct rqmt. All those updates seem to have the same change info - here's an example from RX-A2000's v3.43 download page:
- Lets you continue using Rhapsody/Napster* service
- Improves network function stability
*Music availability varies by regions
The 'registered' date of the update was listed as 4/15/2013, rom file dated 4/8/2013. Saw one A2000 owner report odd behavior after the update regarding video playback, but no specifics given other than power cycling/toggling inputs helped. (An old tip for odd problems is unplugging/disconnecting from AC power for a few minutes.)
Flashing Older Firmware in Yamaha Aventage Receiver:
I've not done this personally (not had a need to so far), but an owner of a Yamaha RX-V1067 (EU version of (US) RX-A1000) reported that he had very low LFE output after updating to firmware v3.43 (not had that problem w/3.43 on my A2000) and was able to backflash to 3.20 firmware by using this procedure:
BackFlashing Yamaha Aventage AVR Firmware (YMMV)
- Disconnect AC Power from Receiver (suggest using Switched Outlet strip)
- Insert a USB Flash drive with previous Firmware (FAT format w/rom file only)
- While holding down "Pure Direct" Button, Switch AC power On
I would only try this in dire cases as it may not work with all models/all previous firmware versions. (IIRC, some firmware updates only update specific portions/functions of the rom and you may end up with an unusable mismatch - although my D/Ls of v3.20, v3.34 and v3.43 are the same size (and should be cumulative up to the D/L version). Maybe this service flash method does a complete copy w/o any section/version checks.) Not sure why he used v3.20 instead of the previous 3.34 version, maybe he didn't have v3.34 on hand.
(Bitstreaming) Dolby True-HD Audio Drop Outs (again):
As reported previously, there's been more reports of audio dropouts with another recent Dolby TrueHD Blu-Ray - this time Monsters Inc. (and 'Monsters University'). (Same Dolby TrueHD audio dropout issue previously reported with other recent TrueHD releases like Total Recall (2012), Brave, Finding Nemo, etc. although not everyone had the problem.) And the same workaround/fix - change the Blu-Ray player from Bitstream to PCM audio output. As before however, no issues seen (heard) with bitstreaming these titles with the only setup I have access to - a Panasonic DMP-BDT500 (w/v1.53 firmware) with HDMI 1 (video) direct to an HDTV and HDMI 2 (audio) to a Yamaha RX-A2000 (firmware 3.34) receiver. Zero dropouts with this setup and Monsters Inc 7.1 audio selected, player set to bitstream. (BDLive always disabled.) Ditto (no issue) with TrueHD audio on Total Recall (2012), Brave, etc. (BTW: I have to say the audio and video of the new Monsters Inc 3D release was some of the best I've ever experienced. Outstanding.)
I've not tested using a single HDMI connection (both A/V to AVR, then out to TV) but have seen some dropout reports from others using Dual HDMI output player setups including Sony S790 and Oppo BDP-103 owners. (And one Oppo BDP-103 owner said he had audio dropouts bitstreaming Monster Inc's 5.1 audio.) I later saw an Oppo quote that it's related to seamless branching.
Normally with any disc playback issues you'd blame the player/firmware (or new DRM), but I felt the AVR used is a primary factor since with bitstreaming the AVR does the audio decoding. (Unless they player is improperly bitstreaming data.) Using the workaround PCM setting has the Player doing the decode. (However I did see a post from an Onkyo 709 owner saying his Oppo BDP-83 had dropouts (Total Recall 2012), but a Panasonic BDT-110 didn't with the same receiver.) Wish I had a Sony S790 or Oppo to test with my AVR to see if a player change (only) mattered here.
Despite the focus on firmware updates/bugfixes for players/AVRs, some felt a change in Dolby's TrueHD encoding is the real culprit. (Originally I'd wondered if the playback problems were related to another new spin on DRM, but audio dropouts can also be caused by a player's lack of support for seamless branching.)
Although many think a replacement disc may help, usually it doesn't. Official (studio/mfr) disc replacement programs in general are rare but have happened at times for some common playback problems. One example was over some Dredd discs that wouldn't play. (I'm not referring to cases of "disc rot", as there has been replacement offers from some studios for that in the past.) There were rumors of redone Total Recall 2012 discs (later disputed) and some have repeatedly swapped blu-rays at retail over TrueHD dropout problems - usually with no change.
HD-DVD Disc "Rot" notes / Tip for Cleaning Discs (HD/DVD/BR/CD):
(FYI: See later post above on some Criterion discs failing and replacements)
After getting a recent heads up from a reader with an HD-DVD Collection about playback problems with several of his HD-DVD discs (most Warner Bros he said - google HD-DVD disc rot for owner posts), I checked my HD-DVDs (16 movies + U2 Rattle and Hum) from 2007 (IIRC, shortly before HD-DVD production was halted) to see if any were now bad.
These HD-DVD cases had not opened for at least 3 or 4 years I think, and some I had never used/touched at all. (5 were part of a free bundle with the Toshiba A20 player I bought back then.) I noticed about 1/3 of the HD-DVD discs had areas of (white/milky) clouding on the back side - some worse than others - one looked like there had been some sort of condensation present (i.e. looked like a long drip line down the disc). Most however just had odd shaped areas of white/milky clouding that would not wipe off with water (or the usual fogging by breathing on them) using a microfiber cloth.
The worst examples I had were the Bladerunner 5 disc set and the Matrix Ultimate collection. (I should have done the trade-in to Blu-Ray offered years ago but didn't.) So I dusted off/hooked up my Toshiba HD-A20 (w/last firmware update) and tested them. Although some reported cases of discs not recognized at all, most reports cited freezing/lockups part way through the movie (some say at layer change?) so the best test is a complete playback, not just seeing if it plays to the menu, jumping to specific scenes/chapters etc. Here's a summary of what I found in my collection:
- I tested several of the worst (clouding) examples (and discs I liked most - Blade Runner disc 1, Matrix 1, FMJ) in the Toshiba A20 and they played all the way through. (I'd forgotten how good they looked.) I separated out all discs that showed any clouding at all and will test them as time allows. (This was before using the plastic polish.)
- It may not be related, but I also noticed that -all- of the HD-DVD cases that had glossy interiors had a layer of some sort of film/fogging on them. (As if the plastic had outgassed over time, or was it just related to mfg plastic mold release?) A couple cases had a matte/pebble-like finish inside (i.e. Unforgiven) and were still pristine. The heavily clouded discs were all from the cases with glossy interiors btw.
- Some think the problem with HD-DVD disc 'rot' was from a specific batch or mfr. (Google 'hd-dvd rot cinram' and you'll see some hits, including one on LaserDisc rot.) I wasn't able to tell if any of mine were made by cinram but did notice two different disc types: all silver on the back and others with a white center ring. (The worst clouding examples were the white ring disc type.)
- (Cloudy) Disc Cleaning Tip: One tip I saw for cleaning the discs to remove the milky clouding was using plastic polish. I remembered years ago (2005 or so) I'd bought some "Meguiar's Scratch-X" (fine scratch and swirl remover) to polish haze out of an old mustang's plastic speedometer lens. (Never tried the later Scratch-X "2.0".)
I used a small amount of it on the discs (worst examples first), just lightly rubbing it with a finger around the back of the disc. Waited a few seconds and buffed it off with just toilet paper. Bingo - all the clouding was gone. (I was impressed at how well the Scratch-X worked for this, but I have not tried it for scratches on discs, and only would if any were bad enough to affect playback.)
This isn't a new problem and I suspect few even have these now but for anyone with a HD-DVD disc rot problem that cleaning doesn't fix, a thread at AVForums titled Warner Brothers HD-DVD's Disk Rot has some posts (i.e. April 2012) with WB contact info to try and get replacements (or swaps for BR), not always possible - YMMV. This is a long post (and maybe should have been put on a separate page) but perhaps the cleaning tip may be useful for owners of other Discs (CD/DVD/BR).
(Feb 6, 2013) FYI on Dredd Blu-Ray Disc Problems:
For anyone that had playback problems with their disc, a reader sent a link to a BestBuy Forum post on Dredd Blu-Ray Disc problems that has a Feb 6th, 2013 post from BB that says they (finally) have been able to confirm there were some bad discs:
"I have received a final update from our business team as well as the vendor, and I wanted to make sure to pass this on to all of you. After all of their research, they have been able to isolate this problem to a specific number of copies of this movie. Due to the number of affected discs, customers are being asked to contact Lionsgate directly with any issues. They can be reached at 1-877-230-2756 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org."
(Dec 19, 2012) FYI: Lots of reports of (TrueHD) Audio dropouts with the new (2012) Total Recall blu-ray. (A workaround cited is switching the BR player to output PCM vs Bitstream.) Many reports from Oppo owners as well as Sony (including latest 590, 790 models) and perhaps other models/brands. I suspect it might be related to another spin on DRM and may require yet another firmware update to players (or AVRs). Some are calling for the studio to exchange/replace discs (w/fix) but I doubt that will happen. Since it's not a universal issue with all players, I suspect it's player related (firmware/chipset, lack of seamless branching support.) Personally I always preferred DTS over Dolby.
Test Report: SVS PC-13 Ultra Subwoofer
(Assuming the amp's port tune option was set to match the port plug config (?), their 16Hz tune +/-3dB results look suspect. (It's only 1Hz lower than the 20Hz Tune results.) But the common (on both 16Hz & 20Hz graphs) peak/hump centered around 45Hz is a factor. I'd expect a flatter resonse in that area than their results when done outdoors. (Typical test environment, done to rule out any room effects.) Despite comments they followed SVS (Ed's) suggestions, perhaps test mic location may have affected FR results. (Driver on bottom and ports on top both contribute.)
I own an older (pre-sledge amp) PC13 Ultra bought used and needing a Bash amp repair. Absolutely no regrets and it's performed great in my room(s). (Actually better than the box in my rooms.) I prefer the cylinder as it's easier to move (easy to get access to Amp/settings vs box) and despite the box having perhaps a couple db more at the bottom end, no complaints on performance.
Tips on SVS Ultra 750W Bash Subwoofer AMP Failures (+ Checks Before you Buy) moved to a separate page.
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