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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.)
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:
(Nov 18, 2016) Samsung UBD-K8500 4K/UHD Player Firmware 1009.1
Available via update check (no info on changes). Should appear soon on UBD-K8500 support page for Download. (The under $200 sale from Costco ends Nov. 28th. BestBuy still shows $199.99 as of Nov. 29th AM but may be over by the time you read this.)
(Nov 1, 2016) Yamaha AV Controller iOS App (iOS 6 or later) v4.52 lists these changes:
Update is probably related to below AVR Firmware updates.
- Functionality Improvement (no details, same note as v4.51)
(Oct 31, 2016) iTunes 12.5.3 release notes say "This update includes stability and performance improvements. It also fixes an issue where albums may play in an unexpected order and resolves a problem that prevented lyrics from appearing while listening to Beats 1."
Available via software update or full download at apple.com/itunes/download/. (See system requirements on linked page.)
(Oct 27, 2016) OS X GarageBand v10.1.3 for OS X 10.10 or later adds support for Touch Bar on new Macbook Pros (and lists "Stability improvements and bug fixes").
Yamaha RX-A1050/A2050/A3050, RX-V1079/V2079/V3079 Firmware Update 1.89
Available for download at Yamaha support sites or via network update. (Here's the USA Yamaha site FW 1.89 download page, dated Oct. 25, 2016. Page has a PDF guide to updating.) As mentioned earlier (regarding some Wifi update failures) - I'd use the downloaded update (unzipped .bin file) in the root of a freshly formatted (FAT format) USB flash drive.
Here's the list of changes in the v1.89 firmware update (primarily MusicCast related):
This firmware includes
There's also a v1.89 Firmware update with the same changes for the CX-A5100 pre-pro.
- Added Playlist and Queue function
(Playlist and Queue are in MusicCast App. See App v2.00 update below)
- Compatibility with AAC format (internet radio)
- Improved design of Source Screen (? AVR screen appears unchanged)
- Added Disklavier Link function (for MusicCast models with AUX input)
- Other operation improvement
(Here's the USA CX-A5100 Firmware Update V1.89 D/L page.)
FYI: See below for Oct. 20th, 2016 updates to MusicCast Controller & AV Controller iOS Apps.
Yamaha RX-A1060/2060/3060, RX-V1081/2081/3081 Firmware Update Version 1.26
Also posted Oct. 25th, firmware update for these 2016 Yamaha AVR Models available via network update or searching the Yamaha Support site for your model number. (Here's a link to the US RX-V1081/RX-V2081/RX-V3081/RX-A1060/RX-A2060/RX-A3060 FW Update 1.26 download page.)
Firmware v1.26 changes are the same as the above v1.89 update for 2015 models.
(Some also think this fixed a distance error in YAPO.)
(Oct 20, 2016) Yamaha MusicCast Controller (US) iOS app v2.00 (iOS 9 or later)
- Improved design of Source Screen
- Compatibility with AAC format (internet radio)
- Moved Search function to browser screen of each source (Net radio, Phone/Tablet)
- Added Playlist function: Long press a song to create Playlist.
- Added Queue function: Long press a song to put it into Queue. (List in Now Playing Page)
(Ensure your MusicCast devices have the latest firmware to enable the above new features.)
(Sep 13, 2016) iOS GarageBand v2.1.2 for iOS 10.0 or later lists "Stability improvements and bug fixes".
Yamaha RX-A1050/A2050/A3050, RX-V1079/V2079/V3079 Firmware Update 1.81
(See above for later FW update. The v1.81 FW D/L page dated July 28, 2016 now removed.)
Here's the list of changes in the v1.81 firmware update:
This firmware includes
The D/L page has "Additional information about DTS-HD and DTS:X playback" (PDF) with info on new DTS Mode Options in the Advanced Setup menu. DTS Mode 1 (default/normal) and a Mode 2 that should fix the issue with some older blu-ray players not bitstreaming DTS movies with DTS:X updated receivers. (See article from March here on this issue with previous firmware. It's a DTS-related EDID fix IIRC.)
- HDMI connectivity improvement with certain Ultra HD Blu-ray player
- Fixing sound cut-off issue of playing back certain Blu-ray discs
- MusicCast Link function improvement
- Playback improvement in Neural:X mode
- DTS Mode (See Info in DTS PDF. Notes below)
- Other functionality improvement
How to Change the Advanced Setup to DTS Mode 2 IF you have an Affected Player
(The Default DTS Mode is 1 - no need to change it if your player bitstreams DTS OK)
With AVR off, Advanced Setup is done by holding the "Straight" button under the front cover, then push 'main zone'/power button. Advanced setup info shows only on the AVR display - see manual for details. Using the "Program" horizontal rocker switch, the DTS Mode option is just after the 4K Mode option. Pressing "Straight" button changes the Mode setting. (Wish the new DTS Modes was an option setting for an Input instead. That way you could set Mode 2 just for the input of an affected player instead of a global setting. If not, at least have it an option in the normal (on screen) setup options.) No info yet if mode 2 has any downside for players that were not affected by the DTS bitstreaming issue, but if not why have 2 modes? (I read a post on the fix in a Denon update but it didn't mention an options setting.)
Yamaha CX-A5100 Pre-Pro Firmware Update v1.82
(See above for later 1.89 firmware. The v1.82 FW D/L page now removed.)
There was also a v1.82 firmware update for the CX-A5100 that has the same change list as AVR's v1.81 above.
Yamaha RX-A1060/2060/3060, RX-V1081/2081/3081 Firmware Update Version 1.11
(See above for later 1.29 firmware. Previous v1.11 FW D/L page now removed.)
Firmware v1.11 changes are a subset of the above update for 2015 models:
This firmware includes
See above notes on the new DTS Modes if you have an affected Blu-Ray player.
- DTS Mode (see related DTS PDF on D/L page)
- Playback improvement in Neural:X mode
- Other functionality improvement
Other Yamaha Receiver Firmware Updates - including Napster/Rhapsody fixes:
In addition to the above 2015/2016 model updates, there are also firmware updates posted July 28th, 2016 for some earlier Yamaha Receiver models (2010 to 2014 Aventage Ax000, Ax010, Ax020, Ax030, Ax040, and perhaps others) that include Napster/Rhapsody updates required to continue using the service. Although you can use the receiver's network update, I prefer using the download updaters installed via (FAT formatted) USB flash drive. Download pages can be found by visiting the Yamaha Support site for your country and search for your model number. (Here's the USA Yamaha support site downloads page.)
For some models there are other fixes included, related to using the Yamaha AV Controller app, blu-ray audio dropouts (x040 series) and/or network fixes. (If anyone finds this update helps with the repeated HDMI video dropouts with Macs some reported in the past, let me know. A Mac Mini OS X 10.11.6 Yamaha RX-A2040 owner said firmware 1.91 seems to have solved it.)
(June 30, 2016) Logic Pro X 10.2.4 Update: Many fixes/improvements - see release notes.
(June 28, 2016) Yamaha AV Controller iOS App (iOS 6 or later) v4.50 lists these changes:
For DTS:X compatible receivers, this version adds "DTS Dialog Control" setting (+/-). See earlier notes about this optional feature. I'd hoped this would be a standard feature of all DTS:X movies, but to date I don't think any have that option (object) in the encode.
- Compatibility with 2016 network AVR & Blu-ray player models
- Functionality Improvement
(For Yamaha BD-A1010 owners, see this note on player settings for using AV Controller app.)
(June 9, 2016) Logic Pro X 10.2.3 (Major) Update - Long list of changes/fixes/improvements. See info in June 9th news.
(Apr 7, 2016) MainStage 3.2.4 Update (OS X 10.9.5 or later). App store says "This update addresses overall stability and performance issues" but far more info in the MainStage 3.2.4 release notes.
(April 2016) Samsung UBD-K8500 UHD Player Troubleshooting Tips, HDR Tricks
(Now moved to a separate page.)
Some Older Sony Blu-Ray Players can't Bitstream DTS to DTS:X Receivers (fixed)
See this article. Includes notes on v1.77 DTS:X firmware updated RX-A3050 tests with several Blu-Ray Players for this bug, with info affected models tested so far. Also includes other notes on DTS:X. (Updated to note later firmware from Denon and Yamaha that includes a fix.)
Yamaha RX-A1050/A2050/A3050, RX-V1079/V2079/V3079 DTS:X Firmware Update 1.77
Firmware v1.77 posted March 30, 2016. (D/L page for v1.77 removed after v1.81 released.) Here's the list of new features/changes in the v1.77 firmware update:
This firmware includes
The Yamaha Support/DLs page for these models has a link to "Additional Information about DTS:X™" with info on settings, requirements and usage.
- The latest multi dimensional surround sound DTS:X playback
Neural:X upmixing processing
DTS Dialogue Control (* see my note below)
- HDR (High Dynamic Range) pass through and GUI overlay
- Connectivity improvement with Rhapsody/Napster service, and some STBs/TVs via HDMI.
- MusicCast functionality improvement
i. Search function for vTuner
ii. Sort function for "Favorites"
iii. "Recents" feature to display recently listened 40 songs
iv. Audio sync of its external inputs with other MusicCast models in MusicCast Link mode. Some conditions may apply.
v. Speed Boost in Link Control (suitable for wired connection)
- Fixing network initial setup issue when using WiFi WEP security method
(There was also a v1.77 DTS:X firmware update for the CX-A5100 Pre-Pro.)
* About DTS Dialog Control Feature: When DTS:X was first announced, I was excited to see the "Dialog Control" feature, where dialog level could be adjusted separately. (Not just boosting the center channel or a frequency range (e.g. standard 'dialog level' adjust), but the actual movie's dialog.) However it turns out that the DTS Dialog Control adjustment option is only enabled IF the DTS:X disc was encoded with that feature. To date, it seems no DTS:X movie discs have been released with that option. Hopefully mixers will include that in at least some future DTS:X movies as it's one advantage they have over Dolby Atmos. (Atmos has gotten a much better start with far more (and better) titles released so far.)
(Jan 2016) Tips for Repeated Mac Mini HDMI Blackouts with some Yamaha Receivers includes notes and tips on OS X and HDMI Receiver settings, reminder on OS X HDCP tips, my tests with 2012 Mac Mini with Yamaha RX-A3050 and RX-A2000 and more. Also includes a FYI on Mac problem reports from some Marantz and Denon receiver owners. (If anyone finds a later firmware that that helps, sent a note. I could not replicate the problem with a 2012 mini running OS X 10.9.5 and Yamaha RX-A2000 or A3050.)
(Jan 20, 2016) Apple Logic Remote for iPad v1.3 Update:
- Adds support for iPad Pro and iPhone*
- Fixes and enhancements to improve connectivity
- Multiple iOS devices can now be used simultaneously
- iPad Pro allows access to key commands alongside Smart Controls & Touch Instruments
- iPad Pro extends usable range of mixer faders, the keyboard & other Touch Instruments
(* iPhone version is compatible with Logic Pro X only and limited to transport control, dual channel strip faders, automation recording, and access to key commands.)
(Sept 29th, 2015) Native Instruments warning on OS X 10.11 Compatibility - Validation of Audio Units Plug-ins Fails in Logic Pro X and Kernel Panic when Using Legacy Native Instruments Devices. (Page includes a note with link to beta drivers for the latter.)
FYI on Network Firmware Updates for Yamaha RX-Ax050 Receivers (2015 models)
Just a note/warning to owners of the latest Yamaha x050 AVRs (RX-A1050/2050/3050) that there's been several reports of firmware update failures using a WiFi internet connection for the network update. (My guess is during the update process the wifi dropped out.) A couple RX-A3050 users reported that they were able to power off/back on and complete the update using a Wired Ethernet connection, however one owner said his A3050 was bricked and required service by Yamaha.
(If you're using a WiFi AVR network connection and switch to Ethernet, make sure you change the AVR's Network Settings to Wired. Then turn the AVR Off and back On, and confirm the AVR Network settings shows Wired is configured.)
Here's Yamaha's instructions on updating the firmware. Follow the steps to select the update method - USB is Default, Network is other option. And again, if using Network option it's highly recommended to use an Ethernet connection, not WiFi. (If distance to the router is a problem, and you can't/don't want to move the AVR temporarily, then buy a long Ethernet cable. It's worth having even if only used temporarily for cases like this.) And if possible, have the AVR and Modem/Router on an UPS just in case of a power dropout.
(Aug 25, 2015) Samsung BD-F7500 Firmware Update v1021.0. (Likely other F series blu-ray players also have an update.) As before, no info on what's changed/fixed in v1021 firmware.
Spectre Blu-Ray won't play in Sony BDP-S1000ES
Wonder if anyone else with a Sony BDP-S1000ES has problems playing the Spectre Blu-Ray Disc, which will not play in mine. It tries to load for several seconds and then displays "cannot play" or "invalid disc". Disc is new, clean and without scratches and player has a flash drive inserted, BDLive access disabled. Spectre disc does have off-center label (worst case I've ever seen) but plays ok in a Sony BDP-S7200 and Samsung F7500 blu-ray player. The S1000ES has the last firmware update (014) installed. (No updates for it in years.) Curious if any other S1000 owner sees this or if the drive/laser is failing. (IIRC, same optical assy used in the Sony 400 disc changers which have had similar problems over time.)
Tip for Snowpiercer Blu-Ray Disc in Sony BDP-S1000ES
Just a FYI to other owners of a Sony BDP-S1000ES having problems playing the Snowpiercer blu-ray disc. It appears to hang/freeze after seeing the Weinstein logo - no time shown on the Sony player and no buttons work (FF, Menu, etc). After remembering a similar problem with a different player and disc (Great Gatsby in a Panasonic player, fixed in 1.63 firmware), I decided to just wait several minutes and the Snowpiercer main menu finally appeared. (IIRC it was almost 5 minutes.) I'd twice given up and powered off the Sony, verified disc was clean/undamaged (worked in other players), cleared Flash storage, already had BD Live disabled, firmware was up-to-date - v014. (BTW: I later tested The Great Gatsby blu-ray disc in the S1000ES and it played without any long start delay.)
(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.
(Apr 30, 2015) Videolan (VLC) notes libbluray 0.8.0 and libaacs 0.8.1 released.
(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.
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 a blu-ray) I didn't want to try the (cheap) disc spinner/'buffer wheel' I had used on some of my badly scratched DVDs 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.)
(Oct. 14, 2014) Oppo BDP-83 problems with X-Men Days of Future Past Blu-Ray:
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.
(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.
(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.
(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.)
(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)
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.)
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 Sept. 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.)
Yamaha BD-A1010 Firmware Update v1.7712 (BluRay/Universal 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)
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
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 email@example.com."
(Dec 19, 2012) Lots of reports of (TrueHD) Audio dropouts with the (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.)
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.
Sony BDP-S790 (Case Design/Drive Noise) vs Panasonic DMP-BDT500
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