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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.)
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.)
Complete 7pc set Mirage OMD (Rosewood) Speakers For Sale:
All these OMD's are gloss Rosewood veneer. 2 OMD-15 towers, an OMD-C1 center & 4 OMD-5 surrounds. Like new in original boxes: $1,300 for 7pc set or $1000 for 5pc set with only 2 OMD-5. Rather not ship, so prefer sale in DC/VA/MD/NC area, can meet 1/2 way. (Contact news at xlr8yourmac) Here's a Mirage OMD review but Rosewood OMD's look better IMO.
(OMD-C1/OMD-5's shown w/o Grilles on. All Grilles are magnetically attached)
OMD-C1's (Center) are really scarce and I also have a spare gloss Black OMD-C1 (no box), a Mirage Uni-Theater (L/R/C) speaker bar with glass stand (no box) and 3 OmniSat V2's w/o boxes. (Make offer, big discount if bought w/OMD set.)
News, Tips and Updates:
(June 9, 2016) Logic Pro X 10.2.3 (Major) Update - Long list of changes/fixes/improvements. See info in June 9th news.
(June 2, 2016) iTunes 12.4.1 (release notes linked) includes several bugfixes. Available via software update or full download at apple.com/itunes/download/. (See system requirements on linked page.)
(May 16, 2016) GarageBand Updates for OS X and iOS
See info in May 16th updates. (Updates to OS X, iOS, and AppleTV 4th generation OS also there.)
(April 11, 2016) Samsung UBD-K8500 4K/UHD Player Firmware 1005.0
(Replaces v1004 that was pulled, again no info on changes. If not having issues I'd wait.)
I'd seen about 1/2 dozen early reports of HDMI or handshake problems with 1004 firmware. One saying every 15min or so a dropout for 20 seconds. 2 said they could only get video by playing a disc. (That has come up before - disc playback is 24P, vs player's home/desktop at 60P. See notes below.) There's always a few problem reports on any update but there seemed to be more than normal within such a short period. (Most were using a single HDMI cable to an AVR, vs the preferred (IMO) 2 cable option - see below.)
General Tips Samsung UBD-K8500 Users:
Don't set (force) the UBD-K8500 Color Format to 4:4:4 - use the "Auto" setting (default). 4k/UHD (and blu-ray) discs are encoded 4:2:0, and with the player desktop at 4K/60Hz, 10-Bit 4:4:4 exceeds the HDMI 2.0 spec. (With 10-Bit, 4:2:0 is max supported for 4K/60hz per HDMI 2.0 spec.) 1080P players usually had a 4:2:2 option, but not the UBD-K8500. Also ensure the K8500's Deep Color option is Off. (No current UHD Discs use Deep Color/12-Bit. Dolby Vision supports 12-Bit, but no DV players or discs are sold yet. The UBD-K8500 doesn't support it either.) Also some "10-Bit" displays may actually be 8-Bit + FRC dithering but that's another topic. Just saying there's usually no reason to use 12-bit from the player and on some displays, enabling the UBD-K8500's Deep Color option results in banding. (Not on the EF9500 OLED's 10-bit panel, but still no real reason to enable DC.) And check for new firmware updates for your TV and AVR. (Even some recent models may need updates for better UHD/HDR support or bugfixes.) I'd also ensure HDMI Control (Samsung calls it "Anynet+") is Off in the player's system settings. Ditto for BD Wise - off. (And check that Audio is set to Bitstreaming, as it wasn't the default.)
Use good quality (not necessarily expensive) "high speed" rated HDMI cables. When I did the recent DTS:X PCM bug tests with blu-ray players, the UBD-K8500 was connected to a (4K/UHD) 55EF9500 LG OLED using a 6ft, good quality "high speed" HDMI cable. (A 6ft Amazon Basics per logo on Connector. Now they actually list "HDMI 2.0, 4K Video at 60Hz" for their 'latest standard' cable, under $6 for 6ft. Disc playback typically is at 24Hz/24P.) If you have to use very long cables, you're much more likely to have HDMI issues at higher rates. (I've never had to use 15+ft HDMI cables, but know some that have went through various brands of 'certified' cables trying to find reliable ones.) HDMI 2 (audio out) on the player was connected to the Yamaha RX-A3050 for audio playback.
In the past, owners of HDCP 2.2/HDR/HDMI 2.0a AVRs and TVs have still had intermittent problems at times using the UBD-K8500. The 2 cable method, good cables (as short as possible) and not using player settings maxed out can help minimize problems. (Early on the player's desktop/home ran at 2160P/60Hz and would freeze (or no video) with some setups - playing a disc would change to 24P (24fps) and lower the bandwidth, showing video. (Not sure if it's still 60P at Home screen, but just a FYI if you see this happen.)
In a days use last week (after player/DTS:X AVR "PCM" bug tests) with about 1/2 dozen UHD/4K discs, I saw no issues with the UBD-K8500 and the LG EF9500 (fw 4.20.75) other than the (common complaint) of Expendables 3 and Enders Game 4K/UHD Discs having washed out black levels. Regardless of player settings, The Expendables 3 UHD disc also showed very oversaturated ('sunburned') faces in the movie's main menu with firmware 1003, but not during video playback. (Update - firmware 1005 seems to have fixed that.) The common suggested fix for those 2 UHD disc's elevated black levels was changing the player to RGB Enhanced, but IMO a better solution (for the LG OLED at least) was to set the TV to RGB High and lower brightness setting to compensate. (For the 55EF9500, brightness around 40-42 seemed good, but that can vary by sample. With room lights off, pause a 4K/UHD disc on the end credits (or other primarily black screen) and adjust brightness down until the blacks are truly black. When playing HDR UHD Discs, the OLED Light and Contrast settings are locked and can't be adjusted.)
Some Older Sony Blu-Ray Players can't Bitstream DTS to DTS:X Receivers
Due to length, moved to a separate page. Includes notes on DTS:X firmware updated RX-A3050 tested with several Blu-Ray Players for this bug, with info affected models tested so far. (Also includes other notes on DTS:X tests including Heights vs Overhead setups and more.)
Yamaha RX-A1050/A2050/A3050, RX-V1079/V2079/V3079 DTS:X Firmware Update 1.77
Available for download at Yamaha support sites or via network update. (Here's the USA Yamaha site FW 1.77 download page, dated March 30, 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 new features/changes in the v1.77 firmware update:
This firmware includes
The D/L page also has links to PDFs on installing the update and "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's 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.)
(Mar 8, 2016) Apple Logic Pro X v10.2.2 update. See the release notes for details.
(Feb 16, 2016) Yamaha USA has a press release on the release date for DTS:X Firmware Updates for RX-A3050/2050/1050 Receivers, CX-A5100 Processor, and the YSP-5600 Sound Bar. It's also rumored to enable HDMI 2.0a for HDR support for the listed receivers/pre-pro. Until then, owners of Samsung's new UBD-K8500 UHD Blu-ray player should use the player's HDMI 2 output for Audio to the Receiver and HDMI 1 output to their HDR compatible HDTV.
In fact, I'd use that setup even with an HDR compatible AVR for several reasons, including being able to have separate settings for UHD/HDR discs, as most modern TVs settings are retained by port used (unless you 'apply to all inputs').
(Update: See above for AVRs/Pre-Pro DTS:X Firmware Download.)
(Feb 16, 2016) Yamaha AV Controller iOS App (iOS 6 or later) v4.40 lists these changes:
I wonder if this includes functions for DTS-X when 2015 AVR models get that firmware update or if that will require another App update when the DTS-X firmware is released.
- iOS 9 Compatibility Improvement
- VoiceOver function
- Functionality Improvement
(For Yamaha BD-A1010 owners, see this note on player settings for using AV Controller app.)
(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.)
(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.)
(Oct 22, 2015) Apple released MainStage v3.2.2. For a complete list of improvements/fixes, see the Mainstage release notes.
(Oct 1, 2015) Yamaha RX-A1050/2050/3050 Receivers Firmware Update 1.61
(Update: v1.61 firmware page removed after v1.63 firmware released.)
The previous v1.54 firmware was only available via network update, no D/L page was posted.
- Enables MusicCast functions. For further information, visit www.yamaha.com/musiccast/
- Improves connectivity of network music streaming services.
(There's also a v1.61 firmware update for the CX-A5100 with the same changes listed.)
(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.)
(Sept 24, 2015) Apple's Logic Remote for iPad version 1.2.3 "Fixes a bug that caused display issues with the Visual EQ".
(Sept 10, 2015) Yamaha RX-A1030/2030/3030 Firmware Update 1.70
Firmware update v1.70 available for download (dated 9/10/2015) at Yamaha's support site by searching with your model number. (I checked using Yamaha's USA support site.) Like other recent firmware updates for Yamaha Aventage receivers (see posts below), this update also simply lists "Improves connectivity of network music streaming services". As mentioned before, probably related to the required update to be able to use SiriusXM service after Sept. 30th, 2015. (And same change note as a Nov 2014 update.)
(Sept 9, 2015) Yamaha CX-A5000 Firmware Update 1.70
An owner of this high-end 11.2 Pre-Amp sent a FYI there's a 1.70 firmware update available for download (dated 9/10/2015). I searched the USA Yamaha support site by model number to confirm it's there. (See above for note on new CX-A5100 v1.61 update.) Like the recent firmware updates for Yamaha Aventage receivers (several noted below), this update also simply lists "Improves connectivity of network music streaming services". (See notes below, likely related to required update for SiriusXM service after Sept. 30th, 2015.)
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.)
Personally I'd prefer to wait until a download of the firmware update is available to update via USB flash drive. Early builds of RX-A3050's originally shipped with firmware 1.03 and will eventually prompt that an update is available, which I believe is for MusicCast support. (The v1.54 update had no info/DL page, but a later v1.61 was released Oct. 1st - see above.) Considering it shipped with v1.0x firmware, it's likely more than just MusicCast support in those updates. Perhaps other fixes or improvements including the update for SiriusXM required for some models.
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.
(Sept 4, 2015) Yamaha RX-A1010/2010/3010 Receivers Firmware Update 1.76
Likely available sooner via network update, but download pages dated Sept. 4th at Yamaha support sites (for example Yamaha USA). Search by your complete model number (i.e. RX-A1010, RX-A2010, etc). Same change info as recent updates for other Aventage models (Ax000, Ax020) - "Improves connectivity of network music streaming services".
(Sept 3, 2015) Yamaha RX-A1000/2000/3000 Receivers Firmware Update 3.65
Although firmware v3.65 was available via network update weeks earlier, on Sept. 3rd the 3.65 firmware update is in search results at Yamaha USA support site (and perhaps others). As with recent updates to other models, firmware 3.65 Notes "Improves connectivity of network music streaming services". Some earlier feedback said it helped with Pandora radio problems they had and another said SiriusXM Internet Radio song/track display now works properly. (The previous v3.50 update was also supposed to help with streaming/internet radio. v3.50 post below included a Tip for Sirius users with connect problems.)
These updates may also be required for SiriusXM users, based on a mail/form letter a reader received (dated Aug 24th) that said his "Yamaha device" would need an update to continue using their streaming service after Sept. 30th, 2015.
(FYI: 1 AVS user said v3.65 broke RS232 codes & 'crippled volume ramping on volume control'.)
I don't use SiriusXM or Pandora on my RX-A2000 and still using FW v3.50. As of early Oct., v3.50 FW was still at the Yamaha CA D/Ls page. (There's an older post here on backflashing Yamaha Aventage receivers but there's no guarantees and may not be worth the risk.)
(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 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.
(July 30, 2015) Yamaha RX-A1020/2020/3020 Receiver Firmware Update 1.91
(And also RX-A720, A820, V673, V773, HTR-6065, HTR-7065 Firmware 1.91)
Available via network update sooner, but some prefer to use a USB flash drive with the download version from Yamaha support sites. (I checked USA Yamaha support site for downloads, entering complete model number - i.e. RX-A1020, RX-A2020, HTR-6065, etc.)
Here's the info on v1.91 per the download page:
Later info (not from Yamaha) implies this update is required for SiriusXM Internet Radio support after Sept. 30th, 2015. (See above for similar updates for other Yamaha models. In fact, owners of any model Yamaha AVR that has internet radio/streaming support should check for a firmware update if they use those services.)
- Improves connectivity of network music streaming services
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.)
(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, check your region's Yamaha support site (example Yamaha USA) for downloads by entering complete model number there. 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.
(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)
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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.]
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Loudspeaker operation: The superiority of current drive over voltage drive (EDN)
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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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