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|Audio/Video/Home Theater Related Tips, Reviews, Software/FW Updates. Go to Latest Post.
Apple Audio/Video Related How-To Articles:
(More Software/Hardware Tips at How-To Guides/Info for new Mac/OS X Users. iOS info too.)
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 with 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 and MobilePre Drivers.
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 (EDN)
News, Tips and Updates:
(Jan 21, 2015) MainStage v3.1 update. See release notes for changes.
(Jan 21, 2015) Apple Logic Pro X v10.1 update has a long list of new features.
(Jan 21, 2015) Logic Remote for iPad v1.2 update. (Requires iOS 8.0 or later.)
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 never tried a large suction cup but doubt it would work well on the surfaces I've seen with several 'stuck' subwoofer plate amps for repairs/replacements. (These were older SVS sub amps.) What worked on those was using a slightly larger screw (self-tapping/wood screw) in one of the Amp's mounting holes and using a screwdriver, tighten it just enough to have a good 'bite' into the through hole. I then use pliers on the screw head to pull it out/break the 'seal' on the amp. (All these subs were several years old - one more than 10 years old and the original gasket/seal was so tight it almost felt bonded on.) Carefully done, I've seen no damage and the original mounting screw head is large enough to cover any minor scrapes.
(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 22, 2014) Samsung BD-F7500 Firmware Update v1018.0. (Likely other F series blu-ray players also.) As with the last several updates, no info on what's changed/fixed on the web page or in the firmware download zip file.
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.
(Oct. 16, 2014) iTunes 12.0.1 Released (OS X 10.7.5 and later): See notes in news page on changes and problems some have reported in OS X Yosemite. (Starting with iTunes 12, Apple no longer lists OS X 10.6.8 as compatible. Notes on that are included there.)
(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.
(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.)
(Sep 9, 2014) iTunes 11.4 released, adding support for syncing with iOS 8.
(Beware Some users reported AppleUSBEthernetHost.kext error after installing iTunes 11.4 update and one post said AppleUSBEthernetHost.kext does not support 32-bit anymore.
If you installed iTunes 11.4 and regret it, here's some Tips for removing iTunes 11.4 files for a working iTunes 11.3.1 reinstall. (If you don't remove the files/frameworks listed from iTunes 11.4 install, reinstalling iTunes 11.3.1 won't help as the installer will not overwrite the newer files.)
(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.
(July 17, 2014) Yamaha AV Controller App v4.20 lists:
(For Yamaha BD-A1010 owners, see this note on player settings for using AV Controller app.)
- JUKE music streaming service support
- Speed-up of Device Select
- Other Functionality Improvement
(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.)
(Jun 27, 2014) MainStage 3.0.4 said to fix a problem that caused crashes when using 8-bit Bluetooth headsets and other devices with unsupported bit depths. Also fixed an issue where screen controls with independent assignments would move simultaneously.
(Jun 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 products at this stage. Just as with most new tech, often it's best to wait for a mfr's 2nd generation. Also consider the current state of available products that use it.)
(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 13, 2014) Yamaha AV Controller App v4.10 (only note is "functionality improvement")
(May 9, 2014) Review: SVS SB-2000 & PB-2000 Subwoofers
(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.)
(Mar 25, 2014) Yamaha AV Controller iOS App v4.00:
What's New in Version 4.00
(Feb 23, 2014) Subwoofer Experts Explain Their Designs (SVS, HSU, PSA, Velodyne, Axiom)
- Compatibility with 2014 network AVR models
- DSP Parameter Adjustment (2014 models only)
- Rotary volume knob
- New icons and option menu
- Refreshed design with improved look and feel
- Additional improvements
(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 iOS7". This is a Remote control app for DMP-BDT120, DMP-BDT220, DMP-BDT221, DMP-BDT320, DMP-BDT321, DMP-BDT500 and DMP-BBT01 models. (v1.0.4 still current as of Oct. 14th, 2014.)
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 still showing v1.53. D/L there is Firmware file w/o a version ("PANA_DVD.FRM") so not sure if D/L file updated but not page text.)
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.]
(Oct 11, 2013) Yamaha AV Controller iOS App v3.70:
What's New in Version 3.70
The linked page includes notes on recommended firmware update for some (later) AVR models.
- Tested with iOS7
- Support Turkish language
- Other improvements for operation stability
BTW: Although not supported with my older RX-A2000 receiver model, in Demo mode the Options screen has some features I'd not seen before like 'Subwoofer Trim' adjustment (in addition to the standard Bass and Treble adjust) and a 'Dialog Level' adjustment (in addition to the previous Dialog Lift). I'd always wished they add the complete AVR Speaker Setup options in the AV Controller app, but not sure that will ever happen. (With some models you can use access advanced features/setup via a web browser.)
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 RX-A1020/2020/3020 Receiver Firmware Update:
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 v1.60 per the download page:
- Improves connectivity and stability with AV Controller App
- Improves DLNA network function stability
- Other bug fix
BTW: I've not tried this personally but see below for info on Flashing older firmware into Yamaha Aventage receivers. (Done by RX-V1067 (equiv of US RX-A1000) owner when later firmware resulted in very low LFE output.)
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."
Yamaha RX-A2000 Receiver Firmware update v3.34 available at Yamaha Canada support site. (Enter model number there - CA site D/L avoids USA site "easypass" login/acct requirement. Updates for RX-A1000 and A3000 models may also be there.) Previous fw was v3.20. Info on v3.34 from the download page:
This firmware includes the following improvements.
- Compatibility with the latest Napster network music streaming service (in Europe) *Music service availability varies by region.
- Improves SiriusXM Internet Radio connectivity (in USA/Canada)
- Improves operation stability
An RX-A2000 Network update check on 12/21/2012 didn't show v3.34 yet, so it was updated via USB flash drive (FAT). (Copy rom file (RXV2067-0140.bin) from ZIP download.)(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. (I always preferred DTS over Dolby personally.)
[There may be updates for later Ax010 (2011) & Ax020 (2012) models also.]
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 have an older Bash amp (750W) PC13 Ultra, bought used with a blown amp in 2009 for cheap ($200). The amp's failed part was a Thermistor used for startup/inrush current limiter. A not uncommon cause based on several failed (fuse blows on power-up) SVS 750W Bash amps I've seen. (Drivers checked OK with a meter, no short or very low impedance.)
(BTW: I'm not referring to earlier Bash Amps SVS used in other subwoofers. I've seen some from as far back as 2002 era still working. And the 750W Bash Amp's thermistor failure I've seen may be affected by usage (left on) or a specific lot/component used.)
If buying a used Bash Amp SVS PB13/PC13 Ultra, I'd do this test first:
SVS PC/PB-13 Ultra (750W) Bash Amp Thump Test
- Ensure Receiver OFF, no active input to the Sub.
- Set the "Auto/On" Toggle Switch to the ON (not "Auto") position
- Power the Bash SVS subwoofer On
- IF you hear any "Thump" from the driver, I'd inspect the amp for a failing thermistor.
I've seen an Amp with cracked thermistor (1/3 missing - see photo below) still work, but with a slight thump on Power-Up. Eventually it will completely fail however, so if any 'thump' is heard at power-up (again with the Auto/On switch in ON position - the "Auto" setting can mask this problem), inspect the amp.
(If the AMP has already failed/has no output/sound, no LED, etc - check the fuse, located in a removable part of AC input socket. If your amp has this problem, a new fuse will blow again.)
Not sure if EU Amps are different, but I've now seen this problem on 3 (USA/120V) SVS 750W Bash Amps (used with their earlier PB13/PC13 Ultra Subs), all had what appeared to be the same OEM (Green Disc/unmarked) Thermistor failure. A replacement I've used in US SVS 750W Bash AMPs is Ametherm Part Number SL15 4R008-03. (I need one now, but no local electronic parts dealers here have them. They're typically sold mail order for appx $1/ea or less (depending on Qty) plus shipping, for instance at Newark.)Cracked Thermistor (TH1) Example (SVS 750W Bash Amp, still working)
The PB13 Ultra Bash AMP that failed shortly after sold by original owner (about 2.5yrs old) with "Auto/On" Switch set to ON would "Thump" (very deep/low frequency tone) so forcefully on that test it would rattle items in a small room. Eventually it failed blowing the AC power fuse. A working PC13 Bash AMP developed a much lower level thump at power-up (not noticed if Auto/On switch in Auto position) but inspection of the AMP's thermistor showed it had cracked and about 1/3 of it was missing. (See green disc in right side of image below.)
The missing piece of the thermistor from the Bash AMP above was found on top of the (downfiring) driver's magnet/motor - luckily it did not fall through the pole vent, which did not have a screen. That's something I wanted to add considering the cylinder's design: a down facing driver, vertical port tubes and open pole vent.
(BTW: If the Amp won't come out after removing all mounting screws, see removal tips for a 'stuck' sub plate amp.)
Their current "Ultra" series 1KW "Sledge" DSP amp is a much better design than the Bash however, and I suspect far more reliable (lower parts count, DSP vs Analog design). With its Dual PEQ, Room Compensation and variable Port tunes allow an almost unlimited FR shaping. The Sledge DSP amp also has excellent driver protection - far better than the Bash amp. Although the Sledge clamps down a bit more under 20Hz, trading a bit of output for better driver protection. (And with the Sledge's different gain structure and lower input sensitivity its Amp volume setting will be much closer to max than the Bash for the same output levels.)
SVS Ultra Subs are well engineered products, with a very beefy driver (over 50lbs IIRC and a Cone stitched to the surround) from a company with a history of excellent Customer Support (and Warranty) - even for 2nd owners. (Warranty now 5 years, was 3.) Unfortunately their Ultras are now priced out of my budget (not that I need any more), but you can get a lot less for the dollar nowadays from retail 'brand names'. (Nothing beats DIY for value however.) And of course there's SVS's legendary customer service and support. 45 day in-home trial, free shipping in CONUS and more - see their customer bill-of-rights. (However I was sad to see some typical marketing speak on cables i.e. "SoundPath audio cables deliver a spacious soundstage, solid three-dimensional imaging, sparkling and airy highs...")
No SSL at svsound.com?: As of early Dec. 2013, I can't connect via SSL (secure) to svsound.com and had to edit links here that used https in the past to get them to work now. And noticed any reference to SSL seems gone from their terms/site. (It used to be per google cache.) Even the login link goes off svsound (to netsuite.com). Guess they now using 3rd party processing? (
SVS Toll-free number also seems MIA Toll free # is back.)
Feedback on Sony BDP-S790 (Case Design/Drive Noise vs Panasonic DMP-BDT500)
(Reply to a review of the Sony BDP-S790 Blu-ray 3D Player in the news page. I doubt this is common considering the great reviews (press) the S790 has gotten and many seem happy with theirs. If drive noise levels were very high, reviewers should have noted it.)
"Sony BDP-S790 - great electronics/features but my 2 had high drive noise levels
Just an FYI - The two S790 samples I owned (and returned) had very high levels of drive noise and vibration. The 2nd S790 was so noisy it could be clearly (loudly) heard from 7+ feet away. And it wasn't just a few discs - out of several dozen I tried, most had totally unacceptable noise and vibration levels when played in two different S790s I bought earlier this summer .
Of course I first suspected the drive noise/vibration problem was due to out of balance discs, but tests in other players (my Sony S1000ES and a Yamaha A1010 - and later a Panasonic BDT500) were quiet with the same discs - but those players have larger/heavier case designs, centered drives (w/flip-down faceplate/cover), larger/isolation 'feet' (vs small rubber pads) and of course a different drive mechanism.
With some players (including the S1000ES), I occasionally hear a high-pitched whine when playing discs, but it's not nearly as annoying as the drive noise/vibration of the two S790 samples I tried. (Granted my Yamaha A1010's first power-up drive seek sounds like an old 5-1/4 floppy drive (growl/grind), but is generally quiet otherwise in use.)
The S790 has great features (especially for the price - including 4K support) but IMO the build quality felt like cost cutting taken too far compared to their previous upper-tier models I've owned. The lighter weight S790 has an off-center drive and does not have isolation feet like some older models did (for example S1000ES) - only small rubber bumpers. Both S790 samples I had were very loud and transmitted a lot of vibration with many discs of mine. (Again same discs tested in other players on hand.)
Although the S790 is the current flagship model, IMO it doesn't feel as well made in comparison to previous higher end models I've owned. But that alone wouldn't have mattered if it hadn't been so noisy in use. (The worst I've ever owned/used, regardless of cost or brand.) I can't believe my 2 samples are typical, perhaps a noisy batch of drives but aspects of the S790 case/design (light weight, off-center drive, feet, etc) IMO are not the best for vibration damping/suppression.
After the 2nd noisy drive Sony S790 sample (even worse than the first), I decided to replace it with a Panasonic DMP-BDT500 (w/dual HDMI outputs like the S790, but has a centered drive, flip-down front cover, isolation feet, beefier chassis and 7.1 analog outs) - very quiet with same discs that were buzz saws in two S790s. Price was similar on both - under $250 delivered [Summer 2012]. (In 2013, AZ sale prices on DMP-BDT500's were as low as $149.99)
IMO the Sony S790 has better net features and interface, but no regrets on going with the Panasonic BDT500. (My first Panny player.) The S790 also has 4K support, which I don't need but that would be a major plus for anyone with a 4K display/projector of course. Both players have excellent 2D/3D and upscaling in my experience. I've always been very impressed with my previous Sony player's DVD upscaling as well as Blu-ray PQ. The Panny 500 seems just as good to my eyes, and might be a hair better for 3D perhaps, but PQ differences to me were too close to call and not a reason alone to pick one over the other. Wired Ethernet used on both so I can't comment on wireless performance and don't use either model's steaming apps or internet features. (The BDT500 has support for 4 user's custom settings/prefs/wallpaper, etc but my primary focus is simply BD/3D/DVD playback.)
I've used the Sony interface for years and prefer it to the Panasonic's initially but I'm getting over that. However the BDT500's Trackpad Remote really takes getting used to. Many owners don't care for it and I can understand that.
I've been a longtime Sony BR player fan, having owned CX960 and CX7000 Blu-Ray changers (both bought at clearance sales) plus two S1000s. The S790 was bought for its dual HDMI out primarily, and if not for the noise/vibration issues, I'd never have returned it. (I was very happy with the S790's performance/feature set otherwise.)
I'm sure others have had better luck than I did with the S790 (clearly most must have!) but just wanted to mention something that often gets glossed over (or not mentioned) in 'pro' reviews. (I was very impressed with the S790 otherwise, but the noise factor with these 2 samples was an absolute deal breaker - regardless of features/price, it just wasn't tolerable period.)
Some may have had an opposite experience with these two players. Maybe I just had bad luck (twice), but considering the build quality/case design I didn't feel like trying a 3rd time. The upside is I'm very happy with the Panny BDT500, and if not for the noisy S790's would likely never have tried that brand/model.
Update (Feb 2013):
After seeing so many web reports on problems with these two Blu-Ray movies, I just wanted to report that with my setup (One BDT500 HDMI out to HDTV, the other HDMI out to a Yamaha RX-A2000 (firmware 3.34) AVR, I had no audio dropouts with 2012's "Total Recall" (Walmart Steelbook day 1 buy) with bitstreaming and no playback problems with Dredd (also day 1 buy, played in 3D). A common tip/fix for anyone with audio dropouts on 2012 Total Recall was to set the BR player to output PCM instead of bitstream. (Have the Player decode the audio instead of the AVR.)
My BDT500 has firmware 1.49 (current as of 2/1/2013) and BDLive is off/disabled. (Not using an SD Card in the player and unless required, I don't.)
Often BR player firmware updates are released to fix playback problems like this (or DRM), but a thread in the Blu-Ray forum mentions a replacement option (YMMV) for (2012) Total Recall owners that have had problems with their discs. (And some questioned if AVRs needed an update to fix what many felt was a Dolby TrueHD encoding issue.) I'm curious if there will be a different # on later discs.
For Dredd, some have returned/swapped discs but often without better luck. What's frustrating is many times there's not enough detail in problem posts (specific player model, firmware used, etc) to see if that's a common factor. (But much detail on what store it was from, if it had one or two security tapes on the case, etc, thinking there was some specific bad/suspect batch of discs at certain stores/sources.)
[Update (2/6/2013): Apparently there were some bad Dredd Discs.-Mike]
3D AVCHD Playback Tests: The Panasonic BDT500 played recorded AVCHD 3D files off an SD card from my son's Sony HDR-TD10 3D camcorder (3D 60i and 2D 1080/24p tested). SD Card was formatted in the Sony HDR-TD10, set as the storage medium vs internal flash memory. (I think later Sony Blu-ray players like the 5xx/7xx series would also.) Also verified the Sony TD-10's 3D files from SD Card play OK in a Samsung BD-F7500 (front USB port) after navigating to "Stream" folder on the SDCard.
My Panasonic BDT500 seems Picky on Blu-Ray Disc Condition/Scratches:
After many months of use without any problems, I've recently noticed this Panasonic BDT500 seems very picky on blu-ray disc condition. (My Pioneer BDP-51 was famous for that also but most of my BR discs are in VG condition.) Although it's not a common issue (never with new Discs and overall very rare) - I've had a few Blu-Ray movies freeze with the Panasonic BDT500 (firmware 1.53 as of spring 2013) despite cleaning the discs (which had no major scratches/issues visible) and the same discs play fine in other machines (Sony BDP-S1000ES and Yamaha BD-A1010). Since I've only recently noticed this, I first suspected it might be related to the last firmware update (1.53) but also plan on trying a lens cleaning.
I had tried all the usual tricks (cleaning/polishing the disc, resetting/unplugging player, tested with and w/o an SD card, BD-Live disabled/enabled).
Very disappointing especially after seeing repeated major freezes and lockups, in some cases even with an apparently mint condition disc - for example Despicable Me 3D. I can't see any scratches on the disc, yet it freezes the Panasonic BDT500 (w/FW 1.53) repeatedly several chapters into the movie (within a few seconds of the same point - yet I can't see a single scratch on the disc and was sure I had played it months ago without any problems). (Update: Tests after 1.63 firmware update played that disc fine. Also had used a lens cleaning disc but think the 2 thin brushes on it don't really do much.)
Two other discs also freeze repeatedly but those were bought used and I can see a faint very thin scratch on them although nothing major and both discs play perfectly in the Sony and Yamaha players - and new discs of the same title play fine on the BDT500 so it's not a disc compatibility issue. (I've not tested any scratched DVDs yet to see how they fare but plan to.)
I'm getting a lens cleaning disc to try, but not confident it will help. (Not sure it's a dirty lens issue and often lens cleaning discs are not helpful with that - requiring disassembly/manual lens cleaning if that really is the culprit.) If a lens cleaning doesn't help (or later firmware), I'll have to keep the Sony or Yamaha connected for cases where discs freeze in the Panasonic. I'd seen a few reports on the web from BDT500 owners on this problem (mostly from rental discs, which often can be in very poor shape) but also have seen a BDT500 owner reply their sample did not have problems with most rental (scratched) discs."
Someone correct me if I'm wrong but the Sony S790 can output video on both HDMI ports simultaneously but the BDT-500 can't. (Although typical use of both is with a non-3D/pre-HDMI 1.4 receiver where you use main HDMI to TV and 2nd HDMI to the AVR for audio.)
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