Audio & HT Related Updates/Articles/Notes/Tips - xlr8yourmac.com

True-HD Dropouts | Disc Clouding Tips | SVS Bash Amp Fail/Test | Sony S790 vs Pana 500
Audio/Video/Home Theater Related Tips, Reviews, Software/FW Updates, other items of interest.

  • 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 OS X DVD Player to Output 5.1 Digital Audio (vs PCM) to HDMI Receiver/HDTV Question from a reader (reply bounced) - due to length/images moved to a separate page.
  • 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.



  • (Apr. 14, 2014) First Review of Sorcerer (Blu-ray). Will be out April 22nd on Blu-Ray (Digibook) for the first time - much improved over the original DVD release. I haven't seen the movie in many years, but look forward to watching it in HD. (I wish they'd used the classic Truck on the Bridge scene for the cover however, but I bet that might happen on a steelbook release at some point.) FYI: Despite having the new cover art, the new DVD release is said to be same as the original. (Very poor quality, non-Anamorphic, not recommended.)

  • (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.) BTW: A reader said he returned his BD-F7500 after finding out you can't use any Apps (even non-Samsung ones) unless you agree to Samsung's terms of use including their Recommendation feature (i.e. monitoring your usage to 'recommend' similar movies, etc.) It's a separate checkbox but unless you agree to both, you can't even use any of the Apps. (Personally I'd prefer a player without all that baggage. And ditto for TVs.)

  • (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
      - 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
    (For Yamaha BD-A1010 owners, see this note on settings for AV Controller app.)

  • (Mar. 12, 2014) Apple Logic Remote (iPad app) v1.1 (requires iOS 7)

  • (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.

  • (Jan 22, 2014) Apple Updates: iTunes 11.1.4 with security fixes (iTunes 11.1.5 out on Feb 26), MainStage 3.0.3 and Logic Remote 1.0.4. (Mainstage and Logic Remote updates release notes are in 1/22/2014 news.)

  • (Jan 9, 2014) Logic Pro X 10.0.6 Update (with audio input bugfix):
    Available via software update for Logic Pro X 10.0.x users. Per release notes, v10.0.6 fixes an audio input issue with some audio interfaces and Mics, including M-Audio Fast Track Pro and Plus, Blue Yeti USB mic, Alesis i02 Express, Avid Mbox and Griffin's iMic.

  • (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 AZ 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 Late 2013 Mac Pro articles including using multiple monitors, audio, installing/removing ram/flash storage, power usage and more.

  • (Dec 19, 2013) Apple Updates Logic Pro X to v10.0.5 and Logic Remote to v1.0.3 that's now compatible with MainStage v3.0.2. (Other Pro Apps updates on Dec 19th included Final Cut Pro X 10.1 and Motion 5.1 that added Dual GPU Support in the new Late 2013 Mac Pros.)

  • 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 univ/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. Unless the latest firmware affected that, 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 for the Remote app to work. Both BD-A1010 and RX-A2000 were connected via Ethernet to my 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.)

  • (Dec 18, 2013) Panasonic Blu-ray Remote 2012 App v1.0.4 "Fixed issues on iOS7". (Remote control app for DMP-BDT120, DMP-BDT220, DMP-BDT221, DMP-BDT320, DMP-BDT321, DMP-BDT500 and DMP-BBT01 models.)

  • (Dec 17, 2013) Elysium Blu-Ray brings the (Infrasound) Bass:
    Another FYI to bass-heads on an unfiltered Movie release. Many didn't like the movie (message, acting, script, etc.) but anyone with a good (<20Hz) subwoofer setup should feel its strong under 20Hz content. Several times I felt sustained resonance of my chair (cheap HT recliner) and floor (without high audible levels) in this small (12x10) closed room. (It's also a 2nd story suspended floor and very 'bouncy'.) A Ported sub (PC13) in 16Hz tune but also lots of room gain down low from the small closed area. Worth a rent if you're a bass head, but if your subwoofer(s) are not capable of sub-20Hz content at sufficient levels, you may feel the bass is lacking as Elysium doesn't seem as strong in the mid-bass (chest slam) as some other titles. (BTW: Another bass demo disc I hadn't commented on before is "Olympus Has Fallen". (Released in August 2013.) The Washington monument falling scene has perhaps the longest sustained high-level LFE to date. FYI/Warning to some that run their subs very hot and/or that may not have adequate Amp/Driver protection ckts.)

  • 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 w/later tests (OK). Retested ok w/OS X 10.9.1.)

  • (Dec 4, 2013) Notes on "The Wolverine" Blu-Ray (Unfiltered LFE)
    Just a FYI to Bass heads (w/good Subs), it appears "The Wolverine" released this week on Blu-Ray has unfiltered LFE, bucking the trend of 30Hz/20Hz knee-capping. (Man of Steel, IM3, Avengers, Hobbit - Oblivion was an exception.) My HT is a small room (12x10) w/older SVS subs and I liked it. Not recorded hot but good depth. (Still like XMFC better.) Keep watching during the Wolverine end credits for a preview of what's next.
      Also a FYI to Panasonic BDT500 player owners after seeing a post that The Wolverine 3D disc wouldn't play. The recent
    1.63 firmware update may have fixed that as the Wolverine 3D disc played fine here on a BDT500 w/1.63 firmware. 1.63 also fixed a problem playing The Great Gatsby 2D disc as noted below. (But see the (red) FYI about disabling analog video out during protected content playback on the BDT500 model. Analog sunset law applied as BDT500 still in production.)

    And while on the subject of 3D BRs, although I only got to watch about 1/3 of it, "Dr. Who Day of the Doctor - 3D" (released a week early at BestBuy) looked great. One of the best native/live action 3D (Depth/PQ) BR's I've seen this year. (Can't comment on the storyline however but hope to borrow it for a full viewing later.) Also finally got to see why many have raved about 3D pop-out with the "Turtle Tales" (Sammy 1 and 2) discs. Watched about 1/2 hour of Turtle Tales 2 in 3D - very impressive. (Almost constant out of screen effects.) The 3D was stronger than my previous animated favorite (Madagascar 3) but no contest on the story - Madagascar 3 is by far the better movie IMO. (Some consider 3D popout effects just gimmicks, others crave it.)

  • (Dec 3, 2013) Klipsch Launches (Headphone) S/N Verification to Fight Counterfeits (PR)

  • (Nov. 26, 2013) Panasonic Blu-Ray Player models SC-BTT190/195/196/490 Firmware v1.61 (NA/Latin America). Only notes (improved?) "Playability of Blu-ray Disc".

  • (Nov 26, 2013) Breaking Bad: The Complete Series "Barrel" set Link is a Youtube video of series creator Vince Gilligan showing what's included with the Complete Series "Money Barrel" set, released today. (FYI: Saw 30-40% off B&N coupon/codes BFRIDAY30/BFRIDAY40 (expired) vs. $199.99 at AZ/BB. Appx $132 w/tax after B&N discount in local store.) BTW: Didn't think it was really limited, but seems sold out most places as of Dec 2nd. Some Amazon (US) listings shortly thereafter jumped to $450+. (As of Dec 3rd AM Amazon.ca still had it at $179.99 (CDN), but that may change by the time you read this.)
    [FYI: As of early 2014, it appears this is now out of print. Replaced by a boxed Complete Series]

  • (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)

  • (Oct 24, 2013) Firmware Updates (see Drivers/Software Tab) for Sony BDP-S390 (M11.R.0493), Sony BDP-S590 (M12.R.0497) & Sony BDP-S790 (M13.R.0497) Blu-Ray Players. (I don't own one but a S790 owner said a Youtube app issue fixed but also removed CinemaNow Movie service.)

  • (Oct 23, 2013) Apple Logic Pro X 10.0.4 Update. Here's the full release notes
    (Logic Pro X How-To/Troubleshooting docs in Oct 23rd news archive)

  • (Oct 22, 2013) Apple Logic Remote for iPad v1.0.2.
    This update improves stability and performance issues including:
    • Compatible with GarageBand for Mac v10.0
    • Velocity range is adjustable for Touch Instruments
    • Library Browser and Smart Controls can now appear on screen together

    This release is recommended for all Logic Remote customers.
    (OS X 10.9: Apple updated a LOT of Apps/Utilities & released OS X 10.9 Mavericks for FREE at the App Store. See the Oct. 22nd, 2013 news for info, useful Apple Support Articles, new product Info & Warnings to read Before you install OS X 10.9. including an alert/warning to WD drive software users, FYI on Cloud-only Sync in OS X 10.9 (no syncservices) and much more.)

  • 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
      - Tested with iOS7
      - Support Turkish language
      - Other improvements for operation stability
    The linked page includes notes on recommended firmware update for some (later) AVR models.
    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)

  • (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
    (26-08-2013) Ver 1.74: Enhances playback compatibility with certain BD-ROM discs"
    Linked Pioneer page also has firmware update instructions.

  • (Aug 26, 2013) The Walking Dead Season 3 'Limited Edition' Sale:
    (3/25/2014 Update: (US) Walmart.com sale for $59.96 (expired 4/1))
    For anyone that's a fan/collector of the series, a reader sent word the "The Walking Dead: Season 3 Ltd Edition" [Unboxing Video] ($149.99 'List') was on Sale for $74.99. (expired) He also said that Season 3's "Limited Edition" set may not be as 'limited' as last year's "Zombie Head" (season 2) which sold for $59.99 IIRC in stores/online (BB/AZ, etc.). Saying that he's seen the -box alone- from the S2 Ltd Edition sell as much as $50 and a complete set over $200. (I have a S2 set still in the box with the original 'cover' sleeve over the outside as the box's zombie head picture was disturbing to some apparently.)
       I've never been a big fan of TWD but liked season 3 better than seasons 1 & 2. (We don't have cable, but saw it on disc.)

  • Oblivion Blu-Ray is a great Home Theater Demo Disc
       A big thanks to a friend for picking up an Oblivion MetalPak (Walmart Exclusive) locally ($22.96 in store) for me on Aug. 6th. The Oblivion blu-ray has simply stunning picture quality and outstanding DTS-HD 7.1 surround sound that's dynamic, powerful, has pinpoint effects accuracy, good dialog levels and great LFE. (Not surprising as Gary Rizzo was onboard.) I've not seen Spectrum Lab graphs yet but felt like Oblivion's LFE was full bandwidth. Definitely some of the best movie PQ/AQ I've experienced in recent memory and HT Demo worthy in my opinion. (A blind buy for me but absolutely no regrets.)
       Despite some plot holes, I enjoyed the movie very much and look forward to a repeat viewing. I usually don't watch deleted scenes, but a couple on this disc fill in some missing info and in my opinion should have been left in. (Looking back, it may have taken a mini-series to fill in all of the story.) Science buffs will find faults but personally I found Oblivion very entertaining. (Enough that I watched the "Making Of" clips, which I very rarely do as I feel it ruins the illusion for later viewings. The clip on building the bubble ship reminded me of a skunkworks project I worked on many years ago, but of course nothing as beautiful, although far more complex and functional.)
       FYI: I didn't chose that option but was warned that the director's commentary has a major spoiler right at the start. There's also an option in the Extras to watch the movie with only M83's musical score playing, but since it's TrueHD, some have reported having audio dropouts. (Deja-Vu. Set the player to PCM output if you have this problem w/bitstreaming.)

  • (Jul 23, 2013) Primer: CEA-2010 (subwoofer output measurement)
  • (Jul 5, 2013) Klipsch Quintet Speaker System Review
  • (Jul 5, 2013) Test Report: NuVo Technologies Wireless Audio System

  • (Jun 27, 2013) Yamaha RX-A1020/2020/3020 Receiver Firmware Update:
    If v1.60 isn't 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:

      This firmware:
    1. Improves connectivity and stability with AV Controller App
    2. Improves DLNA network function stability
    3. 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.)

  • (Jun 26, 2013) Pioneer announces Andrew Jones-designed soundbar for $399

  • (May 24, 2013) New Firmware Updates for Sony BDP-S390 (M11.R.0487), Sony BDP-S590 (M12.R.0491) and Sony BDP-S790 (M13.R.0491) Blu-Ray Players. (See Drivers/Software Tab on linked pages.) Here's what listed as changed vs previous firmware:
    • Improves BRAVIA® Internet Video connectivity
    • Improves BD-ROM playability

    I don't own any of these models but saw an S790 owner report that it may help with audio dropouts when bitstreaming Total Recall 2012, but later saw another owner say he still had some dropouts in Ch9. (Previously common fix was to set player to PCM mode - decoding in the player.) There's a later 4K remastered Total Recall 2012 version released now that one reviewer thought may have addressed that also. (Or being theatrical cut w/o branching.)
    And one report of problems playing AVCHD/3D folders after the update (worked previously). Not many details however. (I've seen a Panasonic BDT500 and Samsung BD-F7500 play a Sony TD10 3D camcorder's SDCard AVCHD 3D recordings but not sure what media the 790 owner is using.)
    BTW: A S790 owner said there's now a "New Youtube for TV" app that plays HD, separate from previous App that only did SD. (Also mentioned the new player had a Mobile Device pairing feature.)

  • 3D Settings for Panasonic DMP-BDT500 Player: If you feel like you've lost some 3D effect with the later firmware updates for the panasonic players like this, try increasing the 3D "Pop Out" setting from the default. (I thought this was just for menus/text, etc but seemed to help with an active 3D 2012 Samsung HDTV they were demoing.) And check the TV's 3D options for depth/optimize settings, viewpoint, etc. (FYI: Also check the 'Sharpness' setting (of both TV and Player) as it can cause 'ringing' (making ghosting worse in 3D) if set too high. Personally I'd use a 0 setting especially with 3D. Even then some players/TVs may still do some sharpening of the image.) Demos were done using 3D Blu-rays of Madagascar 3 and Rise of the Guardians - both were great.
    [BTW: updated comments note BDT500 freezes, seems picky about scratched discs that played fine in other players. Also see Sept 2013 notes on The Great Gatsby Bluray freezing/taking a LONG time to start.]

  • (May 8, 2013) FYI for Movie SteelBook/MetalPak Fans/Collectors:
    Some Walmarts have put out a large number of SteelBook/MetalPaks in stores ($12.96 ea. locally, may vary by store), but check carefully for damage. (I was left waiting 2hrs at the doc due to my ride examining so many in the store.) She said about 1/2 she checked had some sort of damage (dent, paint chip, scratch) and some damage may only be seen after removing wrapping. (For my wait I recd Saving Private Ryan and Watchmen, both w/inside art. IIRC most steelbooks don't have interior art.) Here's an online walmart.com steelbook search (which includes more than just these $12.96 titles) but in-store stock can vary. (Some avoid buying steelbooks via mail due to possible shipping damage/buying unseen.)
    [Update: Some were $9.9x on sale in early June, but now $16.96-19.96 and up online.]

  • 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:

      This firmware:
    1. Lets you continue using Rhapsody/Napster* service
    2. 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.

  • (Apr 19, 2013) Review: Cambridge Audio Minx S325v2 Speaker System
  • (Apr 19, 2013) Parrot Asteroid Smart Review, Part 2 (Part 1 was In-Car Install)
  • (Apr 17, 2013) Review: BenQ W1070 3D DLP Projector ($999 list)
  • (Apr 15, 2013) Review: Alan Parsons' Art & Science of Sound Recording
  • (Apr 11, 2013) BTW: Someone wrote about an ARC (room correction) article I had posted, basically saying Audyssey was all you need. (Various Audyssey EQ versions are included in many AVRs and I agree are all most users need. I've used their MultiEQ XT version in an Onkyo NR3007. (MultiEQ XT32 (which usually includes Sub EQ HT) is a later/better version for Sub EQ. They also have an extra-cost "Pro" version that allows adjustments the embedded Audyssey AVR versions don't.) I have also used Pioneer's and Yamaha's AVR Room EQ - they don't EQ the sub as well (don't go very low in freq) but that's fine with me. (I use the sub's amp PEQ.) But they both allow adjusting the EQ'd freq response/curves without having to buy a Pro version. Anyway, the ARC article was linked for anyone curious/interested, not me saying it's what I prefer or recommend. (I've never used ARC but was curious to know more - some like it/some don't - just like some (including me) don't care for Audyssey.)
       I'm completely satisfied with my current (non-Audyssey) Yamaha A2000's AVR/EQ setup. (Adjustable EQ options, allows separate crossover settings for Front/Center/Surround/SB, has Dual (independent) Sub outputs (w/option for stereo subs, front/rear or mono x2), the ability to store two configs/copy between them, good dynamic power/performance/features for the price and build quality/reliability better that most IMO. Also has pre-outs and dual HDMI outputs.) All my A/V equipment was bought used (and/or needing repair) and very affordable. (My complete 7.1/AVR setup cost less than most low-end brand name systems that I wouldn't even consider buying regardless of price.) For example Klipsch RF83's at $100 each (veneer damage from original shipper, 1 driver dented (voice coil ok), grilles cracked. The OEM driver + pair of new grilles cost $130. Black Electrical Tape over the veneer damage is an almost perfect (matte) match - can't be seen from 2ft away.) Center (RC64) and surrounds also from CL/used. Used AVR (Yamaha RX-A2000, original owner hated the OSD for volume could not be disabled so sold it cheap (the next year's model allowed disabling it). SVS PC13 subwoofer bought used w/Bash amp failure (amp repair was $1 thermistor as I mentioned earlier). A good sub makes a huge difference in movie audio. Amazing sound from this setup IMHO and for my needs/usage (primarily BR/DVD movies, some music), I can't see a need to upgrade any of it. Great sound (esp. bass) makes it even more engaging. Mine is a very small room (10x12ft), but the upside is nice room gain (bass) and the "bouncy" floors make for a more tactile experience.

  • (Apr 10, 2013) Are The Energy Take Classic & Monoprice 9774 speakers the same?
  • (Apr 10, 2013) Review: MartinLogan Motion 15
  • (Apr 7, 2013) Review: Paradigm Atom Monitor 7 (bookshelf speakers)
  • (Mar 29, 2013) Review: 8 Bookshelf speakers under $400/pair
  • (Mar 28, 2013) (Short) Review: NuForce S3-BT Wireless Speaker System
  • (Mar 26, 2013) Review: Polk SurroundBar 9000 IHT Soundbar (w/wireless sub)
  • (Mar 21, 2013) Preview of Samsung's 2013 TVs (LCD and Plasma)
  • (Mar 20, 2013) Review: Life of Pi (3D Blu-ray)

  • (Bitstreaming) Dolby True-HD Audio Drop Outs (again):
    (Update: Same issue reported with Monsters University release. Again no issues w/my setup.)
    As reported previously, there's been more reports of audio dropouts with another recent Dolby TrueHD Blu-Ray - this time Monsters Inc. released Feb. 19th. (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 for players/AVRs (for a fix), most feel some change in Dolby's TrueHD encoding is the real culprit. (Originally (last year) I'd wondered if the playback problems were related to another new spin on DRM.) For existing discs of course those affected can only hope a firmware update addresses this if they don't like setting the player to PCM. (Some like to see the Codec on the AVR's display vs just "PCM".)
       Disc replacement programs have been rare (most recent was over Dredd discs that wouldn't play although I've seen 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.) Personally I hope studios learn something from this (repeated) experience. (I've always preferred DTS over Dolby.)

    [FYI: Saw a report that the Monsters Inc. Digital Copy Disc is the original pressing with a PowerPC coded (not universal) mac app which means the app on it won't run on OS X 10.7 and later. (No Rosetta.) Just run iTunes and enter the redeem code w/disc inserted.]

  • HD-DVD Disc "Rot" notes / Tip for Cleaning Discs (HD/DVD/BR/CD):
    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).

  • (Mar 4, 2013) Room EQ Wizard (REW) is free & has Mac version (but uses Java Runtime)

  • (Feb 28, 2013) Review: Denon AVR-2313CI A/V Receiver
  • (Feb 26, 2013) Review: MartinLogan Motion Vision Soundbar
  • (Feb 22, 2013) Review: Samsung UN75ES9000 3D LCD HDTV

  • (Feb 18, 2013) Emotiva: Good Deal or the Real Deal?
  • (Feb 13, 2013) Review: Atlantic Technology PowerBar 235 Soundbar
  • (Feb 13, 2013) Test Report: Klipsch HD Theater 600 5.1 Speaker System
  • (Feb 8, 2013) Review: Yamaha RX-V473 & RX-V573 A/V Receivers
  • (Feb 8, 2013) Project Ayr: solid state, fanless, dead silent home theater PC

  • (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 lionsgateshop@orderassistance.com."


  • (Feb 5, 2013) Review: Klipsch Image X7i in-ear headphone
  • (Feb 4, 2013) Review: Top Gun - 3D (Blu-Ray)
  • (Jan 31, 2013) Review: Yamaha YAS-101 Soundbar ($300)
  • (Jan 30, 2013) LG Magic (TV remote control) iOS App v3.0.26
  • (Jan 29, 2013) (Short) Review: Bowers & Wilkins A5 (Airplay speakers)
  • (Jan 29, 2013) THX's (iOS) App Helps Setup Your Home Theater
  • (Jan 28, 2013) Review: Pioneer Elite SC-61 A/V Receiver
  • (Jan 25, 2013) Review: Gallo Nucleus Classico CL-2 Speaker System
  • (Jan 24, 2013) Review: Oppo BDP-105 Blu-ray 3D Player
  • (Jan 12, 2013) CES 2013: Panasonic 2013 ZT60 vs 2012 VT50
  • (Jan 12, 2013) Stunning DTS Headphone:X Will Make Your Headphones Go To 11
  • (Jan 6, 2013)  Review: SVS SB13-Ultra Subwoofer
  • (Jan 3, 2013)  Review: LG 55LM8600 3D LCD HDTV
  • (Dec 27, 2012) Review: Yamaha RX-A1020 A/V Receiver
  • (Dec 27, 2012) Review: Samsung BD-E6500 Blu-ray 3D Player
  • (Dec 26, 2012) Review: Yamaha RX-A3020 A/V Receiver

  • (Dec 21, 2012) Firmware update v3.34 for the (2010 model) Yamaha RX-A2000 Receiver available at Yamaha Canada support site. (Enter model number there - CA site D/L avoids USA site "easypass" login/acct rqmt. Updates for RX-A1000 and A3000 models also may be there by the time you read this.) Previous version was 3.20.
    Info on v3.34 from the download page:

      This firmware includes the following improvements.
    1. Compatibility with the latest Napster network music streaming service (in Europe) *Music service availability varies by region.
    2. Improves SiriusXM Internet Radio connectivity (in USA/Canada)
    3. 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.)
    [There may be updates for later Ax010 (2011) & Ax020 (2012) models also.]

  • (Dec 21, 2012) Review: Samsung PN51E550D1F 3D Plasma HDTV

  • (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.)

  • (Dec 18, 2012) Best of the Boxes: 2012's Best Blu-ray Collections
  • (Dec 13, 2012) Review: Sony XBR-55HX950 3D LCD HDTV
  • (Dec 12, 2012) New Gear: Olive One Music Player
  • (Dec 10, 2012) Review: Behringer iNuke Boom Junior ($179)
  • (Dec 7, 2012)   Review: Onkyo TX-NR3010 A/V Receiver

  • (Nov 29, 2012) Review: Blue Aura v30 Blackline Tube Desktop System
  • (Nov 28, 2012) Review: Sony STR-DN1030 A/V Receiver

  • (Nov 21, 2012) Review: Bowers & Wilkins A7 AirPlay Speaker

  • (Nov 20, 2012) Reviews of Vizio E601i-A3 LCD HDTV ($1K MSRP) and GoldenEar Technology SuperCinema 3D Array Soundbar System

  • (Nov 20, 2012) Reviews of CasaTunes XLI Multiroom Music Server with Airplay, Cambridge Audio Azur 551R A/V Receiver, Martin Logan Motion Vision Soundbar & Dynamo 700W Subwoofer, Monitor Audio Shadow On-Wall Speakers & RXW12 Subwoofer and Panasonic TC-L55WT50 3D LCD HDTV

  • (Nov 18, 2012) Power Sound Audio XV-15 Subwoofer Review ($799 shipped conus)
  • (Nov 15, 2012) Review: Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Speaker System

  • Bargain ($3) DVD Comedy TV Series: I'd forgotten how much I liked this show until last weekend's 2012 Mac Mini HDMI Video tests (for dropouts/flicker), but if you can find "Worst Week: The complete series" (cancelled after 1 season) for $3 at "Big Lots" as I did (last year) - Buy It. Without a doubt the most laughs (out loud) I've had in a long time.

  • (Unrated) Nitro Circus 3D Disc Playback Fix/Tip:
    Not sure if this problem is related to the BestBuy exclusive version and/or a particular BR player, but if you have a problem with the Nitro Circus 3D disc not playing in 3D when pressing "Play Movie" from the 3D Disc's Main Menu (which was shown in 3D), try starting playback from a "Scene Selection". (Issue was reported by owner of BB excl. 3D Disc & Panasonic DMP-BDT500 with v1.49 firmware. v1.49 firmware was said to fix WiFi issues.)

  • (Nov 9, 2012) Review: Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray 3D Player
  • (Nov 5, 2012) Review: Samsung HT-E6730W Home Theater System

  • (Oct 19, 2012) Review: Vizio XVT3D580CM 21:9 (2560 x 1080) 3D LCD HDTV
  • (Oct 18, 2012) Test Report: Samsung UN55EH6000 LCD HDTV
  • (Oct 18, 2012) 3D FilmSchool 101: Just How & Why Fox Converted I,Robot To 3D
  • (Oct 16, 2012) Test Report: LG 50PM9700 3D Plasma HDTV
  • (Oct 16, 2012) Test Report: KEF R Series Speakers

  • (Oct 16, 2012) 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). Amp 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 w/meter, no short or very low impedance.)
    If buying a used Bash Amp SVS (PB13/PC13) subwoofer, I'd do this test first:

      SVS PC/PB-13 Ultra Bash Amp Thump Test
    1. Ensure Receiver OFF, no active input to the Sub.
    2. Set the "Auto/On" Toggle Switch to the ON (not "Auto") position
    3. Power the Bash SVS subwoofer On
    4. 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 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.)
       The PB13 Bash AMP that failed shortly after sold by original owner (appx 2.5yrs old) would "Thump" so forcefully (very deep/low freq tone) on that test (with "Auto/On" Switch set to ON) it would rattle items in a small room. Eventually it failed blowing AC fuses. 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.)

    Cracked Thermistor (TH1) Example (SVS 750W Bash Amp, still working)

    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: Down facing driver, port tubes, open pole vent.)
       Their current 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.)

  • (Oct. 2, 2012) Review: LG 47LM7600 Passive 3D HDTV (televisioninfo.com)
    (Calibrated settings had backlight at 100 (Max)?? Much too high IMO)
  • (Oct 1, 2012) Review: Samsung DA-E750, Everything you ever wanted in a dock
  • (Sept 27, 2012) Review: Panasonic DMP-BDT220 Blu-ray / 3D Player
  • (Sept 18, 2012) Reviews of Panasonic TC-P55VT50 3D Plasma TV and Sony KDL-55HX850 3D LCD TV (Sound & Vision)
  • (Sept 14, 2012) Review: LG 47LM7600 Passive 3D LCD TV (Cnet)

  • 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 9/6/2012 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 [2012].
       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 damping/supression.

    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)

    790

    500

    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]

    BTW: The Panasonic BDT500 played AVCHD 3D off an SD card from my son's Sony TD10 3D camcorder (3D 60i and 2D 1080/24p tested). SD Card was formatted in the TD10, set as the storage medium vs internal flash. (I think later Sony BR players like the current 5xx/7xx series would also.)

    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.)

  • (Aug 4, 2012) Sony BDP-S790 Support page lists a Firmware Update M13.R.0443 noting "Improves BRAVIA® Internet Video connectivity" (vs M13.R.0369) however someone in the know said RGB mode is also fixed. (Unknown if the issue with 3D motion sync with a few specific 3D Movies (3 musketeers, Ice Age DOTD, RIO...) is fixed also but hopefully so. The recent update for 590 model fixed it (and RGB) despite not being listed in chg notes.)

  • (July 20, 2012) FYI on Sony Blu-Ray Player Firmware Updates:
    Firmware M11.R.0422 for Sony BDP-S390 and BDP-BX39
    Firmware M12.R.0430 for Sony BDP-S590 and BDP-BX59
    The change notes only say "Improves BRAVIA Internet Video connectivity" but reportedly RGB is fixed with the new S590 firmware. (The S790 is said to need that fix too, but no new update yet.)
    BTW: A BDP-S590 owner (w/LG passive 3D TV) said the new firmware fixed (motion) 3D Sync issues the previous .369 firmware had with some 3D movies like Rio 3D, Narnia Dawn Treader 3D, Ice Age DOTD 3D, Three Musketeers 3D, Darkest Hour 3D and perhaps others. (The same issue also exists with .369 firmware (dated 5/16/2012, latest to date) in the BDP-S790 model, not seen with original .325 firmware it shipped with. Hopefully Sony releases an update w/3D and RGB fix for the BDP-S790 soon. Update: See Aug 4th post above for later S790 firmware.)
    FYI: Some S590 owners have reported this FW update broke support for their DLNA software/streaming. (A Mac user said PlayBack still worked.) As with any firmware update, often the best advice is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". (i.e. if you have no problems, leave well enough alone as there is no way to backflash these models that I know of.)
    [BTW: Previous firmware already included Cinavia™ DRM]

  • (June 22, 2012) FYI on Sony Blu-Ray Player Firmware Updates:
    Firmware v014 for BDP-S1000ES, BDP-BX2, BDP-S360 and BDP-S560.
    Firmware v026 for BDP-S5000ES, BDP-BX1, BDP-S350 and BDP-S550.
    Chg notes say "Improves disc playability" but some thought it might add Cinavia DRM, however Sony support said it doesn't. (Saying chg notes would have listed it.)

  • (US) Pioneer BDP-51FD page (link disabled as it 404'd in Aug 2013) has Firmware Update 1.73. Change notes say: "Enhances stability of BD-ROM/BD-R/BD-RE playback". (Kudos to Pioneer for still updating old models. I paid $80 for a local store display BDP-51 years ago - 2008 I think. No box/manual or power cord, just the player and remote but was never used and like new. Made in Japan also. Original MSRP was $599 IIRC.)
    I'm still running v1.72 from fall 2011 but burned the 1.73 ISO to a CDR and will update if I see any issues. (Update: See Aug 2013 post above for later firmware.)




    Older Articles on Mac Audio Related topics (Cards/Drivers/USB, etc):

  • (Some) Updated M-Audio Drivers for Snow Leopard (32bit/64bit) (Nov. 2009)
  • My impressions of Bose vs Philips under $75 (2.0) Speakers (Sept. 2009)
  • M-Audio Revolution 7.1 PCI Audio card feedback and tips (OS X 10.5 era)
  • M-Audio Revolution 5.1 PCI Audio card reports (OS X 10.5 era)
  • Mac owner reports on Cheap USB Audio cards/adapters (Updated Nov. 2008)
  • Reader feedback on iPhone/iPod Car Mounts and Adapters (Aug 2008)
  • iSub Problems with Intel-based Macs w/workaround for OS X Tiger
  • Audio Apps User reports on CPU Upgraded G4 Macs (Aug. 2007)
  • Apple posts doc w/Fix for 10.4.10 Firewire Audio Interface Problems (July 2007)
  • Workaround for 10.4.10 Firewire Audio device problems (July 2007)
  • Audio Update 2007-001 - fix for Audio Pops w/10.4.10 v1.0 on Intel-based Macs (July 2007)
  • Tip for OS X 10.4.9 Logic Audio Unit Validation problems w/Universal Plugins on PPC Systems (Mar. 2007)
  • iPod user notes on how to revert back to older firmware (using iTunes 7.0x) (Dec. 2006)
  • Mac Pro owner notes on problems with Motu 828 (Nov. 2006)
  • Quick Start: Cleaning Audio Using Audacity (Nov. 2006)
  • Adding an ION USB Turntable to a G4 tower (Nov. 2006)
  • User reports/CPU usage notes on SRS iWOW Plugin for iTunes (Oct. 2006)
  • First Feedback on Griffin's FireWave (surround sound) (Aug. 2006)
  • Questions/Info on Intel Core Duo iMac Onboard Audio (Jan 2006)
  • Status of Independent Development of SBlive OS X drivers (Updated Dec. 2005)
  • Review of Linux on the iPod
  • M-Audio (USB) Transit Owner Reports/Tips
  • Resurrecting my old 5GB iPod with a Hi-Capacity 2100mAh battery
  • G5 Owner Reports on Optical Audio (2005)

    Older articles from 1998 to 2004 are at www.xlr8yourmac.com/audio/oldMacAudioArticles.html


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