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AV Rant #163: Bacon Wrapped Vegan

January 14th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

This week a discussion of the merits of agraphobic as an actual clinical diagnosis. Kent hates 3D even more than Tom – and with good reason. Tom takes a few questions including what to do when you want to output 1080/24p when your display only accepts 1080/60p, hushboxes – what they are and what Rob can do with one, evaluation of Home Theater design books, and Michael Bay’s Victoria Secret commercial. What happened to the weekly deals? What’s up with Netflix (say Hi to the Wii and goodbye to new releases)? Does Tom actually like a surround bar? A new expert interview on the way. What’s inside the Lexicon BD-30 (check below for a few pics – here for the full review). Thanks for listening and don’t forget to vote for us at Podcast Alley. To see our (mostly) complete collection of show videos, click here. To get our iPhone app, visit the iTunes store.

Not even their mothers can tell them apart

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  1. January 14th, 2010 at 09:48 | #1

    I verified the capacitors are the same value and rating. We’re talking to Lexicon on Friday to hear their side of it (as you can imagine they are panicking over this). Lexicon claims they made changes to the firmware, audio and video circuitry. Gene is going to test the player this weekend and we will be able to say with certainty whether or not this player is functionally different than the Oppo in any tangible way.

  2. Leif
    January 14th, 2010 at 21:51 | #2

    I should be surprised but I’m not. All the good ideas have been gone and why work hard for something original when you can just license it and use your “brand” to warrant charging 7x what the oppo is. Bad lexicon… bad!

    I did buy The Hangover without watching it… and also Inglorious Basterds but heard such great things about both from people that share identical tastes in movies with me that I didn’t think too much about it. So far, I haven’t been burned on it.

    I’m curious though on the WB/Netflix deal does this grandfather the WB catalog to netflix streaming or is it a line in the sand moving forward?

  3. bbf
    January 15th, 2010 at 01:32 | #3

    Your wish is my command. ;)

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=17928924#post17928924

    Some of the guys on the thread were blindly defending Lexicon and accusing the naysayers of bashing a product without actually seeing it. Of course they also didn’t own one either… :-O

  4. bbf
    January 15th, 2010 at 01:46 | #4

    Did some more searching the web and found a Jan 11, 2010 review of the Lexicon BD-30 on hometheaterreview.com
    http://hometheaterreview.com/lexicon-bd-30-universal-blu-ray-player-reviewed/

    From the review: “I am sure people will attack this player as a “rebadged” Oppo, so I went out and bought an Oppo BD-83 SE in order to fairly compare the two. First off, there is no comparison between the build quality of the two players. The Oppo is lighter and the buttons have a far less solid feel to them. The Lexicon is a taller, much heftier unit. Black levels were close, but the Lexicon had a more natural contrast and color palette than the Oppo. More importantly, the Lexicon was nearly totally silent when loading discs and changing tracks. Those familiar with the Oppo know it is a rather noisy player when loading discs, switching tracks and scanning, even sometimes for no apparent reason. The drive is in the Oppo is noisy enough to catch my attention during quiet passages in movies, while the Lexicon is inaudible during use at all times.”

    So… with my vast experience reading automobile and stereo reviews, it’s what’s *not* said that counts. No objective video or audio quality differences were mentioned, just build quality, the “quietness” of the transport and “more natural” contrast and colors. When manufacturers supply hardware “free” for testing most magazines and websites don’t ever say anything bad about the product, so one has to read between the lines to figure out what was deficient with the product. Fortunately audioholics.com is more open about saying negative things aobut the things they review.

  5. January 15th, 2010 at 09:35 | #5

    bbf – That’s awesome. I noticed the complete lack of response on that thread after your post. I’ve just read the write-up from Clint and Gene – hilarious. I’ll link it up above when it goes live.

    You’re right about other publications. They don’t have to think so they don’t. They also are afraid to rock the boat. If they give a negative review, they are (rightfully so) afraid they won’t get any more products from that company. And they need those products.

    If you don’t think we’re worried about fallout – you’re crazy. We’ve just slammed not only Lexicon (not that big of a deal for us since our target reader isn’t buying them anyhow) but also THX (which is pretty huge). Clint and I were talking about trying to get someone from THX to either talk about or recommend someone to talk to about 2D to 3D conversion on older discs. You think they want to talk to me now? Me neither.

    But that’s the price you pay. If you want to give the consumer what they want, what they deserve, you need to be honest. You need to be critical. But most of all you have to be fearless. And this article from Clint and Gene is just that – fearless. Some things, even in this economy, are more important than advertising dollars. While we respect some of Lexicon’s other offerings and certainly have a lot of respect for THX, they dropped the ball on this one. They need to take their lumps and realize that they can’t just half-ass this stuff. People rely on them and even if Stereophile, Home Theater Review, Absolute Sound, and others aren’t going to call them on it – someone will. It might be us, it might be some techy on a forum, but someone will.

  6. jfalk
    January 15th, 2010 at 12:29 | #6

    Not sure if this is the issue from the caller, but DirecTV broadcasts in 1080p are all 1080p/24 to save bandwidth. The Directv decoding equipment can send 1080p/24 to the TV, but it can’t do the processing to send 1080p/60. Thus if your TV won’t do the processing (mine won’t) you can’t get DirecTV’s 1080p signals.

  7. lesser evil
    January 15th, 2010 at 13:20 | #7

    I solved de-interlacing and custom resolution issues by getting DVDO VP-30 (w/ ABT 102 card) scaler / video hub. They are available as discontinued B-stock from the manufacturer for $399. While they are not a current product, the performance is execellent and exceeds the video performance available on many current receivers. Be advised, they are a little tricky to set up and you may want to power it through a UPS so you never loose your settings.

  8. arbeck
    January 15th, 2010 at 13:48 | #8

    I wanted to clarify something you said on the Podcast. Redbox can get all new releases the day they come out. The problem is that they have to buy them retail. The studios can control who they distribute them to wholesale (although their is a lawsuit over this), and simply choose not to distribute to Redbox.

    In regards to Netflix, Netflix really had no choice in the matter. Warner was basically saying, we’re going to stop distributing movies to you. If you want our movies you’ll have to buy them retail. This deal means that Netflix will continue to get movies directly from the studio.

    • January 15th, 2010 at 17:30 | #9

      Arbeck – that’s a great point. I’ll try to remember to mention that on the next podcast.

  9. R2Dork
    January 15th, 2010 at 17:28 | #10

    A quick note regarding Netflix and how they present the “new releases” for you to add to your list. Instead of clicking on the “new releases” tab on their site, use this url: http://www.netflix.com/AllNewReleases

    It will show you ALL the releases for the week (dvd & bluray) and is usually updated on Sunday for the following Tuesday’s releases. :)

    Love the show!

    • January 15th, 2010 at 17:30 | #11

      R2 – you’re right, and I do use that from time to time. But it sure is funny how when you click on the New Release tab how most of that stuff is old. I’m sure that’s on purpose for the reasons I stated.

  10. astarkman
    January 15th, 2010 at 17:36 | #12

    Druthers is a word. It’s not a word peculiar to the south. It’s used by English speaking people all over the world including Canada and India. Tom, next Christmas ask for a dictionary instead of more equipment you probably don’t need.

    Alan

    p.s. Kudos on covering Austin’s cd, (and Austin for sending it) and the Oppo clone.

  11. Jason
    January 15th, 2010 at 22:32 | #13

    Druthers is certainly not a universal English term. It’s American slang, a shortening of “would rather(s)”

  12. astarkman
    January 15th, 2010 at 23:33 | #14

    Anyone who has read Mark Twain (in English) knows what it means. If this was 1910 you would be correct; it was not universal then. The word has since come into widespread usage.

  13. Jason
    January 16th, 2010 at 04:33 | #15

    You’d be surprised how few people outside of the states have read anything by Mark Twain.

    Druther’s is cetainly not a word I’ve come across.

    The internet would seem to agree that it’s an American colloquialism:

    http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/194850.html
    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/druthers

  14. astarkman
    January 16th, 2010 at 11:37 | #16

    Yes druthers originated as an American colloquialism. In the hundred years since it was coined it has come into wider usage.

    An internet search is a good way to look for examples of usage:

    http://www.cbc.ca/radioshows/AS_IT_HAPPENS/20090831.shtml

    Saying “I never heard of the word therefore it must not be a word” (as Tom did) is only a good argument if you happen to be omnipotent. Saying “I never heard of the word therefore it must not be used outside the US” is not a good argument either.

    Perhaps Tom was just being stubborn when he said druthers is not a proper word. It is in the OED. It’s a proper word. I just hope that the Lexicon fiasco doesn’t prejudice anyone against using dictionaries.

    Alan

    p.s. There is no apostrophe in druthers.

  15. cynan
    January 16th, 2010 at 15:37 | #17

    My mother uses the word “druthers” upon occasion – and she’s spent her whole life in Canada. Perhaps she picked it up from reading Twain…

  16. Jason
    January 16th, 2010 at 16:04 | #18

    Sorry for not spelling druthers correctly, as I said, I’m not familiar with the word. I did pick up the error but couldn’t edit after the fact.

    As for cynan’s Canadian mother (and I realise I am stirring with this comment) how different are your two countries really? On my side of the world, except for the pronunciation of “about”, we can’t tell.

    All I’m saying is that druthers is not a word you would normally come across amongst english speaking Europeans or Africans.

  17. Jason
    January 16th, 2010 at 16:26 | #19

    Sorry for the double post but I instantly regret my Canada/US remark. It was not in good taste.

  18. January 17th, 2010 at 14:13 | #20

    hi guys–
    The asshats at home theater review actually REMOVED all of the comments about this fiasco on the review of the Lexicon unit! Everyone was demanding the reviewer explain himself and instead of posting a reply he just erased the whole conversation.

    http://hometheaterreview.com/lexicon-bd-30-universal-blu-ray-player-reviewed/

    that is inCREDIBLE to me. Home Theater Review can eat it.

  19. Darren Starr
    January 18th, 2010 at 05:52 | #21

    bbf, if your have connected your player to the TV via HDMI and the black levels are “better” on the more expensive player, I highly recommend you request your money back. Especially if you are viewing at native resolution (meaning 1920×1080 on a 1920×1080 display).

    The reason is, H.264 and VC-1 are both integer based CODECs both requiring that for conformance the output is identical to the reference CODEC. This is a requirement since it simplifies the encoding process. When you watch a BluRay disc, it should produce the color grading defined by the studio that compressed it. It is also critical to the motion compensation and prediction system of the CODECs that the colors produced are identical. This is because H.264 (haven’t checked VC-1 on this) make use of what’s called a loop-filter which feeds the output of the decoder back into the encoder so that delta frame can be calculated relative to the output instead of generating higher overhead to encode more data than necessary therefore producing a lower signal to noise ratio at an equal bit rate.

    Same goes for color contrast and palette. On a closed digital system such as a Bluray system where the path from the raw bitstream to the TV is defined, the real difference you’ll see in visuals is in decoder performance (which would be visible as jerking while panning for example) and on the encoder quality. The output image itself is DEFINED and should not be altered. If it happens to be altered at any point it would be at the TV itself when altering contrast, brightness, gamma, etc… to compensate for the lack of a perfect color calibration.

    I can go into an endless rant on colorimetry as well, the shortcomings of modern displays in correspondence to the BT.709 color model etc, but it’s far beyond the technical level of the readers here and therefore out of the scope of the discussion.

    Either way, please contact your hardware vendor and report the bug in the device as it is damaging the image that you’re seeing.

  20. January 18th, 2010 at 11:20 | #22

    Hi there.

    Regarding the whole HomeTheaterReview debacle..

    I just wanted to say (as one of the guys who got deleted from the comments field – and then got PO’d enough to host the deleted comments on my band website).

    I never got so much traffic! People are downloading my tunes like crazy (its all free download).

    Nice that the musicians win for once :-D

    mike@stabbingpixies.com
    http://www.stabbigpixies.com

  21. January 18th, 2010 at 14:11 | #23

    Mike, that is awesome! Go indie musicians!

  22. bbf
    January 18th, 2010 at 20:55 | #24

    @Darren Starr
    I was just quoting the HomeTheaterReview review… you should put that comment on their site… Oops, they turned off commenting on that review, so you can’t. ;-)

    I agree with you. I was trying point out the hole in their logic when comparing the BD-30 with the BDP-83-se but didn’t state it explicitly… there should be no difference in BD video decoding to HDMI, especially since they share the same video decoding section. If there was any change to be detected, it would have been with analog audio.

  23. bbf
    January 18th, 2010 at 21:06 | #25

    @mike
    I was pleasantly surprised by how calmly you handled “Jerry” from the HTR site. I would not have been able to take the high road after some of Jerry’s amateurish replies. I’d watch out for a lot of spam to be heading your way because you gave him your real email address. ;)

    I was particularly amused at his bashing of Audioholics.com and an un-named audio company:
    Quote from Jerry “Audioholics.com – they are a STORE. They SELL GEAR. In fact they sell OPPO.
    Moreover, I can tell you that there is an audiophile company behind this SMEAR campaign that is really making a fool of themselves here. Their brand has not been mentioned nor will I mention it but its really shameful. “

  24. Rob
    January 19th, 2010 at 02:23 | #26

    I love that Dina has a catch phrase now :D Feel free to use “druthers” as much as you like, Dina! It is slang: a contraction and mispronunciation of “would rather”, but there is nothing wrong with that when it is used in informal speach (and especially if it is used to annoy Tom ;) ).

    As for all the other topics, I feel as though we can pretty much file it all under “People Do Not Like the Truth”.

    Lexicon and THX do not like getting caught passing off a $600 player as a $3500 player and certifying it for performance metrics that it does not actually meet.

    People who think that 128 kbps mp3 quality is “good enough” do not like incontrovertible proof of just how much detail they are losing to compression.

    (A side note to Tom, your ~400 MB .WAV recordings get compressed down to about ~40 Megabytes, not ~40 Kilobytes – a slip of the tongue when you said “Kilo” instead of “Mega”, I’m sure ;) ).

    Epik sure didn’t like hearing an honest review of one of their subwoofers ;)

    Warner Bros. does not like to hear that slowing DVD sales are not due to rentals, kiosks, downloads or even piracy. People just don’t consider movies to be worth $20 a pop anymore and it’s just plain stupid to expect that revenue from DVD sales is going to increase each and every year for the rest of eternity! Sadly, the Studios are beholden to their shareholders to always make more this year than they did last year. DVDs have been such a cash cow, but more importantly, they have been an extremely predictable cash cow. Predictable enough that Studios actually began to speculate and finance movies based upon the expected revenue of DVD sales in addition to theatrical release revenue. The bottom line is that, in the public’s mind, movies have been devalued and they have become commodities. We basically expect them to be as cheap as a song. Any movement towards trying to restrict access and maintain higher prices is only going to be met with more and more consumers searching for alternative ways to access the Studios’ content.

    Tom might not like to hear the truth about piracy, but the fact of the matter is that more and more people are turning to illegal methods of obtaining content every day. When the Studios restrict access and try to maintain prices from a decade ago, more and more people simply turn to bittorrents, rent/rip/return or other methods of file sharing. Amongst my circle of friends and co-workers, there is an ever increasing predilection for the idea that people who still buy content are a bit stupid for doing so when there are so many cheap or outright free – albeit illegal – alternatives.

    “Why would I buy Blu-rays for $30 or even $10 when I can rent them for $2.50 and rip them to a hard drive or download an MKV for free using bittorrent?”

    That is the sort of question that I hear all the time and it quickly turns into, “why would anyone else pay for a DVD or Blu-ray at a store? They must be kinda stupid!”

    Well I don’t think it’s stupid to want to obtain content in a legal manner. But the bottom line is that the notion of a DVD being worth $20 or even $10 is simply going out of favour. I honestly think that a big reason for Warner Bros. wanting this extra 30 day window is because of rent/rip/return. Netflix is one of the cheapest per disc rental methods. And even though RedBox is potentially even cheaper, there is absolutely no contest when it comes to selection and number of available titles. So by limiting Netflix somewhat, I think Warner is attempting to reduce rent/rip/return instances. But here’s the problem, making people wait an extra 30 days isn’t going to make them run out and pay $20 at a store. It isn’t going to make them run out and pay $5 to rent at a brick-n-mortar BlockBuster. It might make quite a few people go to a $1 RedBox rental instead – so I guess that’s a boon for RedBox. But rather than bow to Warners’ desires, a lot of people are just going to file share the rips that come from RedBox rent/rip/return files, or they’re just going to wait because they don’t really care.

    At the end of the day, the Studios just want to make more money and consumers just want more access for a lower price.

  25. Rob
    January 19th, 2010 at 02:25 | #27

    Did I really just type “speech” as “speach”?!!

    Yeesh – can’t we get an “edit” button?!

    :D

  26. Jason
    January 19th, 2010 at 09:48 | #28

    Yip, I second the edit button motion.

  27. Jon
    January 19th, 2010 at 22:20 | #29

    Rob: I also have a Pioneer Kuro (5010). I also have the annoying buzz from the front of the screen. I don’t get it from the vents, but from the screen. It is only a minor annoyance, but one that I notice. Others don’t notice it until I point it out.

    I’m curious what broke on your display. Mine also failed one day after about 4 months or so. I believe it was a rastering chip. Pioneer authorized service guys replaced the chip, then did a burn in test. The chip blew again. Pioneer gave me a brand new panel. I was a bit concerned because I had done some calibration through the service menus. :-) All worked out in the end and my tv is great.

  28. Rob
    January 20th, 2010 at 14:24 | #30

    Jon – I have the KRP-600M (almost identical to the PRO-141FD Elite Monitor).

    Yeah, the “buzz” is just the “normal” plasma buzz that all plasma panels make. It gets louder and higher in pitch the brighter the image on screen. It is honestly not any louder than the buzz that I had with my 50″ Samsung plasma. It is just that the buzz emanates from the screen itself!

    With my Samsung plasma, I could really only hear the buzz coming out the back and from the vents. But then again, the Samsung has a second layer of glass over the screen, while the Pioneer Kuro does not. If you go way off to the side and look at the Samsung, you can see a “double image” as the second glass layer reflects the plasma panel that is just behind it.

    I have zero complaints about the KRP-600M’s picture quality. It is essentially perfect in every way. My ONE and ONLY complaint is the audible buzz. And if it were not for the fact that the buzz comes out the front of the screen itself, it likely would not bother me at all!

    This is a 60″ plasma though and I sit a mere 7.5 feet away from it. So that’s a pretty big sounding board when the whole screen itself is emitting a faint buzz! My room is also very quiet, so I’m liable to hear ANY operational noise.

    A couple of months after I bought the display, the buzz got WAY louder and the black levels got considerably lighter. I called Pioneer Canada and they had it repaired by a local shop under warranty. The repair guys came and picked it up and took it to their shop. They told me that they replaced the power supply, resoldered all the wire connections (after I mentioned the annoying buzz) and they also covered the power transformer in sound-dampening caulk.

    So like I’ve said, the picture quality gets zero complaints from me and the buzz honestly isn’t louder than other plasmas. It’s just that the buzz comes out the front, so it is much more audible and noticeable. If I had the Kuro in my living room, I likely wouldn’t notice the buzz because the ambient noise level would be high enough to overpower it. But I’ve gone to the trouble to create a quiet room, I’ve gone to the trouble of acoustically treating it. And I’ve spent a good chunk of change on what is arguably still the best display available! It’s just such a shame that a stupid thing like operational buzz could ruin my enjoyment of what is otherwise an almost perfect viewing experience :(

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