An Open Letter to VIDITY
I love the idea and the goals of VIDITY. With large hard drives being affordable, I see no reason why physical media should remain the only means of getting the highest quality.
But for the love of all that is good, can you PLEASE encourage the studios to also give consumers the highest quality AUDIO as well?
I’ve groused about this topic on Twitter. And the @VIDITYdigital account was kind enough to reply to me there and let me know that, as far as what Vidity is able to offer from a technical point of view, there is nothing preventing the inclusion of lossless, immersive (eg. Dolby Atmos or DTS:X Master) audio. And yet, the earliest examples of Vidity content have all failed to include lossless audio, let alone immersive audio.
So right this second, I can purchase a Samsung SUHD TV, a Western Digital My Passport Cinema hard drive, and unlock the pre-loaded movies or download new ones through the M-Go service accessible via the Smart TV features of that SUHD TV. The video quality offered via that setup is stellar. And some of the titles even include HDR10 for a true HDR experience on top of Ultra HD resolution. Bottom line, Vidity clearly has the video side of things covered, and the results are already fantastic!
So credit where credit is due; the video is awesome and it’s already here, I can buy it today, and Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs and players aren’t even launched yet.
But this very same SUHD, WD, M-Go setup is crippled when it comes to audio. First and foremost, the files themselves do not include lossless audio. DTS-HD is the best available, not lossless Master Audio, let alone immersive audio. On top of that, since the My Passport Cinema hard drive must be plugged directly into the SUHD TV, the only audio connections available are the optical audio output or the ARC (Audio Return Channel) on the HDMI input. Both of these connections limit audio output to either lossy multi-channel or 2-channel PCM. So even if the files themselves included lossless or immersive audio (which they don’t), there’d be no way to even get that audio into my AV Receiver at present! Heck, right now, even the inclusion of lossy DTS-HD audio is beyond what the dang optical or ARC connection can output! The DTS “core” is the best that can be had right this minute.
So I realize this isn’t Vidity’s fault. M-Go signed an agreement with DTS to use the DTS-HD codec. Samsung expects customers to use ARC or optical because they’re selling TVs, not AV Receivers. And WD is just putting whatever files the studios supply on their My Passport Cinema hard drives. But with so much attention being paid to the video – and with such good results, to be honest – it’s just a crying shame that the audio seems to be a complete afterthought.
Is it really going to be the case that if I want the best video AND audio that my only option will STILL be physical discs?
Please, Vidity, whatever you can do to exert some influence in this matter. As it stands, I would LOVE to be a customer. I would love nothing more than to be able to wholeheartedly recommend Vidity to everyone I know. And since I co-host a home theater-centric podcast, I’m able to recommend great products and services to a lot of interested consumers!
But as it stands right now, I can’t wholeheartedly get on board. Audio is half of the movie-going experience! What do people always comment on as the biggest difference in the movie theater vs. at home? The sound!
Well we COULD have that kind of sound at home, but not if the Vidity files don’t include it, and not if the hardware partners literally give us no way of accessing it!
So I’m begging you, please make lossless, immersive audio just as much of a priority as UHD HDR video. I want Vidity. I don’t want to have to buy physical discs anymore. LET ME GIVE YOU MY MONEY. All I need in return is the same audio as what Ultra HD Blu-ray will provide.
– Rob H. – AV Rant Podcast Co-host