Audio News

Audio News for June 14, 2005

Universal Hi-Def DVD Shot Down; Growing Pains of HDTV Switchover; AV Receiver with HD Digital Radio; PBS Launches First Jazz TV Series in 40 Years

Published on June 14, 2005

Universal Hi-Def DVD Shot Down – It seems that logic and common
sense have taken a back seat and greed and isolationism are upfront in
the failure of the two hi-def DVD camps to get together on a unified
format.  The talks broke down on the point of the Blu-ray
proponents (Sony, Philips etc.) insisting absolutely on their
non-standard depth for the data layer = .1 mm from the surface. 
The competing HD-DVD camp (Toshiba, Warners etc.) and all other optical
discs bury the data layer at .6 mm so it is protected from damage by an
acrylic coating. The Blu-ray approach also requires a nearly complete
replacement of all the disc manufacturing assembly line, whereas the
HD-DVD format needs only some updates to the present process. Blu-ray
had an advantage in much greater storage capacity but the HD-DVD camp
has now come up with a three-layer disc offering 45 GB of storage vs.
the 50 BG of Blu-ray, thus answering the advantage of their opponent.
Both sides are still shooting for a fourth quarter 2005 intro, but
neither may have their copy protection technology fully in place by
then. The whole hi-def DVD matter is in a state of chaos. Odd that
history is so quickly forgotten: namely, Beta vs. VHS and the industry
compromise on the present DVD standard which made it the most
successful consumer format in history!

Growing Pains of HDTV Switchover – Things are not exactly
peaches and cream with the primary present source of hi-def video
images either. The majority of people still don’t understand that in a
year and half (or a bit longer if the FCC extends it at manufacturers’
urgings) all present analog TV will be turned off and NTSC sets will be
useless without a special set top box to convert DTV telecasts to be
displayed in standard definition on analog sets. (No such inexpensive
boxes are yet available.) A recent survey by International
Communications Research indicated that more than half the public say
they plan to buy another standard TV, not an HDTV. Sales of plasma
displays were running about 60% standard TV vs. 40% HDTV as of last
winter. And while 65% of HDTV owners reported they are receiving HD
programming from their cable or satellite, industry analysis has
revealed that the true figure is about half that.

 
Almost
nothing in the HDTV world is plug-and-play. Owners are up against
overwhelming technical complexities, misleading statements from
manufacturers and retail dealers, and undefined jargon that make
choosing a set a difficult task for a layperson. Consumer Reports did a
survey of HDTVs in their March issue but it omitted more than it
revealed, making no mention at all of proper setup – since most sets
are not even close to their best display right out of the box.  On
that point, one good suggestion is that once you have decided on the
type of HDTV you want and what you want to spend, talk to an
ISF-certified video technician and tell him what you are considering.
These experts see many sets and have inside info not available to
everyone. Then make your more-informed buy and hire that technician to
do the setup in your home.

AV Receiver with HD Digital Radio
– Yamaha has introduced a new
7.1-channel digital home theater receiver with a raft of features
including being the first with iBiquity’s HD radio technology -
enabling reception of those AM and FM stations which have begun to
transmit digital audio and data at their present frequency. (About 275
U.S. stations are already doing that with nearly 2500 more committed to
it within the next few years.) Other features of the RX-V4600 are seven
channels of 130 watts output each, an HDMI single-cable connection for
both digital audio and video, up-conversion of any video signal to
Component format, Advanced surround sound, Cinema DSP, Dual i.LINK
transfer capability, and Yamaha’s Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer -
which simplifies the home theater setup process by automatically
analyzing room acoustics and setting parameters of best sound quality
at the listening position.

PBS Launches First Jazz TV Series in 40 Years -  This
Thursday, June 16, many PBS stations will air the first in a national
series on jazz titled “Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis.”  Shot
in HDTV with 5.1 Dolby surround, the series will combine live
performances with conversations and archival images from the history of
jazz.  Grammy-award-winning artists who have never appeared
together before will be paired up on the show.  The initial
program will include Nancy Wilson, Jon Hendricks, James Moody and
Paquito D’Rivera.  13 more shows will air in January 2006, and
will include among others Clark Terry, Phil Woods, Benny Golson, Lee
Ritenour, Eddie Palmieri and Joey DeFrancesco. Some PBS will tape the
series for later airing.




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