Thursday, May 13, 2010
Rant on the Home Entertainment Industry
This post might be a little short as I want to get back to enjoying my new investment, heh. Also, a note on the photo, it seems to be the picture that everyone uses when they are talking about home theatre, so I might as well get on the wagon. Specs for it will be put at the end of this post.
I recently stumbled upon the best deal of all time, a Denon AVR 590 for 279 dollars. I also had a 100 dollar gift card to a certain red and white store to boot. Now I can enjoy my home theatre custom built PC through a 5.1 amp with a pure digital path.... after 2 days of configuring!
I think this is why people think Home Theatres are extremely complicated, and good ones are in the realm of people with infinite budgets or who are geniuses. There are a myriad of certifications, and each of them mean slightly different things. Like DTS vs Dolby Digital, or 5.1 vs 7.1, vs 9.1!!!! or THX! Seriously... I had a hard time justifying stereo to 5.1, I doubt I can be moved to purchase a 9.1 system. I also doubt many people even know THX is a certification at all. It just makes people think of loud sounds. (The audience is now deaf reference from Tiny Toons)
In my opinion AV manufacturers should rally around a standard, and stick with it. They think they are maximizing profits by making people upgrade their old hardware, but they are wrong. What they are actually doing is marginalizing their customers by making only the "audiophiles" upgrade, while everyone else is satisfied with their TV speakers, or old stereos. The other problem is also for connector certifications, I can wholeheartedly understand the move from analog to digital (for most applications), but why are their 3 different kinds of digital connectors, with 2 specifications of HDMI?? The industry needs to rally around ONE digital connector, and HDMI was supposed to be this answer, it had HDCP, 7.1 SPDIF audio, Network, and DVI all in one connector... what is the problem. Oh yes.... license fees. STOP DOING THINGS LIKE THIS, it should be a revenue generator for everyone, not just a coalition of the willing. heheh
On the subject of cables, when it comes to Digital cables, a crappy cable will do 99% of the time. I have the crappiest RCA cable doing SPDIF duties for me, and it sounds perfect. With a digital signal, you either have a signal, or you don't, their is no fuzziness anymore WHATSOEVER.
When I first started delving into the Home Entertainment ground, I was very young and had my parent's JVC stereo as a bench mark. 4 foot tall speakers with 3 different sized drivers, 10 inch woofers, and a 100 watt RMS/channel amplifier driving them. One of my fonder memories as a kid was having a Goldeneye deathmatch with friends and cracking the shells of hardboiled eggs with that stereo. This was a 2.0 (2 speakers and no subwoofer) system. Nowadays, you almost require a subwoofer to get that kind of power, or an extremely high end amplifier.
I "upgraded" from a 25 year old 2 channel 50w/ch amp to this Denon AVR590, and I am very impressed with the sound levels at all decibel levels, except for the complete lack of low end. Do the amplifier makers just hand off the hard work of making a full range amplifier to the subwoofer makers? If yes, then why are speaker makers still making full range speakers??
A subwoofer and small speaker will almost never reach the sonic quality of a good full range speaker with a quality crossover. The main reason is this, a speaker of set diameter produces only a certain diameter of sound properly. The diameter of the diaphragm is inversely proportionate to the frequencies it produces well. So, large diaphragms produce low frequencies the easiset, and small diaphragms produce high frequencies. The ideal speaker would have an infinite amount of drivers (diaphragms), however since we cannot have an infinitely sized speaker, we try to use as many different sized drivers as possible to get the best sounding... sound. A popular speaker maker in the public eye, only has 2 different sized drivers for the entire system. As a result of this, there is a... complete lack of low end, but the manufacturer uses psychoaccoustics to mask this (rather well). Psychoaccoustics modify the sound as well, so you are not getting the full sound you expected.
My other point I have to make is this, the AV industry really needs to get more in bed with the computer industry (Intel VIVO and AMD LIVE) was a good try, but it needs to be presented in a easy to use light. UPNP AV (DLNA) is a shot in the right direction, however having a computer as the nerve centre of your home theatre is an experience unlike no other. When it works! It isn't only the hardware makers that need to try harder with this, the software makers and AUDIO FILTERS need to start working together. It is not easy to get all of your filters to do passthrough for a good receiver, but when it happens, get ready for pure sound.
Stop looking at computers as a revenue stealer, and more of a revenue generator. Imagine having a Windows MCE/Linux MCE interface, with massive storage (realm of 2-4 terabytes) where you can LEGALLY back up your OWN DVD's for your own consumption, play all of your purchased/ripped music that you own, with a iTunes like music/video store where you can buy more. I do not see how this a lose/lose situation for the Media industry and the AV industry.
Also, SCREW you MPAA for closing the Analog hole and making it impossible to record TV that you have paid the subscription for.
That is all,
PS: See http://bigmacky.wordpress.com/2008/02/21/6-million-dollar-home-theater/ to see the stats on the theater in that photo.