How do Laserdiscs look on your HDTV sets?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Dean L, May 7, 2006.

  1. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    Why did LDs always sound better than DVDs? I hear this from everyone who has every compared the two.
     
  2. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    They didn't "always" sound better than DVD. That's a myth. They sometimes did, but not "always". The reason that LDs often did sound better or seemed to sound better are as follows:
    * Mastering - LD soundtracks for Dolby Digital were produced for a smaller market than DVD, and before the really widespread proliferation of 5.1 mixing and mastering houses. As such, DD and DTS 5.1 soundtracks on LaserDisc were often minimally processed ports of theatrical soundtracks. On DVD, most of the time, the 5/6/7.1 soundtracks are heavily modified (remastered, level changed, etc.) specifically for home theater environments. This caused it to sound different, which some translate as "worse" than the LD conterparts.
    This is the original reason for THX's "Cinema EQ" feature. Often raw theatrical soundtracks are produced with some channels intentionally EQed for use in a theater, where the speakers are often behind the screen or curtains. As such, high frequencies are over-emphasized to compensate. For some people the brighter more treble-enhanced soundtracks are "better" than the comparitave DVD soundtrack. In an A/B comparison, such an LD would seem brighter and more alive even if the DVD has a higher bitrate and sound more accurate to the original control room mix.
    * Technical - For stereo soundtracks, LaserDisc offers uncompressed CD quality sound. An equivalent option is available for DVD producers, but is rarely used for various reasons. All else being equal, PCM stereo CD quality sounds better than compressed Dolby Digital stereo. Also, again, since LaserDisc is such a small market there weren't a lot of hands that went into the mastering. Movies usually just got a digital transfer of the Dolby Stereo sounndtrack intended for movie theaters, music videos got similarly raw/un-fudged-with soundtracks.
    As a result of both of these scenarios, some PCM stereo soundtracks on LaserDisc can sound really, really good. Particularly if they were originally intended for surround processing in a movie house, they can really kick arse. "Better than DVD"? No. Not unless something's really wrong with the DVD.
    The thing that stands out is that the LaserDisc soundtrack is often a closer copy of exactly the sound that was played at the movie theater. A good thing? Probably if you have a relatively high-end system. If not, maybe not.
     
  3. BrandonH

    BrandonH Stunt Coordinator

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    I use a video scaler line quadupler and it looks pretty good.
     
  4. Julian Reville

    Julian Reville Screenwriter

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    What kind and how much does it cost? I've got a ton of LDs, a CLD-99, and an Infocus SP4800
     
  5. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    It's worth noting that, according to Dolby's own engineers, the usual "DD 2.0 surround" track used for movies which were originally recorded in Dolby Surround [and haven't been mastered in discrete format for DVD] has problems. Apparently, at the very least, the high-frequency mixdown process damages or destroys some of the cues that your Pro-Logic decoder uses to do the channel-steering.

    Now, as an owner of perhaps the only 2.0 AC-3 LaserDisc ever made [the "bonus disc" from a 1998 movie boxset], I can attest that 384 kbps 2.0 is really very good. I'm not at all a golden ear, but I couldn't really find a difference between that and the PCM track. Sadly, the DVD producers aren't willing to allocate even that much bitspace.

    I really prefer PCM.
     
  6. BrandonH

    BrandonH Stunt Coordinator

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  7. Julian Reville

    Julian Reville Screenwriter

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    Super, thank you. I can actually afford that. [​IMG]
     
  8. Gary Seven

    Gary Seven Grand Poo Pah

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    Hardly a myth. As I said, I have at least 400 LDs and at least 200 DVDs. I have found in MOST (if not all) comparisons that the LDs blew away the DVD, in both DD, DTS and PCM. SOME were comparable. Now, I do have a high end system so I can EASILY discern the difference. In no comparison did I find a case where the DVD sounded better.
    That may change with the advent of HD-DVD (and BlueRay).
     
  9. BrandonH

    BrandonH Stunt Coordinator

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  10. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I have similar amounts of media and have not notived this "blowing away" effect.
     
  11. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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  12. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    Ouritsu Uchuugun : Oneamisu no Tsubasa, one of the great animated films. It came out in 1987, and took 10 years to make back the money Bandai spent on it ; when it did, they remixed the sound into 5.1 and re-released it to theatres. I believe the PCM track is the original stereo mix. Half of side 5 [CAV] and all of side 6 [CLV] are taken up by the complete film score, by Ryuichi Sakamoto, with video of production art, including what appear to be giant watercolours and even architectural models.
    I'm pretty sure that Goldeneye is a gatefold, and the bonus side is not AC-3.
     
  13. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    The bonus features disc on the "Forest Gump" Laserdisc also has DD2.0 on the DD track. It sounds fine.
     
  14. Gary Seven

    Gary Seven Grand Poo Pah

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    Perhaps it is as you suggested and more prominent in high end equipment. More of a difference than effect.
    Just off the top of my head some glaring differences were found in the Looney Tunes shorts, between the recently released sets and the LD counterparts. The DVDs were better looking obviously but the sound was flat and muffled. The LDs, while exhibiting slight more hiss, had a far greater dynamic range and thus sound effects and music had more impact. The Superman II LD and the DVD. This 2.0 comparison revealed how flat the DVD was with little to no dynamic range. The LD on the otherhand was more pleasureable to listen to. Again, sound effects and music had more impact. The DD LD of Goldeneye (it is a gatefold) and Tomorrow Never Dies compared to their DVD counterpart. The DVD lacked a richness and bass that the LD had. The surrounds have a more spacious sound. They sound fine by themselves but their weakness is readily apparent when compared.
    Just a few examples.
     
  15. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Or it's in people's heads, looking to the LD days through rose-colored glasses. Though I could understand the Looney Tunes difference being from the whole DD 2.0 versus PCM problem.
     
  16. greg_t

    greg_t Screenwriter

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    LD audio was great, as is DVD. I tend to give LD audio the overall thumbs up over DVD, but I don't think it blows DVD away. I've heard lasers that indeed did blow away their DVD counterpart, such as Saving Private Ryan, Star Wars Episode I, and Independence Day, but don't agree with the notion that LD always blows away DVD.

    For reference, I use a Pioneer HLD-X9 LD player and a Panny RP82 DVD player into a Pioneer Elite 49TXi reciever.
     
  17. Dick Boneske

    Dick Boneske Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes, LD picture quality was better than VHS or Beta, but not nearly as good as DVD. My LD player very seldom gets used any more. I have about 100 LD's.

    The only LD I have that has sound quality that is as good or better than the DVD is the Eagle's Hell Freezes Over--and that is in the 2.0 mode. When you switch to DTS with the DVD, there is no comparison. A striking example of very POOR LD sound is the first three Star Wars LD's. The VHS Hi-Fi versions sounded better.

    Laserdisc was an excellent format for the 80's, in spite of disc rot, poor availability, mediocre players, large clumsy discs, etc.,etc.,etc.

    DVD's surpass LD's in every measure--on nearly every program. Can't we just enjoy the improvement and use the LD's as long as they are needed? Soon it will be time to remove the LD player and DVHS from my system to make room for the future.
     
  18. Gary Seven

    Gary Seven Grand Poo Pah

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    Oh yeah... that must be it. [​IMG]
     
  19. Phil A

    Phil A Producer
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    When I was finalizing what players I'd end up with, given the fact I only own about 130 discs and probably would not acquire much more but still wanted a quality picture, Kurtis Bahr came over my place with his HLD-X9, a tweaked CLD-97, etc. I had "The Phantom Menace" LD, which, in my opinion, is one of the best transfers I've seen. I also had "The Phanton Menace" DVD which has a good but not outstanding transfer. In side by side tests all which ways on my 100 inch screen, there was no situation where either of us felt the LD had a better picture, including going thru the scaler built into my then Proceed PMDT DVD transport. That's not to say that I don't own poor DVD transfers where the quality is no better or a bit below some LDs. I've also found I like the sound quality on many LDs I have vs. DVDs of the same mat'l I own or have heard. I can enjoy the software of either format and not get too picky except for extremes.
     
  20. Vegas 1

    Vegas 1 Supporting Actor

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    I believe many of the DTS lasers still sound better than their DVD counterpart, however with the HI-DEF format arriving that may change
     

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