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A Primer for Home Theater Newcomers

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Vince Maskeeper, Mar 10, 2002.

  1. MarcVH

    MarcVH Second Unit

    Dec 26, 2001
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    Clearly your fancy new A/V system will have to go somewhere, and if
    you're like most new enthusiasts your existing entertainment furniture
    isn't up to the task. Good furniture will help make your system easy
    to use, protected from harm, and pleasing to look at.

    Aesthetics are subjective, but function is not. When considering
    entertainment furniture, remember:
    1. Shop for equipment first

      If you don't already have the basics of your setup (TV, speakers,
      receiver) then you'll want to at least do some shopping for that stuff
      first, so you have some idea what you're going to get and what its
      requirements are. Even if you don't buy equipment first, you can
      usually find spec sheets and manuals on the manufacturer's web pages,
      which can tell you things like weights, dimensions and ventilation
    2. Your equipment should be stable and well-supported.

      Consider that a home theater receiver can weigh over 50 lbs, and a big
      TV will weigh well over 100 lbs (and is front-heavy.) You don't want
      that kind of weight sitting on something that's going to fall if
      somebody bumps into it, or in an earthquake.

      Some furniture has rated capacity claims; otherwise you'll have to
      look for things like thin shelves made of particle board, long
      unsupported spans, flimsy plastic shelf supports, and anything else
      that doesn't look strong and durable.
    3. Your equipment should be positioned properly for use.

      A TV should be where you find it most natural to look at from your
      seating position, not awkwardly high or low. After the TV, consider
      center speaker placement. Your center should be aligned with the
      center of the TV screen, with the height of the tweeter as close as
      possible to the hight of the tweeters in your main speakers. This
      usually means it goes right on top of the TV, although underneath it
      can be an option as well. If your furniture won't allow either of
      these things, that's a problem.

      Picture yourself changing a CD; do you have to do anything awkward,
      like crouching down or opening a glass door? Can you see the front
      displays that you need to? Will your remote control operate your
      most-frequently-used components easily, or will something be in the
    4. Your equipment should fit, with room to breathe.

      Many home theater components have a standard width (about 17 inches,
      some are narrower but very few are wider) and most racks are designed
      to accomodate this size. Depth, however, is an area where problems
      are common. Equipment depth varies considerably; receivers can be
      quite deep, and if the back of your furniture is closed you'll need
      another couple of inches for all the conections on the back panel. CD
      megachangers are probably the worst offenders -- some are more than
      22" deep!

      Some home theater equipment uses a lot of power, and thus creates a
      lot of heat. Receivers and amplifiers are generally the worst
      offenders, though TVs make some as well. It's best to avoid stacking
      heat-producing components, and there needs to be ventilation to allow
      that heat to dissipate instead of it cooking your expensive
      electronics. Usually the ventilation is on the top and back of the
      component; the manual will usually recommend minimum clearances.

      Equipment has to have cables that connect it together, and if you end
      up with a signicant system it's inevitable you'll have a honkin' lot
      of cables connecting things together. The plugs for these will take a
      couple inches of depth in the back, and the wires themselves will wind
      this way and that. No cable should be kinked, and this is
      particularly important for optical digital cabling. Some systems
      include cable mangement, although this sometimes forces all cables to
      run within a single channel -- some people feel it's better to
      separate signal cables (interconnects) from power cables (including
      speaker cables) to limit interferance.

      Because of depth, ventilation and cabling requirements, many prefer
      furniture which is "open" (lacks back and side panels) or at least
      open in the back. There are disadvantages as well; for example, you
      may need to dust more often. Note that some assemble-it-yourself
      furniture has a back panel you can simply omit; others, however, use
      the back panel for lateral support and are not stable without it
    5. Consider audio/video separation

      The placement of your TV is critical, obviously, as are your speakers.
      Other components don't matter so much, so you may want to consider
      having a TV stand which is separate from the rack that holds your
      other components. There's no reason you can't have, say, your TV
      along one wall but your components along another, though there may be
      several cables running between the two locations. Some people
      building custom rooms make a special closet for the components to hide
    6. Consider media storage

      You probably already own a collection of some videotapes and a bunch
      of CDs, and you'll probably end up adding more of these and some DVDs
      as well. These need to be stored somewhere, although it doesn't
      necessarily have to be in the same piece of furniture that holds your
      equipment. Separate shelving, drawers, etc. can provide a more
      flexible and scalable solution.
    7. Consider building it yourself

      If you can't find the furniture you want at a price you find fair, and you
      have some minimal competence with a drill and a hammer, you may want
      to explore do-it-yourself (DIY) options. They're discussed often in the
      DIY forum here; the most popular one is probably the
    8. Remember the future

      If you've just spent $100 on a really basic entertainment center you
      probably won't feel too bad if, a few years down the line, you find you
      need to get a new one. However, if you're spending $3500 for an Ethan
      Allen entertainment center, you'll probably feel otherwise.

      Most people start with something pretty basic (receiver, DVD player,
      VCR, and a TV.) What else might you add? A bigger TV, maybe a
      widescreen? A CD changer? A PVR? A game console? A cable or
      satellite box? And who knows what new stuff will be available five
      years from now? Don't assume you will buy this thing once and be done
      forever -- you'll probably find it evolves over time. Good furniture
      can evolve with it.
  2. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

    Jan 23, 1999
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    Occasionally I hear people talking about DAD discs. What the heck is that???

    These are DVD-Video discs available from many retailers including forum sponsor Laser's Edge. Though they conform to the DVD-Video spec they are more like DVD-Audio in implemetation. These are stereo albums that were mastered to DVD using the DVD-V spec and 96/24 Audio tracks.

    96/24 PCM audio (CD style audio at a much higher resolution than CD delivers) is part of the DVD-Video spec, so you can definitely play DADs. No doubt about it. However, there are some limitations to the 96/24 bitstream. The original DVD-Video spec did not allow for this resolution to be transmitted through the digital outs of a player. Some companies, notably Pioneer, simply ignored this part of the spec and sent the full bandwidth signal regardless. Most players do not allow for this type of transmission, and will only send a 48/16 signal with the extra bits and resolution simply thrown away.

    *** It is important to note here that due to the very careful mastering of the 96/24 DVD-Video titles, the truncated 48/16 version when decoded through an ordinary DAC can sound very damn good, possibly better than the redbook CD of the same material. This is how I used to listen to my DADs when I had a ProScan DVD player. You don't get the benefit of the extra resolution, but you do get the benefit of the extra care taken during the mastering process, much like with "audiophile" CDs.

    If the DVD player has a 96/24 DAC built in (a highly touted feature in 1999/2000), you can use the analog output to enjoy sonic excellence from these discs. This is how I've enjoyed these discs for years. However, it is important to note that your receiver must have an analog bypass mode. If the receiver digitizes the input analog stereo signal for bass management, tone controls, etc.(many do) then once again you won't get the benefits of the added resolution the discs have to offer. On my old ProScan 8680Z DIVX machine the analog output from these amazing discs didn't sound as good as the comparable redbook CDs. I suspect that the 8680Z had a lousy DAC that played the 48K truncated version of these fabulous discs.

    So you see, it is a very complicated affair. Though it is part of the DVD-Video spec, this seldom used format is much closer to DVD-Audio in actual implementation.

    But I assure you that the results, if you have a well calibrated system that is capable of taking advantage of the format, are absolutely breathtaking. I've got four of these discs and they are extremely impressive.
  3. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Screenwriter

    Feb 1, 2002
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    How Dolby Pro Logic and DPLII works

    DPL or Dolby Pro Logic sound begins with 4 channels and is mixed down and encoded as 2 channels for transfer. This encoded signal is easily carried via videotape, satellite, laserdisc, DVD or TV broadcast: or any stereo source. During playback, your DPL receiver processes the compatible signal back to 4 channels from 2.

    Types of Channels:

    2 discrete, full-bandwidth channels (front left and right); 1 matrixed, full-bandwidth channel (center); 1 matrixed, limited-bandwidth channel (surround left and right)

    Dolby Pro Logic is a matrixed multichannel system, which means that some channels are actually derived from other channels. In this case, center channel sounds are created from parts of the front right and left channels. The single matrixed surround channel is split and sent to the surround speakers, so both surround speakers play the same sounds.

    The Entrance of Dolby Pro Logic II

    Dolby Pro Logic II, on the other hand, improves on original Dolby Pro Logic with special circuitry that creates a convincing 5.1-channel experience with stereo, full-bandwidth surround channels! And yet Dolby Pro Logic II is using the same Dolby Surround-encoded and stereo sources that Dolby Pro Logic uses. Receivers with Dolby Pro Logic II will give extra intensity to the 12,000 VHS movies with Dolby Surround and the limitless TV broadcasts and music available as stereo sound. Yet even this format is only a supplement to the impressive 5.1-, 6.1- and 7.1-channel surround sound available from digital sources.

    Types of Channels:

    2 discrete, full-bandwidth channels (front left and right); 3 matrixed, full-bandwidth channels (center, surround left and right); 1 subwoofer channel via Pro Logic II's bass management

    Works sited - Crutchfield
  4. Mike Knapp

    Mike Knapp Supporting Actor

    Aug 4, 1997
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    What is home theater?

    So, what exactly is a home theater anyway? Many will say it is an attitude, many others will say it is equipment. In reality is is a perfect combination of both.

    As far as equipment goes..."If everything is a home theater, then nothing is a home theater".

    A 13" TV with a VCR source and the most avid film buff watching is not a home theater, neither is a 100K system with a guy that watches pan and scan films or zoomed 2.35:1 ratio films on it.

    This isn't about money, but Im afraid the reality is you must spend some money to have a home theater. Many people with great systems do not feel that they have a home theater. Many people with well below what is needed feel that they do.

    An "enthusiast" will try as best they can to reproduce the image and sound as it was determined by the artist to be seen and heard. This will require some minimum equipment levels like it or not.

    If you are just starting out you will need a bare minimum of these things....

    1) A display device. It doesnt need to be Hi-def or 16:9 ratio, but when you watch a widescreen film, you should never zoom it or crop it in any way to fill your screen. Also, if you do opt for a 16:9 screen, you should never zoom a 4:3 film to fit it. This knife cuts both ways.

    2) A video source of some kind. For most today, that is a DVD player. A VCR or a Laser Disc player will do but you will find the standard piece of video source equipment will probably be a DVD player, and at the current market prices there is no reason not to have one.

    3) An audio decoder Most people will opt for a receiver here. It needs to be capable of re-producing surround sound, preferably a minimum of Dolby Digital 5.1 Most modern films have 5.1 soundtracks, unless you only watch pre 1980 films, you will need surround capabilities and should have a dolby digital decoder. DTS and the other surround formats will be icing on the cake for you.

    4) Speakers. You need 5 speakers and a subwoofer. No room for fudging here. 5 speakers an a subwoofer.

    Now you have the basics for a home theater. Make sure you have the right attitude and you will be on your way! What is the right attitude? I guess I could sum it up in one sentence...

    The artists that created this film know much better than I how it should be viewed.

    There you go, try to display the film the way the artist created it and you will be an enthusiast. You can be an enthusiast and not have a home theater, you can have a home theater and not be an enthusiast, but the combination of the two is what you seek.

    Good luck on your journey.

  5. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

    Jan 16, 1998
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    Neil Joseph
    Optical digital Connection/Coax digital connection

    The digital connection between a DVD player and a receiver is needed in order to transfer the audio from the DVD player to the receiver/processor. The audio is sent out from the DVD player as a digital bitstream of 1's and 0's as apposed to an analog format. There are basically two different types of cables that can be used to transfer this data, a digital optical cable and a digital coaxial cable. Most of the newer generation of DVD players have both capabilities but some older models only had a coaxial connection. Let us examine some of the characteristics of each type of connection...

    Digital Optical

    This cable is actually a fiber optic cable. It snaps into position on the optical output of the DVD player while the other end connects to the optical input of the receiver/processor. The DVD player transfers the digital audio bitstream of 1's and 0's as light pulses down the fiber optic cable where the receiver then decodes the information and converts it to an analog format that can be played to the speakers. The advantages of the optical cable are there is absolutely no RF noise or interference (typical of cheaper coaxial cables). Also, the light pulses can be transferred over long distances with minimal loss. Typically though, most commercial cables are either 3 or 6ft in length and longer runs need to be custom made. The disadvantages include a typically higher cost than the average coaxial cable, a connection that is not as robust as the more sturdy coaxial connection, and the possibility of data loss if the cable is bent at a sharp angle. The fact that the signal travels as light down the optical cable means that there are two extra steps in this process. The bitstream must be converted from an electrical signal to an optical one so that it can be carried down the cable. Then, the optical signal must be converted back to an electrical signal again. This two step process is not needed in the digital coaxial solution.


    Digital Coaxial

    This cable is a typical shielded coaxial cable with "RCA" ends. It is plugged into the DVD player's digital coaxial output while the other end connects to the receiver's digital coaxial input. As with the optical cable, the DVD player transfers the digital audio bitstream of 1's and 0's but as electrical pulses down the cable where the receiver then decodes the information and converts it to an analog format that can be played to the speakers. The advantages of the coaxial cable are it's sturdy connectors (the cable is difficult to damage). Also, the cables are generally cheaper than the average optical cable and are more readily available. The disadvantages include the possibility of RF noise or interference, although the shielding provided on today's coaxial cables practically negates this disadvantage.


    So which is better?

    Both types of cables more than meet the simple specifications of this simple task of transferring the digital audio bitstream. Both work equally well although there have been those who advocated one over the other due to audio differences. Whether this is a placebo effect or not is debatable. In the end though, they are transferring a digital medium, which is different from transferring an analog medium that is indeed cable dependant. My personal deciding factor is price and having the more robust connection, important especially if the cable will be disconnected and reconnected several times.
  6. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

    May 8, 2001
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    How do I route my audio and video signals?

    There are many different ways to connect all your HT gear together. I'll discuss two of the most common here.

    Method 1 - route all audio and video to the receiver
    Take a look on the back of any modern HT receiver and you'll see a ton of inputs/outputs. A large number of those rca jacks will be red, white and yellow. The red and white plugs carry the audio portion, while the yellow jack is reserved for the video portion. You'll also notice some of the jacks are labeled 'input', while others are called 'output'. As you can see, the receiver has a lot of flexibility in how it will route these signals.

    By routing all the audio and video through the receiver, you'll essentially turn your receiver into a "switching station". You'll run one single video signal (via the 'mon output' on the back of the receiver) to your tv. Now, when you want to watch tv, you can simply press video-1 on the front of your receiver...to play your Nintendo, you simply press video-2...to watch your DVD, you press the button labeled 'dvd', etc.

    What's the main advantage of this type of connection? Without a doubt, it's simplicity. This setup works well when you don't feel like pressing two or more buttons to change what you're watching or when your children or ht-challenged spouses get into the picture. Some receivers even let you mix audio/video sources "inside". Imagine making your own party-mix vhs tape using any video source you want, but music from your cd collection.

    Method 2 - route the video to the tv
    Many will comment that a disadvantage of the first method is that the video signal becomes degraded when it goes through the receiver first. By routing the video signal directly to the TV, you bypass the receivers electronics, thereby providing the TV with the "purest" signal possible.

    It is up to you to decide if you see a difference. I recommend you run the video signal both ways and see if you notice any signal degredation. That will help you decide which setup works better for you.

    The disadvantage of running the video to the tv is that you now have to select more than one input to see and hear what you'd like. Imagine if you're watching your dvd player on the tv's video-1 input. The sound is coming out of your receiver on video-1. If you decide to watch your vcr, now you have to change both the tv and receiver to the video-2 input. As you can see, this could get confusing for someone who is not familiar with your setup, plus it adds an extra step into the selection process.

    Note: several of today's modern remotes are programmable. You can actually program the remote to do all this switching with a single button...but that's another article.

    Again, I've only listed the two of the most common setup configurations. I'm sure there are lots of variation on this, but these two methods will get you started.
  7. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

    May 8, 2001
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    What am I supposed to do with all these remotes?

    These days, just about every piece of HT gear you purchase will come with it's own remote. Some receivers even come with two! So, in a common HT setup, it's not uncommon to have eight, ten (or even more) remotes!

    Imagine having to pick up one remote to turn on the TV, another remote to turn on the receiver, and yet another remote to turn on and operate the DVD player. Ugh!

    So, how do you get around this remote control nightmare?

    The solution is a universal remote control.

    The universal remote control allows you to emulate or program the required functionality from all your other remotes into one single remote. One remote can now replace all your others.

    I'll discuss some of the major considerations when looking for a universal remote.

    Hard vs. Soft Buttons
    This is a very important consideration when purchasing a remote. Most remotes come in one of three different styles: hard button, soft button or a hybrid version.

    Hard button remotes are the most common. They require the user to push a button to activate some command. Soft button remotes are the newer flat-panel LCD types. The hybrid models incorporate both.

    The main issue is that with soft button (LCD type) remotes, the user generally has to look at the remote to know what button is being pushed. This can be awkward or annoying for some users...while others do not mind. However, it is recommended you experiment and see if that is an issue. With a hard-button remote, the user can generally "feel" his way around the remote - thereby eliminating the necessity to look down first. The hybrid models typically utilize hard-buttons for the most common functions (volume up/down, channel up/down, power, etc) - but then utilize the LCD panel for other functions.

    Again, this all boils down to personal preference.

    All universal remotes are either pre-programmed from the factory or allow the user to program the remote. You should select a remote that has enough programmability and memory that it will be able to learn all your existing remotes. This should not be a problem for the higher end models, but may be a limiting factor for the more inexpensive models

    Typically, you must "tell" the remote what brand and component you want it to function as. So, if you have a Sony DVD player, you must tell the remote to emulate the DVD's remote. Typically, this is done by entering a code into the universal remote.

    Another common method to program the remote is to have the universal remote "learn" the function of the original remote. As an example scenario, let's take programming the 'play' button from your DVD to the universal remote: First, you'll point both remote controls IR sensor towards eachother, next you'll put the universal remote into learn mode, then you'll press the play button on the learning remote, then the play button on the DVD's remote. By doing this, you're telling the universal remote to learn the play button command from the DVD's remote. In essence, you are "sending" the code from the original remote to the universal remote.

    Either method of programming the remote works. However, for total customization and compatibility, the learning method is typically more flexible.

    Universal remotes can range in price from twenty dollars all the way to several hundred dollars. Usually, the higher the price, the more features, power, programmability, memory, etc. You should determine how much functionality you want the universal remote to do. Do you only want it to do basic commands or are you truly looking for the "one-remote-does-it-all" model?

    Macros are a very convenient and powerful feature. Many of todays universal remotes have this capability.

    A macro feature will allow the user to program into the univeral remote a pre-determined sequence of button commands. So, the next time you want to power on your tv, power on your receiver, power on your dvd player, switch all necessary inputs to the dvd, change the sound format and finally adjust the volume to a particular level...this can all be done by simply pressing one button.

    Other Considerations
    There are other considerations to purchasing a remote. Among the most important is backlighting. This will allow you to easily find the correct button in the dark.

    Also, consider the remote's button layout. Is it logical? Typically, the most utilized buttons should be physically distinguished in some way...making it easier to find by feel - the volume and channel buttons are a good example.

    How about the overall ergonomics? Does the remote feel good in your hand? Does it have a nice balance and weight to it? Or does it seem uncomfortable and hard to hold?

    Additional Resources
    Without a doubt, one of the most informative resources for remote control reviews and information can be found at:

    Remote Central

    This site has comprehensive reviews of many remotes, plus a forum section, where users can post questions about their specific model. It is very highly recommended.
  8. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

    Jan 18, 1999
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    6 channel ins and outs on HT equipment

    6 channel outputs on DVD players:

    There are some DVD players that come with 6 channel RCA outputs in addition to the standard stereo connectors and the digital audio outputs.

    In the early days of dolby digital, many budget receivers did not include onboard DD decoding chips- so you couldn't send them digital audio from the player and expect them to turn them into 6 analog channels, instead these receivers offered 6 channel analog inputs allowing them to be used with DVD players that did the DD/DTS decoding internally.

    So these DVD players have internal decoders for DD and/or DTS audio and turn the 6 channel digital signal into analog inside the player and pass the already decoded 6 channel signal via 6 RCA output jacks on the player.

    These 6 channel outputs are also useful on DVD-A or SACD players, as most modern receivers don't have internal decoders for a digital stream in these formats. To do DVD-A and SACD, you have to have a receiver with 6 channel inputs and connect the 6 analog lines from the player to the receiver.

    Technically speaking, you could also connect these 6 channel outs on the dvd player direct to amplifiers and bypass a preamp if you chose (as these players tend to have internal level controls and other preamp features)-- but most people don't usually do it that way.

    6 channel inputs on receivers:

    Well, as stated above- some receivers offer 6 channel inputs to allow connections of outboard 6 channel devices for which they might not offer intenal convertors.

    Some source devices (like the ones outlined above) have internal audio converters which allow them to pass multiple channels of analog audio to the receiver- instead of an encoded digital signal. The source device does all the digital decoding internally, and passes 6 (or more) analog channels out to the receiver- and thus you need to be able to accept 6 input channels. This is similar to a CD player- which does the digital to analog internally and passes 2 analog channels to a receiver-- only in the case of DVD it's usually more than 2 channels.

    Older receivers didn't have DD or DTS converters built in- so 6 channel input on a receiver allowed you to still get DD/DTS on your old receiver if your dvd player could convert the digital signal internally and pass 6 analog outputs.

    Also, many modern receivers are unable to internally convert the type of digital audio information found on DVD-A or SACD, so receivers have 6 channel input to allow connection of SACD or DVD-A players that have internal conversion (or any other new format which might arise).

    By having a 6 channel input- you have mad eit possible to listen to future 5.1 sources, even if your receiver has no internal converters to handle them.

    6 channel output on receivers:

    Some receiver have 6 channel preamp OUTPUTS to allow you to bypass the internal amplifiers that are inside the receiver and feed the 6 channel signals to your own amps.

    This allows you to only use the preamp and processing stages of your receiver- which will decode the 6 channel stems of DD/DTS/Pro Logic or even simple stereo- and then pass them outside the receiver to allow you to use higher power or higher grade amps, while still getting conversion and switching functions of your receiver.

  9. Dan Brecher

    Dan Brecher Producer

    Jan 8, 1999
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    Tell me about THX

    THX is a division of the company Lucasfilm Ltd, that's right, the company behind the Star Wars movies. It's a division with a single aim, the aim to ensure the highest standards of audio/visual presentation in both movie theatres, and in recent years, our homes.

    First thing you must learn? THX is not a digital sound format like Dolby Digital and DTS. Think of THX more as the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" for theater and home theater related products

    For home theatre, THX comes in a number of forms. You may perhaps own a DVD that is THX certified, we'll come to that in a moment, but first we'll look into THX certification of home theatre hardware components.

    The THX Website states:
  10. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

    Jan 16, 1998
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    Neil Joseph
    Why video inputs/outputs on a receiver?

    Basically, there are three major reasons to make use of the video inputs/outputs on the back of a receiver...

    1- To make use of the onscreen display function so that when the receiver's remote button is pressed, that function e.g. "mute" is shown on the display device's screen. In addition, many modern receivers have complicated setup options and calibration screens available ONLY via the on screen display. Some products are IMPOSSIBLE to set up correctly without using the video connection to your TV set.

    2- To provide more video inputs. This is particularly useful these days with so many display devices being available. For example, if you have a TV that only has 2 video inputs, what do you do if you have a DVD player, a VCR, a game console, a satellite setup, a laserdisc player etc etc. How do you hook all of these devices up to a TV that only has 2 inputs available???

    3- Increased convenience of video switching along with audio mode switching. The receiver acts as a control center, handling all the routing for you.


    How to connect?
    There are various types of video-switching receivers available. The most common ones are able to switch composite video. Some others are able to switch both composite and s-video, and a few are able to switch component video as well. What you need to do is connect your TV/display device to the receiver's video output using the composite video connection, the s-video connection if available on the receiver, and the component connection if available on the receiver. Then you basically connect all of your video devices to their respective locations on receiver's video inputs. So now, if you want to watch the game console (s-video for example) on the bigscreen, you simply switch the TV to the s-video setting and there it is. To watch the DVD (component for example), you switch the TV to the component setting, etc.
  11. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

    Mar 13, 2001
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    What are these terms Color Decoder, Red Push, Grayscale and why is everyone sunburned?

    If you hang around the tv section of the forum, you'll invariably hear the terms "color decoder", "red push" and "grayscale" mentioned.

    The tv's color decoder, in simplistic terms, is the circuitry and logic that determines how colors look on your television.

    Grayscale is the term used to define how grays (from white to black) look on your set. Think of your tv's grayscale as the underlying canvas onto which color is then added by the color decoder to form a complete colorized picture. A tv's grayscale is often measured in terms of temperature.

    You will hear people refer to the "color temperature" of their set or your set may have a "color temperature" setting such as cool, neutral, and warm. Without getting into what this is actually measuring, it is important from a user's perspective to know that cool means a more blueish grayscale (and in fact a hotter color temperature!) while warm is the opposite end and produces a more reddish grayscale (and it follows a cooler color temperature).

    Movie makers have a standard that they adhere to called NTSC D6500K. This is the color temperature that they use when putting together the dvd since it is the standard color temperature for the American tv standard. This is the color temperature that, in theory, all tvs should have, but almost always this is not the case.

    Most tv manufacturers don't adhere to this because D6500K is a relatively low color temperature that produces a grayscale that doesn't stand up under showroom lights. Because of this and the fact that companies want their sets to stand out against the competition, they set the tv's color temperature so it is very blue along with a contrast setting usually at maximum. This usually produces a crisp bright picture on the showroom floor but also produces fleshtones that don't look realistic.

    This is where "red-push" comes into play. To counteract the "blueness" of the grayscale, manufacturers then tell their color decoders to over-emphasize red. This allows them to continue having a high contrast, bright set as well as fleshtones that seem to look good. Once you get the set home and out of the showroom lights though, and turn the contrast down to reaonable levels, it is then you'll notice that everyone looks sunburned.

    So, what can you do about this?

    Well, firstly, you should get a calibration disc such as Avia or Video Essentials which will allow you properly calibrate your tv's basic settings - brightness, contrast, color, hue and sharpness.

    Once that is done, there are a few things one can do to correct the overly blue grayscale and the red push problem.

    First, if your set has a color temperature setting, change it to 'warm' or perhaps 'NTSC standard' if your set has that option. This still may not be close to D6500K but it is most likely better than the default. Next, use your calibration disc to determine how much red push you have. Avia has a nice color decoder pattern that will allow you to quantify this.

    At this point, adjust the color control downward until the red push is below 10 percent. This will de-emphasize red as well as the other colors too, so it is a compromise. You will be taking away all colors a little in hopes that the overemphasized red will not be so distracting.
  12. Adam Barratt

    Adam Barratt Cinematographer

    Oct 16, 1998
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    Who Invented DVD?

    The notion of a high density optical video disc was toyed with by numerous companies in the late '80s and early '90s, but it wasn't until 1993 that the germ of what we know now as DVD began to grow. That year British company Nimbus Technology and Engineering demonstrated a slightly modified dual-speed Red Book (the standard used by the CD format) disc using the recently introduced MPEG-1 video compression system. This approach was a step up from single-speed MPEG-1 devices such as CDV (White Book) and CD-i (Green Book), but video quality was still low and it was clear the future of video didn't lie with the decade old Compact Disc platform.

    Later that year Nimbus joined a consortium of other companies, headed by giants Toshiba and Time Warner, seeking to develop this next-generation video platform. All parties had a definite interest in the future of home video, whether from the hardware or software side. If you've ever seen a CDV or CD-i in action you can probably understand why the studios weren't overwhelmed with the thought of a next-generation video system that offered little more performance or copyright protection than standard VHS and considerably lower video and audio quality than the (even then) well-worn analogue LaserDisc system.

    The following year the goals of this proposed disc became clear following the recommendations of an advisory committee established by Hollywood's major players. This committee recommended a system capable of producing 133 minutes of high quality video, stereo and multichannel (six-channel) capability, multiple audio and subtitle capabilities, dual aspect ratio compatibility (1.78:1 and 1.33:1) and advanced copy protection systems.

    Things began to heat up in December 1994 when Sony and Philips announced the development of the MMCD (Multimedia CD) disc to meet these requirements. MMCD discs held up to 3.6GB per layer and used the better MPEG-2 video compression format. The MMCD format also used numerous technologies that were covered by Philips and Sony s existing technology patents, which would ensure a handy income for both parties if adopted. One month later in January 1995 Toshiba and Warner Brothers announced their response, a format called SD (Super Density). SD's data capacity was greater, up to 18Gb compared to MMCD's 7.4GB, and it used technologies that weren t covered by Sony or Philips' patents.

    In light of the potential profits involved, neither consortium were willing to endorse the others' system and for the following nine months there was a real possibility the introduction of a new high-quality digital video/data format might dissolve into another VHS/Beta war, or even grind to an unceremonious halt. Luckily for all of us, growing press and industry concern eventually led to IBM and several of Hollywood's major studios stepping in and exerting pressure on both sides to settle on a common format.

    The studios had a vested interest in ensuring the format was brought to the market and IBM were keen to ensure that any format chosen was compatible with future IBM optical devices. This pressure prompted a new round of talks resulting in a compromise that satisfied all parties, and the new hybrid format was settled on in September 1995 at the IFA in Berlin. At the same time an industry regulatory body was established called the DVD Consortium, consisting of all companies involved in the SD and MMCD formats.

    The new format was formally announced in December 1995. The new high density disc was officially dubbed (drum-roll please) 'DVD', although exactly what these initials stood for was still up in the air. The format's specifications weren't finalised until September 1996 when the DVD-Video and DVD-ROM specifications version 1.0 was published. The following month DVD-Video's copy protection was finalised.

    The new DVD format was much closer to the Toshiba SD proposal than the MMCD system (the DVD format is, essentially, a tweaked variant of the SD format), incorporating multiple bonded layers, dual sided disc capability and up two data layers per disc side. Several Sony/Philips elements, such as their MMCD format's signal modulation system were added to the format, ensuring that all parties would get a piece of the royalties pie, but little of MMCD's fundamental technology was transferred into the DVD format.

    In November 1996 the first DVD players went on sale in Japan, and a few months later in March 1997 made their US debut. As two of the major players behind the new format were also major content producers, discs from Warner Home Video and Columbia TriStar (owned by Sony) were available for the format's introduction and bolstered the format while the other studios dithered about support for DVD. The rest, as they say, is history as the DVD went on to become the most successful consumer electronics launch in history, far exceeding the sales chalked up by the original CD format back in 1982/3.

  13. Adam Barratt

    Adam Barratt Cinematographer

    Oct 16, 1998
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    What's the Difference Between a DVD and a CD?

    At first glance a CD and DVD are very similar. Both are the same physical size (120mm in diameter, 1.2mm in depth), but that's where the similarities end. CDs consist of a single layer, whereas DVDs comprise two 0.6mm bonded polycarbonate layers. The spirals of data on a DVD are also more tightly packed and the data pit length half that of a CD. As a result of these differences, the laser used to read a DVD is much narrower (650/635nm as opposed to 780nm on CD). DVDs also spin at more than twice the speed of a CD. This speed increase and pit/spiral difference results in a maximum end-stage composite data transfer-rate of up to 10.08Mbps from DVD, over seven times the capability of CD at 1.4112Mbps.

    DVDs come in several densities. The basic single layer single side variant is known as a DVD-5 and stores up to 4.7GB of data; dual-sided DVD-5s are known as (surprise) DVD-10s. A dual-layered single-sided DVD is known as a DVD-9 and contains up to 8.54GB. The second layer of a DVD-9 (layer 1) contains slightly less data than the first layer (layer 0), as the data pits are spaced slightly further apart. This allows more accurate reading of the second layer through the first data layer and the transparent glue used to bond the two data layers together.

    A dual-layered, dual-sided disc is known as a DVD-18, and can contain up to 17.08GB. DVD-18 and 14 discs use a slightly different and more difficult construction technique than that used by DVD-5, 9 or 10 discs so are still relatively uncommon.

  14. Marc Rochkind

    Marc Rochkind Second Unit

    Aug 26, 2000
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    As I learned when I was about 10 years old, "solder is a conductor, not a glue."

    So, here's how to solder:

    1. The wires must be clean.

    2. The joint must be mechanically sound absent the solder. In other words, the solder should be almost superfluous.

    3. Twist the wires tightly and then clamp the wires by their insulation so they don't move while you are soldering.

    4. Place the hot iron or gun on the joint from below, as heat rises. After a few seconds, touch the solder to the wire far from the tip of the soldering iron or gun. Do NOT touch the solder to the iron or gun, as it will melt right away and therefore you can't tell if the WIRE is hot enough.

    5. When the wire is hot enough to melt the solder, it will flow towards the heat. You don't need much at all. Just enough to flow into the joint.

    6. Remove the solder and the iron or gun and let it cool.

    SPECIAL ADVANCED TECHNIQUE: When you touch the iron or gun to the wire to begin heating it, touch the iron or gun directly with the solder to create a pool of molten solder between the iron or gun and the wire. This helps the heat transfer. This amount of solder plays no part in the joint itself--it's just there to help with the heating. The rule about not touching the solder that will flow into the joint directly to the iron or gun still applies. In other words, you touch the solder once to the iron or gun, and (after a few seconds) a second time to the end of the wire.

    Hope this is clear!

    By the way, you use rosin core solder for electrical stuff, never acid core, which is for a different purpose.
  15. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

    Jan 12, 2002
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    (Not getting hooked up with speakers!)

    It is very important that

    ALL OF YOUR SPEAKERS SHOULD BE CONNECTED BEFORE STARTING THE WARP CORE (TURNING ON YOUR RECEIVER)( all new receivers have protection circuits for the amplifiers, but don't chance it)


    Also there is usually a speaker selection menu on most receivers. Be sure to set to off (or "none") for any channels that do not have a speaker hooked up to that channel or amplifier output.

    There are two wires for each speaker and these are color coded. Hook the black terminal on the receiver up to the black terminal on the speaker. Do the same for the Red terminals. Hook one speaker and only one speaker to each output (unless you know what you are doing).

    Be sure to use 12 gauge wire or larger for runs exceeding 30 to 50 feet. 10 gauge for runs of 100 feet or more. If you are running wire through a hot attic or walls, be sure to use high temperature / high volt wire stranded copper wire at your building supply store (you might need to check local building codes if you plan to run wires in the walls). Wires that carry Low voltage (speaker wire) are not required to be in conduit in most of the US and should never be in conduit with high voltage wire, unless there is a barrier wall dividing the wire tray into two sections of high volt and low volt. Check the electrical codes for your city or county to be sure, or hire a certified electrician.

    or how to ruin a marriage in one day!

    First, you need to measure the length of the distance you need to pull wires; then add 20'. Buy a 1000' roll of 12 gauge stranded high volt wire (ohm out the whole roll before cutting it, check for continuity).

    Lay out your lengths in the front yard and label then ends "one at a time". Tape the bundle together every 2 feet. Tape the ends together. Measure from a known spot on a wall and cut your access holes in the walls.

    The next part is fun. Get a cell phone, flashlight, your wire, a tape measure, and a battery operated drill with a 1.5" wood bit (try to find clothes with enough pockets to do all this). Take an extra battery with you. Go up into the attic walking on the ceiling joists to the spot you need to drill, spotting the place in the attic from the landmarks inside the house(walls, vents, wires). Get on your knees and scrape the insulation away from the top plate. (I hope you wore a long sleeve shirt.)

    A really good time to do this is 2PM in August. Sure!!!!

    Drill the sucker. Feed the wire down the wall to another person. Drill another hole, because you are in the wrong spot. Drill a third hole because you measured from the wrong spot. Drill a 4th hole, because you did not know that the set of electrical wires you were using as a reference point run 3' horizontal in the wall after going through the top plate. Leave the attic to get a third battery or re-charge the other ones, because both of your batteries are dead. Get really pissed and get a drink. Then go back up in the attic and finish the job. Have the person on the other end take a coat hanger to snag the wire bundle in the wall. You could use a fish tape for all of this if you know how to use one safely. But be very careful around electrical wires in your walls. Know where you are drilling and cutting holes. If you are not sure, then pay an electrician to do this and be safe.

    Now!! Wasn't that a piece of cake????

    %$#@****%&@@@@****#### Freaki****** bel#####



    A simple way to remember this is= PIE in your EAR.
    Power=Amps x Volts //// Volts=Amps x Resistance

    If you are deviating from a standard speaker hook up as detailed in your manual, you must be an expert in ohm calculation or have a professional speaker switching center or run a 70 volt system.

    More to follow//stay tuned

    All your speakers must be hooked up before turning on you receiver for the first time




    I will start with some simple hints and end with some real meat.

    First of all, I hope you bought 8 ohm speakers. Especially if that is the only speaker on that channel. Remember that ohms fluctuate widely during playback. However, a good built in speaker crossover network will keep you safe. If you use 4 ohm speakers, which some receivers allow, fluctuating ohms could easily be below 4 and even 2 ohms during playback of a signal. These momentary deviations are not a problem if the receiver is built to handle this and your built in crossover network in the speaker cabinet is a quality product. PS// Faulty speaker crossovers have been known to fry amplifiers to a well done state.



    Hook the wire from the positive terminal of the receiver to the positive speaker terminals of both speakers and do the same for the negative terminals. Diagrams are in the links. Two 8 ohm speakers in parallel equal 4 ohms. Two 4 ohm speakers in parallel equal 2 ohms. Just divide the ohms by two. If you use a mixture of speakers with different ohms it will get more complicated. These formulas are posted in the links.



    Hook the positive receiver terminal to the positive speaker terminal of the first speaker and then hook the negative speaker terminal of that speaker to the positive speaker terminal of another speaker. Clear as mud, right??? Do the same for the other channels. Diagrams to follow.

    If you hook two 8 ohm speakers in series you have 16 ohms. Just add the ohms together to get the total ohms. Two 4 ohm speakers in series would equal 8 ohms. Different ohm speakers will require some formulas that are in the posted links.




    Note: You are doing one speaker at a time/Don't get lost!

    If you are not sure your speakers are in phase(all the cones moving in the same direction at the same time), then take a size "C" battery and place the negative(any) speaker wire to one battery pole and the positive(any) speaker wire to the other battery pole(note, you are doing this procedure because you have no idea which wire is which, so the negative wire comment and positive wire comment is just that a "comment". With the wires still hooked up to the speaker(use the same battery poles each time you do this or you will be hopelessly lost). The cone should move out and stay out or in and stay in until you release the wire from the battery. If the cone is moving in the wrong direction compared to the other speakers, then reverse the wires on the battery and label the wires correctly(don't change directions on the battery while you are doing this, or you are totally lost without hope). Label your wires as you do each speaker. If all the wires to all the speakers are reversed (not just one), your speakers will still be in phase. Clear as mud??????????


    The 70 volt amplifier is the easiest way to get sound into a multiple room set up. Buy a 70 volt amplifier or two for stereo and a 5 to 10 watt 70 volt transformer for each speaker. A separate volume control for each speaker is an option and can be purchased with the 70 volt transformer built in.

    All you need is two wires for each channel to feed the
    whole house. Each speaker/transformer will drop off of the same set of wires for the whole house. Two sets for stereo. Each transformer is a mini amplifier and the wires that go to each transformer are the signal inputs and power for that speaker transformer. This is the system used in schools, and sound reinforcement applications. There is a way to balance the volume in each room without a volume control. That involves buying different watt 70 volt transformers (2,3,4,5,7,10,12,15, etc) and placing them in each room to produce the volume you want. Usually the speakers first in line will be the loudest and the ones at the end of the line are the quietest.

  16. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

    Jan 12, 2002
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    Use the above JPEG for a reference if you need it.

    The voice coil of a speaker is either a coil of copper or aluminum wire or ribbon. These range in size from 1/4" to 6". This is an electro magnetic coil of wire that moves the speaker cone in and out to the electrical pulses sent from the amplifier. This is an electrical to mechanical conversion. When doing voice coil repairs, you must be very careful to hold the soldering gun firmly in your hand while you solder the wires that are broken. The permanent magnet around the speaker is extremely strong on quality speakers. In addition, be sure to use several heat sinks on the coil wires.

    Yep! That's all it is, and can be removed and thrown away to do voice coil repairs. This does not indicate voice coil size. Beware when buying speakers to not judge the voice coil size by the dust cover size!

    This is a paper edge around the dust cover that is shaped like a funnel to radiate mid range frequencies.

    This part surrounds the voice coil and suspends it in an electromagnet field. These come in sizes from .5 ounces to 25 pounds.

    This is the paper or poly material that is what most people see when they look at a speaker. The cone radiates and vibrates from the inputs from the voice coil.





    In this design the air behind the speaker is used as a spring for the voice coil and speaker to compress and release on. These speakers have long throw voice coils that would easily exceed their travel allowances outside the enclosure. This type of enclosure allows the use of a smaller cabinet without sacrificing bass response. The main draw back is the increased amount of power required to drive an acoustic suspension speaker.


    This is the most common and efficient enclosure design. The air in the enclosure is allowed a limited amount of movement. This design must have a tuned port or tube to radiate wanted sound from the back of the speaker at correct frequencies and cancel out the unwanted frequencies.


    These enclosures are usually larger than 20 cubic feet and do not permit the back sound waves of the speaker to reach the front sound waves. Voice coil movement is unrestricted. Closets, the center of walls, ceilings, are the most common examples of infinite baffles. The Voice of Theatre series (Altec Lansing) had a cabinet that was large enough to be an infinite baffle. One variation of this speaker was an almost unloaded medium throw acoustic suspension speaker in an infinite baffle ( 15" woofer with a 5" voice coil in an almost unloaded large enclosure with a 25" 500 cycle horn). I had 4 of these that I hand built before I got a life.
    The main disadvantage of this design is it's large size and cost. Try 7 of these in your living room.

    Thanks to Larry for the link below


  17. Rudy H

    Rudy H Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 2, 2002
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    DIY: Subwoofers: Understanding Powerhandling

    Take a driver such as the Adire Shiva (or it's smaller-box cousin) the 12inch Dayton DVC. They have a RMS power rating of 650watts RMS and 600watts RMS, repectively. What exactly does that mean? That's the thermal power handling ability of the driver. It's the maximum amount of power they could reliably throw at the driver without the driver bottoming out (happens when the cone attempts to move beyond the limits of it's suspension... kind of like your car going over a speed bump too fast). With drivers like the Shiva and Dayton DVC, the limit of the suspension is almost always a bigger cause of concern than the actual power handling.

    Take the 12inch Dayton DVC for example. In a 1.2cf sealed box (very popular choice for this driver), at 600watts power input, is free from bottoming until 20hz, however below 20hz it will bottom. This is due to the fact that the cone must move more to reproduce lower frequencies than higher ones. Crank your system loud and take a look at your tweeters, chances are you wont be able to see them moving at all... however when you look at the woofers, they're probably moving quite a bit. The volume is the same for both the bass and the highs, but because bass, which contains lower frequencies, require much more cone movement than high frequencies. The Adire Shiva however is quite different with it's recommended 2cf sealed box. It would start bottoming at roughly 33hz, at the same 600watts power input.

    Now for vented boxes. 2 main factors affect power handling in a vented box: Box size and tuning frequency.
    The larger the box, the greater the cone excursion. Where tuning frequency comes into play is in the fact that roughly a 1/3rd below the tuning frequency, the woofer's back pressure from the box/port is practically eliminated. This causes a sharp and continous rise in cone excursion below that point. Another point of excursion to worry about is just above the tuning frequency where cone excursion is also very high.

    Take for example the 12inch Dayton DVC in a 2cf vented box tuned to 24hz, again at 600watts power input. A great box for a car audio system since it is flat to roughly 40hz. Excursion rises progressively to a peak at 35hz, drops down very low at 24hz (the tuning frequencY), and then skyrockets, causing bottoming below 20hz. Again, great for a car, but aweful for HT applications. Now lets take the same sub, but in a HT-oriented vented box... 4cf tuned to 20hz. This provides very deep bass response, perfect for HT.
    This is the case where the excursion above the tuning frequency is also in focus, since the woofer will bottom above the tuning frequency, peaking at 27hz. Excursion then drops to the tuning frequency, and as expected, skyrockets until bottoming reoccurs at 18hz.

    What's the solution to keep the woofer from bottoming?
    Either use less power (recommended) or make the box smaller.

    Usually if there's a problem with the driver bottoming, the tuning frequency can be lowered as a quick fix (if it will help, remember the excursion rise above the tuning frequency too), or for a sealed box, the box size can be reduced (by adding a phone book, brick or bracing into the enclosure).
  18. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

    Jan 16, 1998
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    Neil Joseph
    How should I point my speakers- should they toe in, where should surrounds be

    To answer this question, we first must know the speaker types that are available in a home theatre. They are the...

    1- Centre Channel speaker
    2- Front/Main speakers (L & R)
    3- Side Surround speakers (L & R)
    4- Dipole/Bipole/Tripole Surround speakers (L & R)
    5- Monopole Rear Surround speakers (L & R)
    6- Rear Centre speaker (single)
    7- Rear Centre speakers (dual L & R)
    8- Subwoofer(s)

    I will only discuss the positioning of these speakers and not the function of each or which types can be used in your particular setup. Note that different people may have different views on positioning of the various speakers as it is partly subjective in nature.


    Positioning each speaker

    1- The Centre Channel speaker must be located as close to the central point of the video display as possible. In the case of most TV's, this speaker can be placed on top of the TV if space is not an issue, otherwise, it can be placed under the TV in a rack or in front of the TV also. With front projection setups, a common method is to place the speaker on a stand. In all cases though, the tweeters should be aimed at your ear level while seated in the main listening position.

    2 - The Front speakers, or Main speakers, should be located to the left and right of the display, preferably so that each speaker is an equal distance from the display. As far as toeing in each of the speakers, this is a subjective topic, but due to certain factors like how far apart the speakers are from each other in relation to how far back the main listening position is from the display. Personally, I position each speaker so they are pointing straight forward and are not toed in. The speakers should be separated far enough from each other so that left-right separation can be heard, but not too far to leave a "sound gap" to the Centre speaker.

    3- Side Surround speakers can either be mounted on the side walls, mounted on top of speaker stands if they are small enough, or stand on the floor in the case of larger floor standing tower speakers. They should be located to the left and right of the main listening position and must point directly toward the listening position.

    4- Dipole Surround speakers (Bipole and Tripole follow the same principle) should be located on the left and right side walls adjacent to the main listening position at a height of 6-7 ft. As dipoles have two sets of drivers on each side of the cabinet, one set will point to the front of the room while the set on the other side points to the back of the room creating a "null" at the listening position. They need to be a minimum of 2 feet away from the back wall for optimum response.

    5- Monopole Rear Surround speakers, traditional direct readiating speakers, should be located at the rear of the room behind the listening position in a manner similar to the Front/Main speakers and pointing straight forward. The location of these speakers is particularly subjective as well though. Side placement is an option used by some although it does not give as good a "rear imaging" as a rear-placed setup would.

    The Rear Centre speaker is used in DD5.1EX and dts6.1ES to capture the rear Centre surround channel. Either a single speaker can be used (Rear Centre) or two speakers can be used (Rear Centre L & R speakers)....

    6- The Rear Centre speaker is located at the back Centre of the room and can be mounted on a speaker stand, on a shelf, off the ceiling with a speaker mount, or on the back wall itself depending on the type and size of speaker used. Optimally, the tweeters should be aimed at ear level while seated in the main listening position.

    7- The Rear Centre speakers (L & R) should also be located at the back of the room slightly to the left and right of the main listening position and aimed straight forward. They can be mounted in much the same way as the Rear Centre speaker depending on the type and size of speaker used.

    8- The Subwoofer(s) can theorically be located anywhere around the room due to their omnidirectional nature but in most cases, you will want to locate the sub in a corner along the front soundstage, next to one of the front speakers. If two subs are present they can be placed side by side, or on top of each other. It is also possible to place the second sub at the rear of the room but a lot of experimentation must be done to ensure the subs do not "cancel" each other out or create undesireable sound peaks/nulls around the listening position. One possible way to locate a sub for optimum response for a particular room is to place the sub at the listening position, then walk around the room while listening to the sub. The optimum position for the sub is where the bass sounds the loudest/smoothest. Practically though, it is rarely possible to position the sub in this location for asthetics purposes.
  19. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

    Jun 5, 2000
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    Knocksville, TN
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    Rachael Bellomy

    If you're reading this I'm assuming that you don't know much or enough about the Laserdisc format. Here, I'll fill you in with a history of the format, advice about players, advice about discs, general terms, and how to hook up players.


    The format first appeared in Atlanta and a few other test markets in 1978. At that point it was being pushed by Phillips / Magnavox and MCA. The discs were marketed under the name DiscoVision. The early Magnavox players were called MagnaVision. The players were all single-side, top-loaders. The video output was an RF (radio frequency) cable to go to a TV's antenna input and also carried a mono audio track. Until about 1990 most players gave you the option of using RF output or composite video output. Most of the early players also featured a pair of jacks to export high quality analog stereo sound to an amplifier or home stereo system.

    The early DiscoVision discs were generally defective. They were all CAV (discs that only fit 30 minutes per side, more info about CAV is explained below). They all suffered from manufacturing defects. If they were playable they had some degree of spots in the picture caused by air inside the disc. Air inside a Laserdisc will cause it to rot (rot means the oxygen in the air breaks down the aluminum substrate that contains the pits that contain the program information that the players read.) The picture gets more and more spots that appear over time and the audio gets pops and other abnormalities.

    Eventually, they figured out how to vacum out the air during the disc manufacturing process, but it took a few more years to figure out that the glue they were using to seal the two plastic halves that covered the aluminum substrate was gradually oxidizing and releasing oxygen into the discs. It's a good rule of thumb to avoid Laserdiscs dated 1984 and older unless you can demo it and see that it's stille playable. By 1982 most discs were CLV, up to 1 hour per side, more about CLV later.

    In 1981, after DiscoVision was stalled, Pioneer became involved in making players and discs and the format began to move towards it's modern incarnation. A few years later composite video outputs appeared and in 1986 Pioneer's first statement player, the LD-S1 (LD-X1 was the Japanese equivalent model)even featured S-video output and an optical digital output to send the digital audio stream of the new Digital Sound (PCM) discs to an outboard digital to analog converter. A few years later, the first LD/CD combi-players appeared.

    By 1988 Pioneer's entire line, except the statement player LD-S2 and the LD-W1 (auto-flip, double disc player that played four sides in succession), was made up of CD/LD combi-players. Also, in 1988 I found out about discs that had OAR (original aspect ratio) and started buying them. If there were OAR discs before that, they were few and I didn't know about them. Anyway, the gradual shift to mostly proper OAR discs began.

    Players stayed pretty much the same, with only small improvements like a small drawer for CD's, until 1994 when Pioneer released the HLD-X0 in Japan. It was the first player to feature an AC-3 (Audio Coder #3, the original name for Dolby Digital) output. In 1995 Pioneer's entire U.S. lineup, except the budjet model CLD-S104, featured the special AC-3 RF output, allowing people with proper decoders to experience multiple channel, discrete surround sound (5.1) at home! More about AC-3 RF later.

    In 1997 Pioneer introduced their ultimate combi-players that handled LD's, CD's, and DVD's. Pioneer is no longer manufacturing LD players for the U.S. A few dealers still have DVL-919 or the ELite DVL-91 (DVD/LD combination players) in stock.

    In Japan where the LD format was far more popular, Pioneer is making the last production runs of LD players now (spring 2002). Pioneer has anounced that 1 June 2002 is the offical end of the Laserdisc format. They'll provide service for many years to come, undoubtedly. Other manufacturers quit offering LD players in the U.S. between 1994 and 1996. That pretty much brings us up to the present and it's time to move on to the technical specs of the format.


    CAV = Constant Angular Velocity is also called "Standard Play". CAV discs or sides are limited to 30 minutes a side.

    The frames of CAV discs correspond to the actual film frames. So, when you pause, or still frame, on a disc the image you is one of the film's frames. CAV is often used on disc sides that contain extra or special materials. It's perfect for displaying images of things like movie posters or pictures of the set or cast. CAV discs/sides have a running frame count instead of running time in the player's display. CAV discs/sides allow the user to use all the format's playback features which include: frame by frame advance, stille frame, and multi-speed. CAV discs are a great way to study how films are put together. Many people don't like them for casual viewing since the disc must be changed more often. Many CLV disc sets have one side, typically the last side, in the CAV format. CAV picture quality is said to exceed CLV picture quality by 1 to 2%, but it's never been readily apparent to me.

    CLV = Constant Linear Velocity discs, someties called "Extended Play" can typically hold up to one hour per side, a very few have exceeded that. But, most LD users will never see that (It's rare for US discs to exceed 60 minutes, but a little more common on Japanese LD's)

    The overwhelming majority of discs are CLV. Using basic LD players, CLV disc's don't allow the use of the player's still frame or frame advance. You cannot view the film's actual frames on CLV discs. They are not available. Some nicer player have Digital Field Memory (DFM). Using DFM one can use still frame and frame advance to see still images but they are not the film's actual frames. Since about 1990 nearly all higher-end players have featured DFM.

    DIGITAL SOUND When an LD is thusly labeled it means it has a PCM digital audio track which could be mono, stereo, or Pro-Logic. In the laserdisc world, "Digital Sound" does not mean 5.1 Dolby Digital or DTS.

    CX NOISE REDUCTION CX noise reduction was used on analog Laserdiscs or the alternative analog soundtrack that is present on Digital Sound Laserdiscs. I think it's something along the lines of various Dolby noise reduction systems (A, B, C, ect.). I think it simply raises the signal above the noise floor like Dolby does. The sound on analog sound laserdiscs is generally pretty good.

    TRICK PLAY Is a term that generally refers to Digital Field Memory (see above in CLV) or other special playback functions. Some nicer players, like the CLD-99, have STROBE playback. It drops some of the frames but maintains the sound. The image will look like a series of stills. Many camcorders have similar functions. The Panasonic LX-1000U even has an odd PAINT fuction that will give the image a chalky, animated look.
    Well, it's fun for a few minutes now and then.

    AC-3, THE LONG FORM....

    AC-3 = AUDIO CODER #3, it's the original name for Dolby Digital on Laserdics.

    The last count I heard was that there were over 900 AC-3 Laserdiscs released in the U.S. I think CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER was the first. The first one I got was STARGATE.

    AC-3 has caused beaucoups of confusion with more than a few LD newbies. Here, I'll explain it. The orignal LD format specifications included a stereo analog soundtrack plus analog left and analog right options. In the mid '80's the digital audio channel was added to the LD specifications. After Digital Sound appeared Pioneer insisted that all Laserdiscs maintain an analog soundtrack to maintain compatibility with older players that only suppourted analog sound.

    Now, in 1994 when Pioneer added AC-3 surround sound to the Laserdisc specifications they wanted to maintain compatibility with as many of the older players as possible. The only players that would not be able to play the AC-3 encoded discs would be the very early players that only had an RF output for video and analog sound, that was routed into a TV's antenna input. The analog right channel was the channel that was routed into the player's RF output.

    Pioneer decided there were not that many people still using players with only RF output. They obvioulsy wanted to maintain the digital PCM tracks and wanted to maintain the analog left channel for commentary or an alternative language. So, they came up with a system to transform the digital AC-3 signal into an analog signal (like a computer modem does to transmit digital info over an analog phone line) and they placed the AC-3 sound in the analog right channel. A new dedicated AC-3 RF output had to be added to players.

    You cannot plug a AC-3 RF dgital output straight into an ordinary modern Doby Digital input on a reciever or preamp. The AC-3 signal must be extracted (called demodulated) from the analog carrier.

    Some older or higher-end recievers have an input with an RF demodulator built-in to perform this function. If a reciever does not have this special RF input, you can obtain an outboard RF demodulator to perform the function.

    You send the AC-3 RF line into the little box and it turns that analog signal back into a digital stream. That output creates a Dolby Digital bitstream that is compatiable with regular modern digital inputs. The good part of all this is that Pioneer maintained alot of backward compatibility. The down side is they created the situation of having to "fish" the AC-3 signal out of the RF analog carrier.

    AC-3 RF MOD If your player doesn't have an output jack for AC-3, don't worry. Most older LD players can be modified and given an AC-3 output with a simple kit you can still find online.

    DTS = DIGITAL THEATER SYSTEM DTS for home theater was used on a limited number of discs between 1996 and 1999. JURASSIC PARK was the first DTS LD. On DTS LD's, DTS replaces the PCM digital track. DTS LD's also have an alternative analog soundtrack so they can be played on any player. You must have a player with an optical or coaxial digital output (this will be a different output from the AC-3 RF output) to export the DTS bitstream to a DTS decoder to enjoy the DTS track.

    AUTO-FLIP or AUTO-REVERSE refers to players that can automatically play both sides of a disc. The laser that reads the disc starts out on the bottom reading side 1 and tracks the disc from the inside to the outside edge. Then, when side one is done, there is a pause of about 10 to 20 seconds, while the laser reader rides a rail to the inside edge of the top of the disc so it can begin reading side two. After side two is done, the laser automatically resets to the bottom and is ready to read a side one again. Single-side players require you to flip the disc over after each side by hand.

    LASER ROT I've mentioned this already but I'll give it a more complete discription here. Mostly, laser rot is caused by bad manufacturing.

    If air is left inside the disc when it's manufactured the oxygen will break down the disc within two years, and a multitude of "snowy" spots will appear in the image and the sound will develope defects. If the glue seal around the disc's edge is never good or gets broken by rough handling, air gets in and rot begins. I think the laser rot problem has been greatly over stated. I have about 800 LD's and I have about 10 post 1985 discs that are rotted.

    The majority of rotted discs from the 1990's came from the Sony manufacturing plant in Indiana. Be weary of Columbia and Sony Music Video discs that came from that plant. I still buy LD's of material that's not available on DVD.

    Personally, I prefer to buy used, open discs because the original owner would of returned the disc if it was defective. I've bought over 100 LD's on E-bay and have only once had somebody send me a rotted disc.

    MUSE or HI-VISION LASERDISC The names are interchangeable. Hi-Vision is the analog 1035i, hi-def, 16 x 9 television system in Japan. The Muse LD format was invented by Sony and ran from 1992 to 1997 It's resolution is about 650i. All Muse LD's are 16 x 9. Muse LD reproduction requires a Muse capable player like the HLD-X9 or HLD-X0 (imported laserdisc players from Japan), a Muse set-top box, and a 16 x 9 hi-def set or projector. The format never really got perfected. The early discs from 1992 and 1993 generally have problems maintaining proper colour balance and suffer from some nasty motion artifacts in spots. Digital video tape-based material worked wonderfully with the format from the start. Film-based material gradually improved. Some of the films look better than DVD, most do not though.

    LD GRAPHICS or LD-G LD Graphics are subtitle tracks available on selected Japanese Laserdiscs. It works on the same principle as closed-caption does in the LD format. Theoretically LD-G Laserdiscs could have more than a dozen different subtitle tracks. Three is the most I've seen on a disc.

    You should be able to remove all subtitles from the screen using LD-G (the system was handicapped by the studios due to boot-legging fears), but most imported discs have the Japanese subtitles "buned-in" so to speak (the subtitles are part of the video signal and cannot be removed). The STAR WARS PHANTOM MENANCE LD is a perfect example and the only Japanese LD a great many folks have ever seen. If you have an LD-G capable player, you can super-impose English sub-titles on top of the Japanese ones. Ocasionally you can see the edges of the Japanese ones. A few MULTI AUDIO Japanese LD's feature LD-G subtitle tracks that are removable from the screen. The only U.S. player that ever had the LD-G feature was the Denon MD-3500.


    Laserdisc is a very old format as we learned in the history section. It is a composite video format, where as DVD is a component video format. Many Laserdisc players come with S-video output, but for most of these players their composite video outputs are better. Later we'll see why.

    With a composite format, the chroma (colour, free of white and gray) portion and luminesce (black or light level, from this point on luma) are together in one cable and must be seperated at some point for the NTSC TV to use them. (I'm not the most technically astute person. That's the best way I can describe it.) Anyway, with a four pin S-video signal, the chroma and luma elements each occupy two of the pins. How did this happen? A comb filter seperated them.

    The point is, in order to be displayed by the TV, the composite format must be converted to a component format. That can either happen in the LD player (if you use the S-video connection, a filter inside the player will convert the signal and pass it on the S-video connection)-- or that can happen at the TV set (using the composite cable will mean the LD player will send compsite video, which the TV seperates using its filter).

    So, getting the best picture is a question of which filter is better in your system, the TV's or the LD player's. If you have a cheaper player, chances are the picture will be better using the TV's comb filter- so if you connect via composite output on the player- this will use the TV's filter, and will usually result in a better picture.

    All NTSC televisions have some sort of comb filter to seperate composite video coming into their composite inputs. They vary in quality greatly. Most newer sets now have two or three line digital comb filters, three being better, usually. Nice sets have some variation of a 3-D comb filter.

    The top Laserdisc players that have really good S-Video output all have 3-D comb filters on board. The Pioneer CLD-97 is the lone exception as it has a 2-D comb filter that is very close to as good as the later 3-D filters. It's filter was hot technology back in 1993-4. Can you remember back that far? That's a long time ago in the A/V world!

    What players have great or atleast excellent comb filters on board? Furthermore, why is that advantageous? I think the advantages are geneally two-fold. First, the comb filter is optimized for the player. Secondly, most of the players that feature 3-D filters let you adjust them to optimize their output for your display. The 3-D comb filter in the Elite CLD-99 is adjustable. You can even adjust it to operate in 2-D if you want.


    What are the great LD players? Here I'm going to have to mention the Japanese market. LD was/is vastly more popular there. In the latter days of the LD era, they quit sending their very best players here. Several of the best players are Japanese players that can be imported if you want the very best LD performance. Those players would be the the HLD-X0, HLD-X9, and
    the LD-S9. All three run on Japan's 100 volt 50/60 cycles electrical current, but can be adapted to U.S. electrical system via an inexpensive step-down transformer.

    For this list, I'm going to start with the absolute best first, and work my way down.

    I've never seen one in person, but I'm told that the Japanese HLD-X0 is the world's best player. It's certainly the heaviest at 35 kg. (79 lb). It cost about $8000 new in 1994. It's a single-side, all-out performance player.

    The 'H' in it's model # indicates that is a Muse capable player. It's a dedicated LD player, in other words, it is optimized for and only plays 8 and 12 inch Muse and NTSC LD's- not CDs. It was the first player to come equiped with an AC-3 output. There are not too many of them in the U.S. I do know a few folks who own them but they don't live near me and I've yet to have the pleasure of seeing one in action. The HLD-X0 is a nonfactor for most of us. I wouldn't mind having one but I'm not sure I could lift it! (Note: You have to have one imported from Japan, as it was never released in the USA.)

    The best auto-flip, relatively affordable player (well, yeah it's expensive, $2500-- But, it's worth it if you can't live without hi-end LD playback) to get is the Pioneer HLD-X9, another Hi-Vision, AC-3 capable player from Japan.

    It features a red laser, like DVD players have, that gives a better read of disc. It's image is nearly free of tiny speckles that are slight but visable with most players. The red laser will also make the best of scuffed or rotted discs. It will make most rotted discs playable, not perfect, but playable. It kicks butt with good, clean discs! The only limitation is how well-mastered the disc is. It has the best 3-D comb filter ever put in a Laserdisc player so it thusly has superior S-Video output.

    It's colour reproduction rivals that of DVD, software permitting, of course. It's remote has a switch, labeled D-EXT that let's you tog back and forth between the correct NTSC colour temperature for Japanese NTSC and the U.S. standard. So, both U.S. and Japanese LD's will look their best. The X9 is the top of the LD universe. (Note: You have to have one imported from Japan, as it was never released in the USA.)

    The X9's little brother is the LD-S9, a deadicated NTSC LD player, which means it doesn't play CD's. It has the same NTSC curcuitry, including the same hotshot 3-D comb filter, as the X9. This comb filter really sets it apart from the similar CLD-99. It uses a conventional laserhead however. The S9's video performance is very nearly as good as the X9. However, you lose the X9's ability to read damaged discs, but the S9 really excels on good, clean discs. It also features the LD-G feature, AC-3 ouput, the works, of course! It's as good an LD player as most people could ever need. (Note: You have to have one imported from Japan, as it was never released in the USA.)

    I have not seen the Runco players except in pictures. They're rather rare. Both models, the LD-RJI and LD-RJII, are pretty much the same except the JRII came stock with an AC-3 output. The Runco players were based on the Panasonic LX-900 design but with several major improvements, including a 3-D comb filter circuit. I'm not sure what kind of laserhead the Runco players feature, but several folks who own one have told me that it will read rotted discs. It's the only Laserdisc player that was ever THX approved. It may be the only one that ever applied? I'm sure the hi-end Japanese players could easily pass too. Anyway, it's said to be an awfully good player and close to as good as the HLD-X9. The Runco players sold for $4000+ new.

    The Pioneer Elite CLD-99 is a pretty darn good player. It cuts video noise really well providing a far clearer image than average LD players. It has Pioneer's second best 3-D comb filter. It's colour performance isn't as good as the X9 or S9, but it's no slouch. The CLD-99 has all the sound output options including, of course, AC-3. On E-bay you may occasionally see the CLD-D99 which is the same player as the Elite 99 except, it's silver, no wood side panels, it has heavy metal side panels that make it weigh about 5 lb's more. It was made for export to Asia and Pacifica. It has a voltage selector on the back panel and will operate on 120 v and 240 v. It will work just fine on U.S. sets.

    The Elite CLD-97 was Pioneer's best U.S. model in 1993 and 1994. It features an excellent 2-D comb filter. Some people prefer it's S-Video output to the CLD-99's, I don't. The CLD-97's composite output is better than the CLD-99's, hands down though. So, if you have a display or video processor with a great comb filter, the 97 could be a great player for you. It predates AC-3 though but can be modified for AC-3 output. A great many of the CLD-97's I've seen on the used market have been modified. Be sure and ask if you're looking at one. Theta and Macintosh both offered clones of the CLD-97.

    The Great Players are all going to deliver 52 db to 54+ db video S/N performance. They'll make LD much more involving than lesser players.


    This group of players offer above average performance but aren't quite as good as the great players. Most offer S-Video output but it may not really be useful unless your display has a really ho-hum comb filter circuit. Remember, Laserdisc is a composite format and the only reason to use S-Video output, if provided, is because the player's comb filter is better than the display's. That's becoming increasingly unlikely with today's TV sets.

    The Panasonic LX-900 and it's clone the Denon MD-3500 are almost good enough to make the great players list but not quite. They both offer a really heavy build quality, over 10 kg (22.6 lb). They feature 3-line comb filters that may be useful depending upon your display. These models really cut video noise very, very well, better than Pioneer's U.S. models except for the 99 and 97 and 95. As I previously mentioned, the Denon MD-3500 is the only U.S. model that suppourted LD-G (Graphics) a Japanese market innovation. These two models predate AC-3 but both offer optical digital ouput. These are very desirable players if you can find samples that aren't too worn out by now. They were current models from about 1992 through 1995.

    The Elite CLD-79 is very much like the CLD-99 except you get a 3-line comb filter instead of a 3-D comb filter. It can't cut video noise quite as well as the 99 but it's colour performance is just as good. It's S-Video output can be useful with some TV's. It has all the sound outputs including AC-3.

    The Pioneer CLD-D704 is very similar to the CLD-79 despite a very different face-plate. It's the best non-Elite player they ever made. It's build quality isn't as heavy as the 79's and it's analog audio section isn't quite as good but it's pic quality is right there with the 79's. The CLD-D703 is the same as the 704 except it's a year older and lacks an AC-3 output. The CLD-D702 is stille a year older and it's 3-line comb filter isn't quite as good. It's composite output is very above average. The stille older CLD-D701 is a cut below the 702 and is much less desirable. It also has a reputation for breakdowns. I'd recommend avoiding it. Did I say it's pretty old now too? Mitsu has a clone of the CLD-D704, BTW.

    In many ways the LD-S2 is the best player in this group. I picked one up a few inches at a friend's repair shop once. It weighs 67 lb's, nearly 30 kg! You could hurt your back. I think later editions of it weighed even a bit more, 70 lb's. The LD-S2 was made from about 1988 till 1997. You had to order them, mostly. Oh, did I mention they sold for about $3000? The S2 is the most over-built model ever offered to the U.S. market, only the Japanese market, 79 lb HLD-X0 is beefier in ze history of ze wurld. The S2's transport is very quiet. It has a laserhead that will read rotted discs to some extent. It has superb analog audio output, but the pic quality is a bit shy of the great players. It's an old design. Oh, I forgot to mention it's a single-side player but one that it's worth the trouble of turning discs over for.

    The Elite CLD-95 has got the CLD-97's bulk at 38 pounds, but it's a few features short of it's successor. It's S-Video output isn't impresive. In 1991 comb filter technology stille had a way to go. On the other hand, the 95's composite output is superb. The 95's video performance is only limited by how good a comb filter you feed it into. When feeding it's composite into an outboard comb filter like a Crystal Visions or into a TV with a quality 3-D comb filter, the 95 can perform up to the low end of the great players. It predates AC-3 but is easily mod'ed.

    The Elite DVL's 90 and 91 perform about the same as CLD's 704/79 do for LD. The 91 is better for DVD's because it will pass DTS sound for them. The 91's ergonomics for DVD and remote are better too. But, when it comes down to LD performance, the two are about the same.

    THE Panasonic LX-1000U, which is also called the "Prism", is an old but above average player. It's an early 90's player. It's S-Video ouput isn't great by today's standards, but it's composite is really good and looks really crisp when fed into a TV with a 3-D comb filter. It has the full compliment of trick play too, digital field memory, strobe effect, and even a three level paint function. It's a cool player.

    The Above Average players are going to deliver video performance of 51 db video S/N or maybe just a bit better. Their pic's will have noticably less video noise.

    LD-W1 gets on this list despite very average pic quality. The LD-W1 is a double drawer player with auto-flip, capable of playing 4 disc sides in succesion. That's a cool trick and it's the only such U.S. model as far as I know. No digital output or AC-3 output. This a late 80's player, but it was a cool idea!


    I'm going to start this section by telling you that the average performance of Pioneer players, visually, took a jump for the better in 1995. Since 1995 about the only models that won't deliver a 50 db video S/N performance are the CLD's S104, S304, and D406. The good news is that even those three players do 49 db. In the late 80's and early 90's most players performed at about 47 or 48 db. That translates down to a considerably noisier picture. Since 1995 every Pioneer LD player except the CLD-S104 has an AC-3 output. Post '95 are the players to shop for, generally. Some of these players are the DVL models that also play DVD's.

    PIONEER'S 1995 lineup

    CLD-S104 Visually, it's the best single-side budjet player ever. Composite video only, and left and right analog sound outputs only. It's picture will beat all the older budjet players. It looks and sounds better than a S-VHS VCR hands down. Originally sold for $300 in 1995. I've seen them sell for $30 and less on E-bay. If you just want a simple-stupid, inexpensive player the S-104 can be a good choice.

    CLD-S304 Same performance and features as the 104 but adds an AC-3 output and sing along "Karry-okee" input features.

    CLD-D504 This player has autoflip, AC-3, but no PCM digital output if you need that too. It was their budjet auto-flip model of the year.

    CLD-D604 adds optical output and has the always fun (?) "karry-okee" function. Average video quality, AC-3, of course...

    CLD-D704 one of the Above Average players.

    Elite CLD-59 has the average pic quality but great sound and AC-3 of course! Coaxial digital audio output is included. Yamaha 901 and Marantz 520 are known clones with slight variations in features.

    Elite CLD-79 Above Average of course, see above!

    Elite CLD-99 see great players above...

    Since '96, there's the CLD-D606, CLD-D406, CLD-D505, CLD-D605, DVL-700, DVL-909, DVL-919. All these players have about the same pic quality except the 406's is a tad less.
    The older CLD's D502 and D503 hold intrest for some folks, they have auto-flip and optical outputs. They were current models in 1993 and 1994, respectively.

    Older players should be avoided unless you're getting one of the players on the Above Average or Great lists or a hell of a good price! Older Elite models like the CLD's 52 or 53 offer very average pic quality but do offer toslink and coaxial digital audio outputs. RCA, Pro-Scan, Yamaha, Mitsu, Marantz, Kenwood, Denon, and others sold clones of Pioneer's average players, mostly. Mitsu had a clone of the above average CLD-D704. Theta and Macintosh cloned the 97, but most clones are very average players. Some older players have digital outputs others don't, you'd best check if you need that feature.

    Outside of Pioneer made players I like Panasonic players. The LX-600 is good average player. The only problem with them is that Panasonic isn't as dedicated to service of older players as Pioneer is. I would avoid Sony, Realistic, and Phillips/Magnavox players in general. Only if they're dirt cheap are they worth fooling with. Sony has a few nicer players, read that as ones with auto side changing, but their service-suppourt isn't good. Most of their models are prone to drawer problems. Sony USA released no great players. I've never seen a Sony U.S. player that impressed me visually. Sony Japan had some terrific players but they were never offically exported to the U.S. Sony players are generally harder to mod for AC-3 output than Pioneer models, if that's a consideration.


    CLD's S980, S990, S1080 < These players can't always have their lasers realigned if it gets out of sorts, bad cheap design. The CLD-M401 has a 5-CD changer built in but is prone to way too many breakdowns according to a technican friend. I'd avoid all 1980's models unless you just want a $30, or less, toy. The older players just can't match up on pic quality or newness!


    Always hook the players analog L & R audio outputs up. That's all some players have anyway. Even if you're hooking up a player with a digital output, you need the analog out's hooked up too. Why? Because some older discs from the 80's have only analog sound, because there could an alternate language, commentary track, or both. Many Japanese Laserdiscs have English on the digital channel and Japanese on the analog channel. Anyway, always hook-up analog audio.

    If your player has either an optical or coaxial digital output, or both, yea, choose a line of transmission. You'll be feeding your pre/reciever PCM, same as a CD, unless it's it's a DTS LD where the PCM track has been replaced by quess what? DTS, of course.
    If your player has an AC-3 ouput, hook it up with a very shielded cable. There's an RF (radio frequency) signal in this cable till it hit's a demodulator, either in a reciever or an outboard demodulator box. Bad shielding could cause interference with other components? After demodulation the AC-3 stream is just like a DVD's Dolby Digital signal, just at a slightly lower bit-rate.

    There are prehistoric LD players from the 80's that only have RF video out. I hope you'll not be hooking up that way...! Many LD players only have composite video output. Composite is the hook-up of choice for LD players, unless you've got one of the Great Players or maybe one of the Above Average players? Many players have S-Video outputs which should not be used. Since this is the DVD age where S-Video is good and composite is bad days. It's important to note that it's the other way around with Laserdisc. Only the great players have great S-Video output because of the terrific comb filters they have on board. Well, some of the above average players will have S-Video output that's useful with some TV's. Try both if you have them. The 3-line and most especially the 3-D comb filters in today's TV's will like the taste of LD composite video.

    If you have a digital TV or projector, you may want to deinterlace your LD player with an outboard video processor like the DVDO iscan V1, V2, Pro, I've had the LD-S9 hooked up with S-Video into quite a few brands of monitors from Sharp, JVC Priemer, Loewe, Sony, and Pioneer Elite. Suprise, suprise, in my experience the line-doubler (de-interlacer) in Elite 510/610/710 (and their newer models too) 16 x 9 sets does LD better than the rest of the pack. DVDO iscan units will create better video on most HDTV monitors than their own internal de-interlacers. The iscan units have RGB outputs, but you can get a cable that converts RGB to 3 line component output. The point I'm making is that the internal line-doublers on most HDTV monitors won't always do LD playback any justice, even if you have one of the great players. Laserdisc's colours definitely smear less when de-interlaced well, and then delivered to an HDTV monitor/display via Component Video or RGB video cables.


    Remember, in terms of video quality, LD players vary way, way more than DVD players do. Only the great players will aproach DVD performance and that is software permiting. There were some doggedly bad LD transfers and some beautiful ones that were ahead of their time. Most of the best players have been made since 1995. Composite video output is usually best. If there's no sound and all you have is a digital audio connection, you're proably playing an analog sound disc. So, hook up a pair of analog L & R cables. Remember, AC-3 audio requires demodulation, and you're just about ready to spin Laserdiscs.

    There's 17,000+ U.S. LD releases and 30,000+ Japanese releases to choose from, or look for since the format is out of print. Many cult films, classic movies from the 20's thru the 70's, and many music LD's don't seem destined for a DVD release anytime soon, if ever?

    Intresting discs are out there, somwhere. From STAR WARS to SONG OF THE SOUTH to ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS to LOVE ON THE RUN to DR. JOHN'S NEW ORLEANS SWAMP to THE GREAT McGINTY and all the really cool boxsets. There's alot of intresting content to collect out there that's not on DVD. Good hunting!
  20. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

    Dec 4, 1999
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    Spielburg was emulating WW2 combat photography, and you would frequently see artillery or flares streaking. They are intentional, and were present on the theatrical prints.


    This is not a mistake or a bad DVD. This comes up often on the forum, and we have an archived discussion about it here:

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