Audio drop out culprit: receiver, DVD player, DVD media, or cable?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by MuneebM, Feb 23, 2004.

  1. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    I've recently noticed audio drop outs in a couple of DVDs I've watched. I ignored most of them, but this past weekend I couldn't take it anymore when I encountered 2 audio drop outs on disc 1 of my LOTR2 Ext. Ed. DTS-ES track. I pinpointed a particular drop-out and tested with that. When I switched to the DD EX track, everything was fine. So, I was concerned at first that my RX-V2400 is to blame, as it might be having trouble decoding the DTS-ES track. But then I tried the same disc on my XBox with the DTS-ES track, and the RX-V2400 showed no signs of drop out!

    At that point, I had basically determined that the culprit must be my Toshiba DVD player, since I wasn't getting the audio drop-outs with the XBox. I've basically ruled out the receiver and the DVD media itself.

    My XBox is connected to the Yammie via an el-cheapo optical cable, while my DVD player is connected to the Yammie via an UltraLink digital coax cable. I haven't tested yet, but is it possible that the cable may be the culprit? I will test tonight and post my results.

    What do most people on this forum blame audio drop-outs on? Based on my tests, I would lay the blame in the following order, would others agree?:
    1. DVD player
    2. Cable (unconfirmed at this point)
    3. DVD media (ruled out in my case)
    4. AVR (entirely ruled out in my case)
     
  2. ChadLB

    ChadLB Screenwriter

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    The easiest to check is the cable. Then the dvd player. I just had a problem with my cable yesterday going in and out on regular dvd's....luckily for me I have too many extra wires laying around.
     
  3. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    The cable is not the culprit, it is the way the player handles sending the stream to the receiver during certain situations. Test it with analog, and if it doesn't happen, it is your player. Having said that, this is very common across many receiver brands, Yamaha being one of them, that has an issue with "lock on" of digital signals. The problem is more frequent with certain combinations of players and receivers.

    TWO dropouts on a movie is odd, as there will never be two layer changes, but it is not uncommon for the dropouts to occur at a layer change.
     
  4. ernie.bin

    ernie.bin Stunt Coordinator

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    I've had dropouts when using digital coax when a bathroom fan turns on or off, or flourescent lighting is turned on or off.

    It seems to throw out enough interference throughout the house that I lose the signal for moment. I had to go to optical cables.
     
  5. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    A well shielded coax cable and/or a line conditioner should be able to take care of flourescent light interference. I have all flourescent lighting in my livingroom and I don't have this problem with two devices using coaxial digital. NEVER put your audio/video gear on the same circuit as flourescent lighting, as a general rule.
     
  6. Brian OK

    Brian OK Supporting Actor

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    I would bet it is your DVD player. Just had the same thing of sorts happen to my old trusty Panny RV80 player. Laser assembly just has too many hours on it.... and they only last so long.

    BOK
     
  7. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    I'm very afraid to say that I agree with you, until I confirm tonight that the cable is not in fact the problem. My Tosh SD-5700 player is more than 3 years old and has quite a bit of use. I tried cleaning the laser with a cleaning disc and that didn't help at all. I also often have problems with DVDs such that the player just can't play a chapter or fast forward through it, so I'm forced to skip that entire chapter. I always blame it on the media suspecting that it must be too scratched or something, but I'm starting to believe that my laser is getting weak. I wanna upgrade to a Faroudja-equipped player so I guess this is an excuse [​IMG]
     
  8. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    A layer change should show up regardless of the audio track, in most cases.

    Is it the same section or the same exact spot each time? The fact that it happens twice suggests you have a different problem (as well as the fact that it happens with one and not the other). Did you check for scratches or fingerprints, just for the sake of asking? I have no dropouts with this disc using the ES track, but then my receiver also makes dropouts almost non-existent (Denon 2200 DVD, Marantz 8300 AVR).
     
  9. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    I know for a fact that its not due to a layer change. Layer changes on my player take 2-3 seconds and are noticeable, video freezes as well as audio drop out. In this case, the video continues fine, but the audio drops out, like a hiccup.

    I just tested the DVD player with the optical cable and same problem. I've ruled everything out of my set up, so the problem is most definitely my DVD player. I may try to open it up and clean the laser manually, or maybe the laser is just getting old and weak [​IMG]

    So, based on this experience, in the future I'd blame audio drop outs on the following components, in the following order:
    1. DVD player
    2. DVD media
    3. AVR
    4. Interconnect (cable)
     
  10. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    The laser is not the probelm, and they don't get old and weak, they just die, AFAIK. My Panny A300U is over 7 yrs old and still works fine. Try a different player.
     
  11. Tom Camlioglu

    Tom Camlioglu Stunt Coordinator

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    I too have this player (both analog and optically connected)to my Anthem gear ... you're not alone with the dropouts!(though I only hear drop-outs in Dolby Digital - haven't heard in DTS as far as I remember)

    I can take a DVD that drops-out in my HT and test in on my JVC FA92-SL 7 disc loader connected up to my Marantz 9200 in my living room - and never hear the drop-out.

    My next test will be to try out the the Toshiba's optical cable on the JVC and try the JVC's cable on the Toshiba.

    Following that - (if needed) I plan to take the Toshiba upstairs and move the JVC into the HT and try that out.

    I figure that'll give me a good idea as to whether it's the player the cable or the preamp.

    ../TC
     
  12. RolandM

    RolandM Stunt Coordinator

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    I dunno, I'm not so sure. Coax cable, well shielded or not can still be subject to EMI/RFI--whether the signal gets affected is all a matter of the individual situation. I don't think I've ever seen an unshielded cable so I don't think that Ernie's problems were a mere matter of sheilding. If the interference were bad enough, even if he used a better cable (if he could have), he might still have the same problems...

    Also it is surely a good idea never to use the same circuit as fluorescent lighting, but sometimes it isn't readily apparent which circuit the lighting is on; or, perhaps maybe it isn't practical to connect to any other circuit due to location, number of outlets available, etc.
     
  13. RolandM

    RolandM Stunt Coordinator

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    Not true. The pickups in DVD players, CD players, MD players, etc. are all subject to getting old and weak. They could die all at once, but that is less often the case. On most units, as the laser gets weaker the electronics automatically compensate and boost the laser power. However on many units even the automatic compensation only has a certain range of adjustment--sometimes there are pots inside the unit to adjust laser power, focus, etc. But if the laser is weak enough no adjustment will be able to make it operate at the proper power.

    A weak pickup will have symptoms of not reading discs inserted right away (as in requiring a bit of a delay to read/recognise a disc), audio or video drop outs or jerkiness (usually the latter result in blocks on DVDs even if they aren't scratched), and other such symptoms.

    A lot of newer and cheaper designs are subject to fail in only a few years. The off-branded bargain basement DVD players you see for very low $$$ are often the type you'd see start failing quickly. But these aren't the only ones. Many "reputable" brands' lower and mid level models may have a pickup failing in as little as a couple of years. Playing discs like CD-Rs or recordable DVD formats on a regular basis can also accelerate laser wear depending on the player--reading these formats often requires more laser power. Using higher laser power for longer periods of time will usually equate to shorter laser life.

    The fact that your Panasonic is still working to this day is a testament to its design/manufacturing quality. The saying "they don't make 'em like they used to" applies in many cases. But I guess the Pana might not be playing newer DVD formats like DVD+/-R/RW or CD-Rs, or MP3s or have all the features that modern day units do. Still you can get a good player these days that has newer features and good build/manufacturing quality. But I doubt you're going to find one like that for less than $300 US...

    However in this case (the original poster's problem) I doubt that a weak pickup is the problem anyway...
     
  14. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    Roland, then what would you say is my problem? By testing the same DVD, same audio track (DTS-ES), same scene on my XBox and not experiencing this problem means I've ruled out my AVR and the DVD media. I then ruled out the interconnect (cable) by using the optical cable I'm using for the XBox on the Toshiba player and that didn't resolve anything. I think those tests most certainly prove that my player is the problem, and what else in the player can be the problem other than the laser? Please share your knowledge as it might be able to help me short of replacing my player.


    Now that I got my XBox to display DVD movies in 480p, the AVIA-calibrated picture quality is very close, possibly even better, than the AVIA-calibrated picture quality of my Toshiba stand-alone player. I also don't get any audio drop-outs whatsoever with the XBox, and DVDs that my Toshiba has problems playing play perfectly on the XBox(chapter 8 on my copy of Gladiator Signature Series freezes up on the Tosh). The good thing about the XBox is that its like a PC, so when the laser gets "weak and old" I can easily replace the DVD-ROM in the XBox. Starting to have doubts about buying stand-alone DVD players...
     
  15. Jorge M

    Jorge M Stunt Coordinator

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    Sorry if I'm a bit off-topic here, but I just have to ask -- did you just say you got your Xbox to output movies in progressive scan?
     
  16. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    Yes I did [​IMG] When I first tried the XBox to play DVD movies (only when I discovered issues with my Toshiba player) I realized it was interlaced because my Toshiba looked better. I then did some research and discovered that the XBox only outputs movies in 480i. Well, not entirely true...

    I have a modchip installed on my XBox, I use a 3rd party software called DVD Region X to play movies on the XBox. I had to "hack" the DVD Region X executable to get it to output 480p, and so I did and it worked perfectly [​IMG]
     
  17. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    Well, I opened up my Toshiba SD-5700 DVD player. Had to take apart the DVD-ROM unit to get to the lazer but I eventually did and I cleaned it with the ol' Q-Tip and alcohol trick (isopropyl alcohol). Tested out the audio drop-out scene and unfortunately the cleaning didn't solve the problem, so must be something wrong with the way my player is transporting the digital stream, since it doesn't do it with the xbox. However, the manual cleaning was not in vain: the scene on my Gladiator DVD that kept freezing up works perfectly now - so I guess the lazer was a lil' dirty afterall. Too bad I still have those audio drop-outs [​IMG]

    Furthermore, I AVIA calibrated the XBox and Tosh on 2 separate inputs on my TV and was comparing the 480p DVD playback of each one. At first it was tough to figure out which one was better, but eventually I found a couple of scenes where my Toshiba outshines the XBox, and the Tosh is rated 40% by Secrets (although it was a top-notch player when it came out 4-5 years back). All that to say: anyone considering using their XBox for 480p DVD playback, forget about it! Not sure what the technical term is, but certain static objects, like a wall, will have a bunch of squares, like watching a low-res MPEG zoomed (what's the technical term?)
     
  18. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Pixellation?
     
  19. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    Hmm, I think that might be the term... well, whatever it is, the XBox has a whole lot of it.

    A good test scene of this "pixelation" for any player is in Blade: chapter 15 @ 35:21, look at the wall behind the lady packing her bags (can't remember her name).
     
  20. Kevin. W

    Kevin. W Screenwriter

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    I had a problem with my Yamaha 1400 having some audio dropouts. Changed from a Digital Coax to Optical and all is well. You may want to remove your equipment list in your signature before the mods ask you too. Against forum rules as it interferes with searches.

    Kevin
     

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