DVD players with memory buffers

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Paul Stoddard, Jun 20, 2006.

  1. Paul Stoddard

    Paul Stoddard Auditioning

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    A while back, I asked about DVD players that were equipped with a memory buffer to eliminate the layer-change stalling. At the time, the good folks here told me that only Denon made such players. I purchased a DVD-2910 and, although it generally performed well, the memory buffer had frequent problems which showed up as video glitches, and now, after only 18 months of use, it no longer loads discs properly. So, is any other manufacturer equipping their players with memory buffers? Thanks much for any info!
     
  2. Doug Otte

    Doug Otte Supporting Actor

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    Paul, I think the 2900 was the only unit that truly eliminated the layer change. Anyone, please correct me if I'm wrong.

    This is a pet peeve of mine. I have a Pioneer 59AVi, and you would think such a fine machine could have enough buffer to eliminate the layer change. It's faster than my previous Sony, but it's still there on most movies.

    Doug
     
  3. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    I've never really understood why layer changes were ever a problem.

    I mean, if you splurged, say, an extra couple bucks to install four megabytes of buffer ram (buffering the compressed stream,) that'd give you, on a 10MB/s disc, that'd give you 3.25 seconds to reaquire the next data stream.

    No one ever does a true 10MB/s - not even Superbit.

    And looking around, the first, cheapest RAM I saw was 64megabytes for $15. And if you can't do a layer change in 12+ seconds, then it's hopeless.

    And that $15 is for a single stick; purchased in lots of 10,000?

    Why was this ever a problem? I know I'd gladly spend the extra, oh, even $20 over a "normal" player if it made layer changes completely seamless.

    Leo
     
  4. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    The 2200 (my former player) and 2900 (current) both have the same buffer and layer changes are almost non-existent. There are certain discs where you can still notice it with both, though it is extremely rare. AFAIK, the 2910 and 3910 both had the same buffer as well, so I think there may be somethnig else wrong with your player. The buffer has nothing to do with being able to read the discs, so it could be that you have a laser alignment problem.
     
  5. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    For a fun test(?) of memory capacity for any dvd player, use Beck's Guero dvd-audio & choose the visual mix option (this is actually the dvd-video section with 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital tracks). This disc is part of the deluxe edition, which includes a CD with 7 bonus tracks and slick "book" packaging.

    You'd be surprised at how many players cannot play this without stuttering, subtle-to-massive pixelization and many times just completely locking up.

    This can happen because many of the wacked-out abstract videos* are very data intensive, plus they contain many visual options, using either the angle feature or that can be turned on & layered on top of the video by using the subtitle button. From what I've read, if a player doesn't have enough RAM, the video processor itself gets "flustered". And if any particular track does this best, it's got to be "Girl", which features a very-quickly changing stream of different photographs (Beck's friends?) - on another forum a member said this can be difficult to play because an MPEG processor is not expecting such large visual changes from frame to frame and can become confused.

    Whatever the exact reason, here's what I've found so far: players that have no problem with the visual mix are my Pioneer DV-656A, my parent's Panasonic DVD-RV32, a basic Hitachi player Circuit sells right now (can't remember model #). Players that couldn't play it: a couple Sonys and an LG player/HD tuner combo player at Best Buy, and a buddy's $100 Toshiba. A Samsung $800 HTiB played it but just barely - image was slightly jerky and it reacted sluggishly to navigation inputs (for me Samsungs always seem to act weird with any dvd-audio discs, even their universals I've tried).

    > Again, keep in mind I'm not sure how well this disc is a true predictor of overall player image or internal build quality, unless a video guru here says otherwise.

    * D-Fuse created these (this is a very cool site with lots of videos to watch)
     
  6. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    It IS possible to author discs to do seamless layer changes- Universal used it on most of their first discs (I've seen it on Deer Hunter) but stopped pretty quickly since some players had problems with it. Apparently the Superbit discs do this too, I just watched Gattaca on my DVL-909 and there was no layer change noticable. I went back and watched the disc play with the cover off and could hear the laser switch layers with no pause. On most discs there's a pause for about a second while the front display reads "SEARCH".

    I have a cheapo Portland-brand player I got for playing PAL discs that does most layer changes a lot better; I've checked a few discs on that and there is either no pause at all or for only a fraction of a second. Strangely it does insert pauses on seamless-branching discs which play fine on the older Pioneer, plus its overall picture quality isn't as good. Has anyone seen how the HD players handle layer changes? I'm hoping they can get that straightened out by the time I get one.
     
  7. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    The 59AVi has no buffer, unfortunately.

    And while the 2900 (I'll take your word on the 2200) has an almost seemless layer change for most DVDs, unfortunately the Faroudja processing in the 3910 (and 2910?) did worsen the layer change. Even in spite of the presence of buffers in those machines. But still not as bad as most players.

    There is a new 2930 and 3930 coming with 8 MB buffers and no Faroudja chip. My hope is that both of these are as good as the 2900. [​IMG]
     
  8. Paul Stoddard

    Paul Stoddard Auditioning

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    Many thanks to everyone for your replies and comments. I, too, am quite surprised that only one company bothers to put a buffer in their DVD players. This is especially true for those that offer high-end units. I think I'll wait and see what the upcoming Denon 2930 has to offer.
     
  9. jonny h

    jonny h Agent

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    Here's a link to the Secret's website. One of the things they do is DVD reviews & benchmarks. According to them, there are plenty of DVD players that do seamless layer changes... check out the second to last column. This link pulled up DVD players $300 or less... I was surprised to see how many could do it. (And how cheap some were.)

    http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/cgi-b...deInt=0&mpeg=0
     
  10. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Well, yes and no. [​IMG]

    There are plenty that do seamless layer changes, but then if I throw in some features that some of us want, like good video and SACD and DVD-A playback (even with money not being an issue), the list gets very short very fast.

    Even in the linked list as is, there is the Oppo, which seems to be a very good player (although I have my concerns about reliability and audio quality in general), and then for the next rated one, the LG DVB418, they said this about it:

    The devil is in the details.
     
  11. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Yep, a fast layer change doesn't mean anything if you have crappy picture quality.
     

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