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Robert Crawford

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Well I was part of the unwashed "masses" so you're hearing this from the horse's mouth. I didn't have to adopt DVD. I was actually more into laser discs than tape when DVD made its first appearance. I didn't complain about the black bars either. My transition to DVD was fairly quick when I saw the advantages to DVD including picture quality. My transition to blu ray from DVD was a little slower but when some films I wanted that were not on DVD but became available on blu ray (55 Days In Peking for example) I quickly moved to blu ray. I've not adopted to 4K and extremely likely I won't. The emphasis on 4K films tend to be on DC/Marvel blockbuster junk which I'm not interested in. I may change my mind if 4K releases of L'Avventura, Pillow Talk, The High And The Mighty, La Dolce Vita, All About Eve, Johnny Guitar, Nashville, Rebecca, Samson And Delilah, Marnie, Where The Boys Are and Rosemary's Baby become available.
I never bought into LD as I never liked the size of the discs so I went from a large video tape collection to buying that first Sony DVD player, the S7000 in 1997. There was no hesitation on my part as I quickly accepted that video tapes would be history in the not too distant future. Shortly after I bought that Sony player in September, 1997, I started reading a certain forum named the "Home Theater Forum". I didn't actually join the forum until about a year or so later.:)
 

DaveF

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I still haven't grasped the concept of "computational audio."

What Dave’s describing as “computational audio” is essentially how Atmos works in a theater. In theaters, each sound is unique from each other sound and can be placed in whichever speaker makes the most sense for that environment. It essentially creates a mix from scratch based on the parameters of the room and what the sound designers intended. So, if the soundtrack has a sound panning from the left to the right, Atmos decides based on each theater which speakers are best to use to accomplish this sound placement.
Yes, but more. :)

Everyone with a smartphone is benefiting from computational photography and getting vacation and birthday snapshots far better than they could a few years before. Good sensors plus lots of computer algorithms are doing things on photographs that were a few years ago the domain of skilled photographers and photo editors. But now, HDR is free. Co-adding raw frames to beat down dark current and read noise is done in hardware. Video is recorded at 30 fps, but 60 fps data is to reduce motion blur or do super-resolution computations.

Noise canceling headphones are the canonical example of computation audio in the consumer world. We're now starting see this taken further and can guess at how it might apply to home theater.

Long story short, there might be extensions to Atmos and DTS:X for the high end. I think they can benefit all the more from smart speakers. But I think the real benefits will come soonest to the lower end. And I think pretty soon the sub-$3000 5.1 surround system will be destroyed by an ensemble of $500 to $1000 smart speakers. Similarly to how camera phones are destroying the point and shoot camera market.


To borrow from the Apple HomePod page:
HomePod is a breakthrough speaker that adapts to its location and delivers high-fidelity audio wherever it’s playing.

A six-microphone array, along with an internal bass-EQ microphone, analyzes and compensates for the effect of the room on the bass response, providing rich, consistent sound.

Six microphones positioned around HomePod allow it to pick up all the sound in a room. When you say “Hey Siri,” advanced signal processing, together with echo and noise cancellation, allows HomePod to hear you without the need to raise your voice — even if you’re across the room with loud music playing.

A custom-designed array of seven beamforming tweeters, each with its own amplifier, creates tremendous directional control. Placed around the base and using a folded-horn design, they send the flow of music toward the center and then out the bottom in a 360-degree pattern, resulting in an all-encompassing sense of space. This virtually eliminates early table reflections and allows for consistent high-definition sound.

Take a high-end Atmos system: Currently the Audyssey-type calibration systems that consumer audio uses, as far as I know, adjust speaker delay and response function. But they don't measure 3D speaker positions, or have any ability to perform beam forming or multi-speaker noise cancelation. They don't truly calibrate a three-dimensional speaker array for generalized 3D sound. It's just a means to make the speakers have a "flat" response and sound as if from the same distance from a given listening position. And this is all done with relatively puny DSP chips in $1000-class AVRs.

So let's add more speakers -- for the high end enthusiast -- and we'll have microphones in the speakers. And the calibration system with have the computational power of next year's iPhone, with its machine learning ("NeuralEngine") cores. It will self-calibrate. Every speaker can chirp and the whole around will listen. The system would build a 3D model of its speaker locations and also a room model with its obstructions and echoes. With its large array of speakers, it will use beam forming to not just have a EQ curve and time delay, but actively modify sound from all speakers to combat background noise (because even enthusiasts struggle with HVAC, street noise, people walking overhead, etc) and improve localization of three imagery.

Because this is a high-end system, maybe it includes an additional calibration microphone, as Audssey does currently. But instead of just measuring a two foot bubble around the sweet spot, the user will do a multiple reading spread over the entire room. And the system will detect during listening whether you're alone, or in a full room, or if it's just you back you're in the back row and not the front row, and adjust its output accordingly.

But what about the regular person. This is starting to happen with a pair of HomePods for stereo sound. I imagine an ensemble of five "HomePods". Again, they will self-calibrate against the room and each other. No external Audyssey mic or three hours needed for the homeowner to "calibrate". They'll just do it. And if the furniture changes or the flooring goes from carpet to hardwood, it will self-adjust without being told. And the speakers, being ensembles of speakers, will not need to be in the proscribed 5.1 arrangement.


Even simpler then is a soundbar. Take a quality soundbar. Add in microphones and computer brain. Let it self-sense the room's characteristics, and apply machine learning "magic" to the audio processing, and out comes far better faked-Atmos than any bar can accomplish today.
 

John Dirk

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@DaveF - Thanks for a great read. I would love to get my hands on that kind of tech. Hope it arrives and trickles down to general affordability soon.
 

Cleopatra

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I just wonder where else is there left to go - you’ve got full lossless audio quality and the ability to place sounds anywhere in any room with Atmos/DTS-X. I mean, what else is there?

Indeed, I don't see what more there can be in a private consumer's home.
 

RobertR

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Hate to ya, but if you were into LD, you weren't one of the "unwashed masses". That's being used to describe the VHS only crowd.

Besides, LD fans did have to adopt DVD - or abandon the hobby,. LD died a pretty quick death after DVD hit the shelves.
LD fans didn't really "have to" adopt DVD. They embraced it. It was they who jump started the format. That may surprise some people, given the extremely noisy minority of LD diehards who fought DVD tooth and nail, but it's true.
 

Colin Jacobson

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LD fans didn't really "have to" adopt DVD. They embraced it. It was they who jump started the format. That may surprise some people, given the extremely noisy minority of LD diehards who fought DVD tooth and nail, but it's true.

I agree with you - LD fans mostly flocked to DVD.

But they also "had to" if they wanted to continue to pursue their hobby. LD died off so quickly - by 1999, it was essentially kaput in the US - so either you moved to DVD or you lacked a videophile option.

I adopted in summer 1998, mainly because I saw the writing on the wall. I didn't want to go DVD, as I had a massive financial and emotional investment in LD, but by summer 1998, it was clear that LD was fading fast.

As such, either I moved on or I got left beyond. This had to be true for other videophiles who would've preferred to stay LD but who had to go DVD if they wanted to continue to enjoy a higher-quality format...
 

RobertR

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I agree with you - LD fans mostly flocked to DVD.

But they also "had to" if they wanted to continue to pursue their hobby. LD died off so quickly - by 1999, it was essentially kaput in the US - so either you moved to DVD or you lacked a videophile option.

I adopted in summer 1998, mainly because I saw the writing on the wall. I didn't want to go DVD, as I had a massive financial and emotional investment in LD, but by summer 1998, it was clear that LD was fading fast.

As such, either I moved on or I got left beyond. This had to be true for other videophiles who would've preferred to stay LD but who had to go DVD if they wanted to continue to enjoy a higher-quality format...


The "have to" part makes sense for those who wanted to stay with LD, but couldn't, because most people embraced DVD. The anti DVD contingent was small, but very vocal.
 

Jesse Skeen

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I have no idea how many people actually have real sound systems, but if it's something like 5% then it's interesting how much material actually takes advantage of it. Could you imagine if most titles came out in separate 2-channel only and 5.1 or higher editions, kinda like 3D? There's a good number of releases coded for D-Box (moving seats) also which hardly anyone has- I'd love to get that but the price is just too far out of my range. Glad that I at least have some material for it if I ever do end up getting it, possibly decades from now.

Re the "forced" to buy DVD discussion, I worked at Tower Records and there were plenty of people who swore they would stick with VHS forever. Some of them seemed to not know that you could easily keep your VCR to watch your old movies and also add a DVD player, and you also aren't forced to re-buy your older movies in the newest format unless you want to. If the industry really wants to "force" something on the market, they usually can.
 

Colin Jacobson

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The "have to" part makes sense for those who wanted to stay with LD, but couldn't, because most people embraced DVD. The anti DVD contingent was small, but very vocal.

I think fans had an emotional attachment to LD that never transferred to DVDs.

LD was such a niche that fans got to feel "special". Like vinyl nowadays, it was awkward and expensive, but it allowed you to feel smugly superior to all those losers who watched P&S VHS tapes.

This isn't to cast aspersions at others - I include myself in that smugly superior clan! I really "bonded" with LD and hated hated hated to see it go.

But I was enough of a realist to understand LD wasn't gonna last. I think the last LD I bought period was the Japan import of "Phantom Menace" in 2000, and I probably wouldn't have bothered with that if I'd known there'd be a domestic DVD a year later. Back in 2000, we had no clue when any of the "Star Wars" films would hit DVD, so I thought I might have to wait years for "Menace" on DVD.

I'm sure I still bought some LDs in 1999, but I don't recall anything past 1998 other than the aforementioned "Menace". Actually, I got into the CAV Disney sets in 1998 and probably got a few of those in 1999.

Oh, now that I think about it, I remember I got some Criterion LDs at a good discount into 1999 - "The Game" and some others. I probably took advantage of other "dead format clearance sales" as well.

The last domestic new release LD I recall buying was the extended version of "Frighteners" - and like "Phantom Menace" and pretty much everything else, I would've gotten that on DVD if one existed at the time.

For all my reluctance to shift formats, I bailed on LD pretty quickly once I went DVD! If a title was out on both formats - like 1998's "Godzilla" - I went DVD...
 

Colin Jacobson

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Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy laserdisc commentary notoriously began with him exclaiming “Fuck DVD!”

I'd really forgotten about the pockets of anti-DVD animosity from those early days! I remember now that I cheered on Smith when he denounced DVD! :lol:

Ironic that by January 1999, I embarked on a 20-year-plus career as a DVD critic!
 

Bryan^H

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My fear is that Soundbars(easy, convenient, not messy) will take over, and Receiver/multi channel speaker systems will be for high end home theater enthusiasts only.
 

Bryan^H

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I was never anti DVD, even though I knew my Laserdisc collection that I spent $thousands on was about as valuable as tree bark when DVD arrived.
 

RobertR

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I think fans had an emotional attachment to LD that never transferred to DVDs.

LD was such a niche that fans got to feel "special". Like vinyl nowadays, it was awkward and expensive, but it allowed you to feel smugly superior to all those losers who watched P&S VHS tapes.
You got that right! There was definitely an element of elitism among some LD fans. I remember how annoyed some of them were when DVDs loaded with special features that only used to be available on LD started appearing......at much lower prices, making them available to the "proletarian riff raff", and being sold at the likes of (ugh, gasp, disgusting!) Walmart.
 

Lord Dalek

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My fear is that Soundbars(easy, convenient, not messy) will take over, and Receiver/multi channel speaker systems will be for high end home theater enthusiasts only.

That's different from current reality how?
 

Colin Jacobson

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You got that right! There was definitely an element of elitism among some LD fans. I remember how annoyed some of them were when DVDs loaded with special features that only used to be available on LD started appearing......at much lower prices, making them available to the "proletarian riff raff", and being sold at the likes of (ugh, gasp, disgusting!) Walmart.

LDs did feel more "special" than DVDs, partly because of price and availability. I'm not anti-big box stores, but when you can buy movies at checkout counters, they do lose that same luster.

But the prices were a massive win for me. LDs were freaking expensive! I regarded it as a great move that I could now get movies with extra features that commanded a $100+ premium on LD for $30 or less!
 

RobertR

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LDs did feel more "special" than DVDs, partly because of price and availability. I'm not anti-big box stores, but when you can buy movies at checkout counters, they do lose that same luster.

But the prices were a massive win for me. LDs were freaking expensive! I regarded it as a great move that I could now get movies with extra features that commanded a $100+ premium on LD for $30 or less!

DVD pricing and availability were a big win for everybody. Everybody, that is, who was primarily motivated by acquiring movies rather than feeling "superior" to other people.
 

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