My experience with the dvd-audio system in the 2004 Acura TL

Discussion in 'Music' started by LanceJ, Oct 14, 2003.

  1. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Yesterday I went and listened to that new 2004 Acura TL with the standard 5.1 dvd-audio system. Here are my impressions of it.

    I listened to two dvd-audios & a DTS-CD over a twenty minute period: Linkin Park's Reanimation (used for its very aggressive 5.1 mix), Donald Fagen's The Nightfly; and The Moody Blues' Seventh Sojourn DTS-CD. I also brought a redbook CD--Sade's love deluxe, one of my best sounding discs of any format--but ran out of auditioning time before I could get to it.

    The system sounded pretty good to me, definitely better than any "regular" standard car sound system. My only real complaint was the highs: they were decently detailed but had a metallic or hard sound to them. On that Moody Blues disc, on track 3, at the beginning there is a series of longish cymbal sweeps (sorry, I don't know the musician's term) where it sounds like a wire brush is being swept along the cymbal. It sounds very lifelike on my home system, very pretty and "shimmery" sounding. On the Acura system, you could hear it clearly, but that delicate shimmery effect really wasn't there anymore.

    Voices sounded good, with no male chestiness present that many other automotive systems have. The center channel speaker (4" diameter??) did a good job too--I had to use the Linkin Park disc to test this, since all the other discs only used the center for light fill-in duties. I used the song "My December" since the very clean-sounding main vocal on it emanates strongly from the center. And bass output was respectable too: the LP dvd-audio places full-range bass in the center channel.

    System bass was very good (the other reason I brought the Linkin Park disc). It went very low and shook your butt in the seat, but just not very loud. But this is relative: before woofer cone distortion set in, it could get loud enough to prevent any normal conversation unless you shouted.

    The player itself seemed pretty simple and had no special dvd-audio controls I could see, like switching between the stereo & surround tracks. But then, some could have been built into other controls (i.e., holding a button down for an extended length of time, etc). But since the salesman was being nice to let me just listen without buying :b and as I was more interested in the sound, I didn't worry too much about this aspect. One large knob controlled the center channel level, front to rear balance, L/R balance, and bass/treble. And the player could hold six discs.

    Overall, I liked this system. Nothing to knock your socks off, but perfectly pleasant to listen to with no irritating characteristics I could hear.

    LJ
     
  2. John Geelan

    John Geelan Screenwriter

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    How much does that car go for?
     
  3. kevitra

    kevitra Second Unit

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    33,000 - $34,000 base
     
  4. Jesper

    Jesper Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Lance,

    Does it have any tft/lcd screen? I mean you got that in new cars today.. and does it works with DVD Audio?

    Thanks
     
  5. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Boy it would suck to sit in the backseat and only get surround information. [​IMG]
     
  6. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Phil, exactly. My Acura MDX has a DVD-V player which enables me to play DADs (and the non hi-res portions of DVD-As) too. With multi-channel having a narrower sweet spot to enjoy the mix (whatever your tastes), I can't even imagine the driver getting a good image being to the left of the center channel (unless he is she has a very long neck and also is not a fanatic about driving safe) and so close to the left channel. While it is likely there are adjustments eventually that can be made to channel balance, I can't imagine it doing many things great justice. The car, even a quiet one is not the ideal environment to benefit from extended dynamic range of hi-res. The things that I have seen that appear to be hot in car stereo are the units with hard drives that pull out and one can download MP3s from the home computer and then re-insert it in the car. My friend works at an Acura dealer and I will like take a ride to check it out.
     
  7. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    And that makes sense, too, as the car is not exactly not the greatest place for musical fidelity. MP3 in the car is a natural fit. Multi-channel hi-rez? Maybe, if nobody's in the back seat it could be cool.
     
  8. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Jesper: this particular model didn't have the optional navigation system, so no LCD screen. The display that was there was very large and readable though (digits were almost 3/4" tall).

    Philip: Hey those passengers are lucky to get a ride in the first place--if they don't like it hand them the bus schedule! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] Seriously, if they really complain (since lead vocals will be up front 99.9% of the time) just switch to the stereo tracks.

    Phil A.: Ah jeez, how come people think multichannel has such a narrow sweet spot? Stereo is nearly as picky, with maybe front-to-back (listening) position being slightly less restrictive. And the center channel helps quite a bit to stabilize front imaging. Since in a car you're stuck in one position, you as the driver can optimize the speaker levels for yourself. Yes, I'll have to admit that when I am driving, I am Master Of The Sound System! (well, at least as far as bass/treble/balance goes--not everybody likes my trip-hop stuff or my moldy Yes albums [​IMG] so I have to be flexible with the music choices).

    And yes, the hi-res sound itself will probably get lost even in the interior of a Cadillac or Lexus (this is why I have never spent big bucks on any type of automotive sound system) but surround sound won't.

    One thing I do wonder about is whether the system incorporates distance compensation circuitry. As I listened I noticed that the rear channels sounded rather "far away" but I would need to listen again to verify this but without the stress of a salesman sitting one foot away from me & me trying to figure out the audio controls at the same time.

    I never thought mobile multichannel sound would be perfect but I still think its enjoyable to hear.

    LJ
     
  9. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Multi-channel has a much narrow sweet spot than stereo on virtually everything I've heard on any system. Move closer to the center and further from the surrounds and it is really easy to hear or vice versa. With stereo one can still move a bit closer or bit further depending on speakers and taste and still get the image. That is why Phil commented on people sitting in the rears getting just the surround information. With stereo (just 2 front speakers) it may do better or worse to the image but you still get one. That is why they have recommendations for speaker placement, which is my experience, most people set-up for home theater and live with it. I'd imagine the system on the Acura is quite decent. The system in my MDX, which has a DVD player, even includes a sub in the rear. I naturally have not watched too many movies with the pop down screen in the middle behind the driver's position. It would appear from from little I've heard that the surround sound is optimized for the 2nd row of seats as compared to the front 2 or the rear pop-up seat.
     
  10. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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  11. Steve_AS

    Steve_AS Second Unit

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    In an automobile the main listening position is fixed: the driver's seat. That means the system can be optimized to make THAT the sweet spot.
     
  12. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Steve, have you checked out the system? Does it have channel balance controls and time alignment?
     
  13. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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  14. Steve_AS

    Steve_AS Second Unit

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  15. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    I did take a quick listen today to the system for about 30 minutes. I listened to just one DVD-A (Music From Big Pink) on the way to the dealer in my MDX (to just the portion playable in a DVD-V machine) and then on the DVD-A system (which automatically selected group 1 and I did not figure out how to adjust that selection). I did not look through the manual to extensively try to set it up, but managed to find, besides fader (front to back) controls level controls for the center and sub and also pan controls that allowing moving from left to right and vice versa. Without the controls, the system seem to be set-up for keeping ones head between the front two seats. I did not see provisions for test tones, but I am sure with a disc and SPL the system could be optimized for one seat in a decent enough manner. Certainly with the car not moving, as one familiar to what DVD-A can add, the DVD-A portion was certainly much better than what one would hear in a DVD-V player in a car. With real world road noise, the differences were not as dramatic.

    From the people at the dealership, both working and looking at cars, it was obvious they had no clue as to what the DVD-A meant (the player also sports a DTS logo and everyone assumed that meant DVD-A as being one and the same). So hi-rez in the auto suffers at least as asking Circuit City or Best Buy employees about the formats in general. My friend who works there is coming over later and I am going to give him an extra copy of the Silverline sampler (which is half decent) along with some education from what I learned so that perhaps it can be shown a bit better to customers.
     
  16. nicholas

    nicholas Extra

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    Does anyone know the following:

    Are any other manufacturers providing either SACD or DVD-Audio, beside Acura?

    I know that Lexus offers a Mark Levinson stereo upgrade, but that's not such a big deal to me. However, search as I might, I can't find another manufacturer providing one of the surround/high-rez formats.

    Thanks,

    Nick Satullo
     
  17. neil wilkes

    neil wilkes Auditioning

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    Where the "sweet spot" is depends entirely on the mix.
    Personally I use all 5 channels for full band stuff, not just ambience in the surrounds.
    I like to put the listener onstage with the band.
    Every musician will know where I am coming from here. In rehearsal, you generally set up in a sort of circle.
    Try this method instead of thinking in 2 channels with extra ambience.
    What works well in cinema does not always translate in music.
     
  18. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Neil, that is why some people like chocolate and some like vanilla. There is no right or wrong for every taste. When I listen to live music I am in the audience and don't generally like a different perspective at home. That is why I probably don't like 80-85% of the multi-channel mixes done. With DSP modes in modern processors, if so desired, one also can tailor stuff to their tastes. The recommendation for being equal distance from the speakers defines the intended sweet spot by the recording engineers in creating the mix.
     
  19. neil wilkes

    neil wilkes Auditioning

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    Fair point sir!
    I must admit to having had 2nd thoughts since my post as well. Just doing a mix yesterday, and using all 5 mains for the mix just didn't sit right, and it pulled together a lot better once I used the Ls/Rs for ambience - against what I previously thought, and it worked!
    So I guess I should modify my post to say it is dependant not on the mix, but on what you want to do with it.

    Always willing to change my mind in the face of good evidence. This is definitely one of those times!
     
  20. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Nick,

    As far as car manufacturers go, there was one other vehicle that had DVD-Audio as a factory option, I don't remember which one.

    There are addon DVD-A capable decks from Panasonic, Pioneer and Alpine, maybe more.

    Best Regards,
     

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