My shocking experience with DVD player SOUND QUALITY

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Holadem, Jan 3, 2004.

  1. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Yesterday, Ol' faithful, my Toshiba SD2109 player died after 4 years of flawless service. RIP. T'was an entry level player, even back then (I got it for $120 or so), and it remained through the few upgrades to my system (from an HTB to a Denon 4802/Paradigm/32" setup) because I figured a better player wouldn't make a difference anyway.

    Yesterday, I borowed my roomie player from his bedroom (a 2 year old hitachi something, looks very basic as well) and plugged it into the main theater. The picture is clearly different, I may need to recalibrate my TV, and so far, I haven't decided if it was a better picture or no. What I wasn't prepared for was the difference in SOUND QUALITY.

    The Hitachi player sounded significanly better than the toshiba player, using FOTR-EE, DTS. I haven't tried anything else, it was late. I was sitting there looking intently at the screen, wondering if the somewhat softer picture, brighter reds on this player was a good or bad thing when I noticed it. Surrounds were more active and dynamic, the bass was deeper, tighter and richer, I heard more details than ever heard before, the whole business was fuller, more 3 dimensional. I saw FOTR-EE in the theater a couple of weeks ago, and it was closer to THAT. Even DIALOGUE was better, more articulate. Yikes.

    Now, please note that all decoding is done by my Denon. The connection to the receiver remains a coaxial cable. In theory, the bitstream should remain the same, if all the player does it pass it to the receiver. I have heard about factors that could affect the bitstream, such as the elusive jitter. In all honesty, I never gave them much credence, as I never believe the difference would be noticeable. Better yet, a long time ago, Max Yokell reviewed a highly anticipated higher end player on this forum. In that same thread, Mike Knapp added that they noth noticed that contraly to all the wisdom of the time, this new player produced a better sound on DD/DTS material. And that Max was afraid to voice in public, but he wasn't, knowing what he heard (in typical Knapp fashion I might add). Needless, to say, I took that with a HUGE grain of salt [​IMG]...

    I don't venture in the hardware forums very often anymore so things may have changed since then. I believe the consensus was that all DVD players sound the same. Has it changed? If not, then for the first tiem I find myself onthe opposite side of the fence, because I know what I heard.

    So what's the word nowadays on DVD player sound quality?

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    H
     
  2. Jeff W.

    Jeff W. Stunt Coordinator

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    That's crazy, there should be no difference unless one of the players is processing the sound for some reason (the Tosh has a "3D" sound mode, the Hitachi may also have some sound post-processing feature that is turned on).

    I doubt very much that the bitstream from one player will sound any different than another. I also have a SD-2109 that's still kicking, and I've compared it with a couple of other players, and with my PC's SPDIF output, and DVD's all sound identical.
     
  3. Jay Blair

    Jay Blair Second Unit

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    I've never believed that all DVD players sound the same. My first player was a Toshiba 2006 (one of the very first players ever released--I paid $485). I did my first upgrade about a year later to a Panasonic 110 model and then a year after that to a second Toshiba, a Cinema Series 9000 model, and each upgrade brought better sound, especially the 9000.

    The notion that bits is bits has never held with me, though to this day many people will say bits is bits, but they be wrong. Just because it's digital doesn't mean the sound quality can't be improved using different circuits. Even using the same circuits in a different enclosure or using a different cable can change the sound quality slightly.

    There are threads that go back forever regarding one DVD player or another and how it sounds better or worse than another DVD player.
     
  4. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

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    Interesting... I also have a Toshiba SD2109 thats still running flawlessly to this day after about 4 years as well.

    I'd never imagined the sound quality would change that dramatically.
     
  5. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Well it did. The suggestion made above that I might have enabled some sound processing is interesting, but unlikely:

    Is the bitstream processed in anyway before it is output? I don't think so. I believe whatever DSP crapola DVD players feature only works on analog outputs.

    In any case, I know for fact nothing is enabled on the Hitachi. I will try and check the Toshiba, but I doubt I will find anything. It certainly won't play anymore.

    I have an Apex player laying around, bought used for $25, never used it. I will try that also...

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    H
     
  6. John S

    John S Producer

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    I have not once come across what is happening to you...

    I have directly compared the audio on a ton of different DVD players.... Interesting...
     
  7. Sundar Prasad

    Sundar Prasad Stunt Coordinator

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    Next thing I'll hear is that an AMD CPU produces a more correct answer to 2+2 than a P4. There is no jitter involved when decoding packet based data such as DD and DTS. Only PCM signals are affected by timing jitter. I have done the same sound tests with several DVD players, Toshiba 3109, Malata 996, Panasonic RP56 and a LiteOn 2001. With digital input to a Denon 3300 receiver, there is no difference in sound.
     
  8. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Do me a favor and refrain from such patronizing BS when addressing me. I have made it clear in my post that I was flabbergasted by what I heard, because it was contrary to everything I knew. I have engaged in countless discussions on this forum with people who have claimed various ludicrous things such as higher quality coaxial cables improving sound and god knows what else. The very nature of my profession prevents me from single handedly relying on my senses. However, the cold harsh reality is that a couple of nights ago, I heard what I described above, WHILE NOT EVEN LISTENING FOR IT, OR THINKING ABOUT IT. That for me takes the inlfuence of any preconceived ideas out of the equation. Heck, my biases were CONTRARY to my observations. As I said, I was wondering if I liked the new picture or not, not listening for sound differences, it never occured to me there would be any. Rather than claiming the better sound to be the truth, I am willing to go back and corroborate what I heard with a different player, and look at the old one for any wrong settings. That IMO is more than most people who claim retarded shit everyday here are willing to do. Christ.

    Thank you for relating your experiences, I could have done without the sarcasm.

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    H
     
  9. Dean Wette

    Dean Wette Stunt Coordinator

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    Find an Arcam dealer and listen to one of the Arcam DVD players. Then you'll hear how extraordinary and awesome the sound from a DVD player can be.

    I just upgraded from a Marantz progressive to the Arcam DV88 Plus, and the sound improvement is incredible.

    Just becuase it's digital, doesn't mean it's the same.

    Reminds me of when CDs first came out, and Sony/Philips called them "perfect sound forever." For one thing the sound of CDs really sucked in the early years. And for the second, if it was perfect, why did they keep improving it. Perfection means beyond improvement -- how can you improve on perfection.

    Anyway...

    One of the reasons the Arcam is better is that it uses seperate clocks for video, audio, and CD playback. Another is that they don't use mass-market, cheap, off-the-shelf, componentry. Also the mechanical components are much higher quality (e.g. disk transport). They pay attention to quality on everything and it makes a difference.

    Digital has never meant "all created equal." Quality varies just as it does with anything else.

    Dean
     
  10. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Sorry, but this is apples and oranges, a serious oversimplification. You're talking mastering and conversion from two different domains. Tis a whole other story.
    Thanks tho [​IMG]

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    H
     
  11. Dean Wette

    Dean Wette Stunt Coordinator

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    Nevertheless, sound quality from DVD players will vary just as widely as video quality. I have 3 players: a Sony S500D, A Marantz DV7100, and an Arcam DV88 Plus. I've played them all thru a very good audio system. They sound very different, with the Arcam being by far the best.

    Dean
     
  12. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Man, you left the door wide open for this.[​IMG]

    Without knowing the exact nature of this bitstream, and what happens if data is lost, it's difficult for me to make a judgement on this. I typically fall in the bits are bits camp, but this is interesting. I can't help but wonder if it's not error-correction in the older machine causing this, or perhaps the point at which the data is converted for the optical output is screwing up.
     
  13. Jonathan Dagmar

    Jonathan Dagmar Supporting Actor

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    It's not that I don't belive you, it's just that what you are saying goes beyong being "against convetional wisdom", and in fact is at the point of not making any scientific sense. Perhaps there was damage to your digital audio out on your old DVD player, or perhaps the new player is applying some kind of "extra" processing to the signal. I do know that my DVD player has a feature called "double remaster" which had a dramtic (and positive) effect when playing CDs, but seems to have a completely negligable effect on DVDs.
     
  14. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Have you taken a stab at playing music CD's without any kind of post processing to get a handle on this Holadam? Maybe something to investigate with the other unit you've got laying around. Also what do you know about the output levels of the players you've got there?
     
  15. John S

    John S Producer

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    I'm not saying it isn't so at all.

    I am just stating that, on my system, I have probably had 10 different DVD players hooked up, and had no percievable perceptions of sound differences bewteen them is all using Optical and once or twice digital coax for the connections.

    I am even more curious as to possible reasons.
    Even on redboom music CDs, I use the digital connection, and my Denon DACs seem to produce the same sound across the board on redbook CD music titles, even with LD and DVD players used as the source.


    I am buying a new DVD player most likely fairly soon, I will re-evaluate this some.
     
  16. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    The best way to investigate it is to do a proper double blind test, paying very close attention to level matching (as Chu suggested).
     
  17. Jeff W.

    Jeff W. Stunt Coordinator

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    Not true at all, the bitstream can be processed and I know for a fact that it is processed on the Tosh 2109 in question, if you have the "3D/spacializer" whatever-its-called sound mode turned on.

    Let's put it this way...

    If the sound data on the disc is "10011" and the player sends out to the digital bitstream output "10011", then it's going to sound identical to any other player that also outputs "10011". There is no question of this. Now, if you are talking analog outputs (such as those found on a CD player) then ALL bets are off. I don't know why this even entered into this discussion. The DACs found in CD/DVD players are going to vary greatly in quality, this has always been true. But we're talking about digital here.
     
  18. Jeff W.

    Jeff W. Stunt Coordinator

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    Last thing, obviously I haven't listened to both players in question, and I'd be a fool to try to say I know for sure that they sound a certain way. In fact you may have found something interesting, or something that I've never thought of.

    If you are serious about doing a comparison, you need to do a blind A/B test. I think you will find, and I hope you don't take this as some kind of insult because it's not meant that way [​IMG] but when you plunk down your hard-earned money on a new player, maybe hoping that it will sound better, of course it's natural to think it does actually sound better. You don't want to believe you wasted your money! In other words, you may be hearing what you want to hear. (Again, no offense).
     
  19. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well let's give Holadem a bit of time to look into matters. My poor memory seems to recall he's not the sort of fellow given to ordering everything one sees on informercials. It also becomes a bit tougher seeing as how his former player bit the dust. For all any of us know, it may've gradually developed issues that weren't apparently audible. Allow me to illustrate. A while back, my oldest had set up his system to his liking. Over a period of a week, I gradually backed off the treble. Something that wouldn't be apparent day to day. The weekend comes and I asked him...so how're those Klipsch doing? Like em? Well he waxed poetic and put on The Jackal I think it was to illustrate how great all the effects were. I then walked over to the system, restored the settings to their original, and asked him what he thought now? Well his comment was that everything was too shrill. Go figure, huh?
     
  20. Muhammed

    Muhammed Agent

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    Logically, I think i'd have to agree that bits are bits, I may be way off base, but weren't older DVD players limited in the output sampling frequency? Perhaps the Toshiba could only output sound at 48KHz while the Hitachi can do 96KHz (which would pretty much explain the difference)
     

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