Okay, I’ll admit up front that there are several reasons why I am posting this thread: 1. To serve as a counter-opinion to the “I hate theaters, that’s why I’m building an HT” threads. 2. To tout SDDS as a theatrical sound system (though I understand why it can’t be used in HT) 3. To finally prove that the Mann Village does indeed use SDDS (I’ll elaborate later). So if none of those reasons are your cup of tea, please feel free to click the “back” button on your browser and browse the rest of After Hours [and HTF!] for other great threads. If you’re still with me, here we go... Why I don’t hate theaters...[at least not all the time ] I own a nice mid-fi HT system. I will readily admit to having the bad experiences with theaters that everyone else here has: bad sound or video, crying kids, laser pointers, talking, cell phones, etc. And this thread is not meant to invalidate the opinions that, at least at home with your HT, you have total control over all of those things. Yes it is true: there is always the risk of having distractions at your local public theater. But watching Spider-man 2 at the Mann Village in Westwood, CA made me realize today that a well done theatrical presentation simply cannot be matched at home. And trust me, I have quite a few friends that have spent enough money to put kids through college on a killer HT, so I’m not talking about my own modest system. And as much as I’ve loved the 92”-110” screens with HD2 DLP projectors I’ve seen in various HTs, today’s presentation just cannot be matched. The Mann Village boasts a 65’ (if my memory serves me) wide screen. Even the most ambitious home theaters (short of millionaire/billionaire status) cannot hope to rival that screen size. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in HT...size matters! And the crowd, well this was a 4pm showing on Monday, about 2/3 sold out (and the theater holds over 1000 people so that is quite a crowd) and they cheered, laughed, ooh’d and ahh’d in the appropriate places, were by and large well-behaved, and actually added to the whole experience rather than detracted. Now again, I fully admit there are always the jacka$$es who can ruin a theatrical experience, but it was refreshing to be in the midst of a very good crowd for an summer movie that really needs to be seen with an enthusiastic crowd to, as Nigel Tufnel would say, “give it that little push over the cliff”. The crowd, the screen, the sound, it really all “turned it up to 11!” Speaking of the sound... SDDS rocks the hizzouse! As with many of you, my HTF brethren, I’ve been to dozens of theaters, seen hundreds of films, and had my fair share of experience with the three competing soundtracks. The ones that have always stood out in my head were the SDDS presentations of two particular films: 1. The Phantom Menace in SDDS at the Mann Village 2. The Fifth Element in SDDS at The Cinerama Dome and to that you can now add: 3. Spider-man 2 in SDDS at the Mann Village I am not trying to start a format war, but I will give my opinion based on my own experiences in the years of watching cinema in the digital soundtrack age (all, what, twelve years of it?) When Dolby Digital came out, I did notice that theatrical sound quality did increase, and the discrete surround effects were totally cool. I think my first experience with DD was watching Batman Returns in 1992. I distinctly remember being impressed by that presentation, though if it was because of the DD track or Elfman’s tremendous score (he also provides his talent on the Spidey films, coincidence?) I’m not sure... Then DTS came out with Jurassic Park. That movie I do remember also being impressed with the sound, but the more I thought about it (saw it three times in the theater in DTS) I wondered if it was because DTS really was superior or the theater was just cranking it up. I distinctly remember The Lost World in DTS in a Pasadena theater, and that was just too damned loud. My ears were hurting after I left the theater. Still, this is not to cast a negative light on DTS, whenever I have the choice, I do watch DVDs at home in DTS. But the presentations that stick with me are those SDDS presentations. SDDS has always been used (in the presentations I’ve seen) in large arenas like the Mann Village and the Cinerama Dome. SDDS always nicely fills up the theater at what I would presume is reference volume (don’t carry my SPL meter with me to the theater) without overly straining the ears. And yet, even with the largest, loudest crowd (think TPM and to a lesser extent Spidey2) the dialogue was always clearly audible. Quiet passages were quiet without becoming inaudible. Loud passages were incredibly powerful (Pod Race, Lightsaber duels, Doc Ock/Spidey fights) without making me want to plug my ears for fear of aural bleeding. The word that keeps coming to mind is “balanced” sound. The highs are high, the lows are low, but everything is balanced just right for the occasion, be it a raucous action scene or a quiet, sensitive scene. And I’ll be damned if John Williams and Danny Elfman shouldn’t always be heard in SDDS. I can confirm that I compared the TPM SDDS track to DD. I saw it four times in the theater: twice in SDDS in the Mann Village, and twice in Digital Projection in the San Fernando Valley to see the competing DLP technologies—those used DD sound I believe. None of them matched the power & fury, not to mention the smoothness, of the Village SDDS track. I’ve only seen Spidey2 in the Village and when I go to see it again in a few weeks, it will be in the same place. Sorry, don’t have time, money, or inclination to go compare another theater’s soundtrack. I want to see it again in the best possible presentation, and to me that means the Mann Village in SDDS. Now I understand why Sony will not release SDDS for the home. With eight channels of sound, the front soundstage has 2 additional channels added to it. That would be overkill in most HT scenarios (again, excepting millionaire/billionaire type of HT rooms). And no, I haven’t done double-blind testing of SDDS vs. DTS vs. DD. All I know is what I’ve heard, that the three films I mentioned above had awesome sound presentations, and they all happened to be SDDS. I didn’t even know what SDDS was until after TPM and had to do research on it to find out what it was. It was only then that I realized that I had seen the SDDS “pyramid” logo in front of The Fifth Element showing at the Dome. With regards to the Mann Village, they are normally a DD house. I’ve never seen a DTS presentation there, and I’ve been to that theater dozens, if not a hundred, times in my 12 years living in Los Angeles, most of that time within walking distance of that theater. I make it a point to see any and every “event” movie that I am interested in when it is shown in the Village. While the sound is always top notch, the sound for TPM and now Spidey2 stand apart from the dozens of other showings I’ve seen there. Yes, Aunt May, the Mann Village is capable and does use SDDS sound Okay, this is really kooky, but I feel compelled to state this. Here’s why. I consider myself a man of integrity. Those HTF vets will recognize me as a frequenter since before we hit 1000 members. I can get passionate on occasion, but I also think that I like to be fair-minded, open, and honest. Some time after TPM came out [it might have been a year or so after], I posted here about the great SDDS sound I heard when I saw it at the Mann Village. A fellow HTF’er (forgot his name) who was also a So-Cal native got “all up in my grille” (as Jim Rome would say) about how the Mann Village was a Dolby Digital House only, and that I was clearly mistaken. Normally I wouldn’t press the matter but he said it in such a way that I felt my integrity questioned. We went back and forth about it, I found one or two internet articles that mentioned an SDDS presentation at the Village, but since they weren’t “Official” as in they were fan-written and not L.A. Times or official Lucasfilm, Sony or Mann press releases, it wasn’t good enough for him. He basically called me a liar. So I did do one thing: I called Sony studios in Culver City—I lived 10 miles away and it was a local call, so I figured what the hell. I remembered the name of my college newspaper, and told the receptionist that I was calling on behalf of the paper and was doing a retrospective on the TPM release. I said that I had heard it had opened in the Village with a special SDDS track and if I could get some information on that. She asked me to hold and said she’d get me in contact with someone “in the know.” A man answered (I took his name down at the time but have since lost it, and besides it would be inappropriate for me to sling his name around the ‘net) and we began speaking about it. First he wanted to know where I’d heard that info and I said “I thought I read it in the LA Times back when it was released” (I really do think that’s where I first read it) and he said “hmm, oh yeah, it might have been mentioned on there. He then went on to talk with me at length about how the film strip can contain both SDDS tracks and other audio tracks, but that yes TPM was indeed shown in SDDS in the Mann Village. I relayed that conversation here (trying not to be confrontational about it) and this HTF’er basically called me not just a liar, but a deceiver! He said, and I’m paraphrasing “So you took precious time out of this guy’s work, POSING as something you’re NOT, and now you expect us to believe what you’re saying?!?!?!” I think we went back and forth a time or two and then I just dropped it. It wasn’t worth it. I knew I had done all I could, and a lot of HTF friends backed me up then, but I just didn’t want to get into it. Especially since he was a local, I didn’t want him looking up my info and trying to get into fisticuffs over something so trivial. But I’m writing this now in the hopes that he (whoever he was) reads this: Yes the Mann Village uses SDDS and you can go right now and watch Spider-man 2 and see the SDDS logo right in front of it! :p) Sorry, it’s been a few years, but sometimes getting your credibility questioned eats at you even when you don’t think about it. The rare occasions it does pop up in your mind, it’s like the itch you can’t scratch, the scab that won’t fully heal. Ahh, now I feel better. Thanks for riding along with me on this admittedly long and indulgent post. I know the last part was long winded and really a personal rant, but I do want to let people know, especially LA locals, that Spidey2 is in SDDS at the Village and it is a damned fine performance!