News


Poll Results 1

results

The votes are in, and there is a clear preference for .mkv with DTS audio. There is also an interest in the .mp4 files, as well as PCM for lossless audio. Based upon these results, I plan to offer files in the following formats:

ContainerCodecProfileLevelBitrateAudioAudio Bitrate
.mp4h.264High4.012 MbpsAC3 5.1640 kbps
.mkvh.264High4.120 MbpsPCM 5.1
DTS 5.1
AC3 5.1
Lossless
1536 kbps
640 kbps

This should meet the needs of almost all of those who voted – except for those who prefer FLAC. The next files to be posted will feature the specs indicated above. Thank you for taking the time to submit your preferences, and I hope that you will be happy with the format changes.


Onkyo DTS:X firmware upgrade to be released August 31, 2016 – Tomorrow!

dts-x

dts-x

Tomorrow should be an interesting day as the long awaited (and about a year delayed) release of the DTS:X Firmware upgrade for select 2015 Onkyo model A/V Receivers is scheduled to happen. Happily, I have one of the receivers that will be eligible for the upgrade, the THX Certified TX-NR747 which you can now buy for a great price ($478.00 new or $438 is you are ok with certified refurbished).

There are other models available for upgrade as well:

From the new 2016 lineup TX-NR555, NR656 , TX-RZ610TX-RX710, and TX-RZ810

From the older 2015 lineup TX-NR646TX-NR747TX-RZ800, and TX-RZ900

If you are looking to upgrade to DTS:X and don’t want to spend a lot of money, the TX-NR646 at under $400 is probably the best bargain out there as long as it meets your other needs. The DTS:X Firmware upgrade should be available tomorrow at the Onkyo Website. I plan to try it out with The Huntsman: Winter’s War which is available on Blu-ray with a DTS:X track.

How does DTS:X differ from Dolby Atmos?

Both DTS:X and Dolby Atmos are object based but DTS claims that DTS:X works no matter how you have your room laid out, offering an excellent presentation with maximum flexibility. That sounds great, if it is actually that flexible. For me, that remains to be seen. The other difference is DTS Neural:X versus Dolby Surround witch are the competing versions of a non native object based upmixer for height channels. Similar to the comparison between Dolby Pro-logic II and DTS Neo:6. How will they differ when employed on non DTS:X or Atmos tracks remains to be seen.

 

 


New Rogue One Trailer on the way. Trailer 2 drops on July 15th.

Rogue One

Rogue One

Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 is in London from July 15th to 17th and it is widely expected that a new trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be shown to fans attending the event.

Making Star Wars has found that a 3 minute trailer for Rogue One will air on ABC from 8 PM – 9:01 PM EST during the special “Secrets of the Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey.

I will have the trailer on the site as soon as I can, and Disney is usually pretty good at including the PCM 5.1 tracks in their press kits. However, at 3 minutes this is not a theatrical trailer so there is no guarantee what we will have in terms of audio. Either way, I will add it to the site as soon as I can.

I have been reading that there is some concern over the quality of the film, a large number of re-shoots, and perhaps a change in tone of the film to be more family friendly than a “war film” as described by director Gareth Edwards. I thought that the first trailer looked fantastic, so I hope the new one keeps that same level of tone and intensity.

In the meanwhile, you can get the 5.1 version of Trailer 1 at the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story page, including 3D and Lossless Audio versions.

You can support this site by making a donation or shopping on Amazon using any of the Amazon links to the right.


4K UHD Blu-ray discs to be available March 1, 2016

4K UHD Blu-ray

4K UHD Blu-ray

4K UHD goes from streaming to high quality physical media

March 1 is now less than 3 weeks away, and this is the day when the first batch of 4K UHD Blu-ray discs hit the streets, in what promises to be the best video presentation in the home to-date. Physical media, not being constrained by the bandwidth limitations of streaming services are best suited for the large file size and bit rate of 4K Ultra HD video. The UHD Blu-ray spec allows for three disc sizes: 50GB with 82 Mbps bitrate, 66GB with 108 Mbps, and 100GB with 128 Mbps.  For comparison, Netflix streams 4K somewhere around 15 Mbps.

 

HDR – What is that all about?

You may have heard the term HDR being used a lot lately. HDR is “High Dynamic Range”, and many of the first UHD Blu-ray discs to be available will be mastered with HDR. This provides a greater level of contrast – whiter whites, and blacker blacks, for a more life like picture. While the discs will be HDR, and UHD players HDR compatible, current 4K TVs for the most part — are not. So, if you are in the market for purchasing a 4K TV, you may want to wait until later in the year, because HDR will be what you want. If you already made the jump to a 4K TV….well, things will still look good until you upgrade. If you do not care about HDR, you may also be able to save quite a bit on existing sets once the certified sets hit the market.

I want to buy a new 4K TV, how can I tell if it meets the HDR standard?

Ultra HD Premium

Ultra HD Premium

The easiest way to be certain, is to look for this logo. The “Ultra HD Premium” Logo will appear with TVs that meet the HDR standard set out by the UHD Alliance. Just to add some confusion, there is also Dolby Vision, which is Dolby’s version of HDR. Dolby Vision has support from LG, TCL, and Vizio on the manufacturing side, and Universal, Warner, MGM, and Sony on the studio side. Dolby Vision is a more advanced spec, and requires compatible Blu-ray players as well as Dolby Vision mastered content. The good news is that Dolby Vision equipment still meets the Ultra HD Premium standard – but not the other way around.

Dolby Vision will likely come with a higher price tag to Ultra HD Premium. So, if you are interested in getting the best possible picture and are not concerned with the cost – waiting for the Dolby Vision TVs, Blu-ray players, and Blu-ray discs may be your best option.

4K UHD Blu-ray discs available for pre-order

If you have a 4K TV and want to start watching content on March 1, there are several titles available for pre-order, including The Martian, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and Hitman: Agent 47. You can pre-order those (and more) here: 4K UHD Pre-Orders

4K UHD Blu-ray players available for pre-order

Samsung UBD-K8500

Samsung UBD-K8500

The first 4K Ultra HD Player from Samsung – the UBD-K8500 is also available for pre-order here: 4K UHD Blu-ray players

Watch out for 4K Upscaling players!

A warning on players!  There are a lot of Blu-ray players out there that are listed as 4K Upscaling players. Those are not 4K UHD players. Those have software that convert a 1080p source to 4K. They are not native resolution, and will not playback any 4K UHD Blu-ray discs.

 

I hope that this information has been useful to you. It is always confusing when new standards and products hit the market, and I wanted this post to clarify some new concepts without being too detailed. If you think that I have made any errors in my assessment please let me know.