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Home Entertainment Articles

I have included here some articles that explore the intricacies of home entertainment equipment and setup.

The Dictionary of Home Entertainment There are zillions of specialised terms and jargon in the home entertainment field. This dictionary will help you navigate them.
Blu-ray Reviews The reviews of Blu-ray discs I do for Australian HI-FI, Sound and Image and Australian Smart Home Ideas, plus many, many visual comparisons of Blu-ray to DVD, showing the clear superiority of the former
Blind Blu-ray Tests Is one version of a Blu-ray better than another? Does a higher video bitrate result in better picture quality? How important is the quality of the film print from which the Blu-ray was taken? How about you help me answer these questions by taking these tests. Yes, sometimes there will even be prizes!
Region 4 DVD Reviews The reviews of DVDs I did for Australian HI-FI
Adapting to Motion What is Motion Adaptive video processing? Here I use pictures to explain precisely what it does, and why it is so important.
(A version of this article appeared in Sound and Image.)
Gettin' better all the time: VHS to DVD to Blu-ray Here I examine -- using pictures -- how home video picture quality has improved over time, from VHS to DVD to Blu-ray.
(Versions of this article appeared in Sound and Image and Home Cinema & Hi-Fi Living Yearbook.)
When Lips and Voice Don't Match Why doesn't the sound and the video line up with some systems? (ie. the lip sync is off). What can be done?
(Versions of this article appeared in Sound and Image and Home Cinema & Hi-Fi Living Yearbook.)
The New Digital Sound All about Blu-ray sound. What it is, what it offers, how best to get it.
(A version of this article appeared in Australian HI-FI.)
Know It All My column, running in Geare magazine from 2004, on how things work.
Pixel Mapping, or How To Avoid The Beat Why 1:1 pixel mapping is necessary to get the best out of your 1080p TV
(A version of this article appeared in Sound and Image.)
When HDTV is not HDTV A representation of my Canberra Times article in which you can visually judge for yourself whether 576p is or is not truly High Definition TV
HDTV vs SDTV A representation of my Sound and Image article in which you can visually judge for yourself the differences between High Definition and Standard Definition TV
HDMI hobbled by poor DVD specification Oh no, HDMI produces crappy output with PAL DVDs. Why you may need to use interlaced component video for the best picture quality.
Home Entertainment Equipment Reviews No, I shan't be loading up the 1,500+ reviews I've written, but I will find it convenient to place here the occasional review.
Setting up your home theatre receiver Might as well get what you paid for. A few simplish settings on your home theatre receive can make your system sound just like a cinema.
(A version of this article appeared in Appliance Retailer in May 2003.)
DVD Audio and SACD explained Want to know about these two surround sound audiophile music formats? Try here.
(A version of this article appeared in Appliance Retailer in March 2002.)
Killer CDs? Can spinning CDs and DVDs too fast wreak havoc in your equipment -- and maybe even your own fair body? Um, well, no.
(A version of this article appeared in Australian HI-FI.)
Why there is no such thing as 'RMS watts' or 'watts RMS' and never has been Not all my own work, but this powerful piece argues strongly against the misuse of technical terminology in popular publications. And very rightly too.
What is dither in digital audio? Do you need it? It seems rather counterintuitive that the intentional injection of noise into the pristine environment of digital audio can actually improve the quality of the sound, eliminating harmonic distortion from some signals. But, indeed, it can. And here is how it works
(A version of this article will appear in Australian HI-FI during 2003.)
Where brain and heart meet: Johann Sebastian Bach What more needs to be said? Just that there are a couple if short MIDI pieces here of Bach's work, along with a discussion of different structures of musical scales.
High resolution digital audio -- can you tell the difference? Well, can you? Much comment on the new high resolution audio formats suggests that the differences are of a 'chalk-and-cheese' magnitude. Not so. At least, if you compare the comparable rather than prattling on about how excellent a particular recording is in isolation from everything else. Here I compare two identical recordings of the one bit of music, except that one is delivered with 44.1kHz, 16 bit resolution, and the other as 96kHz, 24 bits.
(A version of this article appeared in Australian HI-FI.)
Mismatching fields on a PAL DVD ... or how tolerant are our eyes anyway? Anyone who has collected a reasonable number of DVDs will have discovered that some fail to live up to the standards we expect from DVDs. But what about when weird mistakes are made on fairly modern movies. The Region 4 versions of three big-selling movies -- Pulp Fiction, Independence Day and Mad Max -- all share a huge flaw in their video transfers. Yet, at least in the case of the latter two, no-one even seems to have noticed!
(Written 10 July 2003)
A Letter to Telarc Concerning Telarc's 'Height' Channel The introduction of the new high-end audio formats, DVD Audio and SACD was complicated enough. Now Telarc has added a further layer of complexity by using the channel normally allocated to Low Frequency Effects for mid-range 'height' information. Read why this is not a good idea.
(This was originally an email to Telarc, written in November 2001)
Video Cabling Standards When you connect your DVD player to your TV, what is the difference between the composite, the S-Video and the component video connections? Which should you choose? Is RGB different? This has been a popular article, having received over 26,000 hits in the first three years it was on line.
(A version of this article appeared in Australian HI-FI.)
What's anamorphic widescreen video? Also known as 16:9 enhanced, or enhanced for widescreen. The short answer is 'a way of making a better picture'!
(A version of this article appeared in DVD Now.)
How bad is Pan and Scan? Not quite as bad as you might think!
(A version of this article appeared in DVD Now.)
Dolby Digital vs DTS: which is better? Controversy reigns on this subject. Without a doubt DTS has won the public war, but is DTS really better than Dolby Digital?
(A version of this article appeared in DVD Now.)
Dolby Digital 5.1, it ain't necessarily so Many people, when they read the words 'Dolby Digital', think surround sound, 5.1 channels, thumping subwoofer and all that. Sorry, it may just means mono 'Academy' sound.
(A version of this article appeared in DVD Now.)
DVD Audio the new CD? So what is DVD Audio? All the gory details, including the major problems due to a lack of suitable hardware.
(A version of this article appeared in DVD Now.)
What is the Screen Door effect? Many home theatre projectors, particularly LCD projectors, produce a dotty effect. Why? What can you do about it?
(A version of this article appeared in DVD Now.)
What are Superbit DVDs? Frankly, I was sceptical. Columbia TriStar's Superbit DVDs were supposed to offer a better picture quality. Sure, the technology made sense, but would the increased data rate make a visible difference. Let's find out.
(A version of this article appeared in Sound and Image.)
What's the point of progressive scan PAL video? This is totally against most people's understanding, and contrary to consumer demand, but the short answer is 'none'! Also includes a detailed demonstration of now NTSC 3:2 pulldown works.
(A version of this article appeared in Sound and Image.)
Why CD Copy Protection Won't Work Within hours of purchase, the first copy-protected CD on the Australian market gave up its secrets before even my feeble skills.
(A version of this article appeared in Australian HI-FI, Dec/Jan 2002/3, v.33/6, pp.76-80.)