Audio News for December 30, 2006

by | Dec 30, 2006 | Audio News | 0 comments

New AC Audio Distribution Plug – A collaboration of German network specialists and American corporation Arkados has resulted in the HomePlug which will be demonstrated at CES in Las Vegas, January 8 thru 11. The specific HomePlug product is the dLAN Audio Extender, which is the size of an AC power plug, inserts into any AC socket, and distributes audio thruout the home via the household power circuitry. MP3 collections on a home computer can be streamed to hi-fi systems or active loudspeakers. Installation is completely automatic and requires no configuration. The device comes with two RCA connectors and a 3.5mm mini-jack socket and is compatible with Windows and Vista software but not Macintosh.

Music DVDs: Audio Dos & Don’ts
– With the huge expansion in the offerings of new classical and jazz music DVDs, more music lovers who are not frequent feature film viewers are getting into home theater for the first time this holiday season. (Most music titles are not stocked by DVD rental outlets.) Here are some points to keep in mind.  To really enjoy the musical quality of music DVDs it is just as important to have a good separate five or six-speaker setup as when viewing feature movies with surround sound. Don’t skimp by trying to use your TV’s internal speakers or an entry-level Home-Theater-in-a-Box system.  Depending on the low-end extension of your speakers, you may find you really don’t require the sizeable investment of a powered subwoofer, which is not as vital to music as it is for the soundtracks of modern films. (In fact, classical SACDs are nearly all 5.0 channels – not using the .1 LFE channel.)

Opera on DVDs presents a number of audio considerations. Miking singers running around the stage is always a challenge. Often singers sound off-mike, or even worse, are miked a few inches from their mouths like pop singers – totally inappropriate for opera.  Better speakers will make such vocalists more intelligible. Many music DVDs are reissues of videotapes made some decades ago for broadcast, using extreme compression. When these are played back using one of the perceptual encoding processes – Dolby or DTS – the sonics are further deteriorated. That’s why it’s important to have the option of stereo linear PCM, as most DVDs now provide along with Dolby and DTS. Even at 48K/16bits, PCM offers cleaner sound that is closer to the original source than Dolby or DTS, and if you desire a surround effect Dolby ProLogic II is usually very effective at generating it from the PCM stereo signal. If the disc offers it (and your DVD player is properly set to reproduce it) 96K PCM delivers even higher resolution audio and should be selected. PCM allows reproduction of all the subtle sound elements which are masked by perceptual encoding, whether we can hear them or not. Some classical video series of the past were originally done with high audio standards and sound fine on DVDs today – among them the Karajan and Bernstein series.  It should be mentioned that higher-resolution DTS surround is being offering on an increasing percentage of recent music DVDs and generally the transparency of the discrete surround is excellent, greatly improving one’s enjoyment of the musical performances.

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