Audio News for February 7, 2012

by | Feb 7, 2012 | Audio News

Digital Cinema in Theaters Grows – According to the SMPTE Journal, digital cinema screens worldwide have grown to 46,000 as of last June, and 30,000 of those screens are 3D-capable. The U.S. has 7000 2D and 11,000 3D screens, and it is expected that by the end of this year 60% of U.S. screens will be digital. One concern is that while there are SMPTE standards for light level on 2D screens, there are none for 3D screens, and the unofficial 3D target level is only a small fraction of that for 2D. The industry is working to increase the light levels for 3D, including the use of laser light sources.
Congress Continues to Sell OtA TV Channels for Broadband Use – Studies on how many people actually depend solely on over-the-air TV reception seem to conflict, but it is clear that a higher percentage of U.S. minorities depend on OtA DTV than on cable or satellite. Analyses of interchannel reception interference among DTV stations and from FCC “white spaces” wireless spectrum have shown problems, but the FCC seems to be ignoring them. Repacking the broadcast band is not going to be simple. Are we forgetting the original idea of broadcasting in America: Free and available to all?
Consumers Will Adopt OtT Thru Blu-ray Players – According to Colin Dixon,  accessing the Internet directly from consumer electronics devices such as HDTVs and Blu-ray decks is called Over-the-top or OtT.  Many such devices—including smart TVs—can now access Netflix, Hulu Plus and other sites without a computer, but it is interesting that he feels the primary device may be Blu-ray players rather than smart TVs.
The Digital Revolution = Degradation of AV Quality – The digital revolution has transformed the delivery of audio and video to consumers both in the home and in mobile situations. This trend started in the music industry and has led to lossy, much lower fidelity distribution of audio content. Those of us who support DSD and higher sampling rates are only a very small niche in the market. (Never mind the trend back to two-channel and abandonment of surround.)  User convenience and lower pricing have become the main goals—not the highest audio fidelity.
Now the same thing is happening with video. We have 1080p-capable displays, but HD telecasting is at 720i, and seriously data-reduced by distribution systems on the way to your screen. Blu-ray offers a maximum total bitrate of 48Mbps, but DVD only has about 10. OtA telecasting is limited to a total of 19.39Mbps, but the subchannels of HD telecasts are only 10-12Mbps. There are all sorts of devices between the original HD content and your screen, designed to cram more digital data in smaller bandwidths, and if you are going thru the Internet, that includes your local ISP. More issues come up regarding data rates and image quality over home networks, both wired and wireless (even worse). If you stream video from the Internet, you are lucky to get rates of only 3-6Mbps. Streaming high-quality video requires higher download bandwidth; we have missed the step of being able to download movies etc. offline prior to playing them—to the disadvantage of online video enthusiasts.

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