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DTS headphone surround-sound technology

DTS demonstrated its new Headphone:X surround processing system at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month. The system is capable of reproducing up to 11 channels of surround sound over conventional stereo headphones. I didn't hear it, but a few friends at the show who heard the Headphone:X demo came away impressed with its ability to project a sound field well outside the confines of the headphones. DTS is promoting Headphone:X technology as HTiP -- Home Theater in Pocket, and claims that the system can emulate the DTS reference listening room or a … Read more

The 'cure' for receiver feature glut: Stereo receivers

Judging by the Comments responding to my recent "Do receivers have too many features?" blog post, a lot of folks think today's receivers are overstuffed with gizmos. Now sure, if you crave a full complement of the latest doodads--streaming Rhapsody-Napster-Pandora-Flickr, USB inputs, iPhone certification, Audyssey MultEQ XT Auto Calibration, Wi-Fi, Windows Vista, DLNA, HD Radio, Internet Radio, multiroom-multizone connectivity, Ethernet and RS-232C ports, or Bluetooth Wireless Audio Transmission Capability--rush out and buy a home theater receiver. Enjoy reading the 120-page operating manual and exploring layer after layer of setup options. Good times!

But if the goal is to simply enjoy music and a movie every now and then, do yourself a favor and consider a stereo receiver, or if you don't care about radio, an integrated amplifier (an integrated amp is essentially a receiver without a radio). Another plus for stereo home theater converts, they'll never have to deal with convoluted speaker setup menus, or risk an out-of-balance sound mix. Stereo is nearly impossible to get wrong.

A lot of people think stereo receivers are old hat and they "have to" buy a surround receiver. Wrong! And as I pointed out in the blog post the other day, home theater receiver features aren't "free"; manufacturers pay very significant licensing fees and royalties to the companies that developed those features. To bring a receiver in on budget, engineers and product planners make cost-saving decisions to cut back on other aspects of the design. The audio circuitry is probably the first to take a hit.

With stereo receivers the engineering budget is directed to the audio side and Denon, Marantz, NAD, Onkyo, Sony and Yamaha all make stereo receivers. Apparently, there's still a market for stereo components, and now that more and more folks are getting into LPs, most new stereo receivers have turntable inputs. … Read more

Confirmed: PS3 Slim bit streams Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio

We've covered just about everything you need to know about the PS3 Slim, but the sleuths over at Engadget HD (via a translated version of AV Watch) found a chart that indicates the PS3 Slim can bit stream both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. That change actually isn't that surprising, since the original limitation on the "old" PS3s was due to an older HDMI chipset; newer HDMI outputs have no problem bit streaming the high-resolution soundtrack formats.

We have a PS3 Slim review sample onhand, so it was easy to confirm the rumor. We had … Read more

Samsung BD-P2500 gets firmware fix for DTS-HD Master Audio

While the rest of tech world was busy scouring news from CES 2009, Samsung's duo of Netflix-enabled Blu-ray players--the BD-P2500 and BD-P2550--received a firmware update to enable onboard DTS-HD Master Audio decoding. The players were promised the update "by the end of the year", but chalk it up to another delayed Samsung firmware release, as we've seen before.

The firmware is available for download from Samsung's site, and the players can be updated via a direct download using an Ethernet connection, or, for players not connected to home networks, users can download the file … Read more

DTS-HD decoding delayed on Samsung Blu-ray players, Master Audio coming by end of year

Samsung has put out some pretty good Blu-ray players, but the company needs to setup an RSS feed to keep buyers up to date with the constantly changing firmware plans. We got a note from Samsung this afternoon explaining that the firmware update adding DTS-HD High Resolution decoding to the Samsung BD-P1500, BD-P2500, and BD-P2550 has been delayed until the end of the year. That means owners will have to live with standard DTS soundtracks for a little bit longer if they don't own an HDMI-compatible receiver with onboard decoding for DTS-HD Master Audio.

On the upside, Samsung … Read more

Dolby and DTS' new audio schemes worth it?

You bought an audio-video receiver a couple of years ago, and now you're wondering whether it's time to trade up and get a model that features Dolby and DTS' new lossless codecs, TrueHD and Master Audio, respectively.

Judging by the numbers they should sound markedly better than standard Dolby and DTS, but according to a recent article in Home Entertainment magazine, the sonic differences were small to negligible. You can read the full article here.

David Birch-Jones and HE's editor-in-chief, Geoff Morrison, visited Dolby Laboratories and DTS' headquarters to listen to the new formats under ideal conditions, comparing them to standard Dolby and DTS. Birch-Jones and Morrison were hard-pressed to hear significant differences.

I have limited experience listening to the two contenders, and I never managed to do speedy A-B comparisons. That said, from what I've heard, I thought that TrueHD and DTS Master Audio were better than the older formats, especially in the areas of imaging, spaciousness, top-end detail, and "air."… Read more

PS3 system update v2.30 now available

Sony wasn't kidding when it said the next PS3 system update was coming in mid-April. Just in time to take the edge off tax day, the version 2.30 of the PlayStation 3 system software is now available for download. As revealed last week, the software update adds DTS Master Audio decoding (to deliver the best audio from compatible Blu-ray movies), as well as a major overhaul of the interface for the PlayStation Store (as explained in the Sony video walkthrough shown above).

The question is: what do you think? Does the DTS upgrade make the PS3 an even … Read more

PS3 to get DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, new PlayStation store

Sony has announced the details on the next PS3 firmware update--version 2.30, coming mid-April--and the big news for home theater fans is that the PS3 is getting onboard DTS-HD High Resolution and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding for Blu-ray movies. Home theater fans have long lamented that the PS3 could not decode the new DTS soundtracks at their highest resolution, especially since movie studios like Fox have opted for DTS-HD Master Audio on many Blu-ray releases. Without getting too technical, DTS-HD Master Audio offers 7-channels of lossless audio at 96K sampling frequency and 24-bit depths--which means that the sound sent … Read more

Sony's new budget AV receivers packed with features

When Onkyo released the budget TX-SR605 AV receiver last year, it rocked the industry with its low price and high-end features such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-Master Audio decoding. Other manufacturers pretty much had to stay on the sidelines as TX-SR605s flew off the shelf, but it looks as if Sony is ready to fight back with its new line of budget AV receivers. The company's 2008 line of AV receivers includes four new affordably priced models--the STR-DG520, STR-DG720, STR-DG820 and STR-DG920--and they look pretty good from the spec sheet. Here are the details:

The STR-DG520

Key features of the Sony STR-DG520:

5.1 channels, 100 watts of power Two HDMI inputs Supports 1080p pass-through at 60 and 24 frames per second Available in March for about $200

The STR-DG720

Step-up features on the STR-DG720:

7.1 channels, 105 watts of power Three HDMI inputs… Read more

New Sony Blu-ray players: Better than PS3?

Sony has announced two new Blu-ray players scheduled to be released in the second half of the year: the entry-level BDP-S350 and the step-up BDP-S550. We haven't been the biggest fans of Sony's recent standalone Blu-ray players (the BDP-S300 was really slow and the same price as the PlayStation 3). Fresh off its victory over HD DVD, however, the company has announced two new Blu-ray players for 2008, both of which sport considerably more attractive feature sets and prices. Here are the details:

Key features of the Sony BDP-S350:

Supports BonusView, which means it is Profile 1.1Read more