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Common Confusion in Home Theater - Part 1


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This series of slideshows, the first in an ongoing series, examines common points of confusion in the world of home theater.

This slideshow examines how volume is indicated and adjusted on modern AV receivers and amps: the zero dB system, which is totally counter-intuitive. It also explains how to update the firmware on your Blu-ray player or AV receiver to ensure the best performance and the ability to decode the latest movie releases and TV episodes.

Also explained is the one downside of modern Blu-ray players: Slow load time. This load time can be so slow, in fact, that some players convince users that the device has locked or is broken. They reload the disc or reboot the unit, beginning the process again. Obviously, confusion ensues. Fast models are recommended--as is patience if using slow entry-level models.

Published in: Devices & Hardware
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Common Confusion in Home Theater - Part 1

  1. 1. Common Confusion From the blog Middle Class Tech Part 1 in Home Theater
  2. 2. Volume in a Zero dB World Volume of an AV receiver or amp is expressed in decibels, or dB Modern AV receivers display the loudest volume at zero dB —Thus, practical volumes reside in the negative numbers (-35, -23) —Counter-intuitive for most consumers —This has only been the case for the past 8-10 years With practical volumes in the negative range, confusion is easy
  3. 3. Zero dB on AV Receivers You will always be listening to your receiver in the negative dB zone —Exact level will vary depending on your input source, your room, and your particular speakers —Confusing because larger numbers = lower volumes In the past, volume levels were completely arbitrary —One AV receiver manufacturer might use 1-10, while another might employ 1-20 or even 1-100
  4. 4. Zero dB on AV Receivers Volume level selection and readout on older receivers was the wild west —No standardization whatsoever —No objective indication of volume levels dB and the 0 scale solved this problem —While it is objectively better, it’s also much more confusing for consumers who don’t know the system
  5. 5. Updating Firmware Firmware = updatable software stored on a chip in a home theater component AV receivers and Blu-ray players are basically audio and video-focused computers dependent on complex decoding software Biggest reasons to update firmware? —So your devices can properly play new release movies and TV shows —Hollywood is continually revising copy-protection standards in an effort to thwart piracy
  6. 6. Updating Firmware Multiple ways to update firmware Is the device connected to the internet? If so, you can download firmware updates to install them If device not connected, check for USB port —Most Blu-ray players and some AV receivers have USB ports that can be used to update firmware —Download firmware update from manufacturer website to USB flash drive on your PC, then transfer to the home theater component to be updated
  7. 7. Disadvantages of Blu-ray Blu-ray is great; best resolution in video today —Except for UltraHD (4K), which is still too expensive and features a lack of content Nothing is 100% perfect; what are downsides of Blu-ray? First, the upside: Blu-ray players can be had for beginning at about $50 for entry-level models
  8. 8. Disadvantages of Blu-ray Biggest disadvantage = slow loading of discs —Because high-definition (HD) video is so big, it takes most players a minute or two to load enough content from the disc to begin playing on your TV Sometimes, consumers perceive this lag to be a locked or broken Blu-ray player They may reload the disc, beginning the process again —They might also reboot the Blu-ray player, again beginning the process anew —Confusion ensues, “player is broken” is proclaimed
  9. 9. Fast Blu-ray Player When shopping for a Blu-ray player, be aware of load speeds —Read plenty of reviews and actually demo—in person—the model you are considering Simply being aware of this and being patient will prevent confusion and frustration Fast models that will make you happy —Any of OPPO’s two Blu-ray models (BDP-103 and 105) —Pioneer Elite BDP-62FD
  10. 10. These slides are derived from the Amazon Kindle book Home Theater for the Internet Age
  11. 11. Other Books by Curt Robbins Understanding Personal Data Security Understanding Digital Music Understanding Cutting the Cord Understanding Home Theater
  12. 12. About Curt Robbins Publishes a blog: Middle Class Tech Flipboard magazine: Middle Class Tech Twitter: @CurtRobbins
  13. 13. Surround Sound Formats Excerpt from Home Theater for the Internet Age