I’ll be posting a screen shot of google analytics.

I’m quite shocked how well this site has done.

Still a continous stream of traffic.

I’ve currently been working on my personal blog.

I’m debating on redirecting this site to a new domain name and keep it strictly about Home Theather.

Things to look out for:

2009 Samsung Line up Overview

2009 Sony Line up Overview

A/V Receiver Buying Guide

Headphone Review

Technorati Tags: 2009 Samsung Line up Overview, 2009 Sony Line up Overview, AV Receiver buying guide, Headphone Review



Today I felt something I always told myself wouldn’t hurt too many people.

I of course was very wrong. This is the second time I’ve had to do this.

I’m sorry. Hope to see you soon.

My views have changed on that subject.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit



The first month of this new year is coming to a close. I haven’t been working on this site for awhile now since things have changed.

Few days ago I updated my About Me page to reflect some of the things that have happened. Lately I’ve been extremely busy.

Moving back home to my parents house for an unknown period of time, ultimately till I find a friend to get a new place with.

I’ve begun writing some new articles including the A/V Receiver guide & review of the Sony and Samsung line revealed at CES 2009.

Recently sold the PC I put together to run Warhammer on that I wrote awhile back about.
With the extra cash from the holidays, selling PC, etc… I’ve picked up my first Mac laptop.

Now part of the Mac community with my new Mac Book Pro 15″

Once I’m completely settled in my house which I expect to be around the 7th or 14th of February I’ll be updating the site more frequently.



Life always will be lived for the thrill.

While we have almost full control or no control of what happens, we are on the ride.
Sometimes we see the top of the skylines and other times we have to look up and only dream.

The sun will rise to the top of the heavens again and again.
Today we live.

All there is to do is wonder what the second sun will bring.

-JM



How to get HD audio without using a HDMI cable.

Right now the two main HD audio codecs are Dolby TrueHD & DTS-MA. These audio tracks can be found on Blu-ray disk. Unfortunately if you don’t have an AV Receiver you realize you’re constrained by your TV speakers. Now if you have an AV Receiver and have had one for quite some time now you might be lucky to have an HDMI input. HDMI has become the standard cable to use when connecting Blu-ray players because it has copyright protection that all the studios want. This in turn creates some issues.

If you have an old receiver and do NOT have HDMI inputs or have HDMI inputs but it’s a pass through (only carries video NOT audio) you’re stuck. Chances are you’re either using optical/digital coax or stereo inputs (red & white). The problem with this is that since you’re not using an HDMI cable you won’t be able to get TrueHD, DTS-MA, or Multi Channel LPCM tracks from your optical/digital coax or stereo cables. The reason is because the optical cable doesn’t support such high bandwidths (not completely accurate but worth mentioning) & because of copyright protections. The optical/digital coax cables only push out 2 channels of uncompressed audio LPCM 2.0. If you have a PS3 this is why in your audio settings you can only check off 2 channels. If you are getting 5.1 audio from your blu-ray player using an optical cable it’s because TrueHD, DTS-MA, and other codecs are being down sampled to the standard dolby digital 5.1. The audio gets sent to the receiver and then the receiver decodes it as Standard 5.1 audio.

Is there a solution to this if you’re receiver doesn’t have HDMI? Yes!

Back in the day when digital cables weren’t too popular the way to get surround sound was by analog outs. Analog outs are not commonly found in today’s modern players. You can find analog outs in some high end DVD players. There are a few Blu-ray players out today that are equipped with analog 5.1ch outs. The analog outputs support sending out 5.1 uncompressed PCM audio. This is the only way to get TrueHD or DTS-MA without using HDMI. The problem is you need to find a blu-ray player that has 5.1 analog outs and a receiver that has analog inputs. If you’ve accomplished both of these make sure you set your receiver to Multi-Channel Audio and set the Blu-ray player to PCM. Now keep in mind that the blu-ray player MUST decode TrueHD &/or DTS-MA PCM to pass the audio. If the player has analog outs but doesn’t decode one or the other then don’t expect anything. Analog outs transmit the audio via PCM and NOT Bitstream.

Technorati Tags: 5.1 analog inputs, blu-ray audio without hdmi, DTS-MA, DTS-MA without HDMI, HD Audio without HDMI, TrueHD, TrueHD without HDMI



Sony XBR 8 vs Samsung 9 Series

Introduction:

The Sony XBR 8 is the latest in LCD LED technology. On paper it’s the best LCD in the market but Samsung has produced its own LCD LED model as well. I’m going to get a bit anal when it comes to this comparison. In the long run both of these sets are the best LCDs on the market without a doubt in my mind. The purpose is to determine which the best is in each category.

Design:

The designs of both these TVs are very different. The Samsung has very basic frame with a clear outer frame. It’s very elegant looking. It also has blue accent at the bottom center of the set like many other Samsung models have. The Samsung stays true to clean piano look all the Samsungs have had in the past. The Sony has a new look compared to all the other XBRs. It has a standard frame like the Samsung but extends on the left and right side for the speakers. I’d have to say from seeing the images online it wasn’t obvious that the set was the Sony XBR 8. It doesn’t have that same distinctiveness that the previous XBR 4 & 5 has. I will say it is way more elegant then the XBR 6 though. The Sony in the bottom center of the set is very modern and slick looking with a light behind it.

Picture:

Alright first off I’d like to say that these are the first major TVs with LED Backlighting w/ 120 Hz. I didn’t get to spend so much time looking at detail as I would have liked. Considering I checked them out at Best Buy both were NOT calibrated and on Vivid or Dynamic settings. Right away it is noticeable that the Sony is brighter which is a first when it comes between the two in previous comparisons. It is also worth mentioning that when you are at an angle with LED TVs that the colors seem to wash out. It is more noticeable on the Samsung over the Sony. These sets seem to have a sweet spot dead center in the middle. I’ll be honest it is quite hard to notice serious differences between both of these sets. The Tri-Color RGB LEDs don’t seem to be such a drastic change in picture compared to the standard White LEDs in the Samsung. The blacks seem to be very black in both sets. It seems like you get a bit deeper black with the Sony but nothing drastic compared to the Samsung. One thing that I found it interesting was when I was talking to the Magnolia Pro he mentioned that the Sony seems to have some hot spots he’s seen on the set (clouds). I laughed because Sony seems to not address the problem or not have an answer to problem. I wasn’t really looking for clouds but more so how much detail was given in the blacks. The Sony seemed to give a richer look to images compared to the Samsung. The skin tones seemed to be a bit more natural in the Samsung compared to the Sony. The major flaw that sort of gives a sour taste in my mouth was how noticeable the colors seem to flush out in an angle. Considering both were next to each other and with a gap of 12” I could notice how the colors faded out if I placed myself in front of the Sony. At the end of the day both the sets looked great. I did not see any more flaws with the 120 Hz or know if it was even on. The content was on a HD feed and not a Blu-ray player.

Price:

I was quite surprised when I saw the Sony 46” was on sale already. The price of the set is supposed to be $5,000 and it was on sale for $4,200 I believe. The Sony is extremely over priced and can’t be justified. Granted the Tri-RGB LEDs do cost more than the white but I don’t see a great different between them and the white LEDs. With the Samsung at a much lower cost and being on sale it seems like the Samsung would be the choice when it comes to price.

When I asked the associate how both sets were selling and if the Sony was doing well considering it was just released. He said that the Sony hasn’t been doing really well but not terrible. He says with both sets being next to each other and the Samsung at such a lower price point that the Samsung is in backorder even. I asked if people stick to their guns because they are Sony fans. He responded that even those who come in to check out the Sony go home with the Samsung because of its price. He also mentioned how Samsung makes the Sony panels and when people hear that it gives them faith in the Samsung brand. I was a bit worried about the comment because I use to tell customers this as well by explaining that it is ONLY the screen of the set and NOT the processor.

Conclusion:

As far as this review goes it covers the basics for the average consumer. If you’re particular about how the set truly performs you have to consider that I compared both in Shop mode and not calibrated. It is worth mentioning that both sets seem to lose its glamour while at an angle especially the Samsung. While these both sets are probably the best LCDs on the market it’s worth noting that they may be a bit over priced for the average consumer. The blacks are the serious advantage of these sets compared to the standard CCFL LCD TVs. The 120 Hz has been finally added to the LED backlight technology. While many people like the affects of 120 Hz it also has some who are not a fan. If you are dead set on an LCD these two are going to be the ones you’ll want to decide if you’re a visual aficionado. The true competitor is still the Pioneer Elite Plasma. Considering the Pioneer has been out for some time now you’ll find prices much lower than 6 months ago which lets you take them into consideration compared to the original prices. At the end of the day you should go see both sets in person. Try to haggle the employee to give you the remote and see how both of them look in Standard settings and not Vivid or Dynamic. If I had to choose between the Samsung 9 series vs Sony XBR 8, I’d take the Samsung based on price and how similar both look.

Technorati Tags: Best LCD 2008, Best LCD 2009, Samsung 9 Series, Sony vs Samsung 2008, Sony XBR 8, Sony XBR 8 vs Samsung 9 series



Last night we had a few friends over our apartment. The reason for the event was to watch the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight. Aside from just meeting up to hang out it was also a test to see what people thought of Blu-ray and a real surround sound.

Many people are finally catching word of these new blu-ray disks. Even today when I stopped by my parent’s house my mother wanted to know what they were because when she went to go buy Sleeping Beauty she wanted to know why one was $14 and the other $27. I explained to her that they are the latest in technology. She asked if she could watch it on their TV. I went through the basics with her.

You can watch Blu-ray disk on any TV but they are designed specifically for HDTVs. They need a specific player to watch the movies but also allow you to watch regular DVDs in better quality if you use a new cable (HDMI). They do not play on DVD players. Also the sound quality on most Blu-rays is the highest of quality to date right now. Her reply was but what about all my VHS movies. I explained that even today it is extremely difficult to find stand alone VHS players even back a year ago when I worked at Circuit City. I assured her that DVDs would still be around for at least 4-5 more years.

Now the major question that people need to think about is… Is it worth it? Majority of people are just learning that there are new disk out there BUT have no idea if it’s worth buying into this technology if they’ve never seen it. Everyone who sees demos in the store think they are doing something to make it look better or even trick them. We all have the natural instinct to see those demos and end caps at electronic retail stores and think to ourselves it’ll never be like that when I get it home. Well this is why I had people over last night to see what everyone thought of the Blu-ray experience.

To put things into technical perspective I’ll list the resolution of VHS, DVD, & Blu-ray.

VHS: 330 x 480
Laser Disk: 560 x 480
DVD: 720 x 480
Blu-ray: 1280 x 720 & 1920 x 1080

These numbers refer to the size of the image (resolution) in pixels. The reason Blu-ray has two resolutions listed is because your TV will restrict you on what resolution you can watch blu-ray on. If you set only supports up to 720p that means you’re stuck with the 1280×720 being your highest resolution. If you television supports 1080p that obviously means you’re set to support the highest resolution.

Now when you think about it the size of an image of a DVD compared to the size of the Blu-ray it’s almost double. The way to think about it in terms of reality is imagine you have a photo in a frame. The size of the photo is set but if you wish to make it bigger you’ll lose quality. Now if you have a much larger photo and try to make it smaller or large it will not distort as much. The same concept goes for the resolution of movies, games, and television. The large the TV the more it will distort if you have a small resolutions like 330×480 or 720×480. When you introduce 1920×1080 the image is huge and will not distort at much if you put it up on a big screen TV.

This is where the fun begins. Every person who came over knew that I was playing the movie on Blu-ray. I even hyped it up a bit because it was on Blu-ray. Did Blu-ray live up to the hype?

Of course it did! The second the lights went off and the first scene started people were freaking out. All I heard was “It looks like you’re seeing it in real life”, “Wow I can’t wait to see all the special effects”, “This is going to make me stay and watch the whole movie”, etc… People who had already seen the movie who just stopped by to hang out for awhile stayed for a decent chunk of the movie because they were so amazed how it looked. The amount of detail and clarity you’ll see in Blu-ray is breath taking. Keep in mind the higher quality of a television set you have the better the experience.

I showed it on my 40” Samsung with 120Hz. Since I currently own the 71 series and it is one of the first generation of 120Hz set it has some faults when it comes to fast motion scenes BUT everyone talked about the detail and that’s Blu-ray that’s doing that not the 120 Hz. People did say that sometimes it looked funny and like a soap opera effect. Others even noticed how the background looked blurry and just focused on the things closer to the camera. I had the Auto Motion Plus set to High which creates these artifacts yet also sometimes creates some of the most realistic scenes I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately Samsung has not fixed the problem in the 71 series and is even replacing people’s sets for the newer model. I haven’t committed to that long process.

At the end of the day people left with their first experience of Blu-ray and heard, “Wow I want to watch every movie now on Blu-ray”. Unfortunately the technology of Blu-ray isn’t as affordable as most people would want to pay but I’d say 98% of people who have spent the money would say it’s definitely worth it. Prices range from $200 to $3,000. To be perfectly honest the only difference they all have is what type of audio the player supports and load times of the disk. If you don’t have a surround system or don’t care about audio you can buy any Blu-ray player out there and get the visual experience like no other if you have an HDTV.

Technorati Tags: blu-ray basics, Blu-ray worth the cost, Difference in Blu-ray, Is Blu-ray worth it, VHS vs DVD vs Blu-ray



If there is one piece of equipment in your home theater that I believe is the most important besides the TV it’s your AV Receiver. This could make or break your entire set up. With that being said it’s time I step up to the plate and push out a guide that explains all the features that come in todays AV Receivers.

I’m not sure how I’m going to structure the guide but I’m sure I’ll write it on the fly like all my other post.

My set target is by the end of the week.

Technorati Tags: AV Receiver buying guide



This past week-end was fairly busy for us. Last week started the parade of art shows going on in Miami. Art Basel is the big one that everyone knows about but there are many other shows going on around town.
Saturday we decided to check out some of the smaller showings going on in the Design District. Parking was a lot easier than I thought it would be. We walked around Midtown Mall taking pictures of all of Romero Brittos sculptures around the area on display. We ended up checking out the Scope event. Tons of great work all over. My favorite was a display of all black background with a silver shark in different positions. They also had two televisions set up in a black casing that had the shark done in CGI swimming around. I wanted to ask what type of set they had inside because it looked perfect and the blacks were so intense and the shark looked so sharp and smooth. When you pay for Scope you also get into Art Asia since they were connected. Both were extremely enjoyable. I left extremely excited for Miami because the turnout was great and tons of great work was being shown. The best part was that parking was only $1. I’m sure if we had gone to Art Basel it would be extremely crowded and easily $10 for parking. Christine and her boyfriend Adam came into town later on in the evening and we went to Black Sheep Lounge with Derek to check out Venetian Snares. The show was overall enjoyable but will have to say I had greater appreciation for Venetian Snares because the others who performed before him. His set at PS14 earlier in the year was better in comparison I’d say. This was the first event that I know of where the venue has charged. I hope this doesn’t become a trend with the venue.

Sunday we ended up going back with Christine & Adam to the Design District to check out Fountain. I thought some of the art was impressive but a lot of the messages that were trying to be put across annoyed me. Then again these are artist and live a completely different life than I do. Gives you a different perspective on how some people view things.

It was more than usual eventful week-end. Extremely disappoint in Dallas losing last night. It was such a close game and then to lose it all in the 4th.

Today I decided to freeze my Warhammer Online account. I enjoy playing it don’t get me wrong but sucks too much of my time away. I think I’ll be getting back into console games which are much easier to pick up and put down. Plus our good friends in Palm Coast just got a PS3 which means ppl to play with online!

Here is a link all the photos Nikki took at the event. Miami Forum (link not up yet)

Technorati Tags: Black Sheep Lounge, Miami Art, Miami Art Shows, Venetian Snares, Warhammer Online



Many of you who are YouTube junkies have noticed that YouTube has switched over all it’s video into a widescreen format. It was notced a few weeks ago that YouTube was also testing out some HD content. Well let me one of the first to share with you…. YouTube HD!

Obviously not all video on youtube is HD now but you’ll be able to upload HD video to YouTube now. Right now 720p is only support, no 1080p. I’m not quite sure if the quality of audio has been increased as well. This is a huge step in the right direction.

The only major flaw is the fact that they haven’t created a ‘Only HD Video’ category or much talk about it on YouTube at all. For those of you who have monitors or TVs that support 720p here is a great short animation done in 720.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUPcimeiqLE

Going to be interesting to see what HD content will show up on YouTube now. Hopefully HD movie & game trailers start appearing!

Technorati Tags: 720p YouTube, YouTube HD