Plasma Break-In, AVR Upgrade, Frame Interpolation

Breaking In Is Hard To Do
I recently purchased a Panasonic TC-P54V10 plasma TV along with a Panasonic DMP-BD60 Blu-ray player. I was thinking of getting a professional ISF calibration on the plasma, but my sales rep said that I should wait about 200 hours before having it done since the gas needs to settle (or something like that). Do you agree?

By the way, is a professional calibration done only once on a plasma TV, or is it something that needs to be redone every so often?

Antonio Giaccio

I agree that letting the plasma "settle" before getting it calibrated is a good idea, but 200 hours is a bit excessive. We normally display a 60% full-screen white field for a couple of days—say 50 hours—before we calibrate for a review. I think 50-100 hours is fine. And you don't need to display a white field for that amount of time, but it's important to display full-screen HD images, not 4:3 SD or letterboxed movies. And no static images; all the pixels need to be active with moving images during the break-in period.

If you have the TV calibrated after breaking it in as described above, there should be no need to redo it periodically.

Pioneer All The Way
I have a Pioneer Elite plasma TV with a new Pioneer Blu-ray player and an older Pioneer receiver. I am thinking about purchasing a new receiver to take full advantage of the audio from the Blu-ray player.

1. Is it worthwhile to upgrade to a new receiver that decodes Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD? Will there be a noticeable difference in audio quality?

2. I will probably go with another Pioneer receiver. Is it worth the extra money to get something from the Elite line? I'm looking at the VSX-21TXH or the non-Elite VSX-819H.

3. Most of the TV usage in my household is watching cable. Will we notice any difference in the quality of the TV audio with the new receiver?

Vince Cerami

Does your current receiver have HDMI inputs? If so, it can probably accept PCM multichannel audio from the Blu-ray player. And since the BD player is new, I assume it can decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD to PCM. If so, you won't hear a significant improvement in audio quality by upgrading the receiver to one that can decode those formats. In fact, I prefer to have the player do the decoding and send PCM to the receiver anyway, since that lets you hear any secondary audio, which you can't if you send the undecoded bitstreams. If your current receiver does not have HDMI inputs, I would definitely upgrade, but I would still have the player do the decoding and send PCM.

I don't have much experience with Pioneer non-Elite receivers. Home Theater's review of the VSX-1019AH is very positive; it got a "Top Pick" nod. Personally, I really like the Elite SC-05, 07, and 09, but they are much more expensive. In general, the Elite line should sound a bit better than the non-Elite line, but that difference is probably pretty small in the overall scheme of things. The bigger advantage is the Elite line's expanded feature set.

You won't notice much difference in TV audio with a new receiver.

Seething Hatred
I absolutely hate the new LCD motion-processing technology (120Hz and 240Hz frame interpolation) that is being jammed down the throats of consumers. I think it makes everything look like it was shot on home video, even the most beautiful Blu-ray picture. Soon, I'll have the responsibility of buying a friend a new HDTV, and I want to avoid this image-ruining process, but I'm limited to what local stores carry. Can this technology be turned off on most makes and models? I would rather have the image look a little blurry, as film always does, than have it look like video.

Steve Hawco

You're not alone in your hatred of this technology, though I'm not sure I'd say it's being "jammed down the throats of consumers." Fortunately for you, it can be disabled in every such set I've looked at. Of course, this will make objects in motion look blurrier than they would if it was on, but you say you'd rather see that than the video-like image.

For people like you, I recommend getting a plasma, which has excellent motion sharpness without frame interpolation. In addition, the picture looks much better than LCD if you're sitting at an angle to the screen. Yes, plasma consumes more power than LCD, and the glass is more reflective than most LCDs, which could be problematic in a well-lit room, but in my view, it produces a better overall picture. From the models we've see so far, the current Panasonic plasmas are excellent.

If you have a home-theater question, please send it to scott.wilkinson@sorc.com.

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COMMENTS
Dave I.'s picture

Although you may have answered Mr. Hawco's question, I think his choice should hinge on whether his friend, who he is buying the HDTV for, shares his hatred of the LCD frame interpolation technology. I happen to agree with you found that a plasma set best fit my needs, but obviously many others feel differently.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Dave, you're right, of course, that it depends on his friend's preference, but Steve said that he wanted to avoid frame interpolation in his recommendation, so that's the basis on which I answered the question. I hope he takes his friend to a store and shows him what frame interpolation looks like so he can judge for himself. Or just get a plasma and be done with it...

Johnston's picture

I just want to add another option Mr. Vince Cerami may have regarding the new audio formats. If his Blu-ray player can decode TrueHD and DTS-HD:MA, he also have the option of passing PCM to his receiver if both devices have analog multi-channel input/output.

Erik in Wisconsin's picture

Vince -- I purchased a blu-ray player last Christmas and then upgraded my receiver at mid-winter to take advantage of the high definition sound tracks. Long story short --> bought the Pioneer VSX-1018AH on closeout at a chain electronics store for less than $400 including tax. I chose this one for several reasons: reasonable price, decodes the hi-def audio tracks, doesn't clip the blacker-than-black and whiter-than-white video signals, quality construction, nice design. I have no regrets. Primarily I watch movies (mostly regular DVD and some blu-ray) and certain TV shows, sports and specials. The sound is good on all and certainly does jump out on the hi-def movies. I'm not a picky fan-boy of any equipment in particular, but I am discriminating and I shop mercilessly for a good bargain. I'm very happy with the Pioneer I bought and do not feel like I'm missing something by not buying a far more expensive Elite model. Status symbols don't impress me so much ... bang for buck does.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Johnston is right, and I should have mentioned the multichannel analog option. If the player and receiver both have multichannel analog connections, this is another way to go. I don't like the analog approach because it's a hassle to deal with all those interconnect cables, which is probably why I didn't think of it at the time. But it is a viable option, especially if the receiver has no HDMI inputs.

CJ's picture

Hi Scott,Can you please eloborate on your response to Vince regarding, 'In fact, I prefer to have the player do the decoding and send PCM to the receiver anyway, since that lets you hear any secondary audio, which you can't if you send the undecoded bitstreams.'I know this may be a bit techy, and I'm not one to know the science behind things, but I would like to know how this affects me (us).Thanks!

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Sure, CJ. Many Blu-rays have bonus material, such as PIP commentaries, that can be played simultaneously along with the movie. Also, the menus on many titles make sounds when you navigate around and select things. The audio from these elements is called "secondary audio," since it's secondary to the soundtrack of the movie itself. If you send a Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD bitstream to the receiver to decode, you won't hear these secondary audio elements, but if you have the player decode these bitstreams to PCM (uncompressed digital audio) and send that via HDMI, the player will mix the primary and secondary audio and send both, so you will hear both.Also, having the player decode the bitstreams lets you hear these audio formats in their full glory even if your receiver does not implement HDMI version 1.3, since any version of HDMI can accept PCM, whereas only version 1.3 can accept Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD bitstreams.

Cindy Davis's picture

Hey Scott,I am still bleeding from buying on the bleeding edge 7 years ago with my 50-inch Fujitsu plasma. The blacks are REALLY black now. Yes, I know it is "only" 720p -- but in my book that's still HD. Any hope for this old display with a little TLCalibration? Over the past 7 years, I would say it has been used approx. 8 hours per week (Just under 3,000 hours). Cindy Davis

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Hi Cindy, nice to hear from you! I agree that 720p is still HD. I suspect that the plasma still has plenty of life left, though as I recall, plasmas from that era were not rated to last as long as modern models. Still, I think 3000 hours isn't all that much even for a set that old. Have you had the set calibrated before? If not, I'm sure it would benefit from one now. If you did have it calibrated, you might want to have it touched up if it's been a long time since it was done. I'd also check the basic picture-control settings with a disc like Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics or HD Benchmark on Blu-ray or Digital Video Essentials or Avia on DVD.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

BTW, Cindy, have you had any problem with image retention or burn in on that 7-year-old Fujitsu plasma? What percentage of the time do you watch 16:9, 4:3, and letterboxed movies? Do you see any ghosts of letterbox or pillarbox windows on the screen? If so, under what conditions do you see them? Are they distracting?

Geoff's picture

Just purchased the Pioneer SC 07 and the Panasonic 58"V10. Should I hook up my satelite directly to the TV or receiver? The HD on the satellite is broadcast at 720.

Geoff's picture

Sorry about my previous comment. I entered my question in the wrong place!

Giovanna Visconti's picture

Would like to add to discussion of Pioneer's Elite vs. non-Elite line. Both the Elite SC-27 and SC-25 use Wolfson WM8740 DACs (192kHz/24-bit), and Burr Brown 192kHz/24-bit ADCs. I own an older Elite A/V receiver and plan to u/g to one of these because audio is of the utmost importance to me. There is no way these top-of-the-line internals cannot make a noticeable difference sonically.

Help's picture

Hi, I also just bought a Panasonic TCP54S1 Plasma tv. I live in Milwaukee, WI. Where should I go to get my TV calibrated? Gary Kasza

deen's picture

I presently have a yamaha RXV 4300 receiver, I am planning on purchasing a 3D TV. Do I need to up-grade my receiver. thank you.

deen's picture

I presently have a yamaha RXV 4600 receiver, I am planning on purchasing a 3D TV. Do I need to up-grade my receiver. thank you.

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