A/V VETERAN

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 18, 2016 2 comments
It’s been no secret up to now that calibrating a display for high dynamic range (HDR) is a work in progress. But the recent release of an HDR10 workflow for CalMAN 2016 (the newest software from SpectraCal) promises to change that. CalMAN is widely used by calibrators and reviewers to optimize display setup.

HDR10 is one of the two most prominent HDR formats (though there are others lurking around looking for a niche). Both of these formats require specialized, and different, calibration techniques. A CalMAN workflow for the other format, Dolby Vision, has been around for several months.

But most UHD/HDR sets offer HDR10, as do all UHD Blu-rays to date, making an HDR10 calibration perhaps even more significant...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 05, 2016 3 comments
How can one distinguish between a guilty pleasure and a hidden treasure? Many movies fall into a gap somewhere between the two. They’re not so good to be called classics, but impressive or different enough to click with the right audience.

Emperor tells an important yet little known story. In the immediate aftermath of the Japanese surrender in World War II, General Douglas MacArthur arrived in Japan with his staff to lead the occupation. But before the rebuilding of the country and its government could begin, the issue of what to do with the Japanese military and political leadership had to be dealt with—most importantly Emperor Hirohito. Many in Washington, and in the U.S. public as well, wanted him tried and executed as a war criminal...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 21, 2016 4 comments
On a recent visit back to Los Angeles I took in the 2016 Newport, California hi-fi-show, more properly known as T.H.E. (The Home Entertainment) Show Newport (though it’s now actually held in Irvine). You can read my observations on the show, along with those from other Stereophile contributors (I write occasional reports and reviews for Stereophile, though Sound & Vision is my main beat) at Stereophile.com. Like virtually all such events (of which there are several in the U.S. each year under various management), this was a show for 2-channel audiophiles. Count me among them, but no more so than for multichannel music, movies, video, and home theater.

The only show in the U.S. that features video as it relates to home theater is September’s CEDIA Expo...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 07, 2016 8 comments
We’ve been fortunate in the 1080p world in having a variety of test discs available. While a full calibration requires special test tools, such discs can tell you a lot about how your set performs and help get the basic picture settings right. One of the most popular of such discs, and one of the first, is Digital Video Essentials, shown in the photo here.

But while 4K with high dynamic range (HDR) is now here, there’s still a lack of test materials for this format, particularly the high dynamic range end of the equation...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 17, 2016 2 comments
It hasn’t been that long ago that when I arrived back from the annual January CES, my desk looked something like the photo here, staring back at me with a “pick me, pick me” plea. But with all of the brochures and press releases and miscellaneous literature first transferred to CD-ROM, now to flash drives, and (in some cases) merely a cryptic card directing you to the manufacturer’s website, the reading material can now fit in a tiny corner of my suitcase.

Owners’ manuals were once like that, but with a fundamental difference. They were slender things that could be read and understood in an hour or two. But as products, particularly HDTVs and AVRs, became more complicated, their manuals grew larger, not to mention the need to produce them in 15 languages...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 03, 2016 9 comments
If you’ve been following my writing (I know there’s at least one of you out there somewhere!) you know that I’m a major fan of packaged media. With a Blu-ray or Ultra HD Blu-ray disc I only have to buy it once and it’s always there, on the shelf, ready to access whenever I want it and offering the best of the best in both picture and sound quality. And it won’t vaporize if I want to see it again but the streaming service decides to no longer offer it...
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 19, 2016 2 comments
What’s a “nit” and what’s it have to do with what you see on your TV screen as we enter the Age of High Dynamic Range (aka HDR) video.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 05, 2016 2 comments
Yes, I do have an odd taste in movies. But there must be others who can equally enjoy science fiction and action films, animated features, and well-done historical dramas. Only recently I revisited the DVDs of Zulu (the 1964 film with a very young Michael Caine in his first major role), and the first episodes of Shaka Zulu (a late ‘80s mini-series with a riveting performance by Henry Cele as Shaka). The technical quality on Zulu was very good for a DVD (there is a Blu-ray release that has received mixed reports, but I haven’t seen it). The picture quality on Shaka Zulu (1.33:1) is poor, but watchable. Both have mediocre audio at best, but despite their technical limitations are superb.

Anonymous is a much more recent effort (2011)...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 22, 2016 13 comments
A recent posting here on Sound&Vision showed a very ambitious do-it-yourself speaker built by a skilled audio enthusiast in Latvia. The finished product was originally found by us here and originated on one of the most exhaustive and impressive loudspeaker DIY websites, troelsgravesen.dk.

One question in the posting’s comments section suggested that the roughly $5000/pair cost that would go into building such speakers (not including time and labor) might be better put into buying a finished pair of $5000 speakers...

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Tom Norton Posted: Mar 09, 2016 9 comments
High dynamic range source material (HDR) has been available for downloading for months now, but the offerings have been spotty and, like the other enhancements that comprise the new Ultra HD format (4K 2160p resolution and longer, lower and wider color) constrained by the often limited bandwidth of Internet delivery. While popular notions of ever expanding bandwidth and more efficient compression abound, no one can know the future. And even now not all areas of the country are served by even the minimum Internet bandwidth required for fully featured Ultra HD delivery, much less at the highest possible quality
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 23, 2016 2 comments
We assume you’re into home theater because you love movies, so this blog is the first in an on and off series of movie (and possibly TV-series) recommendations. I first wanted to dub them “Hidden Treasures and Guilty Pleasures.” But while I liked the alliteration, it was too long for a headline so I’ll have to settle for alternating between the two, as appropriate. [Ed. note: We worked a little magic to make the head fit.]

I have a broad taste in movies, from historical to science fiction and a lot in between. I’m not big on crime dramas, grisly horror movies (unless the sci-fi elements outweigh the gore, as in Alien and Aliens), or gross comedies that make me squirm more than laugh. But almost anything else is fair game. The Dish isn’t a story about Hollywood gossip, but rather an Australian film about a 100-ton satellite communications dish parked in a sheep paddock near the small town of Parkes in the rural Down Under. If that sounds boring, it’s anything but...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 02, 2016 18 comments
Living in coastal northwest Florida has its benefits, but first-rate movie theaters isn’t one of them. In moving from the Los Angeles area last year I left behind some of the best movie theaters in the country...
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 26, 2016 23 comments
We’re only a couple of months away from the scheduled introduction of Ultra HD Blu-ray players and the UHD discs to play on them. At CES both Samsung and Philips announced players due in March, and 17 titles are currently listed on Amazon for release March 1.
Tom Norton Posted: Jan 12, 2016 11 comments
Another year, another CES. I’ve been doing them for so long you think they’d become second nature, or even boring. But they always surprise, and there’s always too much of interest to see in the show’s four short days, jostling through 175,000 of my closest friends.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 22, 2015 2 comments
‘Tis the Season—for last minute, desperation shopping. But what could be easier than one or a few Blu-ray discs for that stocking by the fireplace. So here are a few recommendations...

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