Look out, Dolby and DTS. The 3D Audio Alliance, a consortium put together by SRS Labs, is developing a new "object oriented" surround standard that would rethink surround sound as it's currently constituted.
The 3DAA standard would focus not on channels but on objects within the soundfield, specifying their location and movement. The playback system -- whether stereo, 5.1, or 11.1 -- would then deploy the objects as well as possible within their inherent limitations.
While 3DTV has captured the imaginations of some consumers, most are unmoved, an online poll by Vision Critical shows. Only five percent of Americans, two percent of Britons, and one percent of Canadians have a 3DTV set at home.
Moreover, the skeptics are not likely to turn into purchasers within the next six months. They include 81 percent of Americans and Britons, and 95 percent of Canadians. This is despite high levels of awareness, with more than four out of five consumers in each nation familiar with the technology.
Yesterday we covered a CEA study indicating that an overwhelming majority consumers who see 3DTV demos on the retail floor like them. But there are still obstacles to acceptance, according to a study conducted in a decidedly different environment by Nielsen for the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing.
One persistent criticism of audiophilia is that it can be expensive. Why this criticism is leveled at, say, Pono—but not at fine wine, high-end apparel, or fancy cars—is one of life's mysteries. I'd say the best signal sources, speakers, amps, headphones, and other products are worth the investment if you know what you're doing. But paying more for the good stuff isn't the only way to be an audiophile. You can get pretty good sound from, say, one of the $600 receivers on our Top Picks list. And, whatever you may have on your rack, there are other ways of improving your system for little or nothing. Longtime readers will find most of the following tips blindingly obvious. But they are intended for younger readers just getting their systems started.
Universal Pictures and Vudu made high-definition history with The Bourne Ultimatum on December 11. The Matt Damon vehicle is the first major movie to be released at the same moment online, on DVD, and on HD DVD. The online version will be in high-def, placing it in direct competition with the HD DVD.
It had to happen eventually. Paramount announced today that Mission Impossible III will be the first title to receive simultaneous release in three disc formats: high-definition Blu-ray and HD DVD, and standard-definition DVD-Video. Each release will be a two-disc collector's edition with five deleted scenes, four documentaries, theatrical trailers, and other features. Blu-ray and HD DVD releases will have soundtracks in next-generation Dolby Digital Plus. The special-edition sets will have commentaries by Tom Cruise and director J.J. Abrams—but only the HD DVD release will show them talking in a corner of the screen during the movie. A single-disc DVD-Video release will include the deleted scenes, commentary, and the "Making of the Mission" documentary but will omit the other documentaries and features.
How often does The New York Times print something clueless about home theater technology? About as often as you go to the bathroom. The latest outrage comes in a story debunking various tech underachievers with the headline The Hat Trick That Didn't Happen. Reporter Richard Siklos cites a Frank N. Magid Associates survey saying that the number of HDTV buyers who are looking forward to watching high-def has declined from 63 percent two years ago to 47 percent now. He goes on to say: "The reason for this lack of enthusiasm is pretty clear in my own home. For one thing, plenty of shows on the high-definition channels I receive with my digital cable package appear with big black borders--because of the aspect ratio or somesuch--and I can't figure out whether this is my doing or the cable company's or the broadcaster's." Actually, aspect ratio is the program producer's decision, and those black borders are usually a superior alternative to stretching. Note to Siklos' editor: Tell your reporter to find his remote and learn to use the aspect ratio control or somesuch. He can learn more about aspect ratio in any number of places, including the Wiki. And while he's at it, RTFM. If fewer HDTV buyers are interested than HDTV today versus two years ago, the most likely explanation is that plummeting flat-panel prices have lured less knowledgable viewers into the market. And the solution is to assign knowledgable writers to cover the subject.