3D Standards, Speakers & AVRs, PAL Conversion

Waiting for 3D
With Sony and Microsoft both moving toward 3D video-game consoles, I'm thinking about getting a 3D TV. But I'm not willing to get a first-generation model because the standard for glasses has not been finalized, and receivers still seem to be catching up. How long will I have to wait for everything to be finalized?

Nik Kearney

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is working on an IR glasses-synchronization standard, but who know when that will be finished? And even when it is, who knows if all manufacturers will adhere to it? I think it was monumentally stupid for 3D TVs to be introduced to the marketplace without a sync-signal standard because this seriously jeopardizes the adoption of 3D in the home, and fixing this blunder after the fact will be 10 times more difficult than doing it right in the first place.

As for A/V receivers with 3D pass-through, we're already starting to see them from Onkyo (such as the TX-SR608 shown above) and others, so I expect most models to be 3D-compatible within a year or so.

As Tom Norton and I work with various 3D TVs, Blu-ray players, and titles, we're finding a few glitches, such as stuttering and freezing playback and incompatibilities between certain players and displays. I've heard some experts say that, in these early days of 3D TV, it's best to get a TV and player from the same manufacturer for maximum compatibility. I believe these problems are mostly growing pains for a new format, and they will get ironed out eventually. But exactly when is anyone's guess.

I'm building a home-theater system in my house, perhaps using the Panasonic TC-P54VT25. What do you think of that choice?

For the sound system, I was planning to buy some high-end speakers with a mid-level receiver and upgrade the receiver later. I was in a Magnolia store, and the sales guy told me that it was a bad idea, because a lower-end receiver could damage the higher-end speakers, and I should buy a better amp to protect them. Of course, he was pointing to amps that cost something like $2000 each.

Is this true, or is he feeding me some crap? Would a $500 receiver be okay with some high-end speakers? I know it will sound only as good as the worst component, but could the speakers really be damaged?

BTW, I enjoy your podcast; keep it up!

Ryan Knopp

I'm glad you enjoy the podcast; thanks for the kind words! I think your choice of TV is excellent. Check out Tom Norton's review of the 50-inch TC-P50VT25, which he liked very much. It performs well on 2D and 3D material, and the black level was very good, though not as good as a Pioneer Kuro (RIP). BTW, we've been running a Panasonic G20 24/7 in the studio, and its black level hasn't budged after about 1100 hours, which means the widely reported rising black level in Panasonic plasmas is not universal.

Regarding your sound-system question, there is possibly some truth in what the sales guy said, but I don't think it's as dangerous as he probably made it out to be. If the speakers have a low nominal impedance—say, 4 ohms or less—they will try to draw more power from the receiver's amplifiers than speakers with higher impedance, which could overtax the amps in an inexpensive AVR. Under these conditions, the amps could produce lots of high-frequency, high-level harmonic distortion, which could damage the speakers' tweeters.

If the speakers you get have a nominal impedance of 8 ohms, you should have no problem. Otherwise, keep the volume fairly low until you get some amps that can safely drive low-impedance speakers.

Meet My PAL
I was recently watching a TV program I know very well, but this viewing was on DVD, and I noticed it seemed to be a bit faster than I remember. I checked it against several online sources and found that indeed the DVD is playing back faster. I have seen this with other DVDs in the past, but I've never investigated it properly.

Does this have something to do with the fact that the DVD is PAL format? (I live in New Zealand.) Is there some technical issue with a 24-frame-per-second source converted to 50 fields per second for PAL?

Hayden Booth

What sharp eyes you have! You are exactly correct—when images are shot at 24fps, as they are for all American movies and most American TV shows, the footage is converted to PAL at 50 fields per second for the European and Australian markets (including New Zealand) by simply speeding it up. The rationale is that a 4-percent increase in speed is generally not noticeable, though clearly it is for some viewers, as you have demonstrated.

By contrast, simply speeding up 24fps film to 60 fields per second for American video is blatantly obvious, so that conversion process uses 3:2 pulldown, in which each frame is split into two interlaced fields, and one of those fields is repeated in every other frame, which yields 60 fields per second.

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

Danny van Munster (The Netherlands)'s picture

I own KEF speakers Q11 (main front), iQ60C (center) and Q7 (rear) and a JBL sub. I'm looking for a receiver with HDMI 1.4 beacause of my new TV Samsung UE55C8700 (3D). I hear that some receiver/speaker brands are matching better than others. Would the ONKYO TX-NR808 be a good match with my speaker set?

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Danny, what is the nominal impedance of the KEF speakers?

Christopher Gilkerson's picture

Danny and Scott,You both left me hanging here. I'm putting in a new home theater system and have a need for 2 or 3 room audio and I just purchased the Samsung 7000 (3D) and I'm thinking of placing an order for the new Onkyo TX-NR3008 Receiver. I've also been researching KEF speakers. Generally, what characteistics for in-wall (L,R,C) and ceiling speakers should I be looking for? Thanks.

Stephen Goodman's picture

Similarly we have our sights on a Samsung UE46C8000X which includes the 3D Blu-Ray player and a pair of 3D glasses. I am also looking for the AV receiver that suits this unit, and have today seen the bits about HDMI 1.4 being required. Does Samsung make an AV receiver that is good enough to go with this? My goal is to have a single point of processing for audio and video so we only have to change selections at a single point, eg the receiver.