Face Off: Step-Up DVD Players Passing the CPF Test

Passing the CPF Test

None of the players in this Face Off passed the CPF test. What does this mean? CPF stands for Columbia TriStar, Paramount, and Fox and relates to a player's ability to find the 5.1 soundtrack on software from these studios. Sure, we made up this test; then again, we make up all the tests that we do based on real-world conditions. Columbia, Paramount and Fox recording engineers (or marketers, we're not sure which) insist that, since the majority of home theater users have Dolby Pro Logic systems, the software should default to a two-channel, Dolby Pro Logic-happy output. We can't really argue with them, but this can be frustrating for those of us who have upgraded to a 5.1-channel Dolby Digital system. If you want to make the most of those 5.1 discrete channels with software from these studios, you have to access the DVD's menu and change the audio setting to play the 5.1 soundtrack. You can also do this by pressing the "audio" button on the DVD player's remote. This will cycle through the various surround soundtracks until you get to the 5.1 English track (or 5.1 French, if you're so inclined). Only Sony's players (not reviewed in this Face Off) make any effort to find the 5.1 track automatically, as long as you set up the player to do so. Although most manufacturers claim this is some proprietary effort between Sony Electronics and Sony Pictures (aka Columbia TriStar), we can't prove that any collusion exists. According to one engineer, the Sony DVD player simply cycles through the various audio tracks automatically (just like pressing the "audio" button) when the disc is played. The player stops when it finds the track that the user has selected as the default. Now, why can't anyone else do this?