RSS, Plasma Buzz, RPTV

Finding RSS
I can't find any RSS links for the various blogs and posts! Am I missing them somewhere?

Jack Slater

Hyperlinks to the RSS feeds are found at the bottom of every page on each of our sites.

Buzz Buzz
I just purchased a 2009 Panasonic 50-inch TC-P50S1 plasma, and I'm extremely pleased with it's performance except for the high-pitched CRT-like buzz during bright scenes. I can't hear it while watching TV at normal volume levels, but I can when the volume is low. Does this sound like a defect? Do I need to purchase a line conditioner? Should I even worry about this?

Quentin Lucas

I jumped into the deep end and bought my first HDTV, a Pioneer Elite PRO-151FD. Unfortunately, I've come across an issue that others also seem to have with the PRO-151FD—panel hum. Some people report that it goes away sitting off center or more than two feet away. The first time I turned on the panel, I noticed the sound at my seating distance of 10 feet with normal TV volume. The hum's frequency changes when the picture changes; lighter images seem to generate a higher frequency than darker ones.

There are online threads online about this issue, and others have given accounts of Pioneer's response—everything from "replace the panel because it shouldn't be audible sitting a 'normal' distance away" to "this is normal for plasma."

Have you or your colleagues ever come across this with the PRO-151FD? Is this a design issue? An abnormal fluke?

Ryan Barclay

I have not had this experience with any of the Pioneer Kuros I've reviewed. Tom Norton says he heard a very soft buzz coming from the PRO-151FD he reviewed, but only from very close and with no other sound on—at a normal seating distance and with normal TV sound, he did not hear it. You are correct that this seems to be a problem for a few people who write about it online, but many more write about how great the Pioneer is with no complaints, so I have a hard time believing it's systemic. Same with the Panasonic.

Possible factors could be quality-control issues in some panels, extreme sensitivity in some people, and using the plasma at high elevations. My best advice is to exchange the TV for another sample and see if the problem persists. If you live at a high elevation (say, Denver or Santa Fe), the buzz might be unavoidable.

I've Been Framed!
I'm currently in the final stages of framing a theater room. The walls are up and electrical/drywall is next. I framed up a spot for a Mitsubishi 73-inch RPTV, but now I'm having second thoughts. I'm scared away from the disappearing RPTV category, but I've ruled out front projection because my memory of projector pictures is that they looked pretty bad. On the other hand, I admit that I'm not up on the latest technology.

I'm now looking at the Panasonic TH-65PZ850U plasma at Best Buy. I'm thoroughly confused and need to settle on something very soon so I can finish framing the wall for the TV! It will be a mostly dark room, and I want a great picture that's also big.

Paul Jankowski

I would also be a bit nervous about RPTV becoming extinct, though conventionally illuminated models still offer the best bang for the buck in terms of large screen sizes. On the plus side, they're not going to stop working just because fewer companies are making them.

Still, I can see several drawbacks. First, if you're building it into a wall, will you have easy access to replace the lamp? That's very important unless you're planning on getting a Mits LaserVue, which is very expensive and thus negates the price advantage of RPTVs. What if it needs repair at some point in the future? Will a tech be able to easily reach its innards or extract it from the wall? And how long will it be before repairs are unavailable? I don't know, but buying into a dying technology is not the way I would want to go.

If you want a really big picture, I would reconsider a front projector, especially if the room can be completely darkened. You say it will be "mostly dark," but a front projector really needs complete darkness to look its best. Projectors have come a long way in the last few years, and modern models can look spectacular, even those that aren't outrageously expensive. This approach also means you can change the lamp and access the unit for repairs much more easily than anything you install in a wall because the projector will presumably be at the other end of the room on a shelf or suspended from the ceiling.

On the other hand, a good projection system ain't cheap, especially when you include a good screen, but an 80- or 92-inch system is usually far less expensive than any flat panel of comparable size. Also, this is the most "cinematic" approach to a true home theater.

The Panasonic TH-65PZ850 is an excellent plasma, so if that fits your budget and you can easily access the back panel for making connections, it should work just fine. Since you are putting all this effort into it, I would spend an extra few hundred bucks and have it professionally calibrated to look its best.

If you have a home-theater question, please send it to

Bryant Trew's picture

MUCH to my HUGE disappointment, my new Elite Kuro buzzes. My old Pioneer RPTV buzzed as well. I really do wonder why the Hi-Fi press seems to be so incapable of confirming that this does happen. I can ignore it after a while, but for so much damn money you would think that this would never happen. Just read the forums there are tons of people with this problem

ECC's picture

I have a 50" plasma tv from Samsung (only two years old) that buzzes whenever bright images flash on the screen. It's the same sort of buzz I've heard with every CRT television I've watched something on. I don't think it's a defect and it can be annoying if it lasts a long time; usually it doesn't. I've had my tv plugged into high quality power conditioners since I bought it, so ac power quality doesn't cause it. It's most likely the strain of the bright white images on the unit itself, since it requires more power to produce those images. I would be interested to know what it is specifically that causes the buzzing effect.

Jeff's picture

Don't forget about the Samsung LED-based DLP. The 61" set was well reviewed by CNET: is LED based and therefore doesn't require the bulb maintained. If you have a dark room you can turn down the LED back lighting and get solid blacks. You can get the 67" bigger brother for around 1900. In my opinion it is clearly superior to the Mitsu DLP.Of course, the TH-65PZ850 is objectively a better set but you pay the price.

Colin Robertson's picture

I too have a buzzing Pioneer plasma (PRO-1140HD). I just thought it was normal... but now that I think about, it may have something to do with a fault in the power supply. It also has issues where there will be a blinking blue light when it is supposed to be in standby(solid red light), which, according to the manual, "the units internal protective circuits may have been activated". It will kick on if I use my dishwasher, for example. It never has issues otherwise... Since Scott hasn't experienced this in his review models, maybe I should take it in.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

On the other hand, maybe this problem is more pervasive than my own experience indicates. I will continue to look into it.

Big John's picture

I have a Pioneer Kuro Pro 150. I have an audible buzz all the time but it is especially noticeable during bright scenes. I followed one of the forum suggestions and set Power Save to Mode 2 and that made a significant also changes how the picture looks. I wish Pioneer would admit this is a problem. My dealer told me that I was just ultra-sensitive and that I should expect some "buzz" from a TV.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

In what way does Mode 2 change the picture? Did you have the set calibrated before switching to Mode 2? In any event, I would have the set calibrated while in Mode 2. If that's not possible for some reason, certainly readjust the basic picture controls using a setup disc like Joe Kane's HD Basics or Spears & Munsil's HD Benchmark on Blu-ray or Digital Video Essentials on DVD.

Larry's picture

In regards to plasma buzz, IMO it's not defective panels. Like Ryan, I bought the Elite from a well known big box store (yellow sign)that has a corner of their store reserved for upper end merchandise. I heard the same buzzing at 16 ft. I called Pioneer and they said it was normal & thats what happens when atoms rub together and resonate. I returned it and had a 2nd one sent out - same issue. If you set the Elite to Power Save 2, the sound goes away a LOT...but the picture washes out, whites become ivory, and you start seeing motion artifacts.I also believe others won't hear the same buzz Ryan does. My guess is he has hypersensitive hearing, like me. And/Or, he is hypersensitive to anyything being wrong with the TV because he paid for perfection and expects it at that price, like I did. Not ONE review mentions buzzing for the Elites - why not? I now have a Panasonic TC-P50S1 that I can only hear buzz if sitting under the TV less than a foot away. Quentin - I would have Panasonic look at

Brent M's picture

First of all, long time reader of your mag...Luv it! What projector and screen would you recommed for around 5k total...for a light controlled home theater room...hard choice. I could go up to 6k if needed. I do love gaming and was thinking of hanging my pioneer pdp6020 on the wall and doing a drop down screen in front for movies only? Also, would you splurge and go Stewart screen or would Da-Lite be fine for my budget? I have 10k to spend on the room but am going to buy the Integra dtr9.9 that has that adds to the cost. I have always wanted a dedicated room so maybe you may recommed to do a fixed screen and do gaming in another room? Anyway, I realize it's a few questions and comments but any help would be greatly appreciated.Thanks

Bob's picture

I took my first Pioneer Elite PRO-151FD back to Best Buy and exchanged it for another one because of the buzz on advise from Pioneer and one of their local authorized service centers. They said there should be no audible buzz heard from normal viewing distance, or at very most, occasionally. My first set did it all the time, it was just a mater of degree. It was very distracting, and even my wife noticed, so it wasn't just me obsessing. The replacement set will emit noise on occasion, when powering on, or sometimes during a channel or input change . One can still hear a soft buzz if you stick you head behind the panel and listen carefully. So, if your set make this noise take it back and exchange it for another! For what you are paying you should not put up with it. Other than that, what a beautiful set!

lekjj's picture

Hi. I, too, have the same issue and had been told by Pioneer it is normal. I now used power save mode 2, at first the picture was not as good but after it's been calibrated, it was better. I tried Monster M1000 and 800 HDMI; they are both good, the M1000 is actually better. And then I accidentally checked out the Audio Quest 2.5% silver HDMI since it is cheaper than the M1000 from Best Buy, the picture is way much better than the M1000. If you can, try the AQ HDMI-3 (6.1% silver) on your Pro 151FD and turn to power save mode 2 with Optimun setting. The picture is deeper black and more white whether it is bluray or dvd disk. Some where I read about the Optimum setting would reduce black and picture details. I experience this with other HDMI cable but not on the AQ HDMI-3. Don't update the software for 151FD if you dont need it because the buzz gets louder after I did. I tried this on my two 151FDs. I left my 111FD alone and it is dead quiet.

Jerry Viviano's picture

I don't understand how different HDMI cables can affect picture quality. Isn't HDMI a digital format? Bits are bits. The only exception I can think of would be if you are actually getting bit errors on one type of cable and not on another. And I doubt that's the case.I'm not an audio-visual expert at all. But I am an electrical engineer, so do have the ability to understand a logical explanation of why a different cable can change picture quality - if it can at all.

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