Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray Disc Player Dateline 07/20/06: Additional Hot Details

Dateline 07/20/06: Additional Hot Details

According to a statement just released by Samsung, the reason for the softness we reported on in the preceding review of the BD-P1000 is an incorrect default setting in the noise reduction on a Genesis chip used in the player.

This is not a user-accessible setting. Samsung will revise the chip programming in the next production run of the players, and is also working on a firmware update for existing players. The update may be downloaded from the Samsung website onto a CD-ROM, which is then used to transfer the update to the player.

But don't expect it soon. A Samsung representative estimated that it might be September before the update is available, and likely September as well before the second batch of players, incorporating the change, will hit the shelves at your local dealer. We will report on the effectiveness of the update as soon as we receive it.

So it looks like another couple of months before we'll see a properly functioning Blu-ray player from any source. It appears that Samsung's first out of the gate status deserves less praise than I gave it in my conclusion.

On another subject, the BD-P1000 player does not decode Dolby Digital in surround mode for the 5.1-channel analog outputs, and does not decode DTS for those outputs at all. In the review, I stated that it does. This has been changed, but I note it here for those who may have already read the report.

According to two relatively obscure notes in the manual (they're a little more prominent in the Quick Setup Guide). A Dolby Digital soundtrack will be decoded into the 5.1-channel analog outputs only as a two-channel signal in the left and right front channels, and DTS will not decode at all. I tried it through the Anthem D1 processor used for the review, and it's clear that the player is simply folding down a 5.1-channel Dolby Digital source into the left and right front channels. This is true whether the Audio setup menu is set to PCM or Bitstream.

With DTS, however, the situation is more serious. The notes in the owner's manual and Quick Setup Guide state that if you "play a DTS DVD disc, no sound will be heard." Through the Anthem processor, what I got instead was a dangerously loud broadband hiss, much like white noise, in either PCM or Bitstream. This same noise was a problem in the early days of DTS when a DTS track was played through a processor that did not have a DTS decoder. Fortunately I remembered that before I ran the test and had the volume on my pre-pro turned down to -30dB, where the hiss was still very audible. Caveat emptor.

Because of the above, the only possible application for which I can recommend the 5.1-channel outputs on the BD-P1000 is to play the 5.1-channel uncompressed PCM tracks offered on some Blu-ray releases (primarily from Sony, so far). And when you're done, switch your pre-pro or receiver back to another input so you or someone else in your family does not inadvertently pop in a DTS disc the next day and run screaming from the room. If you want to listen to the DD (in surround) or DTS tracks, you must access them from the player's digital outputs and decode them in your AV receiver or pre-pro.—TJN