In our ongoing run-up to our 10th anniversary in early 2005, Michael Fremer looks at his experiences working on the soundtrack to the groundbreaking movie Tron. This article was first published in our Fall 1997 issue. We've made a few edits to account for changes since then (particularly in the references to laserdiscs!), but MF's description of the creation of an early-1980s soundtrack is as fascinating, interesting, and pertinent as ever. Modern digital techniques have revolutionized the film-sound business, but a good soundtrack is still a good soundtrack.
Streaming high-quality video with multichannel audio requires a fast connection. For Vudu, Hulu, and other online streaming sites, you must have fast Internet speeds. To stream huge, high-definition files from your media server to your smart TV or media player, you must have a fast connection within your home network.
Our first look at Ultra 2 and the first certified system from Snell and Pioneer.
It may be time to start asking the question that's asked of all pastimes with hobbyist roots when their popularity surges: Is home theater a permanent cultural phenomenon or just another fad destined to burn out before its time? Recent evidence certainly shades the former. DVD-Video has been the catalyst for an unprecedented boom in the popularity of home theater and should probably be credited with completing home theater's undeniable transition from novelty act to mainstream entertainment that began with Dolby Surround and the first inexpensive multichannel speaker system. But is home theater a cultural phenomenon the way that the computer is a cultural phenomenon? Do a majority of Americans actively seek to make it a part of their lives day in and day out? Not yet—but home theater's high-water mark is still to come.
Acoustically transparent projection screens let you put the voices where the action is.
When you see a movie in a commercial cinema, it's easy to suspend disbelief and pretend you're watching the action through a window. One important reason for this is the fact that the sound of the characters' voices seems to come from their apparent location, rather than from above or below the screen.
THX, Dolby, and Audyssey deliver reference-level punch at lower volumes.
You know the drill. You’re just getting into the latest action blockbuster on your new home theater rig when a still, small voice wafts gently into your SPL-addled ear. “Isn’t that a bit loud?” Or perhaps the voice comes screeching in from another room. “I can’t hear myself think in here.” Or there’s a knock at the front door from the men in blue, demanding that you surrender your assault rifle in exchange for a fun stay in the slam with Tony the Hammer.
I half expected an ordeal as I walked into Walmart carrying a small shopping bag with several movies, ready to take the new Disc-to-Digital service for a spin. I was directed to the electronics department where I was greeted by a large placard that read: “Access your movie collection. Any time. Any place. 3 Easy Steps...” Offered in Walmart stores across the country, the service is operated through the chain’s online streaming service, Vudu, and is intended to provide an easy way to set up a cloud-based digital movie library with DVDs and Blu-ray Discs you already own.
I'm sure many of you read over the measurement boxes in our video reviews, take what you need from them, and move on. But what does it all mean, really? Why do we do it the way we do? For those of you new to the magazine or video displays in general, what does any of it mean? These are excellent questions.
In my GearWorks column in our January 2005 issue, I talked about how, depending on your viewing distance, the resolution of your display may not matter. To sum up, your eye has a finite resolution (like a digital camera), and, as objects get smaller with distance, there is a point where your eye can no longer distinguish between bigger and smaller pixels. Over long distances, this is obvious, but it surprised a lot of people that it could be so noticeable in shorter (in-room) distances.
A media controller is not a device or a physical remote control. You can’t go to the store and buy a media controller. "Media Controller" is a DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) certification. Part of a home network streaming media solution, the media controller finds photos, music and movies on connected media servers, and sends (pushes) the media file to an enabled media player, Smart TV or other streaming device. Typically you’ll find that a media controller is an app on a smartphone, tablet or computer.
Media renderer is another Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) certification that is part of the home network streaming experience. It can play videos, photos and music that are sent to it from a media controller. I know of no devices that are exclusively media renderers. Typically the ability to accept media files is a feature of media streaming device.
In the world of digital media, there’s no doubt that you have downloaded movies and/or music, and saved digital photos to your computer. Now you want to watch them on your TV and home theater. Before you can stream the movies, music or photos from your computer, networked external hard drive, or network attached storage (NAS) drive, the media player must first find the sources—“see” the device where you have saved your media files. The computer or device where your files are saved is called a “media server.”
We frequently get e-mails from readers asking why they should spend big $s on a home theater product when they can get a similar product for much less. Good question! So, this is the first in a series of GearWorks in which we'll discuss that very topic. We'll start with perhaps the easiest component to track: projectors. Where does the money go?