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THX Caught With Pants Down Over Lexicon Blu-ray Player

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the high-end-but-not-high-road dept.

Music 397

SchlimpyChicken writes "Lexicon and THX apparently attempted to pull a fast one on the consumer electronics industry, but got caught this week when a couple websites exposed the fact that the high-end electronics company put a nearly-unmodified $500 Oppo Blu-ray player into a new Lexicon chassis and was selling it for $3500. AV Rant broke the story first on its home theater podcast with some pics of the two players' internals. Audioholics.com then posted a full suite of pics and tested the players with an Audio Precision analyzer. Both showed identical analogue audio performance and both failed a couple of basic THX specifications. Audioholics also posted commentary from THX on the matter and noted that both companies appear to be in a mad scramble to hide the fact that the player was ever deemed THX certified."

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Audio/Videophiles Beware (5, Insightful)

Entropy98 (1340659) | more than 3 years ago | (#30788868)

Expensive isn't always better. Ever heard of Denon's $500 ‘Audiophile’ Ethernet Cable [wired.com]

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (4, Funny)

larien (5608) | more than 3 years ago | (#30788880)

"designed for the audio enthusiast" - i.e. the only people who will pay $500 for a cable they could buy for I think in that way, it's perfectly designed.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1, Informative)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30788936)

let me explain it, this time with wiki goodness:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_5_cable#Connectors_and_other_information [wikipedia.org]

section:

Individual twist lengths

By altering the length of each twist, crosstalk is reduced, without affecting the impedance.[12]

Pair color [cm] per turn Turns per [m]

Green 1.53 65.2

Blue 1.54 64.8

Orange 1.78 56.2

Brown 1.94 51.7

this is what its about. ethernet cable (modern spec) has UNEQUAL LENGTH WIRES.

this will 'mess' with digital audio clock and data (i2s). hence you do NOT want to use ethernet wire for things that have rj45 connectors on the back of AUDIO GEAR.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (2, Informative)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789040)

The question is: does the Denon units use the Ethernet protocol?

The answer to this question will determine if you're smart or if you bought into their marketing chant.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (2, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789232)

I don't own the denon and so I can't say for sure.

I actually build my own spdif hardware and audio dacs (my audio gear is all DIY stuff). and I do use i2s as an 'interconnect' between spdif receivers and the dac chips (when we build dacs, we take great care to layout the pcb traces to ENSURE that the i2s lines are exact(!) lengths. its just proper engineering.)

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (5, Interesting)

gowen (141411) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789046)

Please do the calculation and tell us what the difference in transit times is for, say, 40m of cable.
Clue: do actually believe that a band who's musicians use different length guitar/mic cables cannot possibly play in time?

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (0, Troll)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789338)

Clue: do actually believe that a band who's musicians use different length guitar/mic cables cannot possibly play in time?

wow, the 'experts' here are really keeping me busy helping them re-learn things.

musicians playing realtime do not have the same time constraints as digital audio at, say, 192khz and 24bits. with such a high samplerate, having the clocking be precise DOES matter.

otoh, musicians are not playing in the digital domain and you're not trying to align word-edges in a serial stream.

you could not have made a worse analogy. even if you used cars ;)

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30789340)

0.72ns

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30789052)

i could be wrong, but this sounds like cat5 to me, (rather then 5e where the twists are all the same)

No it works fine with normal Cat-5 (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789130)

They say as much in the manual of Denon gear that has the port on it. You have to realize they used stick Denon Link on most of their stuff. They do it much less now that HDMI works well. The original purpose of it was to get a digital multi-channel uncompressed audio signal off DVD-A and SACD. Prior to HDMI, there wasn't an interconnect that did that so they rolled their own. Now it isn't so useful so they've pulled it off most of their gear.

At any rate, I don't think they were seriously expecting people who bought $1,000 receivers to get a $500 cable. As I said, the manual doesn't say you need to. What I think it was is audiophiles whining. They do sell some pretty expensive stuff, like a $7,500 processor/preamp. Some people who buy that probalby sniveled at the though of having to use an ordinary ethernet cable for their precious data. Denon then decided that if these people wished to waste money, they'd be happy to stick a vaccuum in their pocket and suck it out.

I don't believe it uses I2S, as they specifically talk about jitter immunity, and even if so it wouldn't matter. The data from any of the digital inputs doesn't go to a DAC, it goes to a SHARC processor (or sometimes more than one) where it is manipulated according to the setup of the receiver. From there it goes to the DAC. So it is going to get re-clocked anyhow.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789146)

There's difference of about 25% in the length of a twist. That translates, probably, into a less then 2% difference in wire length. The transmission speed of electrical signal in wire varies, but it's a significant percentage of the speed of light, probably around 0.5c. Now... figure how much a total length difference of 20cm (in a 10m cable) delays a signal traveling at 0.5c.

The impact on the audio signal is irrelevant.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789410)

Given that the maximum cable length under best conditions (I'm not even accounting for cable twisting here) is about 100m, at 0.5c the delay between sender and receiver is about 6.6*10^-9. Not quite 7 nanoseconds, if I am not mistaken. The time it takes your computer to execute about 30 atomic instructions. Considering your reflexes take a billion times longer, I would be amazed if you can hear THAT.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789168)

Well, I dispute your argument with wiki goodness:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%C2%B2S [wikipedia.org]

Note what they say at the bottom: IS signals can easily be transferred via Ethernet-spec connection hardware (8P8C plugs and jacks, and Cat-5e and above cabling).

Care to correct wikipedia?

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (-1, Troll)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789220)

wiki is just wrong on that, then.

cat5e is the problem, not the connectors.

think about it. think about the concept of a d/a converter and how it waits for samples to arrive and then clocks them out at JUST the right time.

spdif is a combo of clock and data in one signal. this is problematic (for many reasons) but once an spdif receiver (like a cirrus 8416) breaks this apart into clock and data these MUST be kept in strict precision or you lose some of the accuracy you are trying to achieve.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789228)

I won't lie, most of this is over my head, I'm no EE. I was just using "wiki goodness" to dispute your "wiki goodness".

Am I surprised that wikipedia might be wrong? No.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (0, Troll)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789274)

well, a lexicon (LOL!) only works when you know the actual definitions of the words you use. ;)

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (5, Informative)

jgardia (985157) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789302)

sorry, but the maximum speed of i2c is 3.4 mbps. you will need about 9m difference in length to have 10% of phase difference between your clock and your data, using the maximum speed (the usual one is 100-400 kbps). I agree that cat5(e) was not designed for i2c signals, but is more than enough for this application.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30789226)

Thank you for the a good laugh. I love hearing audiophiles brag about wasting money on cabling, and talk like they are experts on subjects they obviously know nothing about. I have no idea how sensitive the ear is to clock jitter, but I can tell you that the only clock that matters is the one driving the audio DAC, and that it is not the same one that is used for the ethernet connection.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (0, Troll)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789240)

but I can tell you that the only clock that matters is the one driving the audio DAC,

you omit source-related jitter?

you're not a very thorough person, I can tell.

hint: you can't fully undo jitter at the reclocking phase. you can attenuate some but if the source adds jitter then you can't magically take it all 'back' via reclocking.

you are mostly right in that the BIGGEST effect on jitter is at the receive end between spdif receiver and dac.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789310)

I design computer chips. Nothing high-speed, just 500 megahertz, but even I know it *is* possible to eliminate clock jitter. You can make the final received data look as good as the original source, such that even with an oscilloscope you can't see any difference.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789238)

>>>ethernet cable (modern spec) has UNEQUAL LENGTH WIRES. This will 'mess' with digital audio clock and data (i2s).

Even if we assume that's true, digital error correction will correct any clock skew, so it does not matter if the wire are unequal. You will get the same result as if the wires were equal. That's the advantage of digital audio - it's self-corrects.

You're the typical audiophile who is still thinking in analog terms (which can be affected by inferior wire), and not realizing the new digital formats make it unnecessary to buy a $500 cable because error correction makes even a $5 cable work perfectly.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (2, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789254)

Even if we assume that's true, digital error correction will correct any clock skew, so it does not matter if the wire are unequal.

ahem.

spdif is realtime, NO ACKS and no retries.

care to rethink your 'solution' ?

there is no digital error correction that fixes clock skew. error correction is one thing and clock dejittering is entirely separate. apples and oranges.

we're not talking about wrapping digital audio in tcp/ip, here. pure spdif does NOT do ack'ing or retries or any classic datacomm things that you're thinking of.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (4, Informative)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789444)

We're not talking about data loss here, but data degeneration. And it used to be a problem with analog cables. A signal might have been distorted by a badly shielded cable because the signal was sent into the wire and then reproduced the way it was received. If it was altered along the way, that alteration was often audibly noticable.

That doesn't apply to digital data. If a 1 is sent and is received as a "0.8" or a "1.2", it will still be interpreted as a 1. Simply because there is no 0.8 or 1.2, as there used to be in analog times. Yes, the signal can still degenerate, but since we use discrete values of signals in digital media instead of a "sliding scale" analog signal, that degeneration is easily compensated. It can now be identified correctly and it is adjusted accordingly. So that signal degeneration plays a lesser role now. Of course, if you have REALLY crappy cables it will show. But the average cable that wasn't tied in a knot first will do just fine.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789448)

Well it turns out you're right. S/PDIF doesn't use error correction. It's as error-prone as analog. What idiot would design a digital transmission protocol without built-in error correction?

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (0, Troll)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789266)

You're the typical audiophile who is still thinking in analog terms

no, I'm not. I work in both analog and digital domains. I'm not confusing a single thing here.

I never once talked about distortion in wires (since there isn't any in digital) or s/n or frequency response or channel sep. all those would enter into an analog discussion of wires.

I think you're the confused one, here.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1)

MattskEE (925706) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789480)

All of the issues that you mention, distortion (presumably frequency dispersion), S/N, and frequency response, will all play a significant role in digital communication. Poor performance in any of these three "analog" factors will limit the maximum speed of digital communication on the cable. After all, a digital signal is just a way of interpreting an analog waveform.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (2, Insightful)

Captain_Chaos (103843) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789252)

What everybody seems to be missing: it is the twist lengths that are different! Not the wire lengths.

I find this whole argument ludicrous. You can pump a hundred millions bits of information per second over a cat 5 cable using Ethernet, but for a few hundred thousand bits of audio per second you suddenly need $495 worth of snake oil to be added?

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (5, Funny)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789290)

(shines ethernet cable)
(attaches fake Denon label)

I've got some amazing Denon wire here, personally spit-polished to ensure the absolute best in digital transmission quality. And at only $249 this is a real bargain! (audiophiles stampede into the room). My god. It's almost like being Timothy Geitner - I'm printing my own money.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (0, Troll)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789380)

in this context 'twist length' MEANS wire length.

ie, the 'twists' (read: wire pairs) are diff lengths.

please don't ask us to explain how english works.....

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (2, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789418)

Still, at the end of the day (or the wire, rather) you get a signal that is composed of 0s and 1s. There is no "in between", there is no "bit rot" in the medium. That might have been real for analog transfer when it mattered that the signal was transfered verbatim. It can NOT be transfered any other way today. It is EITHER 0 OR 1. There is no in between.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30789100)

Actually, interconnect and speaker cables do (audibly) benefit from good quality, to a reasonable extent. Sub $500 though and assuming all the kit is of similarly high fidelity. The funniest item I've seen in the "beyond audiophile" category is Electra Glide's Ghengis Khan -- $1500 for a frigging power cord. Perhaps better invested in a noise filter or an update on the house's wiring...

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (3, Informative)

anss123 (985305) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789154)

Actually, interconnect and speaker cables do (audibly) benefit from good quality, to a reasonable extent.

Interconnect, yes. Speaker cables, no.

Plenty of blind tests have shown that there's no audible difference between the most expensive speaker cables and cheap telephone wires. If you look at the math you'd see that the wire noise is something like a hundred times less than the distortion introduced by the speakers themselves, so spend those the $500 on better speakers and use whatever wire you got for cables.

Interconnect cables transmits much weaker signals so noise have a greater effect there.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (0)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789328)

yes, you are correct on all that.

speaker level wiring does not matter one bit. headphone wiring, otoh, does to some extent. headphones are like 'very very sensitive' speakers. you can hear hum and noise in phones you can't with speakers.

speaker drive is also at a MUCH higher voltage level than line-level. speaker wiring does not pick up noise since the drive level dwarfs any 60hz hum that might be nearby. also, fwiw, most speakers are actually balanced (ground lifted and each connection is equidistant from ground. that's most of what you need for balanced mode operation, in fact). line level (consumer, not pro), otoh, is unbalanced and does need extra help to avoid noise.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (2, Informative)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30788894)

actually, there IS something to that cable. very very minor but its there.

I believe that cable is NOT for ethernet even though it uses rj45. I THINK its used for i2s in audio and that is VERY timing dependant (clock and data on diff wires).

now here's where most people don't know something and think they do: ethernet cable these days is NOT equal length wires! yet i2s for spdif break-out NEEDS each wire exactly the same length (timing matters, again). and so you cannot really use ethernet cable. look it up, it has unequal twisted pairs inside for noise reasons (ethernet spec) but this does NOT meet i2s audio specs (they do NOT want unequal length wires).

I think that's the reason.

other than that, yes, most 'fancy wire' is stupid snake oil for rich morans. but there IS something (albeit small) about this that makes *some* sense.

(check etherent spec on wiki. I bet you didn't know that the wires were not all the same length. I didn't know that until it was pointed out to me, in this very context)

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30788924)

You have no idea why twisted pairs are twisted do you? Care to cite the appropriate physical law for your assertion that the lengths of twisted pair in CAT* cables are not sufficient for audio signals?

There is nothing about these cables that makes sense to anyone who knows anything about electronics.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (3, Informative)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30788950)

You have no idea why twisted pairs are twisted do you?

ahem. as both a designer and builder of digital audio equipment, I have to say you are DEAD WRONG. I fully know about differential encoding using twisted self-shielding. its the same that POTS uses and same that pro audio uses with xlrs. same idea.

but running pairs next to each other interferes. THIS is why they use unequal length PAIRS. PAIRS. that's the key, each pair 'beats' at a slightly diff frequency (swr, really) and there is some natural attenuation due to this.

yes, I know of what I speak, thank you very much mr AC...

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (3, Funny)

FSWKU (551325) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789036)

Additionally, signal directional markings are provided for optimum signal transfer.

How does a 2-direction arrow silkscreened onto the connector improve anything?

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1, Funny)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789292)

their salesman get to go to hawaii for year-end bonus get-aways?

dunno.

there is no tech reason for directional markings on twisted pair cabling. THAT one is pretty laughable, I'll admit.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30789050)

Yeah, I'm AC, like that is a good argument. You are full of shit suggesting that the difference in wire length in CAT* means shit considering the signal levels are converted to digital. Your Ethernet cables either work or they don't. That is the whole point of using digital transmission. POTS systems are analog as are balanced XLR audio signals. Again, please demonstrate that you have any clue why the pairs are twisted. You can even use wikipedia if you want. This test will not be marked.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (0, Troll)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789142)

take a deep breath and calm down a little.

read up on spdif, jitter and i2s. come back when you've prepped on the subject matter.

this is NOT ABOUT ETHERNET. m'kay? rj45 does not always (!) mean ethernet. sorry but some manuf's DO overload that connector for other purposes.

you can argue if the diff in wire length in i2s is *audible* but you cannot argue that having equal length wires on a timing critical DAC can't be helpful. having signals reach the endpoint at diff times is BAD.

please read up on digital audio a bit before you foam at the mouth at people.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (3, Informative)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789514)

The difference in wire length for i2s is either very audible or not audible. It does affect the DAC and matching clock and data lengths is important, but it's a data corruption issue - if the lengths differ enough that the signal is out of spec with regard to the setup and hold times of the DAC, you get glitchy audio. This isn't an "analog" difference.

Clock jitter may be audible, and mismatched clock skew between outputs can be too, but skewed clock and data to a single DAC will not cause any audible changes until you exceed the specifications and then all hell breaks loose.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30789148)

TheGratefulNet is clearly modding his posts from another account. There can't be that many uneducated mods on Slashdot now can there?

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (0, Troll)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789172)

when you dislike the facts, do you usually throw a tantrum about the poster?

there's logical fallacy for that. ...left as an exercise to the reader.

no, I'm not self-modding. sorry to burst your bubble but I really do know a thing or two about digital audio and the mod-pointed ones apparently see that.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (2, Interesting)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789218)

I always thought that was the reason why they used digital cabling in the first place: to get a perfectly lossless transfer and have CRCs to prove it.

"Common off the shelf" ethernet parts have now an uncorrectible bit error rate below 10^-10 or so, which means a cheap "small-office-home" Netgear or D-Link part solution will have one bit off every 10 seconds when continuously blasting at full 1Gbps.

One bit off, every ten seconds under maximum transfer speeds.

Software and protocols handle that on the receiving/sending units, that's why we don't have noticeable data corruption at all when transferring endless amounts of data across small home networks. That is two units connected by less than 30 USD worth of networking equipment.

With higher level equipment, medium and large company grade material, this bit error rate is down to 10^-15. That is 1 uncorrectible bit error every 11 *days*(!) while continuously operating at maximum capacity. With 150USD worth of networking equipment, of which is certainly less than 10 USD for the cable alone.

If the Denon link protocol cannot handle 1 single bit error every 10 seconds: shame on them.
If the components Denon uses for their Link interface have a higher bit error rate than enterprise-level network switches: shame on them.
If these components actually perform worse than cheap commodity SOHO parts: feces will be hitting the fan.

I don't know if audiophile humans can even detect a single bit error every ten seconds. I don't know if that would warrant spending that amount of money even if they actually did.

But I certainly know that digital high-end equipment must outperform cheapest commodity hardware, I also know that software and protocol on either side of the link must provide for and correct single bit errors. The resulting data stream on application level must be much lower than 10^-15 single bit errors using regular cheap Cat5e cabling. That is 1 bit error every 10 hours at 10Gbps, and I know for fact that enterprise grade storage systems have much less than that, or we would have corruption on all our filesystems within the blink of an eye.

If a resulting bit error rate of less than 10^-15 is still producing visible and audible artifacts, someone made a big mistake in unit or software design or manufacturing.

If a bit error rate of less than 10^-15 or even 10^-20 is desired, more shielding is needed. We're talking about centimeters of lead here, since the remaining bit errors are caused by cosmic radiation, not only in the wire, but in the entire circuitry of the connected units.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (0, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789276)

>>>ahem. as both a designer and builder of digital audio equipment, I have to say you are DEAD WRONG.

(falls over laughing)

Oh that was good. A digital audio designer? Yeah. I believe that. Well then you should know that digital audio is self-correcting. It does not matter if the twisted-pair wires are unequal or equal, because you will get the same result regardless. That's the advantage of digital audio - it's unnecessary to buy a $500 cable because error correction makes even a $5 cable work perfectly, such that the received bitstream is identical in both cases.

Stupid audiophuck. We're not in the error-prone analog world anymore.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (2, Insightful)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 3 years ago | (#30788954)

Sorry, still no point.

Signal speed in copper is about 15-20cm per second.
Even if they were running those things at a GHz (how many hundreds of audio channels do they transport), being correct to the cm would be quite ok.

And even bog-standard cables are easily in side that tolerance.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (-1, Troll)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30788960)

for digital audio, once you separate clock and data, 'jitter' matters in picoseconds.

digital audio designers and implementers DO believe this. on very high end dacs (thousands of dollars) mini timing diffs DO matter.

easy proof (similar idea): look at the inside of an hdmi switch. it has parallel twisted pairs, too. look at the squiggles on the pc board traces. they are 'making up length' with lefty/righty (tech term, lol) loops of copper trace. TIMING MATTERS on parallel digital signals!

you may not believe it but that's probably because you are lacking serious depth in digital audio theory (sorry).

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (5, Informative)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789030)

I tell you, audiophiles have NO IDEA OF SCALE.

I am working with HF stuff. I run on cables that cost as much as that one, but in bulk supply from industry vendors (Huber+Suhner, for example). Because they are linear to 18 Ghz.

I also did an experiment where i had to synchronize two signals to some picoseconds, and that is damn hard. Damn hard in the sense of "a day of quality time with a network analyser and a few delaylines".

---

Speaking again on HDMI: Yeah, it matters for it, as its fucking running at several hundred times the datarate than an audio connection.
HDMI is specified to transport up to 10Gbits/s, multiplexed on only 19 conductors.
Compare again with audio datarates...

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (-1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789158)

you can argue if its measurable (I don't think it is, to be honest) but you cannot argue that following proper specs (we're engineers, aren't we? or are we just plug-n-play cowboys? wait, that didn't come out the way I intended, lol).

if we act like engineers, we want to product products as closely to spec as possible.

given a choice of 2 interconnects where one is to exact-length and the other is varying length, which would you choose, all else being equal? and ignoring the insane markup (yes, its uncalled for!).

of course you'd choose equal length wires.

would it be visible as a real diff on an analyzer? probably not. but if you CAN use proper parts for a build, why not?

that's my point. not that its worth $500 but that its not a total laugh, either. people in very high end dacs DO care about very small time values in d/a conversion. go up to 24bit/192k and YES it does matter VERY MUCH in timing (according to the DAC experts).

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (3, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789268)

given a choice of 2 interconnects where one is to exact-length and the other is varying length, which would you choose, all else being equal? and ignoring the insane markup (yes, its uncalled for!).

What are you talking about? The insane markup is the whole point! You are saying that there is probably no measurable difference - in that case, any good engineer would choose the less expensive solution. End of story.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (2, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789308)

any engineer would:

- ignore the high cost profit-filled item
- realize they had a good idea
- make one himself from cat3 wire (perhaps; since that DOES have equal length wires inside the bundle)

that's what a real engineer would do. not just use a wire that is out of spec but build one for almost no cost that IS in spec.

why not? its almost a no-cost item to DIY yourself. if you can have exact length wires for pennies via a DIY, why NOT do it right?

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30789198)

My god, somebody mod parent up!

All the audiophiles posting on this article are melting my brain.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789374)

easy proof (similar idea): look at the inside of an hdmi switch. it has parallel twisted pairs, too. look at the squiggles on the pc board traces. they are 'making up length' with lefty/righty (tech term, lol) loops of copper trace. TIMING MATTERS on parallel digital signals!

Of course it does, because the HDMI signal is 165MHz+ (HDMI 1.0, later added higher modes). It matters for two digital devices to talk to each other, but there's no way a human could recognize picosecond jitter in the decoded video or audio which runs in kilohertz for audio and hertz for video. And if the digital signals were wrong, like the LSB of one sample running over into the MSB of the next sample, you'd know extremely quickly unless you're blind and deaf as it'd all be noise.

In short, your technical knowledge is as lousy as your tech terms, because the situation audiophiles describe will never happen. Either you plug in a digital cable and the decoder will decode it perfectly with a timing accuracy far, far greater than human senss or the decoder will fail and it'll all be shit. It's never "almost right with jitter", not on the KHz scale.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30788972)

btw, I am NOT defending the price on this! just the fact that there IS something to the denon cable that most people are not seeing and don't even know about (the ethernet thing with diff length pairs inside).

it should be priced MUCH lower, of course. but still, the fact is that i2s does require exact length wires on all the links between the spdif receiver chip and the dac chip (which is what i2s is all about, really; its not even an external interconnect but intended entirely for use INSIDE cd players, dat players, dvd players, etc).

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789270)

And I'm saying engineers who don't provide software or hardware level compensation for slight differences in wire lengths should hand in their engineering degree. A Cat-x whatever bundle of cabling will always present a certain tolerance for length or length ratios. Thermal expansion is more than enough for that. Engineers who don't plan on correcting that and rely on perfect cabling instead are lazy.

Using a protocol designed for use on printed circuit boards for external runs of cable is also very high on the list of causes for forfeiting engineering degrees.

And those who are able to see a difference between a "pure" perfect datastream and datastream with the same CRC that has been recreated through forward error correction or a retransmit within 1/10000 of a second - with their naked eyes and ears - should be declared the new Master Race, because they are obviously super human.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (0)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789466)

its true that i2s was not designed as an external protocol. neither was sata, for that matter; and they came up with the MINOR tweak called 'e-sata'. very minor actually.

it turns out that if you keep the length 'short' that i2s can go between boxes. audio alchemy did this in the 90's (DTI series of boxes and dacs). others also have done this. its do-able.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1)

gafisher (865473) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789034)

The speed of sound in air is about 35cm/sec. Electrical signal speed in copper is much, MUCH higher, about 95% of the speed of light.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1)

LordVader717 (888547) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789300)

You both are mistaken. Electrical cables almost all carry signals at about two thirds c, whether coaxial or twisted pair doesn't make much difference.

Anyway, the thing is that the IS2 protocol apparently has a maximum clock speed of 3.125 MHz [interfacebus.com] . So the signal length is about 63 meters [google.com] , which is much much larger than the length of their entire cable.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789190)

Signal speed in copper is about 15-20cm per second.

What? Signal speed in copper is over 100,000 KILOMETERS per second. Am I completely misunderstanding what you're trying to say?

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789250)

Sorry, you are right of course.
I usually work in nanoseconds, but left out the "nano" in this post.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (0, Troll)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30788992)

modded down? check my fact! oh right, facts don't matter here on slash.

seriously, check my facts, guys. you'll find that i2s DOES use rj45 connectors on some audio gear. audio alchemy used mini-din connectors but it was the same idea (i2s link between transport and dac).

before you mod down, please do research. THX (lol)

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789098)

ethernet cable these days is NOT equal length wires! yet i2s for spdif break-out NEEDS each wire exactly the same length (timing matters, again)

But the different twist rate of the pairs in Plain Ordinary CAT5 don't make any difference. You're talking about a difference of a few millimetres over a whole 305m roll of CAT5 - in a sane length of patch cable that would make a difference in the order of a few femtoseconds.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789188)

So this thing is like typical Monster cable. Better than the vanilla product, but way overpriced.

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789464)

I believe you that the wires are different in length. I just don't believe those few inches difference make a noticable difference in audio quality, considering signals don't exactly travel at a speed of an inch per second...

Re:Audio/Videophiles Beware (1, Troll)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789422)

No, no, that cable actually works and does improve your audio. The only problem with the Denon cable is that they've wasted money on pretty packaging. I, on the other hand, can sell you a similar audio-quality cable without the pretty packaging for just $450. For an additional $200 I'll spraypaint it in special audio-improving green. Remember; audiophiles are always right if they are rich.

As a 49 year old feminist grandmother (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30788872)

I'm offended by this stupidity, audiophiles are generally retards talkin' bout speaker wire... but having said that there is a considerable difference between a $200 and stereo and a $2000 stereo. Of course some idiot with a 480p tv, a 200 mhz computer with no cdrom will say that chun jin headphones are good enough for him and make no diff.

No shock (4, Informative)

darkitecture (627408) | more than 3 years ago | (#30788886)

The audio industry being less than honest?

Say it ain't so!

Re:No shock (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789166)

I've never understood why you'd want to buy a "high end" Blu-ray player anyhow. Reason is I can see only two setups:

1) You own a low end TV and receiver, or maybe no receiver at all. You've got no digital inputs. Thus your Blu-ray player's DACs have to handle the conversion. However, their quality matters little. Why? Well you've got a low end setup. You clearly are not concerned with quality. As such a cheap player will do fine. Improvements to its DACs and supporting analogue circuitry won't be noticeable to you.

2) You own a high end TV/receiver and care a great deal about quality. In the case you hook the Blu-ray player up using HDMI. Reason is HDMI gives you the best signal. However in this case, the player isn't doing anything other than nabbing the data and passing it along. The analogue conversion happens in other units. So again, the quality isn't important. Your receiver's high quality DACs will handle the audio, the Blu-ray player will just send them data.

I just can't see the case where you'd need good analogue outputs for Blu-ray.

I can see potentially buying something like the Oppo player, if it had a good warranty and build quality. Makes sense to maybe pay more to have your gear last, but I can't see paying more for one just because it supposedly had better circuitry. Even if it does, you aren't going to make use of it. You'd be a fool to buy a high end HDTV and then not use the digital input, as the TV processes everything digitally internally.

oh..heh (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30788896)

"THX certified" is that about as useful as "Designed for Windows"? or maybe "Windows Vista Certified"...hahaha

Editorial Competence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30788916)

From TFS: when a couple websites

Come on, elementary grammar. Bothering to do it right shows respect for the audience.

Credibility. (4, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 3 years ago | (#30788938)

Years to build, seconds to destroy. So, who comes out on top over THX now?

Re:Credibility. (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789018)

Sadly it's been a years-long downwards slide with THX. They used to certify only high-end theatres, then added high-end home theatre setups, then the standards for commercial theatres slowly started slipping until basically everyone who wasn't showing films in a tin can got certified, then they started certifying middle-of-the-road home theatre setups, then individual pieces of home-theatre hardware, and recently even some decent but not exactly world-class Logitech computer speakers.

Re:Credibility. (4, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789072)

Ya. While over all I like the idea of certification grades, THX did a bad job of it. Part of it was that they don't do enough to differentiate the certification types. They all feature THX in big letters and then something small that tells you what the actual certification is. Ok, well that matters a lot. A high end Ultra 2 certification on speakers pretty much means they can handle theatre reference levels of sound. They can truly give you a home theater. Their lower end stuff? Not so much.

Also when it came to computer speakers they started compromising too much. It wasn't a matter of backing off on some specs that really didn't matter too much, they changed it so much to accommodate the lower end nature of computer speakers as to make it more or less meaningless.

Personally, I don't buy THX gear. It is a waste of money in my book. All the gear I seem to like the best doesn't bother getting THX certified. They don't need a label saying "This is good for home theater." You take a listen to it and you say "This is good for home theater," no badge needed.

In some cases, they impose restrictions that aren't acceptable to manufacturers either. Speakers are a good example. The high end THX spec (don't know about the lower ones) requires speakers to be sealed with a natural rolloff at 80Hz. Ok, well maybe I don't want that. In fact, I for sure don't want that for music. I want more full range speakers, and I'd like them ported as that increases low end efficiency. Ok, well they can't be THX then, no matter how good they are.

Really, if you are looking for good home theatre, you'll do much better buying high quality gear you like, and making sure to get a receiver that has a good calibration solution like Audyssey MultEQ. Having your setup properly dialed in to correct levels and delays and such is way more important than if the speaker is precisely what THX likes.

Re:Credibility. (1)

gafisher (865473) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789048)

This doesn't diminish the THX standards; just THX's commitment to maintaining them.

More newsworthy... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30788948)

is the fact that anyone takes THX seriously anymore.

The moment they started "certifying" those horrid Logitech surround setups should have made their irrelevance clear.

THX BYE! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30788956)

Enuff said.

Dear Lexicon (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30789006)

Oh please don't ruin your company. I know times are bad, if anything just sit like we are and keep what ye has. Why not venture out into re-issuing older vintage models with enhancements for modern times? Or repairing the ones that still exist? it seems much more valuable to the community to actually make and possibly service your own product instead of opposing claymines doin case artwork for a doomed product then punk'd by the THX fail which doomed it

Re:Dear Lexicon (2, Informative)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789094)

Seriously? Yeah, Lexicon's ridiculously overpriced equipment used to be worth the ridiculous prices, but *now* they are ruining the company and overcharging.

Or maybe they have ALWAYS been charging a 500%+ markup on their products just because they could. I'm not saying Lexicon doesn't have some of the best products in the business - just that the best products in the business do NOT need to cost 5-10x the average products in the business...

Haha, and some people ridicule me.... (4, Insightful)

Tanuki64 (989726) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789010)

...because I always buy cheapest. Mostly people who deem themselves audiophile and cannot understand that I am not. For me a cheap player was always enough. Now I also have the satisfaction that I am not cheated. At least I get what I pay for. :-)

Re:Haha, and some people ridicule me.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30789044)

Absolutely true. Same goes for almost any electronics and computers.

Re:Haha, and some people ridicule me.... (1)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789134)

I was involved in a quite heated ./ discussion about this and the conclusion was as follows:

Spend on the source ( cd player / turntable / receiver ) and the reproduction units aka speakers.

As for a lot of hi-end equipment there are still a few worth paying the price for like McIntosh but most of what you get these days is just what this is all about, selling the brand, screw whats inside, sell the brand..

Re:Haha, and some people ridicule me.... (0, Flamebait)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789440)

I took another tact; dump my 'receiver' and go full DIY route. I have all home-built DACs, preamps and amps. all using really decent components (not boutique but just regular japanese panasonic FM low ESR caps, etc), high quality ground-planed pc boards and carefully built by hand (my hand) and tested and aligned using test gear.

if this kind of hand-made gear was sold on the open market it would cost $5000 (in that range) for this level of gear. but you can SEE the quality in the build, in the design (peer review and vetted) and my gear will last 10 years or more. I can't remember the last time I got a yamaha or sony to last 10 years!

custom DIY gear can also be built with discrete components. almost no commercial gear is done this way, anymore.

I almost cry when I see people paying upwards of $1k for a 'receiver' when I know full well the crap parts and assembly (and design) that went into it.

Re:Haha, and some people ridicule me.... (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789334)

Haha, and some people ridicule me ...because I always buy cheapest.

That's just as stupid as always buying the most expensive thing. What you should be looking for is quality and value.

I'm curious, though. Do you apply this philosophy to everything? For example do you always buy the cheapest food, regardless of how it tastes, or how nutritious it is? Are you posting this from a 286 or a Vic 20, rather than a more expensive modern computer?

had a similar case with B&O and Panasonic (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30789022)

When I was working for a Bang & Olufsen dealer I we had the case of a broken TV we had to pick up from a client and fix it. The TV in question was a rebadged panasonic with a nice B & O frame. We repaired the tv in the workshop and tested it. After that we put it back in its B&O frame and returned it to the customer only to find it wasn't working. Why? One of us had managed to accidently press the original panasonic powerbutton while putting it back in the B&O frame. Try explaining that to a customer.

Re:had a similar case with B&O and Panasonic (4, Informative)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789206)

want a worse example? lets continue with panasonic but lets enter LEICA into it!

rebadging was never quite the same as when 'red dot' leica did it. they took semi-crappy pany digicams, slapped a leica logo on it, LIED TO THE PUBLIC about the lineage of the camera (saying it was qa'd in germany which is an out and out LIE) and then sold the cams at several times the pany price.

LEICA used to be a real high end camera company. they lost face when they pulled this stunt. there are leica lenses in the $3k range that are 'real leicas' but a $500 digicam that is rebadged is not a real leica even though the brand lies thru their teeth about it (when dpreview.com was pressed, they dodged the issue. probably due to lost advertising income if they fessed up that the fz50 and vlux1 are the same friggin cameras. touch that 'third rail' and you lose advertising revenue and review samples. yup, we know the game, guys...

Re:had a similar case with B&O and Panasonic (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789388)

This also works in the opposite direction.

I have a Sears-branded record player, but of course Sears doesn't manufacture anything so I opened it up. It had a Panasonic label on the circuit board, so I got a better quality unit that what I originally thought.

Well, at least B&O is about looks (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789408)

I don't think you buy B&O for quality but for the looks, they got very nice designs. Frankly, I am not really all that upset about all this, but then I have been used to PC's doing the same for ever.

Personally I always smiled when people wanted Compaq over Dell because it was a better brandname... guess it is, if you want a cheap IBM clone, go to the one who created the first.

Apple is really just an intel PC but with a "nice" design on it. I say "nice because my arm is resting on the edge of a macbook and OUCH. Sharp plastic edge, who thought that was a good idea?

Open up your brandname computer, and see what is inside that makes your X an X. Wanna bet it is almost entirely the casing, and even that is probably desinged by the same laptop company as its competitor.

It ain't much different in the food sector, the cheap no-name brand comes from the same production line.

About half a year ago I was shopping with a friend, who insisted on buying the "brandname" sugar because it was better... It is SUGAR even if it came from different factories, which it doesn't, the LAW dictates EXACTLY what sugar must be. There is no room for quality difference. If there was any, the quality control from the government would be all over them. The only difference is that for the cheap stuff, they use whatever granular size they got in surplus, but for thee and coffee that hardly matters. For some tasks, grain size matters, so what they do is they produce a certain granular size, fill the order they got and then anything left over is put in the cheap consumer bags. If you are making certain cookies (arnhemse meisjes) you need a large grain. Of course if you need that, just shake the cheap bag to see if you got lucky.

Rebadging the same crap to charge more is nothing unusual. I am just amazed they had the balls to do it so blatantly, come on, they could at least have insisted on having a new batch of components made in a different color, and put them in indivudual boxes to hide the layout.

THX? (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789062)

Wow. I'm sticking with THC.

Could never happen with computers... (4, Funny)

lucm (889690) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789076)

Imagine a company that would take a few hundred bucks worth of regular PC parts, add a slightly modified free open-source OS, package the thing in a white shiny box and sell it for a few thousand bucks... What a scam it would be!

Re:Could never happen with computers... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789318)

The magic is in the firmware, color support ect :)

Re:Could never happen with computers... (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789402)

I like your post but there is a minor error. OS X is not open source. It's derived from NeXT which is a closed-source OS from the 1980s that was ported to the PowerPC platform, and is still closed source today.

Wow. I can't believe I just defended Apple. That's like defending Chrysler's practice of taking a Dodge Stratus, rebadging it a chrysler sebring, and then adding 10,000 to the pricetag. Honda/Acura and Toyota/Lexus do the same deal.

Re:Could never happen with computers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30789518)

Are you referring to Apple by any chance? In that case, I don't really see how you can compare the two, seeing as Apple has spent a great deal of time creating probably the best OS ever, OSX.

Can there be a difference? (1)

RJabelman (550626) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789118)

What puzzles me about Blu-Ray players is whether there can actually be a difference in picture and audio quality between cheap and more costly players. Ignore the analogue output - I appreciate the "better" player can have a better DAC. Also, I appreciate the "better" one could be more responsive in the menu system, load faster etc. But when it comes down to actually playing the movie, surely the player's just reading the data, decoding it according to a specified algorithm and spitting out the decoded version over HDMI?

Re:Can there be a difference? (2, Insightful)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789332)

The fancier players tend to try post-processing the input to make it look "better", in order to validate their price. This made a decent amount of sense with DVD players, where motion compensation, de-interlacing and other things could really make a difference.

In reality, for Blu-Ray, buy a slimline PS3 and call it done, unless you want a player with a specific feature (DVR, Blu-Ray recording, etc.)

Re:Can there be a difference? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789414)

That's a difference in the codec software. I've observed the same with m PS2 which plays DVDs just fine, but doesn't apply any kind of filtering so dark scenes look pixelated. The same DVD on my Sony 5-disc player applies post-processing filters to smooth the pixels and create a near-flawless image.

But it was greatly improved! (2, Funny)

Greger47 (516305) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789120)

The blog got it all wrong! Lexicon if very honest about taking the Oppo player and improving upon it, and boy they did!

It's common knowledge that the audiophile listener derives his pleasure not from the quality of sound reproduction but from the price tag of his equipment.

So an audiophile is getting 7x the pleasure from listening to the Lexicon compared to the Oppo. Beat that if you can!

/greger

Re:But it was greatly improved! (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789212)

There's a lot of customers out there secretly wishing they could FORGET that they have an inexpensive BluRay player, so they could return to their preening. I think of it like a double-blind test; if nobody had busted into the thing, no audiophile would ever have noticed the cheap hardware just by listening.

Re:But it was greatly improved! (1)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789348)

But its got a billet aluminum front face!

An aside: as a machinist, I loathe the term "billet aluminum". Way overused and very incorrect. But hey, some people pay a lot of $$$ for "billet aluminum"

What was it PT Barnum supposedly said about suckers?

Monster Cables (3, Funny)

jamesl (106902) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789244)

I'll bet they forgot to use the Monster Cables.

How many more products like this are there? (3, Interesting)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#30789366)

One of the sites linked to by this story, in turn linked to a glowing review of this Blu-Ray player by another site that praised its superiority [hometheaterreview.com] over the very Oppo unit it is "based" on.

With my interest piqued, I browsed a little more on this site, and found a review for an HD projector that sounded weirdly similar [hometheaterreview.com] in that it appears to be a JVC projector that has been repackaged and rebadged at a higher price, and got a similarly glowing review. Without any real technical scrutiny, of course. I wonder how many more products are out there of a similarly repackaged and fraudulent nature.

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