Home TheatreWell, there're loads of articles, webpages, etc giving advice on how to start a home theatre system, so I don't think I have to reproduce the general conclusions. I'll try and add links to useful home theatre guides.
Anyway, the additions to my hi-fi system are:
Home Theatre Philosphy
I have lower standards for Home Theatre :) As long as it sounds like I'm in a cinema, I'm happy. Whats this about sounding realistic? Loud explosions in space? Soundstage, pace, rhythm don't mean as much as the impact of that next explosion. You could say one gets tired of crash-boom-bangs easily :- you're right, thats why at most I watch on average 1 LD a week.
Initial impressions of AC-3
Though everyone on the net seems to love AC-3 and says that it is wonderful, fantastic etc. But really, all this from 5.1 channels of information stuffed into 1 audio channel? Personally, I would say that AC-3 is very good at what it does... presenting movies. Dialogue is clear, all channels are well separated and theres loads of bass. However, there is a lack of the breathtaking clarity and transparency that one associates with Hi-Fi. In tracks where there is large-scale symphonic music (Twister's 'Stormchaser Medley' for e.g.), the music lacks transparency. I suppose thats where DTS, which is 4x higher sampling rate comes in.
AC-3 vs Pro-Logic
I've been listening to AC-3 vs Pro-logic versions of laserdiscs. AC-3 is via my AQ Video 2 into the EP9ES and Pro-logic is via a cheapo Toslink cable into the EP9ES. Anyway, for movies, AC-3 is clearly the way to go. IMHO, the superiority of AC-3 is not because of discrete rear channels but....
The Subwoofer Channel!
The sound quality of AC-3 vs Dolby Pro-Logic is remarkably similar despite the fact that AC-3 has like 384kb/s (i think?) for 5.1 info whilst pro-logic you get 2 digital channels (thats about 4x more bandwidth). Sure, there's a bit more reverberant space in Pro-logic, but otherwise theres not much difference between AC-3 and Pro-logic. Note:if I were commenting about hi-fi, the increase in 'air' and 'space' would be very significant to me; I just have different standards for movies :) Having said that, I would have to say that I haven't heard that many movies yet with great Pro-logic soundtracks. If the pro-logic soundtrack was very good, I'm sure the discrepancy when switching to AC-3 could be heard. Maybe I can force myself to borrow an AC-3 Evita?
But put on something like Air Force One and the effect of the Subwoofer channel is readily apparent. With the subwoofer effects, it sounds like a movie, without it, it seems like a TV program. Its not a matter of cranking up the volume; the 'gap' left in the low frequencies when switching to pro-logic is huge.
One word: Wait.
If you're really desperate, I can recommend getting the Creative Labs Encore DVD-Rom Drive with Mpeg decoder. Its dirt cheap (considering you get 1 coupon for a free DVD subtract $40), can be used as a CD Rom drive (subtract $80 for not needing to buy a 20x CD Rom drive). Also, it seems that the computer world will settle on DVD standards faster than the audio folk will.
The Encore is not technically multicode, but who cares, always set it to code 1 - US. The regional coding is set during installation, so if you are a computer nut with multiple hard disks and know how to boot from different hard disks, you probably know how to do multiple installs each with different regional setting (but, really, setting it to code 1 will do fine).
Eric's Hi-Fi haven General hi-fi/ht pages by a Singapore enthusiast