Lexicon BD-30
January 18, 2010 12:04 PM   Subscribe

The Lexicon BD-30 is a THX-certified Blu-ray player with "Anchor Bay's award-winning Video Reference Series technology" that retails for $3,500. However, reviewers at Audioholics recently discovered that the BD-30 is nothing more than a non-THX-certified $500 Oppo BDP-83, placed in a new exterior, chassis and all, and marked up by $3000. At least one review forum stands by its assessment claiming that the Lexicon is superior to the Oppo. [via]
posted by Prospero (75 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Why not use the Criterion Collection's reference player and chop off a zero?
posted by mullingitover at 12:10 PM on January 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


> At least one review forum stands by its assessment claiming that the Lexicon is superior to the Oppo.

Well, the whole audio/videophile thing is to some unquantifiable extent based on individual subjective belief, so why not?
posted by you just lost the game at 12:13 PM on January 18, 2010


Yeah, but the Oppo is inside an aluminum case provided by Anchor Bay! No doubt it's an oxygen-free aluminum case with special green marks on it, not to mention stripes that make it go faster.

I love the "stands by its assessment" article. It's heavier than the Oppo, so it must be better! Also you can't hear the optical drive as much. I'm envisioning a new market for $3000 aluminum enclosures...
posted by Nelson at 12:14 PM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Haven't we been over this recently? Ultra high-end consumer A/V is, for the most part, snake oil perpetrated on a die-hard niche bent on one-upping each other. I wouldn't be surprised if a significant number of these manufacturers pull stunts like this all the time -- this particular one was a bit sloppy and got called out.
posted by spiderskull at 12:14 PM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Clearly, the reason Audioholics couldn't tell the difference is they weren't using Monster brand HDMI cables.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:17 PM on January 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


LOLVideophiles . . . .

Cambridge Audio is making an equivalent unit for $700 (the 650BD) which is identical in specs except they claim it is unlocked for region (which Oppo says they can't do legally, although there are hacks for Oppo that will do that).

Lexicon, for shame. You were one of the good guys.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:18 PM on January 18, 2010


The funny thing is that if you spend $3500 for a Blu-ray player, you clearly don't care how much it costs. So I really can't get worked up about this.
posted by smackfu at 12:19 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the last link:
First off, there is no comparison between the build quality of the two players. The Oppo is lighter and the buttons have a far less solid feel to them. The Lexicon is a taller, much heftier unit.
That's right; part of their justification for the higher rating is that the Lexicon--something meant to sit on a shelf--weighs more. They do go on to say that the drive on the Oppo is a little noisier, but is there really $3K worth of soundproofing in the Lexicon? Fools and their money.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:21 PM on January 18, 2010


Hey for 3 grand I'll come sit on your blu-ray player to weigh it down and muffle it.
posted by Babblesort at 12:28 PM on January 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hey for 3 grand I'll come sit on your blu-ray player to weigh it down and muffle it.

Indefinitely? 'Cuz after a few hours you may think $3000 wasn't enough. Also, do you look as nice as a brushed aluminum?
posted by kingbenny at 12:31 PM on January 18, 2010


Oh come on! A new chassis will have at least a 10x improvement over green markers! (Oh wait., do I need a blue marker for Blu-Ray?)
posted by phliar at 12:32 PM on January 18, 2010


From that crap last link review, which is really insane (note he's turned off the comments so HE CAN'T HEAR YOU!).

The wildness of Tracy Ullman's hair was resolute, while Johnny Knoxville's pimp-like Ray-Ray character came across bright and bold, as you might expect from such a snappy dresser.

This is the kind of bullshit that gave oenophiles a bad name. Audio/videophiles take it to the next level, huh? For an extra 3 grand, I get resolute crazy hair, not just crazy hair.

Fucking ridiculous. There are differences between things. But not when they are the same things.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:33 PM on January 18, 2010


t least one review forum stands by its assessment

That review is beautiful. It's so pretentious and empty. It one-ups most of the wine reviews I've read, and that's really saying something.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:35 PM on January 18, 2010


We've already agreed what I am sir, now we are just haggling over the price.

Brushed aluminum is extra but pasty white exterior comes included.
posted by Babblesort at 12:35 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are the connectors gold? That's very important.
posted by Artw at 12:38 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't see the problem. My microwave has been a Royal typewriter from 1968 stuck inside a cardboard box for years now, and these breakfast burritos have never tasted better.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 12:40 PM on January 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


He has a $3500 Blu-Ray player, he watches Johnny Knoxville movies on it, and he wants me to trust his subjective judgments?
posted by box at 12:40 PM on January 18, 2010 [33 favorites]


From that last review:

"I had to compare this unit to my reference $21,000 EMM Labs TSD1/DAC2 combo and, as I suspected, the EMM Labs did outdo it"

That's really the crux of the review. In other words "I like very expesive things and won't be told that cheaper things can be as good. They can't be. They cost less money"
posted by ob at 12:41 PM on January 18, 2010


> That review is beautiful. It's so pretentious and empty. It one-ups most of the wine reviews I've read, and that's really saying something:

"For CDs, I went to a favorite new test disc of mine, Puscifier's V is for Vagina (Puscifier Entertainment) and went straight to the last track, "Rev. 22:20 (Dry Martini Mix)."

Noted without further comment.
posted by Stonewall Jackson at 12:42 PM on January 18, 2010


I dated a woman whose dad was an electrical engineering professor and a bit of an audiophile. He said that the most important part of producing audiophile equipment was setting the price points and designing a very heavy, cool looking case.
posted by electroboy at 12:46 PM on January 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


That sounds like trolling to me, that person's insane review. If so, good work sir.
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:49 PM on January 18, 2010


Humanly indistinguishable from a $200 Sony.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:53 PM on January 18, 2010


I've got an old G. Mac, it's metal and weighs a ton. I wonder howmuch I could get for it if I hollowed it out and put a blu-Ray it.
posted by Artw at 12:54 PM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm want to start building my own cases, they are going to be made of Lexan and lead, and weigh about 120 pounds each. I figure when all is said and done I'll be using about $10 in materials. Just for fun, I'll also only sell them once I've confirmed that the shelves that they are using to support it are sufficiently load bearing.

I'm going to suggest that the lead is needed to protect everyone from the radioactive isotopes needed to keep the timing perfect.

And the Lexan is so that I can hide some sickly green LEDs inside to provide just a hint of that radiation glow.

Lots of Hazard logos, a required upfront non-disclosure agreement, and void if opened clause that allows me to sue them for endangering others.

I'll charge $120,000 the base model.
posted by quin at 12:58 PM on January 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'm tired of being poor.
posted by quin at 1:00 PM on January 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


For some reason, I recently ended up with a free subscription to Sound+Vision. I had never before encountered this strange world of high-end audio/videophiles. As I read review after review of $2,000 DVD carousels and $13,000 speakers, I asked myself, "Who on earth is the audience for this?"

Then I got to the back, where the ads for mail-order brides are, and it all started to make sense.
posted by jbickers at 1:00 PM on January 18, 2010 [31 favorites]


There comes a point when you're spending $30,000 on an amp and $21,000 on whatever the fuck a TSD1/DAC2 is and who knows how much on some other ridiculous shit that you've spent more than someone along the line who actually made critical decisions about the sound on the CD you're listening to. Your equipment isn't better, but you've likely spent more. Buy hey, man, this brushed aluminum case is real fuckin sturdy.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:02 PM on January 18, 2010


I asked myself, "Who on earth is the audience for this?"

The same kind of people who get custom sets of various literature classics to match their spiral staircase shelves but never ever ever take them out to even browse them.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:04 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


A new chassis will have at least a 10x improvement over green markers! (Oh wait., do I need a blue marker for Blu-Ray?)

Blue for blu-ray? Nonsense, you troglodyte simpleton. You probably watch a film on your home theater without first giving your eyes a thorough cleaning and degreasing, and it disturbs me that there might be films I've enjoyed that you've ruined with your thoughtlessness.

First, the EM spectrum. We all know ROY G BIV, the spectrum of visible light. But a fuller spectrum is

Radio Microwave IR Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet UV X-ray Gamma

The important thing is this: CDs have infrared lasers, and you need a green marker. That's 1 2 3 4 **FOUR** to the right.

So, as would be obvious to even a toddler of normal intellect, for the proper marker to stabilize and enhance a blu-ray, you'd go four spectrumses to the right. So for a blu-ray, you need an x-ray colored marker, but woe to you you probably can't get that at the wal-mart you usually shop at.

I mean duh.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:05 PM on January 18, 2010 [21 favorites]


I applaud the coining of the term "spectrumses".
posted by mrnutty at 1:09 PM on January 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm going to suggest that the lead is needed to protect everyone from the radioactive isotopes needed to keep the timing perfect.

Remember to use low-activity lead for best results in audio quality.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:12 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


"For CDs, I went to a favorite new test disc of mine, Puscifier's V is for Vagina (Puscifier Entertainment) and went straight to the last track, "Rev. 22:20 (Dry Martini Mix)."

Noted without further comment.


Well to be fair, it is actually a surprisingly good album, and a notable departure for Maynard after we saw what Tool-Lite fluff 'A Perfect Circle' was for the most part. And I can definitely see it being useful to test the fuller range of audio response, altho most of the range is in the lower region for that album.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:13 PM on January 18, 2010


quin: I'm want to start building my own cases, they are going to be made of Lexan and lead, and weigh about 120 pounds each.

While I'm with you in spirit, I feel compelled to note that you'd be out of the European Market.
posted by 7segment at 1:14 PM on January 18, 2010


Sure, but that just puts me into the grey/ black market. And that's where the real money is.
posted by quin at 1:17 PM on January 18, 2010


One does note how much the looks of gear has to do with evaluation in audio/video reviews. And the look changes with generations, just like cars for over-compensating people. It used to be wood, then exposed tubes over mesh wire, then solid black, and now shiny silver brushed aluminum with blue lights, oooooooh. But it has to be big, heavy, and flashy. It has to say "I'm a MAN."

These are, I suspect, guys who have trouble getting laid.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:22 PM on January 18, 2010


The thing is... BluRay is lossy compression. The limit is the format, not the player. You can't get a better picture than what's on the original disk. They've already thrown away a crapton of stuff that they don't think you can see, and an upmarket player can't re-invent it. Once the information has been thrown away, it's gone.

There was some reason to buy upmarket on DVD players, because some of them had bugs in the decompressor that caused weird color-block artifacts. (macroblocking). And many early HDTVs had poor scaler hardware, meaning that playing DVD or SD signals didn't look very good. Scaling a low-res image to high-res is easy to do poorly. Upsampling DVD players, by giving their scalers direct access to the encoded video file, had the best chance of doing a good job, and typically did very well. But in practice, as long as the TV scaler was good, there wasn't much visible difference.

At the moment, BluRay doesn't really have an 'upsampling' problem. Typically, when scaling HD movies, we're going from the native 1920x1080 down to a lower resolution, like 1280x720 or 1366x768. Throwing away information isn't terribly difficult. As long as the decoder is good, and the transport is reliable, you're fine.

On the whole, buying a $3500 BluRay player is the video equivalent of buying an "audiophile" MP3 player. As long as the decoder (and DAC, for an audio player) is/are competent, it's the source material that's your problem.

tl;dr version: you just need something good, and you can get a good player at $300, the PS3. There's essentially no further improvement to be had in the present generation of display devices.
posted by Malor at 1:41 PM on January 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


I find it interesting, too, that the audioholics.com review presents data that seems to suggest getting a THX certification for your equipment requires little more than paying the fee. Just more wood on the audiophile pyre.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:42 PM on January 18, 2010


Brushed aluminum is not a new look for stereo equipment, by any means.
posted by designbot at 1:49 PM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I bet those people buying that aren't even feeding it premium electricity, just the regular, out of the outlet, 87 octane electricity that causes the disc to knock on the drive.
posted by qvantamon at 1:55 PM on January 18, 2010 [13 favorites]


One point that may or may not be missed by some in all this is that the hilarious, spot-on and snarky review of this snake-oil situation comes from audioholics.com, who have more than their share of "This beautiful cool sound is well worth the $3,995 for this amplifier" reviews. Browsing around, there's plenty of cases of them quoting stratospheric prices as acceptable.

The fact that this company was able to get this website to say "Wow, this is really a terrible rip-off" is, in my opinion, the real howler here.
posted by jscott at 2:01 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The thing is... BluRay is lossy compression. The limit is the format, not the player. You can't get a better picture than what's on the original disk. They've already thrown away a crapton of stuff that they don't think you can see, and an upmarket player can't re-invent it. Once the information has been thrown away, it's gone.

Just wait until I release the Xenophobe BD-9000. Each unit contains the trapped soul of a murdered orphan baby, whose powerful yearning and imagination actually conjures that lost information back out of the ether.

Also, anytime you use it, I effectorize you and give you a half-hour orgasm. So that's fun.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:10 PM on January 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


The thing is... BluRay is lossy compression. The limit is the format, not the player.

And on the audio side, the player does literally nothing, except read the bitstream off the disc and send it over HDMI.
posted by smackfu at 2:21 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


How dare you all insult Dr. Ken Taraszka! I mean, the Doctor part is right there, and everyone knows that anesthesiologists make great premium video gear reviewers. Why else would the man put his medical title in such a publication? It's most definitely not because he's a arrogant prick who can't stand criticism.
posted by aerotive at 2:21 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, I just bought a BDP-53. The fact that every review says it reproduces Blu Ray well and DVD very well is a bonus -- but the fact that I'll have one unit that'll deal with Blu Ray, DVD, CD, SACD and DVD-A is the compelling win.

It's the first unit I've seen that does all of that for a reasonable price.
posted by eriko at 2:23 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


From another review on HomeTheaterReview.com. I could practically feel the Viagra rush (this is for a $9000 Marantz reference DVD player):

Even before you touch the unit, its large seven inch wide, six and a half inches high and 16 inches deep chassis screams something special. When you pick up its 42-pound weight, the image of solidity is only further reinforced. There is much about the construction of the UD9004 that sets it apart from other disc players. Start with something as simple as the feet: the lacquered machine-milled solid copper feet were designed not only to provide a stable, non-resonant platform but also to lower the unit's center of gravity to further reduce vibration that could degrade data recovery or performance. A copper plated thick steel bottom plate forms the foundation of the Tri-box design chassis. Looking from the front, the chassis is made of three boxes: the left being the power supply box, the center for the mechanism and digital circuits and the right for analog. Each box is made of copper plated thick steel. Heavy reinforcing bars add rigidity and reduce resonances. A copper shielded power supply derived from the $7,000 SA-7S1 SACD player feeds the audio section with a separate power supply being used for video; both feed from a heavy, custom built transformer.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:26 PM on January 18, 2010


She was screaming before I even touched her!
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:28 PM on January 18, 2010


Hey, these guys DO take their leatherbound classic volumes out of the bookcase. They do it during sessions when they are listening to a CD containing a rare b-side from Barry Manilow's lost PS 87 basement recording sessions while wearing their lined suede smoking jackets, puffing gently on a virginal white meerschaum pipe with laced tobacco from a very exclusive plantation, swirling fifty year old brandy in a snifter that is dusted twenty times as often as it is washed, and smiling gently while gesturing at a female companion who is dressed in a silk robe, little fuzzy slippers with two inch heels and is waiting on a leather sofa patiently and a little bit coyly for him to tire of reading an excerpt from The Illiad so he can come over there for a little smoochy -- and takes her payment in hundred dollar bills, in advance.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:29 PM on January 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


he lacquered machine-milled solid copper feet were designed not only to provide a stable, non-resonant platform but also to lower the unit's center of gravity to further reduce vibration that could degrade data recovery or performance.

Er, that's what oversampling buffers are for, ya nutty fetishist.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:30 PM on January 18, 2010


Are there any screenshots of this thing's on-screen menus? A big part of any gadget is the interface. I'm suspecting that the appearance of and ease of navigation through the on-screen functions of this bloated turd are less attractive and intuitive than $200 Japanese/Korean equipment.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:52 PM on January 18, 2010


I bet those people buying that aren't even feeding it premium electricity, just the regular, out of the outlet, 87 octane electricity that causes the disc to knock on the drive.

Let's not go there.
posted by ryoshu at 2:57 PM on January 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


The same kind of people who get custom sets of various literature classics to match their spiral staircase shelves but never ever ever take them out to even browse them.

From the article:

"I was thrilled to see Lexicon did include a nice quality HDMI cable, power cord, remote, a bound manual..."

Maybe they're not leatherbound classics of Western literature.
posted by electroboy at 3:11 PM on January 18, 2010


According to the review, there are minor differences in the display menus, such as changing the word "Oppo" to "Lexicon."

Worth 5 bucks of the three grand right there.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:19 PM on January 18, 2010


Did they put a professional white background on those menus?
posted by qvantamon at 3:47 PM on January 18, 2010


I want there to be Avant-Garde Audiophilia, in which radical product designs for expensive, effective audio products are reviewed by a narrow but passionate coterie of elites who 1) must give each device an even more enthusiastic review than the last but 2) must not in any way comment on the actual sounds produced by these devices in the course of their reviews. Towards a greater pataphysics of Veblen goods!
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:04 PM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sounds like the review I just read.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:14 PM on January 18, 2010


Clearly, the reason Audioholics couldn't tell the difference is they weren't using Monster brand HDMI cables.

Only know nothing proles use Monster. True videophiles use the Wireworld Platinum Starlight HDMI Cable. It cost $1000 per meter but no doubt worth every penny.
posted by MikeMc at 5:12 PM on January 18, 2010


I bet those people buying that aren't even feeding it premium electricity, just the regular, out of the outlet, 87 octane electricity that causes the disc to knock on the drive.

Let's not go there.


Don't forget to pick up a power conditioner to plug into that outlet
posted by MikeMc at 5:27 PM on January 18, 2010


Power conditioners can be useful, actually. And they shouldn't cost much. A very good Furman can be bought for $100.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:49 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd point out that during the early days of CD players, it was fairly common for manufacturers to take a standard Philips transport (and probably a Burr-Brown DAC) and make modifications for upper end equipment.

Beyond new chassis, you'd go over the entire circuit with a multimeter and make certain everything was within tolerances, substitute parts as needed (and maybe redesign some elements if you thought you had a better idea), and finally some time time with an oscilloscope to make certain your bright idea actually had a measurable effect (and was within your reference parameters).

Give or take- about 50 hours of work per unit plus markup.

And of course, muttering by folks "that's just a $300 Philips CD player".

By no means justifying Lexicon, but tweaking an existing product and private labeling it isn't unheard of (there was a time when Boston Acoustics manufactured 80% of the speakers sold) and really doesn't signify anything.

The question is- is there a demonstrable improvement and is it worth the cost?
posted by quintessencesluglord at 5:56 PM on January 18, 2010


When all forms of prejudice have been eliminated, people will still mock audiophiles.
posted by GuyZero at 6:53 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


When all forms of prejudice have been eliminated, people will still mock audiophiles.

Prejudice won't have been eliminated: the audiophiles will still be able to hear it.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:03 PM on January 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


Ultra high-end consumer A/V is, for the most part, snake oil

But the Lexicon doesn't even have any snake oil in it!

Audioholics believes better capacitors in a power supply are audible (they are measurable) but the Lexicon *is* the Oppo wrapped in a Al box.

--

I have a PS/3 and the Talking Heads Brick and all it can play for multichannel is the Dolby AC-3 version, so it's not the end-all. Someday, I'll get an Oppo and set up all my speakers and hear the "Harrison supervised" mix.
posted by morganw at 8:01 PM on January 18, 2010


(there was a time when Boston Acoustics manufactured 80% of the speakers sold)

Yeah, way back when, during the week of four tuesdays.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 8:01 PM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


My favorite audiophile nonsense is the magic wood blocks. Though a salesman's insistence to my friend that optical digital interconnects were worse-sounding than copper ones because the optical ones would "bruise the bits" is still way up there.
posted by hattifattener at 8:34 PM on January 18, 2010


When all forms of prejudice have been eliminated, people will still mock audiophiles Furries.

FTFY.
posted by MikeMc at 9:14 PM on January 18, 2010


When I was in high school in the early 70's, my aunt gave us a wire recorder that they were throwing out at her workplace. That's the coolest piece of audio equipment evar!! The chassis was made entirely out of heavy copper u-shaped rails, and it was filled with tubes and umm, more copper.

I had to add an rca jack to be able to plug a source into it, but it worked really well. The wire ran at two feet per second, and it actually sounded pretty good (mono). But it weighed about 80 lbs.
posted by sneebler at 9:22 PM on January 18, 2010


Rats. I meant to link to this wikipedia article.
posted by sneebler at 9:23 PM on January 18, 2010


As long as the decoder (and DAC, for an audio player) is/are competent, it's the source material that's your problem.

This is single handedly the worst glossing over a technical aspect of video decoding that I've ever seen.

Decoders and DACs aren't competent in cheap shit players. Engineers make mistakes implementing the spec, don't support specific parts of the spec, trade off speed for accuracy. All of these come together when you're trying to decode video.

If all things digital were equal we wouldn't have to worry about things like the performance of deinterlacers, scalers and other such rigmarole in the DVD generation because it would have been done right in the first place.

While this may not be a problem now with the number of vendors making Blu-Ray hardware still minimal as we race towards the bottom expect the subjective quality of most cheap players to start declining.
posted by Talez at 9:31 PM on January 18, 2010


Yeah, way back when, during the week of four tuesdays.
posted by Monday, stony Monday


Wickedly eponysterical.

Lexicon didn't "tweak" anything. The review is very clear that this is just the Oppo unit in a Lexicon box, down to every last component. Specs are exactly the same. This is very bad for their reputation, because at one point they were a serious high end studio gear company that made one of the first good digital delays, for example. Now, as someone who occasionally buys high end and studio grade audio, you can bet I'll look really hard at any Lexicon gear and doubt it's worth the price. Any of it. Fool me once and all that.

Somewhere in one of the reviews there is a remark that the standardization of HDMI has revealed a lot of bullshit claims by manufacturers about their gear. Now that everything is getting patched together by digital cable, a lot of the old mysteries of subjective preference are revealed as bogus.

The funny thing is most people are watching mostly low-res video these days, most of the time (online). And are perfectly happy with it, apparently.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:00 AM on January 19, 2010


Reminds me of the Telefunken M16 vs. Apex 460 tube microphone controversy a few years ago: $1,399 for one, $229 for the other, differences 0.
posted by Paid In Full at 7:45 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


morganw: I have a PS/3 and the Talking Heads Brick and all it can play for multichannel is the Dolby AC-3 version, so it's not the end-all. Someday, I'll get an Oppo and set up all my speakers and hear the "Harrison supervised" mix.

The most recent version of PS3 added a new sound decode capability internally; if you have the last generation, that's likely what the problem is. If you do indeed have a last-gen PS3, I think, though I'm not certain, that it can still pass that bitstream through to an external decoder. If you have a reasonably recent receiver, you might try that instead. It's in the setup menus somewhere; you can choose to decode audio and pass it as analog or over HDMI, or just send the original encoded bits to the receiver for it to decode instead. If you have trouble finding that, drop me a MeMail and I'll look for what it's called.

Talez: This is single handedly the worst glossing over a technical aspect of video decoding that I've ever seen.

Decoders and DACs aren't competent in cheap shit players.


That's why I carefully said that you need something "good", and pointed at a specific inexpensive player (the PS3) that fits that definition.

I'm not aware that anyone has found any significant bugs in the PS3 decoding routines, so unless some are found, you shouldn't spend more than that unless you know exactly why you're spending it. That Oppo's ability to handle all those different formats would be a good reason, for example. Just a general handwavy assumption that a $1,000 player must be better than the $300 PS3, simply because it costs more than three times as much, is not a wise purchasing decision.

Yes, there were plenty of crap DVD players, but again, once you got to 'good', there was very little difference thereafter, no matter how much you spent on it. You might get better DACs, but most folks use their receiver DACs anyway, so the quality of DAC in the DVD player is usually irrelevant. And if you're running your analog outs from the DVD to the analog ins of your receiver, many receivers convert back to digital, do signal processing, and then reconvert to analog. In those cases, it'll never be better than your receiver DACs, period.... all the extra money you spent on the DVD is worth precisely bupkis.

In the DVD generation, video decoding was still a hard problem, and many players were very poor. But don't extrapolate from that to BluRay, because video decoding is far better-understood now than it was. It's a much easier problem nowadays. It's dealing with more bits, but the overall process is very similar.
posted by Malor at 10:29 AM on January 19, 2010


fourcheesemac: Now, as someone who occasionally buys high end and studio grade audio, you can bet I'll look really hard at any Lexicon gear and doubt it's worth the price. Any of it. Fool me once and all that.

One thing you might want to take into account is that, like JBL, dbx and Soundcraft, Lexicon is a Harman brand; the Pro and Consumer may not have much to do with each other: in this instance, Lexicon Pro is located in Utah and still makes respected pro gear, while Lexicon Consumer is located in Indiana and is a bit of a joke.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 4:17 PM on January 19, 2010


(Indeed: dbx, Lexicon Pro and DigiTech share the same address in Utah, while Mark Levinson and Lexicon Consumer are at the same place in Indiana)
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 4:27 PM on January 19, 2010


Halloween Jack wrote: "That's right; part of their justification for the higher rating is that the Lexicon--something meant to sit on a shelf--weighs more. They do go on to say that the drive on the Oppo is a little noisier, but is there really $3K worth of soundproofing in the Lexicon? Fools and their money."

Generally, things that weigh more are better when it comes to heat dissipation and other things that subtly affect quality. At least when the extra weight is in heat sinks and the like and not the case.
posted by wierdo at 9:56 PM on January 19, 2010


smackfu wrote: "And on the audio side, the player does literally nothing, except read the bitstream off the disc and send it over HDMI."

Geez I need to read the whole thread before making my first post, but no. A Blu-Ray player has a built-in mixer that can do things like play the commentary track over the regular audio with its volume reduced. Some people choose to throw that capability away by bitstreaming the lossless codecs over HDMI instead of having the Blu-Ray player decode them and pass them uncompressed to the AVR, but a person who actually wants to adhere to the spec doesn't do that. (Even if bitstreaming does make for pretty lights on your AVR)

Also, they have to do things like downconvert 6-8 channel PCM to 2 channel for folks without HDMI or pull the core DTS track out of the lossless track, again for people who only have SPDIF on their AVR.

MikeMc wrote: "Only know nothing proles use Monster. True videophiles use the Wireworld Platinum Starlight HDMI Cable. It cost $1000 per meter but no doubt worth every penny."

You snark, but there is a difference between HDMI cables. Not that it shows up on anything but either exceptionally bad cables or exceptionally long runs. Interestingly, Monster cables are better than most, but not in proportion to the price. (My Monoprice cables are 90% as good and 100% of what I need, but I don't have any 200 foot HDMI runs, either)


Malor wrote: "The most recent version of PS3 added a new sound decode capability internally"

Actually, the old version (and new version) decodes all the audio formats internally, or can be set to do so. The old ones will also bitstream AC3 and DTS, but not the new DD+, TrueHD, DTS HD, or DTS HD-MA formats. Only the new ones will bitstream the post-DVD codecs to your receiver. This, of course, only applies to HDMI audio output. Optical can't carry more than 1.5Mbps, so can't do any of the newer formats nor more than 2 channel PCM.

Sadly, any but the launch models won't do SACD and none do DVD Audio.
posted by wierdo at 10:22 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


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