Some users are experiencing an issue after upgrading to iTunes 9 where purchased content from the iTunes Music Store contains static during playback in 5.1 surround sound. The issue does not appear to affect Apple's movie trailers or DVD playback in 5.1 surround sound, though all purchased TV shows and movies from the iTunes Music Store appear to suffer the problem.… Read more
Oppo's new BDP-83 player spins just about every type of "silver" disc under the sun: CD, SACD, DVD-Audio, DVD-Video and Blu-ray. Cool!
I brought a stack of SACDs and DVD-A discs to the CNET listening room to check out the BDP-83 with our Denon AVR-3808CI receiver and Aperion Intimus 4T Hybrid SD 5.1 speaker/subwoofer system. I'll cover the high-resolution audio performance of the Oppo here, read Matthew Moskovciak's full CNET review for the rest of the story.
"The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East," recorded on March 12 and 13, 1971, was a trip. Sure, the original mix was stereo, but I loved the way the SACD's 5.1 mix opened up and clarified the sound, especially the band's two drummers, Jai Johanny Johanson and Butch Trucks. The entire rhythm section's dynamics and pulse came alive on SACD, it's more in the background on CD.
On one hand the 5.1 mix is fairly subtle, but the sound's open quality and spaciousness was remarkable. The sense of being in the 2,000 seat concert hall was a thrill that you can't get with stereo. And no, you can't get there by playing stereo in Dolby Pro Logic II, a discrete 5.1 channel mix, if it's any good, will always sound better.
Led Zeppelin's "How the West Was Won" double DVD-A set was very different. How? The band's dynamic energy was even more present and the front three speakers soundstage depth and dimensionality were better than the Allman Brothers' disc. Too bad the bass was thicker and muddier, which was probably the way it sounded at the 1972 Zep shows. I didn't like the surround mix much, mostly because I couldn't understand why Jimmy Page's guitar was sometimes coming out of the surround speakers. Strange. But it's still the best sounding Zeppelin disc I own.… Read more
yWriter 5 is an unusual but interesting bit of freeware that takes a coder's approach to writing a novel. Simon Haynes, a bestselling novelist and programmer, developed it to help the aspiring author by automating many of the tasks common to fiction writing. It's basically a specialized word processor that breaks down the elements of a writing project into discrete pieces that can be refined individually and then strung together, much the way a coder approaches a large programming job. Chapters, scenes, characters, and plot elements can be defined, developed, edited, and automatically integrated into the project. You … Read more
It's interesting. Tens of millions of homes are equipped with multichannel home theater systems, but multichannel music is a dead issue. Stereo rules the roost, for going on 50 years.
Ten years ago it looked like stereo's days were numbered--the two new multichannel formats, SACD and DVD-Audio, were on track to be the next big things. Funny, it didn't work out that way. I cover the subject in detail in my "Whatever happened to 5.1-channel music?" article that appeared in the July issue of Stereophile magazine.
Obviously, 5.1-channel sound makes sense for movies and home theater, mostly because 5.1 was an outgrowth of theatrical film-sound technologies stretching all the way back to the 1950s.
Every attempt to bring surround music into the home without video has flopped, big time. Are you old enough to remember the rise and fall of quadraphonic in the 1970s? What was needed was a surround format that didn't require music lovers to invest in new playback gear. Surely such a format would prove the viability of music surround...wouldn't it?… Read more
An industry insider recently admitted to me that only 30 percent of AV receiver buyers ever bother to hook up all seven channels to their receivers. That guesstimate seems a little high to me; the standard 5.1 channel setup: Left, center, right speakers upfront, and a pair of surround speakers to the sides of the main listening position can supply a truly immersive sound experience.
Seven-channel home theater adds two more speakers, placed behind the main listening position. That's tough to accomplish in rooms where the couch or chairs are up against the rear wall. There's no "rear" there, so some folks mount the rear speakers up high, or bounce the sound off the ceiling.
Still, the rear surrounds typically contribute little, so it's pretty hard to justify the added expense and hassle of running the extra wires for a marginal sonic improvement. The one exception might apply to very large rooms where the side and rear surround speakers are further apart from each other. The extra coverage may produce a more complete sense of surround envelopment. … Read more
PDF conversion is an essential part of business. A program that quickly and easily does the job is always in demand. Unfortunately, Nitro PDF Professional doesn't live up to these high expectations.
Nitro begins very promisingly. It has a start-up wizard that offers to answer any questions and walk users through the process of converting files to PDF, or vice versa. The program's interface is also fairly simple. It looks a great deal like Adobe's PDF viewer, with similar buttons along the top for key commands and formatting options. The most prominent commands are those that convert … Read more
DownloadStudio is an attractively designed application with a number of thoughtful touches that both intermediate and advanced users will appreciate. Unfortunately, when it came to actually downloading files, we ran into some problems.
DownloadStudio impressed us most with its plentiful tips, Help information, and its plethora of customization options. Novices may still have trouble navigating all the terminology and options, but this isn't really a program designed for the new user.
The program opens by default to a Quick Start view that provides links to frequently used download actions and tools. In this view, actions such as Download File … Read more
Need3Space attempts to combine several different types of space-saving software into one economical download. While this sets the bar high, this program's performance may make other products obsolete.
This program offers a colorful interface with easy-to-distinguish commands. Each button on the left-hand side of the screen performs a different space-saving function for the user. The right side gives a clear glimpse of what function that button is performing. Of the six options, the Analyze Disk Space button seems to be the most intriguing. With one click, users can search through specific folders or their entire hard drive to get … Read more
For as long as there have been home computers, users have been frustrated by certain keys triggering unwanted commands. I Hate This Key aims to make life easier for these people by eliminating these commands.
This program's interface cuts directly to the cause of eliminating unwanted keystroke commands and does so in an intuitive, simple fashion. The entire program consists of five tabs that highlight different problem areas on the keyboard. Within each, users find simple check boxes that arm or disarm certain keys in specific situations.
For example, users can turn the Windows key off completely, or simply … Read more