Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Won't get fooled Again! - PC/Mac Lossless Sound over HDMI

Yes, we consumers are getting screwed again. Most people don't have an inkling, and that's partially why it continues. The same big companies that want to sell you that "Media Center PC" computer, that HD DVD or Blu Ray friendly playback software, that HDMI video card, or HDMI equipped motherboard, and most of all that HD content on Blu Ray or HD DVD are the same ones who are crippling the quality you can get from it.

Is Collusion the word? No.
Is a built-in lack of future capabilities the game? Er, maybe...
Make sure we have to upgrade again next year for the latest and greatest? Duh, makes sense...

HD audio, which maybe you don't care about, is the issue. But, why not care? Because you are told not to care? Because people say that only Dogs can really hear the difference? Will you believe 16 bit is as good as 24 bit five years from now? It's funny how the overall perception of quality changes. Every year we to get the promise that we can use a computer as a full fledged media center with all of the capabilities of stand-alone players. Every year it is a lie. Whose fault is it? Microsoft? Sony? The Hollywood establishment? The software developers? Hardware Audio/Video card manufacturers? The HD format war? They all get the blame to some extent, but overall, in my opinion, the blame must go to the "SEP"* principle. It's SEP - "Somebody Else's Problem".

They promise us a breathtaking new version of a multidimensional audio/video universe every year at the Consumer Electronics (CES) show in Vegas while, in the end, they feed us weensy little incremental upgrades to our "Lifestyles" throughout the year. Gee, I wonder what the promise is this year? Whole house Audio/Video over wireless connections? Media Extenders? Yeah, that's the ticket... Just ignore anyone who mentions lossless audio to go along with their pristine 1080p video. In fact, why don't they make sure to push the 1080p thing again like last year, but leave that part out for any wireless, media extension or whole home solutions. For that, 1080p is for some strange reason not so important. OK, this is a big digression, but c'mon - all we are talking about is HD audio formats from a PC to a Home Theater system. If the PCI bus is insecure, put it on the motherboard. Figure it out. Instead of going Medieval on the Big Media Server companies take that energy and money and invest it to develop the hardware/software to make things right for the customer. Remember us?
As far as all your favorite tech and media companies are concerned, it's all "SEP". Somebody Else's Problem. Don't you wish you could get away with that? I know I do.

*For more about "SEP":
Somebody Else's Problem field


  1. Anonymous12:31 PM

    I have a Mac Mini as my media center with eyeTV. I am running an optical audio cable from the Mac Mini to an Emotiva LMC-1 professional 7.1 AV preamplifier/processor. For video I run a DVI to HDMI cable from the Mac Mini to the 47 in LCD display. The speakers have all been calibrated with a decibel meter to work together. I am thinking of down loading HD and BlueRay movies to the computer from Netflix thereby bypassing the need for a HD DVD player but haven't tried this yet. The sound is great. Am I missing something?

  2. You are missing two things:
    Lossless Audio formats and a real transport!
    Just kidding about the transport...
    Sounds like the setup you have should sound fantastic for the formats it supports. And even with those true lossless formats, well, the difference may be very hard to hear. Still, some of us WANT them. They are THERE, so I WANT them.
    You need HDMI or Multichannel cables for Lossless audio - Toslink or Coax connections are not supported. You also need a source with hardware (and if a computer: software as well) that supports the format and a Receiver or Pre/Pro that supports the formats.
    My advice: Forget you ever heard about it and enjoy what you got - it's a very nice setup (depending on the speakers - don't say Bose or Klipsch, please).


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