Being a member of various discussion groups, I always encounter so many people with false logic. In some cases, it’s clearly due to stubbornness. And that simply can’t be helped. But in all too many cases, the falsities are the result of a lack of available information, or a misunderstanding of facts.
Based on my extensive browsing of various AV forums, here are the three pet peeves I come across time and time again, and the truth, fully explained to put the issues to rest.
1. “I refuse to buy ‘upscaled’ UHD discs. It’s dumb.”
This is the absolute worst misconception about the Ultra High-Definition format. UHD is not only about the pixel count. In fact, that is the least important aspect of UHD, even though it’s marketed as the most important thing.
Yes, too many UHD discs were mastered from a 2K DI, which was then upscaled to 4K resolution. However, they were mastered using professional equipment that costs in the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, which I’m absolutely sure will yield better upscaling than your regular Blu-ray disc. Yes, that includes the Sony X1E engine, which I am absolutely in love with.
Second, buying a Blu-ray, then allowing your 4K display to upscale the content, as many posters seem to want to do, is far from ideal. The 2K DI is usually mastered in the P3 colourspace, with much better compression, 10-bit colour, and 4:4:4 (or at worst, 4:2:2) colour sub-sampling. Upscaling from Blu-ray means you will only get 8-bit colour with all of its “glorious” banding, the REC709 colour space, which is only about 70% of the P3 colour space, and highly compressed video. I have to admit, however, that the colour sub-sampling is still 4:2:0, whether it’s regular Blu-ray or the UHD variety.
Say what you want, but the proof is in the pudding. Playing a UHD disc on a 50″ HDTV screen from about six feet away, even my mother, who does not really care about picture quality, could tell right away that the picture was cleaner and sharper. (Bear in mind that the only benefit in watching a 4K movie on an HDTV is in the clarity of the picture due to a much better compression scheme used by the UHD BD.)
2. “There is such a thing as an ‘acoustically transparent’ screen!”
It doesn’t matter whether the screen uses micro perforations or weave materials; no screen is truly acoustically transparent. The reason is that the screen itself will mostly have to send the projected image back to the viewers’ eyes. Therefore, more of the surface material will be solid. From my experience, especially in the higher frequencies, these screens have a loss of up to 3dB in sound transmission. Re-equalization is an absolute must if you’re using something that happens to be called an “acoustically transparent” screen.
3. “Acoustically transparent” screens do not have significant light loss and/or sharpness/resolution loss.”
Don’t buy into manufacturer claims that the light loss of “acoustically transparent” screens is zero. It’s impossible. The holes and weaves of these screens will create light loss, either by having the light go through the micro perforations and/or scattered around, resulting in less sharpness and resolution when a weaved screen is used. There is no way around it. I’ve done enough theatres to know that a 1.6-gain micro perf screens will have similar reflectivity to a 1.3 gain solid screen. Although I agree that micro weave screens have less light loss than micro perf, I can never seem to get a perfectly sharp picture when the image is viewed from a THX recommended seating position.
In the end, what really matters is that the customer is happy with a product, and when it comes to video, is thoroughly pleased with the picture, no matter what he might believe. But for those who like to actively discuss in online forums, mull over the information above.
Of course, there are many more common, or often discussed, misbeliefs, which I’ll tackle in future columns.