MIO is a real PITA

I live in a valley and I have longed for good TV reception for the longest time. I have also been a Singtel customer ever since I have my cellphone. So getting broadband from them was a natural progression. Yet when I found out when MIO cable TV first came out, that my home was not covered, it was a real disappointment. Then recently I checked again and they now said my area was covered. So I happily rushed into the nearest Singtel Shop to get signed up. That’s when my ordeal began…

So I made an appointment for a 9am installation. The chap comes at about 10am, which is fine, since he has a window of 2 hours. But that morning, my internet had been cut and I was left in the wilderness… then he tried all ways of connecting, but I had suspected that when they cut my connection in anticipation of the installation, those chaps forgot about activating the new line! So true enough, the man tried all ways of trouble shooting, blaming the older filters, bad phone lines – which was crazy since I could still make calls clearly and he kept using my phone line!

Anyway, after 2 hours of all kinds of testing, he asked for help and a chap at the other end of the line (Sam) tells me what I already suspected. A major FUBAR and he tells me that my line is not up and won’t be until 5pm and tells me to wait til then and do the rest myself!

Of course I tell him nuts and insist his man comes back. So the man comes back or rather leaves my place for a while and then get this, he calls me to tell me that Mio TV is not enabled in my place and won’t be for a week or more! Of course this really gets me riled and it is hard for me to show my OPC (other person centredness) but I keep cool enough to ask the man to help me get a firm date.

Eventually, at 6pm, the installer (Zaki) gives me the all clear and apparently gets both internet and Mio TV working. Nuts man…

If Singtel only cares about selling and not the after sales service, they should get tarred and feathered!

Well at least the TV looks pretty clear now… first time in a long time…. My mum is happy, and at the end of the day, if it makes her smile, all is still well…

Amen.


PS:
First encounters with the MIO TV:


- PQ is in 1080i and you can't make pearls out of pig's ears.... so even HD 5 is ok but not great.

- you get 15 free movies - mostly oldies, but its like a DVD, you can fast forward, pause etc, thats convenient...

- sound quality is ok, but not fabulous, somehow its not as good as a DVD, its quite alright, but I simply use the speakers on my Kuro.

- nagivating the menus is not that hard, and when you go to the HDMI on your TV, the device comes on - nice

- you can get teletext on it - good for my dad

- right now I am using trunking, but I might give my Ruckus a try tomorrow and see...

- not a bad thing considering I am getting the 46$ / month Mio Home package with 6 mps and there is no dropped signal, better TV reception - the main thing



So apart from the messy installation, its going well :)

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightening Thief (DTS-HD MA) - disc review

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightening Thief (DTS-HD MA) – Tier 1

 

Imitation is one of the most sincere forms of flattery and here, movies like Clash of the Titans, Harry Potter and even High School Musical must be rather flattered for this adaption of a series of stories borrows from all of the above and more.

 

However, let me ask the obvious, why in Zeus’ name do we find Greek, yes, Greek gods in the middle of US of A??? The male and female leads, plus the obligatory sidekick all could be models for some teen magazine and I assume their roles is to distract from the many loopholes in a paper thin storyline, which relies on stars which all look like gods and goddesses, have nice blue eyes and megawatt smiles. Throw in a plot of thievery, conspiracy and add the old story of demi-gods which arose from the amorous ways of the gods, and you have this movie. It might keep your children entertained with plenty of good looking characters, and they might be willing to look past the failings in the plot but action aficionados will need to wait patiently between plenty of inane acting before the rather stingy doses of action kick in.

 

Plot- 2.5/5

 

As for the surround effects, this is a modern 2010 modern and yet, the surround integration is not as impressive as a good movie made this year should be. Sure the LFE is turned up in moments where there is some action, and of course the lightning bolts come with substantial heft in the bass, but there is not a lot of use of the surrounds to heighten the tension, and the LFE comes in a artificial manner which does not gel well into moments of dialogue. Speech is still made out quite easily, but it won’t go down as a match for Legion, Toy Story, or many of the other top hits on Blu Ray this year.

 

SQ – 3/5

 

PQ- here is one bit which helps to redeem the movie, and the colors are well rendered, and in particular the Camp Half-Blood scenes are well done, and very natural.

 

Should you buy, rent or avoid? I think if you have kids or need something for a slow weekend afternoon, you could consider renting this and I would suggest doing so before even thinking about buying it….

Despicable Me - a movie review

 

Pixar has ruled the roost when it comes to animation, and other companies have tried but few come close to challenging them for movies which have excellent graphics, but even more important, an excellent and touching story mixed with humour and excitement.

 

Despicable Me (DM) borrows heavily from several previous efforts in the reel world and animation, but what makes it stand out is how these fundamental elements blend well together in a story which manages to make you laugh, and also tug at your heart strings too.

 

The protagonist looks a little like a fatter Anton from the Ratatouille show, and he is a villain who deep inside has a sorry childhood and just wants to impress his mother, and he meets 3 of the most adorable kids who turn him from competing to outdo Vector, the new kid on the evil block to a man who has a past and a heart.

 

His efforts are assisted by an evil scientist, who acts as his surrogate father, and scores of the funniest assistants called Minions, who look like little bananas and watch out for the light stick scene – which had the entire cinema in stitches.

 

How can you not love the kids with their eyes which cry out to you, to read them a bedtime story and then not laugh at the slapstick antics of the Minions, who are totally and unquestionable devoted to the protagonist.

 

Add plenty of non-stop action, gadgets, and many recognisable caricatures of stereotypes, and you have a movie you will watch once, cry and then watch again, laugh and again to both cry, laugh and share the many scenes again with friends.

 

A good effort, and I am confident this one will challenge the domination of Pixar in the animation Oscars.

 

Plot: 4.5 /5

Action: 4/5

 

Highly recommended as a keeper with good surround use and plenty of bass.

 

 

Ip Man 2 - Movie review‏

The trouble with sequels are that they need to live up to the original movie at least, otherwise it is seen as an effort to capitalise on the success of the first movie and milk some money.




Unfortunately Hong Kong knows when it sees a money train and glady hops on for the sequel and many more adaptions of it. See the proliferation of vampire movies in the 80s and now we see at least 3 Ip Man movies.



So now we have seen Ip Man defeat the Japs and move onto Hong Kong where the challenge comes from corrupt "Guai Lo" cops and the obligatory White Man beefcake who belittles Kungfu challenges Ip Man.



Well no one is too unhappy with the simple, tried and test plot, but no one is going to give anyone in this show a Golden Horse either.



Lets hope Donny Yen sticks to his word and stops here.... I cannot imagine who else Ip Man will challenge to milk more from this franchise..



Plot: 2.5/5



Now what we really want are fight scenes and I must say, its still a little disappointing. Now we have the big match up between Samo Hung and Donnie Yen, but there is far too much wire work, and Samo is a littel past his best, so we don't see the athleticism we saw in his 80s movies with Jackie Chan.



Back then you would gasp at how a fatty like him could move so agilely and fast.



The supporting actors like Shawn Yue don't know Kung Fu and the boxing match with the great 'Twister' is a lot of pushing and shoving, and since kicking was kept to a minimum, we don't see Donnie Yen in full flight either.



So that leaves us with a less than full on experience, unlike Donnie's recent offerings.



However the audio is well done, and you feel the punches and it keeps your subwoofer happy although sometimes you feel the LFE is turned up only at the point of punches and does not lend itself to the ambience.



Action: 3.5/5



Chick factor is at a minimum and honestly it would have been inappropriate in such a movie anyway.



So should you rent, or buy it? Well I think it is worth a watch, especially if you have already watched the first one, but I would say try before you buy this one.





I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

Legion - movie review


There have been a few comic book based movies, which deal with the occult, and have a religious theme, Constantine comes to mind, but despite a promising idea, this movie is best remember for its references worthy sound than the plot.

So Michael who has appeared in his own movie with the same title (Michael starring John Travolta), now comes to Earth in a style akin to Terminator, in a bid to save mankind’s last hope from another apocalypse, and everything happens in a little diner in the middle of the Arizona desert.

Dennis Quaid, Paul Bettany and others try their best to save this movie from itself, but there is simply not enough meat in the story for these stalwarts to sink their teeth into. Paul Bettany buffs up for this role and he has had previous experience doing this in the Da Vinci Code, as a monk assasin.

Plot: 2/5

The plot may be wafer thin, but forget that and concentrate on the audio.

The action comes in spades, and the sound engineers in this movie were definitely paid more than the script writers. The surround effects, the LFE are awesome and you will be caught with your jaw agape, and will want to watch those action sequences over and over again.

Action: 5/5

This disc comes with a  DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack is perfect, yes, you heard me, perfect...

Chick factor: there is some eye candy, but the action is what you came for and it delivers despite a short run time of just over an hour and a half. 3/5

So will you forgive the plot and buy this for the action? I would suggest action aficionados get this to keep or at least rent it to experience one of the best surround and demo worthy discs of 2010.

Blu Ray Shootout test Audio

This shootout was done on 22nd January, in a domestic premise with the aid of a few hobbyists, some newbies and a classically trained piano female teacher who has no audiophile aspirations.

Aim:

We wish to find out:


A Can we discern lossless vs lossy;

B Can we discern LPCM vs bistream;

C Can we discern using DAC (analogue) vs HDMI?

D  Compare the difference in analogue performance between the players

Introduction




The enjoyment of hi fidelity music as well as home theatre can be a rather subjective affair, with some favoring one brand over another with such fervor that their enthusiasm borders on the zealous.



I have been pondering the question of whether it all matters, lossless (in the form of bitstream signals or LCPM) and lossy and where the decoding is done since I joined Hi Def. most of the replies on the net are opinion based, with statements like “the signal is digital, therefore there is no difference!”. But such statements were seldom backed with real world tests and comparisons. No A/B test themselves to prove their claim.





Oppo has been in the news and owners have been also feverish in their belief that it can do no wrong. Owners have also made claims as to the audio quality of CD playback and how it can rival players which cost much more.

And some of us are also sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone to tell them if lossy sound is really much worse than lossless.

We also have the usual Tru-HD versus DTS-MA debates and since not many discs exist which both tracks, this again has been poorly tested before.

This is where our review or shootout comes in. There are relatively few such sessions where people are willing to travel miles and bring their favorite player along, and try it out against other players. Some forums where threads on certain brands exist, seem to feel their player can do no wrong and yet refuse a head to head objective session with other players with opinions garnered from a wider audience.

We believe this is one of the first to gather a series of current generation Blu Ray players in a single session to be assessed with a well defined methodology.
 
Methods


Our associated test equipment was:



2 amps were used:



Denon AVT 4810 with Denon Link 4, and HDMI switching.



Marantz SR 12 Reference series AV amplifier, well reviewed for its musical qualities.

B/W 805, HTM4 based system, using QED XT 300 cables and anti-cables.

Audioquest Columbia interconnects

Monoprice HDMI cables.

IEGO and other power cables.

A Radioshack analogue SPL meter was used to ensure the same volume was maintained even after switching players. 80 db was used as a standard.
 
Test players:




Oppo BD 83 (standard)



Oppo BD 83 (SE)





Denon DVD-4010



CD players:



MZH 88D tube CDP



Marantz SACD 8003 (modified version)



Just some information on the 2 cd players:



The MHZS 88D tube CD player:



MHZS CD 88 uses two 12AX7s for signal processing, a 6Z4 and WY2 tube for rectification. Along with the CD 33, and the CD 66, the MHZS uses its own chip design, which allows for filtering, conversion and upsampling in one single chip. This greatly contributes to the unmistakable sound of this

CD player. The special low pass filter contributes to the pure and natural tonal quality that breathes new life into every CD. Selecting the upsampling frequencies on these players allows you to change the

characteristics of the digital filter resulting in different sound presentation each frequency (44.1 kHz, 88.1 kHz and 174.1 kHz) The fully balanced design with high-quality XLR-type connections takes maximum

advantage of the MHZS’s impressive audio capabilities.



Ultra-Quiet Power Supply



Like other MHZS products the CD-88 boasts an exceptionally quiet power supply. The oversize torodial core transformer contributes to the silent background, allowing musical details to emerge with

realistic nuances intact. Other features include a quality detachable IEC power cord and replaceable rear panel fuse. The gorgeous brushed aluminum front panel is available in black or silver and includes a well laid out complement of controls plus indicator lights, fluorescent display and unique blue light and window over the vacuum tubes.



http://www.lampizator.eu/LAMPIZATOR/REFERE...MHZS_CD66F.html





Solid Transport



The MHZS CD 88, like the CD 66 is a top loading unique with a SONY transport and Phillips controller of exceptional quality aimed at rotating your CD with minimal error correction. The reduced error correction allows for a more life-like presentation of details especially in the lower registers.



The Marantz SA 8003 was modified with:

Changed/Upgrade and Added Critical Capacitors and Diodes. A total of more than 50 components.
Installed dedicated customed wound transformer for the analog output stage.
Output RCA connectors changed to DHLabs Copper RCA. With Burson Audio Clock.

We used a single input on the Denon 4810 amp for the analogue tests, and HDMI cables for the digital test. We also used the Denon Link for the 4010.

The audience consisted of a couple of new listeners, a piano teacher (lady) and some members who have been involved in previous sessions and have been hobbyist for more than 10 years.


Results:


In Digital audio



The Denon Link :



This is taken off the Denon website as to what the link does:



http://www.denon.com/glossary/2009/02/denon-link-4th.html



We have succeeded in using DENON LINK (a digital interface) as a dedicated clock signal transmission line to transmit high-grade digital signals in high speed and with negligible influence from external noise. Previously, the purpose of DENON LINK was to transmit the digital audio signals themselves, but the purpose of DENON LINK 4th is to control the clock.



DENON LINK 4th uses the master clock in the A/V surround receiver as the reference for controlling the video circuitry and the disc drive in the player, and the digital video and audio signals from Blu-ray disc are transmitted to the A/V surround receiver via an HDMI cable. This is how our DENON LINK 4th works.



DENON LINK 4th is able to transmit digital audio signals with negligible jitter because it has audio devices share the same clock. In addition, DENON LINK 4th has achieved a world first by suppressing jitter to an absolute minimum even for the playback of Blu-ray discs that include video signals.



Jitter suppression brings exceptional results to three-dimensional playback in such areas as sound localization, sound spaces and sound images. The sound space of a concert hall, for instance, is reproduced so clearly that it feels as though the artists are performing in very close proximity to the listener.



So does it work?

It was quite obvious to the audience that the Link played a role and it was better with the Link than without.



For this segment, we played the start to the Blu Ray Disc Transformers, concentrating on the narrative voice right up to the appearance of the Transformers logo.

The narrator is Peter Cullen who has a clear, deep voice which has a rich tone. There is a music sequence too and we listened for the clarity of this and how clear the voice was in the midst of all the soundtrack.



The Link gave the Denon 4010 a clear advantage and it emerged top of the pile for audio via HDMI.

So for digital signals to the Denon amp, the order of merit was (from best to worst):

Denon 4010 with the Link

Denon 4010 without the Link

Oppo SE

Oppo Regular

Feeding a bitstream signal to the Denon amp, there was definitely a difference between the players, but between the 2 Oppos, the difference was not much. The power supply has been modified in the Oppo SE, but the improvements were clearly not in the HDMI section.

Even with revealing speakers, the differences are subtle.

Analogue Audio Test




This is where the test got interesting.



We used vocals to test this.



In addition we also used:

Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2; Paganini Rhapsody played by Lang Lang. this track is challenging and we wanted our piano expert to judge how well the system could suspend belief and make you feel that there was a real piano in front of the listener.



The Denon was set to Pure Direct, switching off all circuits and acting as a stereo amp. Both Oppo and Denon players were also set to pure direct.



The differences between the Oppo and the SE version were quite dramatic. Many people listen to a player in isolation and if you never compare the players, the difference would not be clear. But when you listen to the players and do a direct comparison, there is a big gulf. The regular version was clearly far behind the rest.

Using the standard Oppo as a base, you could get by with it, but in comparison to the rest, the presentation was mechanical, a little more stringent, splashy and the bass was less tight. The extension was also lacking and less defined. There was not the same emotion that the better models here could show.

The Denon 4010 was alright for stereo. But in using the Denon Link with HDMI, the Denon play a piano piece poorly, it sounded quite artificial and lacked the soundstage and involvement that the better players could do.

So now on to the SACD 8003, Oppo SE and the Chinese made tube CD player.



Between the SACD player and the Oppo SE, the Oppo offered slighty more detail. The difference is more subtle, the Marantz retains its basic sonic trait of warmth, but has loads of detail and is significantly better than the Oppo regular, but loses some detail to the SE, although it was not day and night. The Oppo SE has a coherent presentation without any emphasis on any part of the sonic spectrum.

How the MHZS tube CD player then?


It was unanimous that it was the best sound player that you could play for hours. It seemed a little less detailed actually than the Oppo SE, but the entire sonic presentation was great and less fatiguing whilst allowing yourself to immerse in the music, without sacrificing detail. In comparison, the Oppo SE was more jarring, and difficult to listen for long. The treble was more splashy, had less air and more stringent.



All the differences were clear to our new members as well as the pianist, without any prompting. She clearly preferred the MHZS, and a pretty even fight between the Oppo SE and Marantz, with the Marantz losing out just a tad.

The regular Oppo was clearly the least preferred of the lot.

We also tried the Oppo SE and Marantz SA 8003 on a Marantz SR 12, Reference series amp, and again with a more musical amp the difference was more subtle, and difficult to separate.

BITSTREAM VS LPCM VS LOSSY




Using the Oppo SE as a BR player, we alternated between LPCM, DTS-MA and Dolby Digital (lossy).

The conclusion? There was clearly a difference between decoding done by the player and the amp.

Apart from one reviewer, everyone else heard a difference and preferred the decoding to be done by the amplifier rather than the player. We repeated this a few times and the difference was not hard to hear.



So there IS a difference between LCPM and bitstream. We will discuss the reason later.

As for Lossless versus lossy, most also heard the difference, although I personally felt the difference was not a lot




I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

Oppo BDP 83 review - Nuforce Edition Blu Ray player (Region Free Modified Version)


Introduction

Oppo has been doing things little different, giving joy to many audiophiles And Videophile alike with their offerings. They have been a leader in bringing high quality technology to the masses at a price which has been surprisingly competitive.

The new Oppo BD 83 has set the home theatre world alight with a performance for video and in audio that has been well reviewed worldwide.

Differences

The key feature of the Oppo players has been giant slaying performance with a highly competitive price. However Oppo machines are not for everyone. Simply put, if all you desire is a machine which can play BR discs, and you don’t have a big projector setup, then many of the Sony, Philips and other brand offerings are much cheaper and give better value.



What the Oppo BDP 83 does, is that it is an all-in-one machine which can play music well, in all its various formats, even SACD, and has a very impressive ABT video chip which allows you to upscale those SD DVDs to almost as good as they can be, and at the end of the day, you still get a very responsive BR player.

However all this comes at a cost, and you will be looking at about USD 499 or just under 1k SING for a modified machine which plays all regions of BR and all codes of DVDs.

However, what if the standard BDP 83 isn’t good enough for your music system?

The MOD Squad:

The basic Oppo BDP 83 has some fine components, with a ABT video chip for upscaling, and a good analogue section.

There are a plethora of modifications out there, some done by small outfits, adding better clock chips, toroidal transformers etc and Oppo itself offers the SE version and of course Nuforce.

To understand what is in the Nuforce, you must first understand that it is based on the Oppo SE version, and Nuforce worked in tandem officially to use the Special Edition as a base to build upon.

The SE:

upgraded audio section:
  • a better power supply
    • The original BDP-83 has a single +14V rail that is shared by the analog audio section (+/-14V) and the BD loader (regulated to +12V). The SE now has a separate +12V rail for the BD loader, isolated from the dedicated +/-14V rail powering the analog audio section. The SE audio board also has additional linear regulators to further smooth out the power and to provide enough local reserve current for better bass, according to Oppo.
  • RS-232 support
  • upgraded DACs (ESS Technology ES9016 4 DACs per channel vs. Cirrus Logic CS4398 1 DAC per channel) and increased frequency response (up to 44kHz at +/-0.2dB)
  • dedicated stereo output uses another 8-channel Sabre32 Ultra (ES9016) DAC chip by stacking 4 DACs for each of the Left and Right channels to achieve even greater audio performance
This is a pretty serious upgrade and many have found the SE version to be worth the $500 or so outlay. We did a shootout, and we found a significant different between the standard 83 and the SE version, which had detail, clarity and yet remained smooth.

But for those looking for a little more, Nuforce has more tricks up their sleeve:

  • Replacing critical analog components with the high-grade equivalents NuForce uses in its high-end audio components
  • Superior high-speed power regulation on both DACs and all analog power rails.  Improved power supply regulation also applies to the 7.1 channels
  • High-performance parts and related circuits/component values replacing the stereo channels’ monolithic devices.
  • Bypass the Stereo and 7.1 channels’ output muting circuits.  The SE’s relays are better than the standard BDP-83’s muting transistors. Nevertheless, imposing as little as possible along critical signal paths is clearly preferable.


Features

The Oppo BDP 83 standard comes well specced, with a good DAC, Cirrus Logic CS4361, and the Mediatek System on a Chip (SOC) solution for audio and video, and a VRS chip from ABT for upscaling and processing. It also does DVD-A, SACD and can process lossless Tru-HD, DTS-MA or bitstream the signal. There are also 7.1 outputs, and dedicated stereo RCA jacks. Quality is good, all sockets are gold-plated and the player does have most of the heft of the BD 83, and the metal faceplate is a nice touch.

 The remote is backlit, the buttons are reaonsably responsive. At least the control pad on the front of the player offers you another option for disc menu navigation. The 2 usb ports are a nice benefit and enable you to play music or update the firmware, and this is very easy, as the player detects the presence of the USB drive if you place the update within a folder called “UPG”.

To ensure your system is properly calibrated, Oppo thoughtfully includes a couple of very useful Blu-ray discs. The first is the Spears & Muncil HD Benchmark Disc, which is perhaps the best disc available for calibrating your HD display. The second tool is the AIX Blu-Ray Sampler, which include not only HD Video of various performances, but HD Audio as well, to ensure proper musical performance.

Interface and usability

In the old days, the PS 3 was the fastest player around but the Oppo BD 83 and now the 80 have shown that you can make a fast player that is not a superlarge computer. The player comes to life within seconds but you cannot activate play without turning on the machine.

The menu is simple and easy to understand. There is a speaker adjustment area, and the option to go source direct if you are using this mainly as a digital BR transport, but this is not a substitute for a AV amp. Bass management is rudimentary.

But this review is about the Nuforce’s audio performance, so here goes….


Results

This review is a stereo one, when I decided to let my father have a really solid stereo system using a player that was simple and Also allowed him to play his movies, both DVD and BR all in a single device.

I had also wanted to get a good stereo amp for my B/W 805s for quite some time and this review also sheds light on the partnership of the 3.

Associated equipment:

Musical Fidelity A 5.5 stereo amplifier
Anti-cables
Oyaide 750 interconnects and power cable
Belkin Pure Audio PF 50 conditioner, PS Audio Juicebar; Xindak, Power Cables, Jumper cables


Sound

The 805s has been in my AV amp (Marant SR 12) based system for a few months, and has settled in nicely, it gives pretty impressive bass, and has a smooth warm nature, which partners most equipment well, but I would give it breathing space, and also avoid overly warm equipment.

I decided that a better amp which was capable of gripping the 805s, and giving them even more current than what my THX Ultra II capable SR 12 (120w per channel) could do, so it was time to scour around for stereo amps beyond the usual NAD, Rotel or even Marantz, and that meant much more money, so it took me a long time to find something that could match up, tighten the bass whilst getting more out of the 805s.

Brands like Krell, Musical Fidelity, Arcam, Classe and even more expensive stuff were considered, but I managed to find the MF A 5.5, which is a upgrade to the original MF A5. The blurb on the differences from MF:

“The A5.5 integrated amplifier has been designed to offer improved sonic performance and give extra facilities which were not generally available five years ago when the original A5 was designed.

As well as the USB connector, those extra facilities include a rear-panel socket for remote control, allowing external control systems to access the amp's control system using either modulated or unmodulated RC5 code.

New output devices ( 4 new SANKEN transistors per Channel delivering a 250 Watts at 8Ohm ) are also used for better linearity and current delivery, boosting detail, and the super-fast optical feedback protection circuitry gives a better sound, while at the same time increasing protection from short-circuit and overdrive conditions. It also allows greater peak current to be delivered.

A new configuration for the volume control also delivers better channel-matching at extremely low levels, and the amp has an improved cosmetic design, with a soft curve to the front-panel and restyled volume control.”

Essentially this was a 250 W/ 8 ohms with 400W/ 4 ohms times two stereo amp, with a HT bypass, remote, and a cute USB DAC.  I also found that many MF users partner their amps with the 8 series B/Ws.

Using it with my 805s allowed a clearer soundstage, tight bass and detail, but gave me the kind of sonic signature that I enjoyed with the SR12. You can easily fill the room with music with the amp ticking over at 9 o’clock on the volume dial. There was no stress and if you had the guts to turn it even louder, there was no strain, hardening and it just gave you more of the same.

I had used this with my Modified SA 8003 and it was pretty good, apart from the fact that the 8003 liked to be kept on for the best sound. From cold, it could be lifeless, and lacked bass, but once it was warmed up, you have depth, detail and plenty of mids too.

Now as I mentioned, I was looking for a one stop solution for my dad, which allowed him to enjoy good music plus play all his video discs as well, and I can imagine that this could also be what some of us are looking for.

For close to SING$ 2000, the Nuforce is not a player for everyone. But if you want to eke out every last ounce from your Oppo 83, then this will help and it does not shame itself with the above partnering equipment.

What the Oppo Nuforce brings to the MF amp and B/W 805s is more clarity, detail, and control. You still get the depth in the bass, but there is very little sibilance compared to before, and details are easily picked up. Yet even though the detail is there, you won’t find the sound fatiguing, which is the interesting aspect, as you can hear all kinds of detail in all the frequencies, and yet it is a ‘disc friendly’ system.

No longer do you need to restrict yourself to good recordings, or feed it only with those high-pitched lady voices which dominate many demo sessions, but even the average pop CD fares well and benefits from this setup. I would be exaggerating if I said MP3 recordings were awesome, but the beauty of the system was that even such compressed material was listenable. You can tell the difference of course, but with better recordings, SACDs etc, you simply get more.

You get a nice soundstage and actually instead of peppering you with many nice terms magazines like What Lo fi likes to do, essentially, it is a nice complete sound, and you stop thinking about the speakers, and just listen to the voice of the singers, which sound really live and right in front of you. The soundstage in my untreated living room which measures about 5 by 10 m, is wide, and with my speakers about 2.5m apart and about 3m from my listening position, slightly toed in, you get a nice listening experience.

All in all, money well spent.

Discussion

So who should buy this? This player is in a slight awkward position. There are scores of cheaper BR players around, some of which are less than a tenth the price of this baby. The difference for video performance for BR discs is not significantly better than the cheaper players if you have a small screen (read – less than 50”).  The money goes towards the sound so this one is for  the discerning audiophile who wants better video performance.

It caters to a certain market, the person who wants everything is one of them, he is not sure if SACD, DVD-A are what he wants, and wants a finger in each pie for not too much.  It is an expensive all in one solution for a beginner, but this player will not need to be upgraded for a while, even in the home of a discerning audiophile.

What about 3D and HDMI 1.4?

Right now, Oppo has no plans and no upgrade path for this player or other versions of the BDP 83. So you should get this based on what you want: a solid and musical player, which does everything pretty decently.



The Modification for Region Free Playback
I bought a player which came pre-mod with the hardware for Region Free playback. DVD playback does not need any extra action, but for BR region changes, you need to do this:

When the player is in standby, you press the blue button on the remote, until the unit beeps. Then you press either 1 (region A), 2 (region B), 3 (Region C). There are a series of bleeps to confirm the action depending on the option, and then you take the player out of standby.




Links to reviews:









Definitely, Maybe

 

There have been a few classic romantic comedies which have impressed me over the years: 4 Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Harry Met Sally, You Got Mail. The essential plot is about how the man, after a circuitous journey usually plus some time falling in love with others, eventually ends up with the woman of his dreams. After all these rom-coms should end well, and leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling, regardless of whether real life is like that. How about a rom-com which is funny, warm and yet reflective, and give you more than a topic or two to talk about when the show ends? Will it work if it goes off the tried and test formulae a little?

 

So here is a movie, where from about the fifth minute you know the main actor, Ryan Reynolds, is divorced from the love of his life, and is on his way to pick up his precocious daughter who just had her first sex education lesson, and now knows she did not come from storks. The story is about how the daughter squeezes out the story of how her parents met from her dad, who reluctantly tell her through a series of stories of all the women her dad met and loved in his life. So there is a bit of guess who as he does not tell which is which, and the story arc goes through a time in the 90s where Clinton runs for president, and his infamous Lewinski affair.

This is a quite a twist on the romance bit and leads you through a few twists and turns in the protagonist's life. I half wanted to dislike it for the amorous and almost free-love nature of the parts where there is a lot of sleeping about, with scant regard for the institution of marriage, but this is reflective of America and perhaps other societies too. It will either make you queasy and turn off the TV or accept that is what American life is like. The lead actors and even the daughter Maya, do very well, with good synergy to weave a story that is part fiction and all life. Clever flashbacks and painting it as a story remind me of the technique employed in Princess Bride, but this is more dark and it isn't an action movie.

The show grows on you, and you can watch it again to get the various nuances in the dialogue, the mock proposal which Ryan does to Isla is one highlight, and guys will do well to take notes.  

It is perhaps a reflection of the fact that true love does not run smooth, and that you may love more than one person, or worse, when you think that you found the right one, after marriage and all, the quarrels begin and it all does not end well. It can also be about betrayal, by the closest to you. It can also be a reflection on life, that even after the worst events (like your best friend sleeping with your beloved), or after the dust has settled on the separation, life does go on and possibly, the journey continues, with potholes of sadness along the way, but plenty of memorable scenery, and the right company to make that long journey, a good one. But it also forces the Christian romantic to realise he or she has a choice, which is to accept such shows as status quo, or have the staying power to enjoy the long walk together with the same person, through all kinds of ups and downs. You can quit or stick with the same person, and ask God to continue helping both of you keep the love going.

Plot: good chick flick I guess, but it will definitely lead to lots of discussion if you bring your partner, or you can quietly watch it on a plane and deny all knowledge of it if you are the red-neck bloke and too macho to watch such a movie.. or feel free to share your thoughts with another lady --- 4/5

Action - zip

Chick Factor - plenty of eye candy Isla Fisher is a mix of innocent sweet and overpowering sensuality -- 4/5

Rent or Buy or forget it: depends on your stand on morals, and whether you have objections to romantic flicks, but worth a rent at least.  4/5

 

Get The Gringo - movie review

Another day with the Neural X, and DTS-X, and I took out a disc from the not too distant past: Get The Gringo A relatively simple plo...