December 19, 2004

LotR Marathon

Today Everend and I watched the entire Lord of the Rings extended editions in sequence. Took a total of almost 12 hours, due to minor breaks and some technical difficulties.

For starters, MPlayer either did not correctly capture the DTS-ES soundtrack, or is incapable of playing it back through the optical output. It only played 2-channel audio, which I matrixed out to 6.1 channels using DPLIIx and Neo:6. I tried both and DPLIIx seemed better. But either way, the matrixed audio didn't sound as good. I don't think it can do a good job on speech, as sometimes it moved between the fronts and the center channel based on the frequency. And since my center is much higher than my front tweeters (and the Monitor Audio Silver LCR is not the best, this movement was audible.

On the second disc of The Return of the King, MPlayer dumped a bad audio stream. The sound was attenuated way too much, and full of noise. We switched to the physical disc at that point.

MPlayer's playback and video suffered too. Between VOB file changes, MPlayer displayed a green-screen temporarily as it resized the overlay window. This was disrupting. Not as disrupting as having to change the disc, but annoying nonetheless. Plus, there were some scenes where the entire background was posturized. I think I would have noticed this on the physical disc, and it was pretty bad looking. MPlayer also froze the machine at once point.

Also, for some reason the screen saver kept popping up even after I'd turned it off. Eventually a combination of fiddling turned it off for good, but that was annoying in the beginning.

Using my phone as a remote also proved a little cumbersome. Although the remote functionality did work, my phone went into auto-lock mode after a few seconds and I would have to navigate back to the remote menu. Running down to hit keys on the keyboard proved more convenient, and necessary at times to adjust the screen saver or rearrange the playlist.

All-in-all, I wasn't very pleased with the playback features and quality or the technical problems due to MPlayer. If I didn't have to cut out chapters and join the movies together without menus or credits, I could have simply created a disc image of the movie and played it back using Apple's DVD Player (which doesn't have the greatest quality either).

For now, I'll have to wait on any sort of DVD jukebox system. The playback software isn't as good as a good DVD player such as a Denon, the audio didn't play back correctly when ripped using MPlayer, and there were too many MPlayer interface issues.

I'm not interested in getting a Denon player right now though, because there isn't one with DVI and a zero-second layer-change. I'll find some seats for the riser, and then look at a projector and screen. Then a DVD player if one meets my criteria. Otherwise a 7-channel amp (e.g. Gemstone Audio, Anthem/Statement, ATI). Last would be a pre-amp.

Posted by josuah at December 19, 2004 9:47 AM UTC+00:00

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