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DV27a "flicker" on some DVDs

Discussion in 'Arcam Owners' Forum' started by spark123, Sep 23, 2005.

  1. spark123

    spark123
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    Hi,

    I've come to the forum seeking guidance, having not found a solution myself, and having given up with my local technical support.

    Situation: expat in US, with annoying issue on DV27a. This is a two stage message: one, to describe the process I went through with Arcam support in the US, and two, to describe the current issue I see with my DV27a.

    About five months ago I purchased a DV27a. After two months, I noticed horizontal flickering across static images on the menu screen of a couple of DVDs. So, I sent it back to my dealer who, after seeing the issue themselves, contacted the US distributor. The dealer asked to see if they could reproduce the issue on any of their machines, so a DVD was sent to them. Time passes ... almost two months in fact. After chasing them via my dealer, the answer of "can't see it on our machines" came back. So, off went my machine to Arcam support (which was a third-party hardware support company) for fixing. A couple of weeks later, support left a message with my dealer saying they'd seen the issue. One week later the machine comes back with a message of "no fault found", saying their diagnostics couldn't find anything.

    The US distributor agreed to replace my DV27a for the last one they had in stock, but forgot that their player was on a site for sale ... and it got sold before it could be used to replace mine.

    So, after three months, my player is back with me, with no fix.

    On to the problem. On two UK (Region 2) PAL discs, I see a visual distortion or flickering of the static image on the menu screen (Old Grey Whistle Test, Vol. II [OGWT], and Peter Kay, Live at Bolton Albert Halls). Additionally, there are interview scenes during playback of the OGWT disc where the background of interviewees is simply juddering up and down. A PAL version of Little Britain Vol. 1 exhibits no problems.

    Searching here produced one or two close-ish and similar problems, but nothing definitive. A combination of Region 2, PAL conversion, Macrovision, video mode perhaps? As an additional note, it also happens, albeit not quite as bad, on an NTSC music video DVD.

    If anyone could point me in a direction of where the issue might lie, I'd be very grateful. I've gone through various combinations of configuration settings between the player and my screen (Panasonic PWD6Y), but all to no avail. (TV System is set to "NTSC", not "Auto".)

    I'm also pretty damned annoyed with the three months it took with support to effectively say "we can't find anything". I'll mail Arcam UK about that sometime, but it's difficult to see what could be done given that these players are no longer in stock.

    The player is great. I just wish it was great 100% of the time with my discs.

    Many thanks in advance.

    One additional point: I've tried the same problem discs through a region-free Philips Q50 into the same screen, and the flickering does not occur.
     
  2. spark123

    spark123
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    Quick update, after some testing today. This happens with all my PAL Region 2 discs playing into an NTSC display (I was wrong about the Little Britain dvd - it exhibits the same problems). As far as I can tell, they are all Macrovision encoded. The firmware version is 5.13. I'm also realising that posting to a predominantly UK-based forum for an NTSC problem might not be the best place when searching for similar experiences :) However, if any one has any ideas, they'd be much appreciated. Cheers.
     
  3. steeled

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    Hi

    For what is worth most magazines say that the PAL/NTSC conversion done by DVD players is not that good. It is always recommended that you watch the DVDs in the native form.

    The main problem while converting PAL/NTSC is the change in frame rate. With PAL being 50Hz and NTSC being 60Hz you have to add some frames to a PAL signal to create an NTSC signal. I think this could be causing the problems you are seeing.

    The manual for the 27A warns of these problems on page 8. It states

    "Note that PAL discs are converted to NTSC, but this causes reduction in the qualtity of the video output (and may cause the video to become 'jerky'.) ..."

    To get round this problem alot of NTSC stuff in the UK is viewed using PAL60. This means you do not need to change the frame rate and so nnot to have these problems.

    In conclusion there may not be a fault with your player - it is just the way the convertion works.

    Regards
     
  4. pjclark1

    pjclark1
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    I agree
    watch the movies in their original formats to avoid all sorts of problems.
    As you are not supposed to watch r2 movies in the USA i'm not surprised their support wasn't interested.
     
  5. Crustyloafer

    Crustyloafer
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    I also agree with the above statements. You are most likely seeing the results of the conversion from PAL to NTSC which can very rarely be done well. If your display will accept both PAL and NTSC video signals then I suggest you set the player to 'Auto' and let it output the picture in the same format as it is on the disc.
     
  6. spark123

    spark123
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    Many thanks for the replies.

    The display I have is NTSC and does not display PAL natively, so conversion is necessary somewhere in the chain. I understand the limitations of such conversions, but it does not help explain why a significantly cheaper Philips player (the 27a is 10x the price) will present the same DVDs into the same display with not a single flicker: the picture is rock-solid.

    Comparing my own experiences with the different players, and the caveats in the manual and the above replies, I can only conclude that there's either a particular fault with my player, or it's the implementation of the conversion. If the latter, it reflects poorly on such a highly regarded player, in my view, when compared to lesser players that appear to have almost flawless implementation. I hope it's the former.
     
  7. pjclark1

    pjclark1
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    I'm afraid you are likely to find the cheaper players are far more versitile than the pricey players built by "the big boys". The cheaper players are mostly made in china/korea and are built to work anywhere with any media (dvdr/rw/vcd/svcd). The big boys are more concerned with region protection and making sure you aren't doing anything slighty "naughty" with your player.
     
  8. per-Sony-fied

    per-Sony-fied
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    I wouldn't say that a Philips should be held in the same regard as the "cheaper" boys unless it really is a knocked down to earth priced unit.
    In anycase the Philips (recorder) that I own is made in Hungary and certainly was not region free when bought.
     
  9. spark123

    spark123
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    I've gone over the screen and DVD player settings again, and I was wrong about the display: it can accept a variety of inputs natively, and includes PAL and NTSC. Setting the 27a to "AUTO", does make the wobbly backgrounds and jerkiness, that were present, disappear, so many thanks for those pointers. One thing noticed: there is a slight "shimmer" to the Arcam screen saver when in PAL mode, but not in NTSC.

    The Philips does not have an "AUTO" setting, so when set to "NTSC" I am assuming the PAL conversion was taking place, unless the implementation is such that when a PAL disc is inserted and the player is in NTSC mode, it goes to pass-through.

    However, there appears to be a different, underlying issue: on a PAL disc and an NTSC disc, there is visible vertical distortion of the menu selection screen on a couple of DVDs. It was also noticeable on graphics that were used when displaying an interviewee's name on a PAL disc: the graphics "shimmered". It's tricky to describe.

    The distortion does not seem to follow a particular rhythm or cycle, and does not happen on all discs. It is distinctly more evident on the NTSC disc. It is difficult to nail down any pattern between the discs or graphics used.

    The Philips player was made region-free using a similar handset technique that the Arcam player(s) use, hence the ability to play discs from multiple regions on both players.
     
  10. steeled

    steeled
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    What connection type you are using to link it to the 27a?

    I would hope you are using the component outputs! If so are you using the progressive scan outputs or the interlaced?

    Regards
     
  11. spark123

    spark123
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    The display is a Panasonic plasma, model TH-42PWD6UY, and I'm connecting using component. The distortion effect is seen on both the progressive and interlaced outputs. Thanks.
     
  12. ginaandlee

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    For what its worth, i have a DV89 that i watch region2 and region1 discs on (im in the USA) and dont see any problems with PAL discs being converted to NTSC. I only really watch comedy shows rather than movies though.
     
  13. spark123

    spark123
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    Thanks for the info gina/lee. What is "TV System" set to on your DV89 setup - is it "NTSC", or "AUTO"? Curious to see if it is "NTSC" and your picture is not wobbling on region 2 discs.
     
  14. steeled

    steeled
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    One of the potential problems with using PAL in the US and NTSC in the UK is the effect of mains interference. This is the main reason that NTSC uses 60Hz (US mains AC frequency) and PAL uses 50Hz (UK mains frequency).

    (Back in the dim and distant past Tandy imported the TRS-80 to the UK. It still used the 60Hz video from the US and rolled and faded like crazy.)

    I will try and have a play and see if I can spot your problems on my setup.
     
  15. ginaandlee

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    My DV89 is set to NTSC - i have a Toshiba 46HM84 that doesnt accept PAL signals. I watched "The Fast Show Live" region 2 disc last night and no problems at all. I also recently watched a lot of the region 2 Michael Palin documentaries and again had no problem.
     
  16. steeled

    steeled
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    My TV will accept both NTSC and PAL and so I have tried converting NTSC to PAL and PAL to NTSC. On the two discs I tried (Panic Room R1 superbit) and The Bourne Supremacy) I could not see any problems.

    However my TV has a higher resolution than the DVDs so maybe the up-conversion hides the problems.

    It may be worth asking in the plasma forum if they can help. I think I remember some comments a while ago which said that there were a few problems in showing PAL programming on Standard Def plasmas. PAL requres 576 lines but the plasma only has 480 and so the plasma has to do some down-conversion.

    Sorry I can not be of much help :)
     
  17. spark123

    spark123
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    Thanks for your help, gina/lee and David. I still can't put my finger on what is happening, but wonder if the two phenomena are connected. I do get wobbling on R2 discs through PAL->NTSC conversion, that is clear:

    When set to "PAL", and play R2 discs, the display is okay.
    When set to "AUTO" and play R2 discs, the display is okay (it passes PAL).
    When set to "NTSC", and play R2 discs, the display wobbles at various points in the replay. It is immediately noticeable when you get the first copyright notices scrolling up: each line undulates.

    The player is currently setup for "AUTO", to solve the conversion issue, but still have a sharper, distortion effect on some menu selection screens for both R1 and R2 discs.

    Thanks for the tip on the plasma forum, David. I'll take a stroll through the postings and see if anything strikes a chord. However, the picture is rock-solid with the same discs through a different player, and that pushes me towards something being up with the player than the screen.
     
  18. StooMonster

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    Combination of removing 20% of picture resolution (downscaling 576 to 480 lines) and inserting frames and introducing judder (50hz to 60Hz) ... I'd say it was no suprise that it sometimes showed picture artefacts!

    The other player may have a different process for inserting the repeat fields of 50-60Hz which makes it less visible, or a better process for downscaling the PAL to NTSC picture.

    Go Auto, it's the only way to be sure. :smashin:

    StooMonster
     
  19. spark123

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    Thanks StooMonster. Yep, it's set on "AUTO" to ensure native pass through, and works well. Just trying to get these distortion oddities diagnosed now.
     

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