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HCPC vs ARCAM DV88?

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by GRANTY1970, Jan 1, 2004.

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  1. GRANTY1970

    GRANTY1970
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    I have an ARCAM DV88 and have just purchased a PJ was looking for some advice whether building a HCPC would give me significant VISUAL AND AUDIO impovements over my dvd player and if so what components are we talking about having to purchase to better the dvd performance. Thanks in advance for any help .

    cheers
     
  2. zAndy1

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    What PJ do you have? If it has a DVI input then all the better. Regardless of that using a HTPC will undoubtedly give significant visual improvements, even a pretty cheap one with a Radeon 9000 or better still a Radeon 9600 and Theatertek software will give fantastic results. As for the audio side of things you'll need a good soundcard e.g. Maudio 2496 or Revolution (some would say it's not audiophile but it sounds bloody good to me!). As long as you use an ASIO plugin for Winamp or use Foobar for music playback I think you'll be pleasantly suprised how good it sounds. The nice thing is you can rip your favourite CDs to the HD using e.g. audiograbber or Exact Audio Copy and use music jukebox software e.g. 4am Music Console (free).
    You can probably tell I'm a big HTPC fan but that's only because I know how overpriced high end DVD players are for the performace they give, a HTPC can match the performance of even some of the very high end DVD players for a fraction of the cost.
    Hope that helps..

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  3. Messiah

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    Yes it will :) I have been using an Athlon 2k equipped PC with a radeon 9500 connected via a 10m Lindy DVI cable. Whilst a component image from my Tosh SD900 is stunning the HTPC image is more vibrant, colourful, detailed and sharp. It is a noticeable improvement with the added benefit of being able to pump Hi-Def to it just to see/show what it is truly capable of.

    Stunning :D
     
  4. JohnS

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    I had the chance to compare my HTPC via dvi to my HS10 against a DV27 via progressive component and the DV27 didn't come close.

    Throw into the mix a £30 capture card to give the ability to convert the output of a STB for scaling to the PJ and the HTPC is ano brainer if you can be bothered the time for configuring it.
     
  5. Branxx

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    Hi,

    Do a search on the forum for DV88. There are at least two members that sold their DV88 after moving to HTPC.
     
  6. GRANTY1970

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    Thanks for help guys, PJ ive bought is a SHARP XV-z10000 courtesy of MESSIAH(cheers mate). From what you've said i will probably look into going down that route prob using LMP case but anymore advice/recommendations are more than welcome.

    cheers
     
  7. zAndy1

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    LMP case is good. CPU go for P4 2.4C or 2.6C, cheap and will do hidef stuff. Mboard ASus P4P800. Ram get some dual channel DDR400 stuff (doesn't have to be low latency or anything). Graphics card would recommend Radeon 9600 (non pro) as passive cooling (silent). HD Seagare Barracuda 120GB OEM 7200rpm 8mb cache approx £70. Ebuyer have some good bargains such as the aforementioned HD, Windows XP Home full version £60 odd. Install Winamp 2.91 and the ASIO plugin for it and you can then configure it to upsample to 88.2 khz/24 bit. Maudio revolution is nice and not too expensive (£60-£70 odd). I'd recommend getting Theatertek, at $60 not the cheapest you could get but it's fantastic and the aspect ratio controls are a godsend. After that it's just a case of getting 1:1 pixel mapping and sitting there gobsmacked (I make it sound so easy don't I!). Oh and as far as remote controls go I've got the ATI remote wonder, you can get it from Ebuyer for £22 and you can get a plugin to control Theatertek/Winamp/Windows Media player with it.
    HTH

    Cheers,
    Andy.
     
  8. taimur

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    I must say I prefer the visual output from my Arcam DV88+ to my HTPC (VGA cable to plasma via radeon 9500+). The sound is better too. Surprisingly, to me, it appears I am the exception!
     
  9. Messiah

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    taimur

    I guess maybe one reason why you may appear to be the exception is that I think most people usig a HTPC will be usig DVI which is another step up from VGA. Just a thought :)
     
  10. zAndy1

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    Even so it should still be an improvement via VGA. What display device do you have taimur?

    Cheers,
    Andy.
     
  11. taimur

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    messiah, I think you've got a good point. My DVI output goes to my TFT screen which, being the main screen that I use with my computer, is the one I wanted to have a better quality input. No doubt I would see an improvement in video quality if I outputted DVI from my computer to my plasma.

    zAndy1, I have a pioneer 433mxe plasma display. The Arcam is connected to it via component input 1 to a Rotel AV receiver which has component switching. I also have NTL cable, which goes from RGB to a JS box converting RGB to component input 2. Component output goes from the receiver to BNC inputs on the plasma.

    I should add that I bought a high quality VGA cable to connect my computer to the plasma screen (don't ask me which brand it was, though!) and that the image quality is excellent from PC to plasma - it's just that it's seemingly flawless with the Arcam.

    Having read a lot about HTPC versus high quality DVD player output (particularly in these forums), a couple of things have seemed different to other people's opinions. For example, the scaler in the plasma seems to be better than in the computer, and I get better DVD video quality when keeping the resolution at 1280x1024 (ie the native resolution of my TFT) rather than 1024x768 (the native resolution of the plasma). I haven't tried even higher resolutions to allow the plasma to downscale even more. Lastly, I use Power DVD version 4 and have the latest drivers for the radeon.
     
  12. buns

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    or you could mod your dv88 to sdi and get an sdi processor as opposed to a pc......

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  13. taimur

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    buns - I don't know what that means!
     
  14. buns

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    my god, that is the biggest avatar ive ever seen! I thought there was a limit!

    do you know sdi? serial digital interface? Well what it does is it gets hold of the video signal before it gets messed about by the player. The interface is bnc connection and is common in broadcast circles. You then feed this to a suitable video processor.... the new iscan HD seems to be the cheapest or alternatively you can build a pc to do it (probably easier than a normal hcpc). SDI is like component on steroids.... ie. the best picture the player can achieve.

    This technique has a few benefits over standard hcpc. It is easy (especially if you buy a scaler not a pc). The picture should be as good as the standalone hcpc. Operation is simple since all you need to do it keep using the arcam as normal, you can set the processing up then forget about it, so no messing trying to interface the pc. The big one...... sound, the arcam is very capable sonically and is definitely easier to get good sound of and possibly the sound is beyond that the hcpc could achieve.

    all the best

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  15. taimur

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    thanks for explaining - it all makes sense. So how do I make an SDI processor using old motherboards and spare hard drives - and how would I have to modify the Arcam to bypass its internal video processing? :)
     
  16. JohnS

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    What you need is a H3D like this one;) http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=109834

    Seriously though, this is the card that will give you component (to connect you dv88 straight away) and sdi (for once its modified and give you rgb in for you sky box too.

    It'll run in most PC's as its all hardware driven for its processing. It comes with its own remote control for ease of use. This can be as easy as a Pc can be.

    You could of course spend over twice as much to buy a new H3D2. You pay your money and take your choice.
     
  17. taimur

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    John
    thanks for the reply - I'm a little confused now. Don't I need to modify my Arcam so that it doesn't do any video processing?
     
  18. JohnS

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    You can use the component out of the dv88 into the h3d and the h3d will do the processing of the signal before sending it to your graphics card for scaling to he output resolution of your display device.

    Using component the dv88 has already gone through some digital to analogue conversion in converting the dvd stream from a disc to the analogue component outputs. If you modify the dv88 for sdi ouput it bypasses this digital to analogue conversion and reaches the h3d as a digital signal.

    Thye h3d allows you to acheive this in stages if you wish.
     
  19. zAndy1

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    Why not just use theatertek and forget all the messing about/expense? What's the point of using the DV88?

    Cheers,
    Andy.
     
  20. buns

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    the dv88 is going to be alot easier to use since this route will effectively remove the need to pc interface. There is also a finite risk that the use of a pc with TT will yield inferior sound.

    If i believe the most knowledgeable on here, DONT go for an h3d2. Apparently there are serious issues. Although same people still argue h3di isnt the best, they will accept it is a very good card nonetheless. The best sdi solution would now be involving a simple sdi capture card (like that from pms video) and dscaler... i am told this basic route is the best available. I am however told it would need a strongish processor in the pc. If you want something easy and will pay a bit extra, h3d original is a good way. It shouldnt cost too much and would allow you to try the arcam via component before you went spending money on getting it sdi'd.

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  21. zAndy1

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    Easier to use? I turn my PC on, I put a DVD in, it plays it using Theatertek (automatically). I control Theatertek with a remote control, it is for all intents and purposes just like using a standalone DVD player. I think this myth that HTPCs are a pain to use can't be justified anymore. As for sound quality, at least with a PC you can rip your CDs to the HD and have immediate access to them with a software jukebox. And the quality is fantastic with the Maudio revolution using Winamp and an ASIO plugin, there are better quality solutions but I don't feel the need to use them. I just feel that getting a DV88 SDI modded (not cheap!) etc is a waste of money when you could spend that money on a PC and use Theatertek and get just as good (if not better) results.
    Sorry to go on about this but I'd hate to see anyone throw good money away!

    Cheers,
    Andy.
     
  22. alexs2

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    I'd have to agree with Andy on that.....my HCPC isn't used with a plasma(it drives an RPTV)but as with his HCPC,with mine you simply stick a DVD in and use the remote as with any other DVD player.
    I have an Audiotrak192 soundcard plus Winamp and the ASIO plugin purely for CD digital out,to an external upsampler and DAC,and the quality of that,and the DVD output is excellent.
    Also very easy to upgrade as video and audio card developments come and go.
     
  23. dannyc

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    Ok, well I have a HD3I, an original SDI silk card (JohnAds old one!), an SDI modded Panasonic RA82 player which is very similar to the sweetspot, Theatertek and Powerdvd 5. I am not using FFD show or other special filters. Display is a Thumper modified Plus UP1100 1024x768 display with an ISCO II anamorphic lens if that means anything to you.

    On the sound card front I have an M-audio delta AP 24/96 and a Lynx 2 feeding a Roksan DSP for surround and a DCS delius DAC for 2 channel. I have a Teac P30 CD transport for comparison and have done no end of tests with Branxx's RME Pad card.

    In terms of quality on R1 film playback I'd say Theatertek has the slight edge in terms of picture quality and ease of use once set up properly using a pronto or webpad, the initial setup is a bit daunting but when done is pretty simple. The SDI silk with the Panasonic and Dscaler comes a very close second and is better for some region 2 titles. The Holo3d using SDI is a very close 3rd for R1 dvd playback, ok with region 2, and definately better for video based stuff (haven't tried alot of dscaler tweaks admittedly). All three methods are better than any component source. The only thing that might beat Theatertek may be the HD leeza scaler fed SDI or the newer Runco and Snell and Wilcox scalers but on a plasma or my projector I doubt you'd ever notice.

    For sound I think that the PC souncard is indeed inferior to the very best digital outs from transports like my P30 on music, but the Lynx and RME cards come very close indeed. Unless your system is the very best you will probably not notice. You will however need to use ASIO drivers and rip the music in WAV (maybe lossless compression as well but that's another arguement) to you hard drive, somehow playing straight from the pc drive doesn't always sound as good (using cd-reader plugin) The M-audio card which most pc users have is not as good sonically for digital output as many top end dvd players and cd transports but for movies it is not noticeable to me unless you really do a/b comparisons the whole time. Unless you have a top of the line Lexicon or TAG processor I don't think this is an issue for surround. If you do then an RME or lynx card or a seperate dvd player should be considered.

    In Taimur's case I'd go with Theatertek and maybe a cheap used Holo3D for video based material as well but stick with component as the SDI isn't going to worth the expense for the odd disk that doesn't work too well. I'd actually use Dscaler with the Holo3d but that starts to get a bit complicated. The Holo will also give you the ability to scale your sky or freeview and other s-video sources well. Get someone to set up a nice front end GUI like MyHtpc or Mainlobby that allows you to switch between the 2 using your preferrred remote and your set.

    As far as the Plasma is concerned it should be better running native res, so make sure your pc is actually outputting the native res and the optimum timings using a program called powerstrip. Then use Theatertek, Dscaler or the HOLO3d to make sure the image is the correct aspect ratio, do not use the aspect ratio adjustment on your plasma.

    sorry this is such a long reply but I hope it helps

    Dan
     
  24. buns

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    but you have to set it up to be so easy.....

    PCs are also known to go wrong..... they dont always work like they should...... ive used recommended configs and spent dozens of hours getting it still not to work, despite most people telling me that it should be working..... thats the problem..... you can argue all you like, but with a own built machine, it will always be 'should' not will.

    There is also issue of depreciation...... the pc will not hold its money as well as hardware solutions.

    Ultimately, I hate pcs..... I have had bad experiences that no one has been able to explain or fix. I have my pc working well enough now and fully remote controlled, but if someone can afford it, i will always tell them to go hardware based. Just have a search for my problems, you will maybe appreciate this opinion, i suspect few have had my issues and still been 100% keen on the pc route

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  25. dannyc

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    Buns,

    True, but Theatertek is as easy as setting up a HOLO3d, and I know because I actually found it easier. I know a straightforward scaler like a proscan is easier to set up, but for the quality of image you get nothing is easier to set up than Theatertek, and that includes the HOLO. You can always buy a prebuilt HTPC.

    Just my opinion, as ever. Oh and still haven't got around to trying that Xcard Buns!

    cheers

    Dan
     
  26. zAndy1

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    With Dan on this one, if the prospect of building a HTPC is daunting go to somewhere like uvem and buy a prebuilt one and get some support if anything goes wrong. In my case I have no problems whatsoever, Theatertek has never crashed on me, sound has always been fine. Maybe I've been lucky but I've built 2 now and they've both been ok.

    Andy.
     
  27. buns

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    well then im different! :D seriously though, even amongst real pc pros, there will be the occasional big issue where it shouldnt be.

    Another thought though..... why not get a lumagen vision scaler and stick with the arcam as it is...... im told that this is very good.

    I think though that ultimate picture will probably be that of the pc..... howvere, whether you see this or not is nother issue and there is always the possibility you might have your hair pulled out prior to getting it working

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  28. zAndy1

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    So spend the same on a scalar as you could on a whole new PC, where exactly is the sense in that? I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one cos you obviously have something against HTPCs but in my opinion a HTPC is the best way to spend 1000 quid if you have a display that can accept a DVI signal and has a decent resolution and you're prepared to put a little effort in. Standalone DVD players for that money can't compete (unless they have DVI outputs and scale to 720p), the PC allows you to dabble in hidef which is a nice bonus. I guess I'm biased towards the HTPC but it's not from lack of experience, I've had the Tosh 900E, an Arcam DV88 (upgraded with progressive scan) etc etc and none of them compared to the PQ from the PC, not by a long way. I wouldn't even dream of spending upwards of 1000 quid on a standalone DVD player these days when I could spend the same money on a PC and get better PQ and a whole lot more (internet access, games etc).

    Cheers,
    Andy.
     
  29. buns

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    well the scalar wont necessarily prove such a poor cousin..... i was advised against spending considerable money on any scaling project...... my Z2 simply isnt high enough quality to make it worthwhile.

    My problem is that spending a bit of time isnt necessarily enough. The most knowledgeable man on this forum tried hcpc with the help of the hcpc gurus and gave it up because it wasnt acceptable. Although my having spent ages to get results (dont forget i yet do use a pc.....) might not be enough to convince of the problems, Gordon Fraser isnt a man whose opinion is easily ignored! Granted it is in his favour to prefer scalers, but he has impeccable reputation for his honesty so i dont factor this too much.

    I just dont feel happy telling someone that hcpc is THE way to do it when i know for fact that it could take blood and sweat to do so.

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    ps. if you read about avs, there is an air blowing that standalone players are no longer such poor performers. Some of the newest dvi/hdmi player are earning great respect and in some cases being rated beyond thepc (though that may again be taken with a pinch of salt)
     
  30. Jeff

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    Gordon didn't try that hard, he simply didn't have the time and energy that is required to put a good working HTPC together (other priorities such as starting his business). Things have also moved on some, with the hardware and software available today its much easier than it used to be. Yes HTPC as a risk, but well worth the rewards if you can pull it off. The important things is awlays look to play to the PC strenghs, don't try to turn it into something that it isn't.
     

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