Theta DaVid, SDI/HD-SDI and a Video Processor

stevekale

Active Member
Hi

Having read a little about SDI (a little) I have the following question. Assuming I acquire a VP such as the Vantage, is there any merit in considering "amending" the DaVid, if it can be done at all, to include an SDI video output. Alternatively would there be much to be gained from using another SDI-enabled transport (such as those that have been modified by plugged:in.tv) for DVD playback. The video outputs currently on my DaVid are all analog: composite, s-vid and component. (Can you believe that despite owning a 10m Synergistic Research top quality component cable I've never used component out because there is a problem with the component board in my display - I always thought it was a problem with the DaVid.) Of course I could go component into the video processor but is there any advantage in SDI. My audio is digital out of the DaVid and processed by my Casablanca. I also currently use the Casablanca to switch video sources although this function would be taken over by the vp.

Lastly, how does HD-SDI fit into the HDMI-HDCP equation? Is it redundant or are we likely to see HD-SDI-fitted transports?

Cheers

Steve
 

JimmytheSaint

Active Member
SDI provides a digital connection from the dvd player to your VP and as such, improves the 'raw data' that your VP can then convert into whichever forwarding connection you are making. I have noticed more three-dimensionality and better colour saturation with SDI.
I imagine the cost of upgrading a Theta product to SDI would be a fairly expensive process and would really be justified dependant upon what type of display you are using. It would also be possible to purchase another dvd player for a fraction of the cost, which is already SDI modded (e.g. Panasonic RP-82) and may outperform your Theta.
As far as HDSDI, it really is in it's infancy for consumer use, but I understand an HD Sat box in the US has already been successfully modded and allows the HD signal to pass out unencrypted.:)
 

Pezza

Active Member
I wouldn't forget the audio part of the equation - it's all very well having some cheapo Panny DVD player SDI'd but the sonic performance isn't going to be a patch on the DaVid.
 

Nic Rhodes

Distinguished Member
Yes this is about audio AND video. The David into casablanca is great audio. Re digital yes SDI can often be great especially when you have a really good MPEG decoder (which I don't think the David has, Pioneer? based?). The difference between analogue and digital is often down to how it is engineered. Good analogue will have small difference compared with SDI. Poor analogue will have significant difference with SDI. Your David has good component outputs I seem to remember so I might be tempted to use them as they are good and the audio is also good. SDI'ing is possible however, didn't Theta offer the option? Might be worth asking. I suspect it would be expensive though but as an existing Theta owner already you will know that!!
 

NonPayingMember

Previously Liam @ Prog AV
I'm sure Theta did offer it as a factory option - remember reading it in WSR a while back. I also seem to remember while the component outputs were good, the SDI was perfect (and cue free). I'm quite sure it is Pioneer based chassis and mpeg decoding (Mitsubishi decoder?).

Personally I think if you want the best this is the only way. And I nearly choked on my coffee at the thought of an RP82 being comparable!!! Perhaps close in PQ, but not a patch on audio (inc CD and SACD, DVD-A)
 

stevekale

Active Member
Hi Nick

Yes I believe the "mechanism" is Pioneer. (I've been through 2 and I'm on my third.) My "assumption" is that I have very good component video out and so there is little to be gained from SDI. (Whereas with a weaker machine one would likely benefit considerably from skipping it as much as possible and only using its optical transport mechanism.) I have an early model of the DaVid and I'm pretty sure SDI was not an option at the time. I'm wondering if it is an option even worth pursuing. When the mech needed replacing for the second time I tried to also have the region encoding updated to be user changeable (it is Region 1). Absolute Sound had my DaVid for..... wait for it.... over 6 months. They replaced the mech, checked the component out (which they said was fine and hence the issue is/was my display board) but could not get the Region encoding sorted (despite supposedly updating the "main board" with the European-spec board). Frankly, I've given up. At least they didn't charge me.

Re audio, I often wonder how much of the DaVid is actually being used other than the optical mechanism given I'm by-passing all the built-in DACs etc with digital out. If I added SDI for video, am I only using a Pioneer optical transport with a bunch of very expensive Theta stuff not being used?

Cheers

Steve
 

NonPayingMember

Previously Liam @ Prog AV
Hi Steve - while it is most definitely going to be a case of dimishing returns, the SDI will be better, and it will be better than SDI from a budget deck (although admittedly not by much). Compared to component SDI will suffer no chroma upsampling error that I remember for that deck, no y/c delay (for ultra sharp edges/detail), less/no overscan/pixel-cropping, a decent response at all frequencies, and will have not been through any DAC that will have tried to combat some of the above (which just about always means an introduction of noise to the image). I appreciate it must feel like you are just essentially stripping it down to Pioneer components, and on an otherwise "average" system I doubt many differences would transpire. But even still, I would suspect the Theta implentation of Pioneers core parts to still suffer less jitter and to be extracting that little more from the disc, and for the quality of build to be less inducing of noise within the unit. The Primare DVD30 is a good case in point as it is also Pioneer based, in fact so is the current Theta Compli. As I say, it's finer points although if I were you I would be fearful of sending it anywhere too!! However, if you want the best....
 

Pezza

Active Member
I'm pretty sure the DaVid has some very sophisticated jitter-correction circuitry (buffering the data as and when it comes off the disc, then re-clocking it for perfect sync before sending it out of the digital outs). The RP82 definitely doesn't do anything like that. I know the Casablanca has something similar on the input side which may help out with a cheaper player, but I'd still go for the DaVid every time.

Plus if you listen to DVD-Audio (if the DaVid does this..?) then you're forced to use the analogue outs anyway, so you'll have to use its DACs then.
 

stevekale

Active Member
Liam

I see it is an option on the DaVid II and so I suspect mine could be upgraded. Worth it? I'll try to get hold of Pedro at Absolute Sound and price it out. The thought of losing my player for another 6 months doesn't appeal. :-(

Steve
 

NonPayingMember

Previously Liam @ Prog AV
Best of luck!! In just about all cases I think it's worth it, although perhaps not if for you it means 6 months of no picture only for a few months of brilliant picture before something else requires you to send it back again hahaha!!!!
 

stevekale

Active Member
Pezza

The DaVid purely CD and DVD. For DVD-Audio/SACD one needs the Compli. The Compli has their high speed digital interface which will, as I understand it, deliver the DVD-A/SACD digital audio stream to an upgraded Casablanca for conversion to analogue. I'm not too fussed with DVD-A/SACD as I predict that it will be replaced in some way shape or form by HD-DVD/BluRay or their successors. I'm reluctant to upgrade my Casablanca until a few things settle down first. I'm even nervous re this year's displays and vps due to the rapid changes afoot in HDMI specs etc. But I'm trying to get up to speed a bit more on the video side in the interim and was wondering if SDI was a sensible "bolt on" improvement to consider for my DaVid.

Cheers

Steve
 

stevekale

Active Member
Nic Rhodes said:
If Theta ****** me off like that I would walk away.


Tell me about it. But I'm not going to drop a bundle on a new player at the moment with so much happening or not happening re HD. I'd really like a "pure transport" (ie no analogue conversion components) for CD, DVD, SACD, DVD-A, Bluray, HD-DVD with a new display, HD video processor, and an upgraded Casablanca capable of doing the digital to analogue conversion for all these sources. Small wishlist I know. Until that transport arrives I'll nurse the DaVid for CD (it is superb despite being 8 years old) and DVD (hence this question), skip DVD-A and SACD, and possibly buy a "filler" HD-DVD or BluRay machine so I can play with HD until the specialist boys address it with higher spec components.

Steve
 

Pezza

Active Member
stevekale said:
...Until that transport arrives I'll nurse the DaVid for CD... and DVD... and possibly buy a "filler" HD-DVD or BluRay machine

Definitely sounds like the best option! Given your troubles getting it repaired earlier it sounds like you'd have to have a severe case of upgraditis to put yourself through losing it for months on end again :)
 

stevekale

Active Member
Is adding SDI to the DaVid something that can be SAFELY done by people other than Theta's "authorized UK service centre"?
 

JimmytheSaint

Active Member
Liam @ Prog AV said:
And I nearly choked on my coffee at the thought of an RP82 being comparable!!! Perhaps close in PQ, but not a patch on audio (inc CD and SACD, DVD-A)

I was refering to PQ of course, seeing as we were discussing the SDI mod and benefits of doing such!
I had the chance to compare both the Lexicon RT-10 SDI (which I believe also had the Pioneer transport and did suffer from CUE) and Panasonic RP-82 SDI side by side and the Panasonic was better PQwise, although I've not seen the Theta in action. In regards to the audio, coming out SPDIF there was not alot in it TBH.

Is the plasma your main display device Steve?
 

stevekale

Active Member
JimmytheSaint said:
Is the plasma your main display device Steve?

Yes. I intend to update the one listed in my signature later this year. (I don't see the point of rushing out now just to see two or three Sky channels for a couple of extra months...)
 

Nic Rhodes

Distinguished Member
Been having a think about this one and looked up some old info I have on it. New power supples and reclocking on audio certainly, possibly new analogue video output stages but I think the mechanism and the important MPEG decoder are from Pioneer stock. As this is 99 era, that means the Pioneer MPEG decoder is not as hot as some currently. I would therefore think twice about SDI. For me it is best when used with the right MPEG decoder. Yes it is likely to a smidge better than the analogue already but as they are good (and haven't been used yet anyway) then I would leave it as it is. There is no obvious SDI output slot on the back so I also think this was for the model 2. I remember Pioneers of slightly later being SDI'ed and it had very minimal difference from a Tag transport at the time (the competition to the Theta).
 

stevekale

Active Member
Nic

I just took a look at the back of the DaVid. It does have a whole in the back panel for, amongst other things, Digital Video Out 4:2:2. Obviously since these connections aren't actually fitted there is a plastic (plastic of some sort) covering the holes (held from the inside) but they have been cut in the metal panel. Not sure if this changes your view. FYI I checked when I purchased the unit: September 2000.

Can you believe this:

* The mech was replaced by Absolute Sound in September 2001.
* The mech was replaced again by Absolute Sound in February 2002 (under warranty from last repair)
* The mech was replaced again by Absolute Sound last year (free of charge)

Needless to say I have not been that impressed with this $4,500 machine. I was even contemplating abandoning Theta altogether rather than updating my Casablanca but I've been assured that the Casablanca really is very good and worth maintaining rather than dumping. I have not had any problems with this.

I spent $600 on a Synergistic Research 7m HDTV cable that has not been used because I got horrible colour issues when I tried running component. I thought it was the DaVid (so low was my faith in this thing) but was assured by Absolute Sound that they tested the component out last year and it was fine. I therefore need to replace the component board in my 42PWD4 to see if that's the issue. I'm not sure this is worth even bothering with given my intention to replace the panel but any idea where I can get a replacement board?

Cheers

Steve
 

Nic Rhodes

Distinguished Member
Thats interesting, the piccy of the David back panel I have here does NOT have a space for a digital video out, there is stuff for control port and optical audio (presumably ST). Probably made early 99.

Why not buy a £20 supermaket DVD player with component output to test the Panny? My money is on it being fine ;)
 

stevekale

Active Member
Nic Rhodes said:
Why not buy a £20 supermaket DVD player with component output to test the Panny? My money is on it being fine ;)


When Absolute Sounds told me the DaVid checked out fine I borrowed a friend's DVD player and connected it via component. Same colour problem. So it's either the Synergistic Cable or the panel....
 

JimmytheSaint

Active Member
Steve, try placing a request for the component board on the 'Wanted' Ads section of this forum. I've seen a few of these pop up around here. Good luck!
 

stevekale

Active Member
Hi guys

I decided to send a note to Theta and ask the question. Below is my email and their response. Sounds like it's not worth the hassle. It's interesting that they reiterated their comments about HDMI and that their own digital link project is on hold. I think I'm just going to shelf any thoughts of upgrading DVD output beyond component into a processor. I've placed an advertisement in the wanted section for a new component board for the 42PW4D but I intend to replace that display when it makes sense. When I do change the display I should sell my 7m Synergistic Research HDTV cable - it's not a cheap cable.

I wanted to thank everyone for their input.

Cheers

Steve



"Steve,

Units sold in the States can only support region 1. Almost every dvd player that needs to have the region code playback changed has had to come back to us to make that happen. It is not a simple process to do.

The SDI output was made an option to address the needs of the professional video community since SDI digital video has been used by them for years. SDI video is hated by the movie industry since there is no copy guard option on it. The main reason HD-SDI is not the standard for High Def transmission is that their is no copy guard protection on it.
To put a SDI output on your David would be a big deal and the unit would have to come back to the States.

The Mega-Linc project for the Generation Vlll is still in development and [not] released yet. The interface for the Casablanca and the development of dsd processing for the Casablanca are in a holding pattern at the moment. The cost of dsd circuits and the future of the sacd format are our two big concerns here.

Waiting to see how HDMI 1.3 and HDCP encoding will ultimate affect the fidelity of the new audio format will keep us
on the side lines for awhile. The fluidness of the situation has many manufacturers such as ourselves letting things shake out and settle down before committing resources to developing hardware that could have a 13 month life span at best.

Sincerely


At 07:42 AM 2/26/2006, you wrote:


Can I bother you with two further questions? I have a DaVid (serial number 21913) which I have had a nightmare time with. I purchased the $4,500 or so unit in September 2000 in New York from Sound by Singer but later moved to London. In September 2001, the “mech” had to be replaced (a week or two out of warranty) by Absolute Sound in London (£677). It had to be replaced again in February 2001, under warranty. It had to be replaced again last year. At that time Absolute Sound had the unit for well over 6 months as I had also asked them to examine whether the region encoding could be made more flexible since I no longer lived in the US. After much to-ing and fro-ing with you guys they determined that it could not be done for my “board” (they told me the unit went back to you guys at one point) but that they had a European spec item being returned which was toast or something but had a recoverable board that could be fitted in my machine. Absolute Sound were confident that the region encoding could then be changed using the remote with this new board. Needless to say, when I finally go the machine back the instructions for changing the region code did not work. I have since simply given up. You can imagine my frustration.

Question 1: The rear panel has a slot cut for Digital Video out 4:2:2 which I assume is SD-SDI. On the assumption that I move to utilising a video processor rather than the Casablanca for video switching, can you see any significant benefit to fitting SDI to the DaVid rather than using component out? If so, is this a major exercise?

When reading the information on the Theta Compli it references: “It also has Theta’s proprietary High-Speed Digital Interface. Designed for Theta’s two-channel Generation VIII Digital-to-Analog Converter, this interface is necessary for DVD-A and SACD playback. In keeping with Theta’s approach to product development, Compli’s High-Speed Digital Interface will connect with Casablanca's and Casa Nova’s high speed input options coming out later this year.” I assume this digital interface means that DVD-A and SACD material is processed to analogue via the Casablanca DACs rather than those in the Compli.

Question 2: When do you expect to have this interface part of the Casablanca upgrade and how do you see this fitting into the HD-DVD/BluRay world if those technologies mature?

Many thanks for your input. I understand that you’d prefer your dealers or UK distributor to provide this sort of information but ......."
 

marck

Standard Member
Hi,

I am using a Theta Carmen and was considering changing to the Compli.
However I am going to wait until everything settles down. DVD-A will disappear and SACD I should imagine wont last that much longer when some form of BluRay appears.
Give it a year or two and I think the picture will look a whole lot clearer (no pun intended!)
Marc.
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Hello stevekale

I'm guessing you may have the TY-42TM6YB 'Twin Slot' Board in your Display and using three of the five BNC connectors for YPbPr - if yes have you ensured the Input has been set to 'Component' not RGB in the User menu.

Also have you tried switching the Blue and Red cables around at one end of the connection - the Green cable carries the B&W image the other two lay the colour on top; if you have them the 'correct' way around everything looks fine but switch them over and you get a very odd looking colour palette.

If your going for the High End and your not into being a Beta tester I'd suggest you hang fire for six to eight months and let the new crop of 'Next generation' Video Processors with HQV and VXP technology on-board settle down and then look at combining a new Transport with an external Processor and a native 1080P display (Plasma, LCD or SXRD).

Best regards

Joe
 

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