My expectations heading into the Panasonic press event on Wednesday in New York City were pretty low. I'm the audio guy and most of the hubbub was focused on new plasma and LCD displays, and Blu-ray players.
I sat there, eyes glazing over, as Panasonic spokespeople prattled on about "exciting" new advances in Viera Link and PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus technologies--good times for me! But then something amazing happened: they mentioned sound quality! Trust me, that doesn't happen very often at these things, so I was all ears.
First, the new DMP-BD85 Blu-ray player features an HDMI Jitter Purifier, which, according to Panasonic, "affords clear, robust bass sounds faithful to the original." That sounds like something the PR department dreamed up, but it may be useful. We'll see.
Then they said the DMP-BD85 uses a Digital Tube Sound Simulator to produce the warm sound quality associated with vacuum tube amplifiers! What? They even had a small plastic display box fitted with three small tubes to illustrate the concept. DMP-BD85 owners can select between the "sound" of three different tube effects over the HDMI and 7.1-channel analog audio outputs (or turn off the effect and hear unprocessed sound). They didn't mention it, but this sort of sonic enhancement probably won't be compatible with Dolby or DTS soundtracks. That leaves DVDs, Blu-rays, and CDs encoded with PCM audio.… Read more