Showing posts from 2010

Demo Disc Writeup

Welcome to the Xtremeplace!
A demo disc is a show case of the wow factor, and this awe inspiring bit is what makes our jaws drop or make us stop in our steps when we walk past a demo going on in the shops. This disc aims to compile the best scenes to showcase the best of various aspects of High Definition.
A note first:
This is NOT a financial venture, everyone does this for fun and this disc should NEVER be sold. I cannot emphasise this more.

The world of Home Theatre (HT) is an exciting and immersive world, which can draw you in, help you share the emotions, the action, the tension and the humor, and the picture as well as the sound helps to put you right in the middle of it.
So before you even begin to watch this, take some time to read ALL the stickies, and vital threads and information in our forums on:
-speaker placement -bass management -subwoofer calibration -room treatment -room equalization -types of decoding -picture calibration -viewing distance -how to buy and demo threads …

The Pacific - review

The Pacific - BR review DTS-MA 5.1

Saving Private Ryan (SPR) was one of the definite movies of the 90s and one of the best war movies of all time, and in 2001 the Band of Brothers followed the success of Saving Private Ryan with a wonderful mini-series about the brave men of East Company as their fought their way through Europe. Tom Hanks did not rest on his laurels, and in 2007, made The Pacific. By then, there were quite a few more war movies, not only in English, but also in other languages. Terms like "gritty", "raw realism" and "faded colors" were often used to describe these shows. So how can this one do when thrown in amongst the rest?
First let me tell you what impressed me first. The action was breath-taking and exhilarating, and you felt like you were in with the First Marines as they did battle in unpronounceable islands in the Pacific. The depiction of the dangers, the agony and perils mixed in with the fear felt genuine, and intense. Knowing th…

Tron Legacy in 3D - movie review

When Tron was first released in the early 80s, it was not really a financial success, but the CGI and the concept proved to be cutting edge and ever since, it has had a cult following and since I had not had a chance to see it, why not begin afresh with the new iteration of it, and for a CGI filled show, why not go all the way and see it in 3D? The show was indeed a 3D fest: D = demolitions, delicious babes and of course Daft Punk!Tron L will not be an Oscar winner, even for creative CGI use or for its 3D reproduction, and it certainly won't win for acting, but you get a nice experience of a sci-fi action movie, with some babes in tight spandex thrown in and its all accompanied by some nice punk-techno music with a nice beat. If all this sounds too low brow or if Gone With the Wind is your cup of tea, then skip this. Much has also been said of the excessive use of 3D and milking the audience for the extra dollars when it adds little to the experience. Well the 3D does work here, s…

The Return of Chen Zhen review

Donnie Yen is a great action stuntman, with moves which are breathtaking, and gravity defying, but he is no great actor and or director. His latest movie reeks of the typical Hong Kong mentality of milking a genre to its death, and speaks volume of the dearth of orginal material, a disease which has been plaguing HKG cinema for more than a decade.

Here is another - (third?) remake of this story, and apart from a change in attire, the fight scenes are similar to the previous productions, and in fact, there is a lack of really cool fight scenes in this show. Perhaps Donnie wants to showcase more of his acting chops, but he should stick to his forte, as the movie moves along rather slowly when there isn't any fighting.

The plot is even more tedious, adding a Eupopean dimension, a spy element, and a less than interesting love story element - Donnie is no Tony Leung I am afriad.

Plot: 2/5

Action: what good is an action kung fu flick without kungfu ? 2/5

Chick factor: some eye candy,…

Stool Pigeon - movie review

Stool Pigeon – review

If you are a fan of the intense scenes, emotions conveyed in movies like Election, Beast Stalker, then this is the kind of movie for you.

There is a certain level of despair and inevitability, a dark side of emotions which is showcased in this show, which attracts a certain audience, but will alienate those looking for processed happy ending sort of shows. It is not a real actioner, nor a cop story, but a show which is almost documentary or matter of fact in the way it follows the lives of a depressed and stressed cop, a desperate wheelman, a robber and his woman, and how it all ends for them.

Not your usual plot: 4/5

Chick Factor: Kwai Lun-Mei is a new Taiwanese star and she looks good and acts well 3.5/5

Action: it comes in spurts and is rather violent, and there is none of the romantic gangster type roles popular in the 90s with Chow Yun Fatt or Ekin Cheng. 3/5

It is worth a watch, but like durians, there are sharp edges which will prick your emotions, and wil…

Sand Pebbles - BR review

Sand Pebbles - BR review DTS-MA 5.1 Tier 1For a movie made more than 30 years ago, I did not really have too many expectations, and it was on the merit of the fact that this was Steve McQueen's sole Oscar effort that made me give this a try.Most who are above 30 will know him and perhaps this movie, it is set in the 1920s, during a rather tumultuous time in China. You get romance, action, and a geopolitical historical theme, all put together by a wonderful director in Robert Wise, and sterling performances by Steve and Candice, as well as the other members. A young David Attenborough (the man who in his later years is better known for his narrations of many wonderful BBC series such as Life or Earth) plus a whole host of actors make this a good movie even so many years after its production.But it is the picture quality and even more surprisingly the audio quality which makes this a keeper. The sound engineers worked overtime on this Blu Ray version to make a disc which can almost …

Curtains + room treatment:

Curtains + room treatment:

After sorting out which of the main systems you wish to buy, you may also wish to consider various elements of room treatment.

Most new homes are nice shiny classy affairs, with designs which might even make the covers of some Home Improvement magazines. However most do not have much room treatment, and it is my personal yet strong opinion that you should consider this to be as important as a new pair of speakers.

In fact I would go as far as to say, the improvements that you hope to achieve with a spanking new pair of speakers will be negated or slighted by poor or no room treatment.

Now I will be first to say, that it is not easy as the idea of foam pads or other forms of soundproofing may not go down well with the missus. But a set of curtains are a start and most home needed them anyway.

Since not everyone has the luxury of a dedicated HT room, the inevitable location will be the living room and this place serves many other functions, and it is actually …

Knight & Day, Killers Movie review

This is a twin review of two recent movies with a rather similar concept. It reminds me of the time, Eraser and Mission Impossible came out also together, and Thin Red Line and Saving Private Ryan too.
First the similarities:

Both shows have a similar premise: they are about a beautiful woman who falls for a man of her dreams, who is charming, handsome and utterly irresistible. little does she know what he does and that where the trouble begins. Then mayhem ensues, as the explosions, bullets and bombs go off. Now this being a romantic action comedy sort of genre, you know that they will survive the bullets, the trials and tribulations of the relationship (well at least for the duration of the movie) and live happily ever after in supreme love for one another.

This is fronted by two reasonably likable stars - Aston Kutcher and Katherine Heigl, and they seem to try, but Aston is so wooden, that he should be afraid of and deserves to be eaten alive by termites. Heigl is hot, but …

The Other Guys - movie review

The Other GuysSome movies give you plenty of fun, action, and tumbles and add to the whole buddy cop genre. This is not one of them. It was quite painful to watch, and now I know why Will Ferrell justifies his label as most overpaid actor in Hollywood right now. The duo would love to take over from The Rock and Samuel Jackson as the leading cops in a delinquent police department bent on body counts and car crashes, but they look like a gay couple and the movie cannot decide if it is an action, comedy or a serious movie. Eva Mendes just adds to a boob count and you don't really get the plot either.Plot: 1/5
Action: some action scenes, but fans will be in a coma or wondering what's happening and not be too impressed 2/5
Chick factor: Eve Mendes does add some hotness, but in the end, she is poorly used and came on just to collect her paycheck. 2/5I would not even recommend this as a rental.

The Mission (1986) Blu Ray review

The Mission (1986) Blu Ray review
This movie starts off with a poignant scene where a Jesuit priest plunges to his death, and you can hear the rousing soundtrack from Ennio Morricone in the background. With such a start, it is hard to go wrong and the movie does not disappoint. it is a movie in which you will need to return for repeat viewing and as the first viewing can be quite painful given the ending. However when you appreciate the other scenes, and the awesome soundtrack, it grows more on you and moves you to no end.
The music here is distinctive and you will have no trouble recognising the oboe notes. Jeremy Irons gives the performance of his life and Robert De Niro does better here, than even Godfather. The supporting actors including some notable names like Liam Neeson and they all add to a performance which I feel deserved an Academy award.

Plot 4.8/5
There isn't too much action, and yet the few scenes are quite gripping. The vintage of the film shows itself here, whilst the…

Silence of the lambs - BR review

Silence of the lambs US release
This show is all about the plot great acting and a superb mood. It defined the whole Cannibal genre, and these days, people will still shudder when they see Anthony - its his whole facial expression, and in particular, his eyes and the benign look which strikes fear in your heart.

PQ is above average for a show which is almost 20 years old but there was no special remastering.
AQ is mainly frontal and does not envelop you like modern thrillers.
The action comes in spurts, but it relies less on shock tactics, and instead the whole mood is dark and yet it draws you in, in a way that cheap slasher movies cannot.
Chick factor: well Jody Foster looks good still but in 1991, she was hot. Plus the fact that she was a wonderful actress, you have the makings of a real diva. At the time, she campaigned actively for this role, even after winning for "The Accused".
Seeing an engaging and lovely Jody Foster sparring with the awesome Anthony Hopkins who r…

Dragon Hunters - Blu Ray review - English DTS HD MA 5.1

Not often do you see an animation that does not come from Pixar do well and this one is not even American. The French it seems are perfectly capable of some rather good animation with equally good stories. I had a chance to buy this over the weekend and I agree, its easy to dismiss this as a kiddie thing, but its pretty entertaining. Although the main plot is pretty standard, the characters are nicely fleshed out, the humor is good and when you add in the action sequences, plus the sound, its a keeper. An unlikely motley crew of dragon hunters, consisting of a pig-tailed behemoth of a man Lian Chu, his side-kick Gwizdo, and a furry dog-like mutt, plus the intrepid niece of the Lord who sent them forth. The ensuing adventures form the story as they overcome obstacles to face the World Gobbler.Plot: 3/5Chick factor - nilAction: now this is where things get exciting. Literally....there is very exciting bass, filling in the moments of suspense and of course when the action begins, the ba…

Getting cornered

Most of us live in relatively small places. a few more have more generous spaces, but the majority live in apartments and space is a premium.So here are some personal views on this which are meant for discussion and not directed at any particular setup.No matter how small our apartments, we still like large speakers and find ways to place them in the smallest of spaces. Thats where the trouble begins.I had helped a member not long ago, who had complained of boomy bass, and he was using a pair of floor-standers which were known for a prominent bass in his 4 room HDB apartment. And no matter what he did, it was still boomy. The issue was simple, there was no space for his speakers and unless he converted his living room to a serious soundroom, possibly with the aid of experts like econav or joamonte, it was going to be bad. And those room treatment don't spell WAF. Its one of the reasons why a simple pair of PC speakers can actually sound better than a much more expensive speaker.

My current gear - 10 / 2010

Home Theater --
Denon AVR 2809;Monitor Audio GS10,LCR; Mission 30i; PSB 10s dipoles; SVS PB 12+; Velodyne miniVee
Toshiba Xe1; Oppo Nuforce BDP 83; Belkin PF50 PureAV Power Console; QED XT tube 300/micro for rear; GW TD 1000 conditioner;

Audio --
Oppo  BDP 95; B&W amp;W 805s; Musical Fidelity A 5.5; Sangean DDR-3 DAB tuner; PS Audio Juicebar, Wiremold power brick, PS Audio Power Cables (amp), Oyaide 750 interconnects and power cable, XinDak Coaxial Cables, Jumper cables; Anticable speaker cables;

Pioneer 507 XG; Panasonic DMR - EX85

FAB DVD shop

Sent from my iPhone





The Expendables

Take a few action stars who have seen better days, add a beautiful Latina,
throw in lots of explosions, and blend in some clever wise cracks, and you
have a nice warm fuzzy throw back to the 80s where men were men and bleed,
swore and kills loads of enemies whilst barely breaking a sweat....Think Rambo, who could take on the entire Russian army, give him some
equally deadly pals, and let them create mayhem whilst saving the girl and
trading punches, jokes and bullets on a little Island in the Gulf and you
will want the lot to be back.And get cameos from the man who perfected the art of saying "I'll be back" -
he gets his just dues in a line "he wants to be president" and you finally
see some stars who you may have longed to see together in a single movie for
the longest time.This is no Oscar material, but Stallone brings out the best bits from these
daddy warriors, and give them the license to kill and to thrill and make the
audience laugh with them too. Testosterone over…

L-O-V-E 愛到底 - movie review

L-O-V-E 愛到底 Asian / Chinese film industry has not been buzzing with too much excitement, and typically likes to produce copies of Hollywood hits, or re-use formulas which have worked in the past. But this show combines the talents of 4 new directors to make a series of 4 short stories, that is both funny and tugs at your heart strings.The first of the 4, "San Sheng You Xing (三聲有幸)" is a story the lives of 3 people who have the same voice. And if the first 5 minutes does not get to you and make you reach for the tissue, you should check if your heart is still beating…The way the story is worked in, and the person they chose for the grieving mother, is quite perfect, and I would not be surprised if this was a Golden Horse shoo-in.Well recommended."An elderly mother sits alone on the sofa, silently …

Cyborg She - a review

Cyborg She(My girlfriend is a robot)If you could travel back in time to love, protect, and change all the wrongs for the one you love, would that be the perfect relationship? What if your protector was incredibly beautiful, always at your beck and call, never leaves your side, and totally loyal, loving, and to top it off, cooks up a mean meal? What’s the catch you say? How about the fact that she is a robot?Kwak Jae-Young’s previous claim to fame was giving us the very popular love story – “My Sassy Girl”, which was another beautiful story, which takes you a few viewings to appreciate the nuances and the element of time travel in his work. It was also one of the first movies to put Korea and this writer on the world map.Here, the story is actually a rather simple one at first glance. A man builds a robot, to go back in time to save himself from a calamity which leaves him crippled, and she not only does that, but serves, protects and saves his life more than once. Jiro, the man, then …

Robin Hood - Russell Crowe version

Robin Hood is a favourite story with almost a version every other year. From Errol Flynn to Kevin Costner, there are many iterations from the heroic to the slapstick. So will the paying viewer be interested in a slightly more mature (which is of course the polite way of saying over the hill) Robin, and a Marion which in a few years will need hormone replacement therapy?The director has worked with Russell Crowe before, and for good or for worse, borrows heavily from his previous work, and many others. It will be a challenge to carve out a unique version of this frequently told story and Ridley Scott tries his hand at a twist which sees Richard the Lionheart dying early on and John his brother actually fighting French invaders, plus a turn of Robin playing the son of a Lord. Well does it work? In a sense, the story works extra hard to distance itself from earlier versions of the story, and yet remain somewhat true to the often told tale. However we see scenes reminiscent of past movies…

National Day Rally 2010: English text of Malay speech

National Day Rally 2010: English text of Malay speech English text of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally 2010 in Malay. -AsiaOne

Sun, Aug 29, 2010
This is the English text of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally 2010 in Malay.
Our economy has rebounded from the downturn last year. Businesses are thriving, companies are hiring more workers, and we can look forward to more overtime and higher bonuses.
The future looks bright, but we still have to work hard to continue prospering. The region offers many opportunities to Singapore companies and professionals. But we must also upgrade our domestic economy, to create better jobs for workers here. After all, most of our people will always be working here in Singapore.
Our strategy is to raise the productivity of our workers. Workers should upgrade their skills and acquire new ones. Low-skilled workers are under the most press…

From Paris With Love

From Paris With LoveLets get it out of the way, this movie won’t win any Academy Awards, and it is the very definition of OTT – over the top. And it was a blast – literally and loads of fun.John Travolta has given us plenty of hits and some misses over the years and I reckon he took the best bits of all his action movies and put it here. Its like some casting director told him to blend “Swordfish”, “Face Off”, “Broken Arrow”, “Pulp Fiction” and ham it up to the max, whilst pretending to be his own version of Bond and Bourne. This kicks Salt out of the ring easily.Jonathan Rhys is there for the ride and his wooden acting makes a perfect counterfoil for the super OTT nature of Charlie Wax, the chrome dome that JT plays here. Wax is obnoxious, but he is right, he is fast to shoot, and he hits his target, leaving a trail of dead spies, terrorists and mimes in Paris (ok, I made the last one up…) The pace is blistering, especially once Wax shines – ha ha. There are some efforts to inject dr…

NDP 2010 1555


B/W CM series opinion

Some threads: CM series is not as popular as the 6 series due to a couple of reasons IMO:- HT, the 6 series is more value for HT and the smoother tone of the CM series does not encourage B/W enthusiasts to get it- cost - as we all are aware, when it is compared to others in its class, you can find alternatives which are less costly. Its the same reason why Marantz is so popular. It costs significantly less in Singapore compare to other brands which are priced at the same band in other markets.As for the sonic tone, it falls into a "nice" and "safe" sound - so it is none fatiguing, warm and easy to listen to for background music. It lacks the hump in the bass range like the MA RS 6, so that may not endear it to buyers looking for the "thump thump" kind of bass, and it is not high or treble happy and won't appeal to those who for…

MIO is a real PITA

I live in a valley and I have longed for good TV reception for the longest time. I have also been a Singtel customer ever since I have my cellphone. So getting broadband from them was a natural progression. Yet when I found out when MIO cable TV first came out, that my home was not covered, it was a real disappointment. Then recently I checked again and they now said my area was covered. So I happily rushed into the nearest Singtel Shop to get signed up. That’s when my ordeal began…
So I made an appointment for a 9am installation. The chap comes at about 10am, which is fine, since he has a window of 2 hours. But that morning, my internet had been cut and I was left in the wilderness… then he tried all ways of connecting, but I had suspected that when they cut my connection in anticipation of the installation, those chaps forgot about activating the new line! So true enough, the man tried all ways of trouble shooting, blaming the older filters, bad phone lines – which was crazy since I …

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightening Thief (DTS-HD MA) - disc review

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightening Thief (DTS-HD MA) – Tier 1Imitation is one of the most sincere forms of flattery and here, movies like Clash of the Titans, Harry Potter and even High School Musical must be rather flattered for this adaption of a series of stories borrows from all of the above and more.However, let me ask the obvious, why in Zeus’ name do we find Greek, yes, Greek gods in the middle of US of A??? The male and female leads, plus the obligatory sidekick all could be models for some teen magazine and I assume their roles is to distract from the many loopholes in a paper thin storyline, which relies on stars which all look like gods and goddesses, have nice blue eyes and megawatt smiles. Throw in a plot of thievery, conspiracy and add the old story of demi-gods which arose from the amorous ways of the gods, and you have this movie. It might keep your children entertained with plenty of good looking characters, and they might be willing to look past the fa…

Despicable Me - a movie review

Pixar has ruled the roost when it comes to animation, and other companies have tried but few come close to challenging them for movies which have excellent graphics, but even more important, an excellent and touching story mixed with humour and excitement.Despicable Me (DM) borrows heavily from several previous efforts in the reel world and animation, but what makes it stand out is how these fundamental elements blend well together in a story which manages to make you laugh, and also tug at your heart strings too.The protagonist looks a little like a fatter Anton from the Ratatouille show, and he is a villain who deep inside has a sorry childhood and just wants to impress his mother, and he meets 3 of the most adorable kids who turn him from competing to outdo Vector, the new kid on the evil block to a man who has a past and a heart. His efforts are assisted by an evil scientist, who acts as his surrogate father, and scores of the funniest assistants called Minions, who look like litt…

Ip Man 2 - Movie review‏

The trouble with sequels are that they need to live up to the original movie at least, otherwise it is seen as an effort to capitalise on the success of the first movie and milk some money.

Unfortunately Hong Kong knows when it sees a money train and glady hops on for the sequel and many more adaptions of it. See the proliferation of vampire movies in the 80s and now we see at least 3 Ip Man movies.

So now we have seen Ip Man defeat the Japs and move onto Hong Kong where the challenge comes from corrupt "Guai Lo" cops and the obligatory White Man beefcake who belittles Kungfu challenges Ip Man.

Well no one is too unhappy with the simple, tried and test plot, but no one is going to give anyone in this show a Golden Horse either.

Lets hope Donny Yen sticks to his word and stops here.... I cannot imagine who else Ip Man will challenge to milk more from this franchise..

Plot: 2.5/5

Now what we really want are fight scenes and I must say, its still a little disappointing. Now we…

Legion - movie review

There have been a few comic book based movies, which deal with the occult, and have a religious theme, Constantine comes to mind, but despite a promising idea, this movie is best remember for its references worthy sound than the plot.
So Michael who has appeared in his own movie with the same title (Michael starring John Travolta), now comes to Earth in a style akin to Terminator, in a bid to save mankind’s last hope from another apocalypse, and everything happens in a little diner in the middle of the Arizona desert.
Dennis Quaid, Paul Bettany and others try their best to save this movie from itself, but there is simply not enough meat in the story for these stalwarts to sink their teeth into. Paul Bettany buffs up for this role and he has had previous experience doing this in the Da Vinci Code, as a monk assasin.
Plot: 2/5
The plot may be wafer thin, but forget that and concentrate on the audio.
The action comes in spades, and the sound engineers in this movie were definitely paid more …

Blu Ray Shootout test Audio

This shootout was done on 22nd January, in a domestic premise with the aid of a few hobbyists, some newbies and a classically trained piano female teacher who has no audiophile aspirations.


We wish to find out:

A Can we discern lossless vs lossy;

B Can we discern LPCM vs bistream;

C Can we discern using DAC (analogue) vs HDMI?

D  Compare the difference in analogue performance between the players


The enjoyment of hi fidelity music as well as home theatre can be a rather subjective affair, with some favoring one brand over another with such fervor that their enthusiasm borders on the zealous.

I have been pondering the question of whether it all matters, lossless (in the form of bitstream signals or LCPM) and lossy and where the decoding is done since I joined Hi Def. most of the replies on the net are opinion based, with statements like “the signal is digital, therefore there is no difference!”. But such statements were seldom backed with real world tests and compar…

Oppo BDP 83 review - Nuforce Edition Blu Ray player (Region Free Modified Version)

Review of the Oppo BDP 83 Nuforce Edition Blu Ray player (Region Free Modified Version)
Oppo has been doing things little different, giving joy to many audiophiles And Videophile alike with their offerings. They have been a leader in bringing high quality technology to the masses at a price which has been surprisingly competitive.
The new Oppo BD 83 has set the home theatre world alight with a performance for video and in audio that has been well reviewed worldwide.
The key feature of the Oppo players has been giant slaying performance with a highly competitive price. However Oppo machines are not for everyone. Simply put, if all you desire is a machine which can play BR discs, and you don’t have a big projector setup, then many of the Sony, Philips and other brand offerings are much cheaper and give better value.

What the Oppo BDP 83 does, is that it is an all-in-one machine which can play music well, in all its various formats, even SACD, and has a very impressi…