Modified Oppo Blu Ray Player Audio Listening Session



Disclaimer:
I have no financial interest in any of the products and I don't sell or endorse any of them for any company.


(photo courtesy of Paul)


Introduction

The emergence of the Oppo Blu Ray player as a tour de force in the Hi Def world of video is due to it’s combination of strengths in many fields and little weaknesses, for a rather decent price. If you opt for the top of the line BDP 105, you will get a very solid video player, plus a high end DAC which allows the Oppo to very well in both the video as well as the audio areas.

This has afforded Oppo a lot of converts from those who used to have separate BR players and CD players to have an all in one player.

However those with deeper pockets that want to wring the best out of their players or have a more audio-centric system with good stereo performance may want to eke more, and expect their disc spinner to to higher levels. Here is where the modified players come in.

The basic 105 gives a rather good account of itself, and if you have a HT centred system which is around 10k, you won’t want too much more. However if you have a audio system around 10k on the side, then you may crave the extra bits out of the Oppo and there are many options available.

There are many players in the aftermarket world of mods, both local and overseas. The usual caveats about buying overseas and shipping apply, and of these, the Modwright company has been around longer than many, and this company has it’s fans. Audiocom is another which is coming onto the market.

You can also get James from Sound Affairs to tweak your player too.

So we decided to put together a few of these and have a little listening session.

Methods

The equipment list:

Musical Fidelity A 5.5 Stereo amplifier
(250 w per channel, high current design)

B&W 804D floorstander speaker

QED XT 300 speaker cables

Wireworld Oasis RCA cables

The venue was my little HT living room :


Players on test:

Sound Affairs Mod BDP 105 (2 clocks, full array of regulators, capacitors upgrades and circuit changes)

Audiocom Mod BDP 105

Oppo 83 SE with additional mods by a DIY enthusiast. (Mod done on DAC audio board.(purely for Audio only - All e-caps replaced with Oscon. 5v regulator replaced with Dexa. Output Opamps replaced with Dexa Class D discrete type.



Bluray drive mechanism - Damped with 1.5kg of vibration treated steel plates.
SMPS -       All e-caps upgraded to Vishay mil spec type.
                 Cryo treated IEC connector.
DAC board- Dexa discrete Opamp.
                 5v Dexa discrete voltage regulator.
                 Sanyo Os-Con e-caps for digital.
                 Tellirium Copper RCA connector with silver hook up wire.
                 Vishay MKP1837 bypass caps.
                 Blu-tac on strategic area.


The base BDP 105 with no mods, not even a region free mod.
A previous review of the base model is located here:

We had four friends over, plus a member of the industry over too and I was the only person to know which player was on trial.

The rest were blinded to the players and the sequence of playback was randomised and the players were hidden from view during playback.

A SPL meter was used to ensure any differences weren't due to simply differences in volume, which can be perceived as differences in sound quality.

We used two tracks:

Oshio Kotaro’s “fly to the dream”

This track has good pace, rhythym and a bass line that is easy to follow and yet having a wood instrument means you will appreciate secondary and tertiary harmonics too.

We also used a violin track called “life is but a dream”.
This track tested the treble, to see how bright the system will sound and also the soundstage and ability to cope with a rather shrill and enthusiastic violinist.


Results


Each listener wrote their findings down and chose the player which they felt sounded the best in the system under test and after everyone had given their opinion, we then revealed the players ranking.

For those expecting a straight forward result or a resounding victory for one player will be disappointed.

The key words are: diminishing returns and Your Mileage May Vary…

Why so?

First of all, the USD 1200 base 105 gave a very decent account of itself. It had good separation, pace, soundstage and resolution. But it was still a tad bright, sort of like a diamond in the rough, with a sense that a well designed similarly priced CD player could best it.

So when the masks came off, everyone felt that the modified Oppos sounded different, and in most cases better than the base 105. Each had it’s strengths, and we have more details below…

Firstly the Oppo 83 SE with it’s DIY mods performed rather well, with a very prominent bass, and decent resolution. However, it’s less detailed than the base unit, a bit brigther, and the soundstage was more two dimensional. The 105 had more depth, more detail, and a more balanced sound..

Next up was the Audiocom. This unit performed better on all fronts, with solid pace, a deeper soundstage, and an even emphasis across the entire frequency spectrum. It wasn’t hard to hear the difference.

The Sound Affairs mod was warmer, yet not losing detail, and you could still percieve details despite a more smooth sound.

Both of the modified 105s seem to sound better than the 83 and base 105 model, and it’s a tossup as to which is better, since some will prefer a more smooth sound and others will want to eke more out of the treble.

System matching becomes more vital in such a situation, and personal tastes in sonic signature will come into play.

However what we did show was that if you have a capable audio system with good resolution, you will benefit from additional modifications to your Blu Ray player and this can take the audio performance to a much higher level, which will not be hard to discern.


To answer the inevitable question.. yes mods make a difference.

However, the issue is also that of diminishing returns. If one has a $100 BR player, and buys an Oppo BDP 103 or 105, you will be rewarded with a significant improvement, but it won't be ten-fold. Also it is dependent on the partnering gear.
If one has a system built on a budget, with limited resolving power, then the money spent on mods is better spent elsewhere.
On the other hand, if one has already invested in a decent hifi audio system, and intend to take advantage of the better DACs built into the Oppo BDP 105, then the 105 is a very decent platform to tweak to enhance the listening experience.
Translated into real world systems, if one has a $500 AV amp, and a modest HT based speaker system, it may not be the best bet to go for these mods.
If one has integrated a decent stereo system, say a Marantz Pearl Lite or KI amp with HT bypass, or even a separate audio system, then you will be able to use the same BR player for both audio and video enjoyment.
The challenge is that the mods aren't that cheap, and as a result, one has to weight the benefits of spending 1-2k on mods, instead of say a good CD player, or on better speakers.
IMO, the person who buys into mods is comfortable with his or her system, and wants to get the best out of each of his products, be it the BR player, speaker or amp.
Hence, Your Mileage May Vary...
 


A point that came up during our session was who to get your mod from.
I believe the consensus was to do due diligence and get your mod from reputable companies. 
For example The Upgrade Company doesn't seem to have a good rep.
Go local if possible and work with someone you can trust.










Blu Ray Player Shootout VIDEO test

I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.


This is a pure video test of the playback of a few current BR players:
We looked at :

Sony BD 765 aka BD 760 in certain markets.
Oppo BD 83 (standard edition)
Panasonic BD 60
Pioneer LX71
Pioneer BD-23
Denon DVD-A1UD


The players will be ranked (eg 1-10)

The audience will be blinded, only the administrator of the test will know – I will do this.

Test will be done twice to try and test for intra-observer variability.

Tests:

Operator tests:

Startup time – from pressing the eject button on a player which is switched off to the tray opening (in seconds)

Initiation time – from placing the disc into the tray to the first menu (in seconds)

Responsiveness – how fast does the player react to chapter change, returning to the menu (ranked)

User interface (ranked)

Ergonomics – how easy is it to press the buttons on the remote (ranked)

Duplicate controls on the front panel (ranked)


Qualitative tests:

Color accuracy – using a test screen (ranked)
Saturation, realistic, tone

Video quality (HD) – using a demo disc (ranked)

Video quality (upscaling) – using a demo disc (ranked)

Jitter – Blu Ray & SD DVD (ranked)


Sound Music – Blu Ray music CD (ranked) – Police, David Foster,

Sound (HT) (ranked) – Desray’s disc, THX logo,

Feature set – listed and ranked

Looks (ranked) 

Introduction

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.

Magazine reviews are also not that helpful sometimes, due to the flowery but essentially useless language used, or that they are reined in when it comes to the amount of negative information that they can publish given the need to fulfill the advertising dollar and fill the pages of the magazine with ads. Witness how each “Awards” issue of Hi Fi magazines are filled with ads by the same companies which have just been awarded the best product of the year.

Or how some companies always do well and that the ads with their names pepper the magazines. This phenomenon is not only present in print but also in internet based hi fi forum. Witness also the emergence of paid forum members who post good comments or “unbiased” reviews of products and counter any negative comments on specific products. This is the reality of the hi fi business where a bad comment can make or break a new product.

At the end of the day, if enough people agree on a certain product, there should be some truth on it. However how many of us can claim access to all those lovely products in the market?

Demo sessions in the shops afford us an idea of how the intended purchase will sound or look like, but often there are distractions from fellow shoppers or impatient dealers twiddling their thumbs and tapping their feet as they wait for you to finish your demo. Some popular shops have become so successful that their sales staff are no longer as friendly as before and for a new entrant into the world of home theatre (HT) or hi fi, it becomes an unnecessarily daunting ordeal to step into a dealer’s lair and ask for a demo.

This is where our review or shootout comes in. There are relatively few such sessions where people are willing to travel miles and bring their favorite player along, and try it out against other players. Some forums where threads on certain brands exist, seem to feel their player can do no wrong and yet refuse a head to head objective session with other players with opinions garnered from a wider audience.

We believe this is one of the first to gather a series of current generation Blu Ray players in a single session to be assessed with a well defined methodology. 
 
Methods

Our associated test equipment was:

Revel Studio 2 based (Revel voice centre) HT setup. Subs are SVS PB12+ and Def Tech Supercube Reference.

Onkyo 5007 processor driven in pass through mode to a Panasonic A3000E LCD projector displaying on a 133” Remaco screen. Goldmund 200W monoblocks drove the L/R/C. Theta Dreadnought drove the sides and Emotiva XPA5 drive the Front Highs and Rears 
 
Methods II

The session consisted of 3 segments.

The objective segment employed the HD HQV Benchmark Blu-Ray Disc. (HQV Benchmark - Blu-ray HD DVD). Further information on the test disc can be found here:
(http://www.hqv.com/index.cfm?page=do...067F89CC14862C)

The Objective 1080p Screen fine resolution test
Using a HQV test disc, we displayed images in the Film Resolution Loss Test segment and we looked for the details and definitions of the lines on the screen, image stability and any flicker.

In this test, a horizontal pan over the standardized SMPTE test pattern was recorded at
24 frames per second. The 1080p24 source was then transferred to the 1080i60 broadcast standard. If the processor properly handles the signal, the boxes with the stripped horizontal lines will remain intact. If not, either the boxes will “strobe” between all black and all white, or you will see vertical bands on the sides of the box. Any “strobing” or banding constitutes a “fail”.

This test is relevant for testing Blu-ray and HD DVD players for any content that is 1080i and was sourced from a 1080p master that underwent a telecine process. This includes some concert footage, documentaries, films, and many television shows.

The goal of this test is to evaluate if a processor can appropriately identify the source cadence and apply the proper inverse cadence to recreate the original 1080p image. It also tests if your video processor, player or display can properly recognize the source type and apply the right de-interlacing to achieve the full 1080p image.

1080p Screen fine resolution moving test

The same image used above in motion provided information on judder and flicker.

Real image test


FILM RESOLUTION LOSS TEST – STADIUM

We used the image of the football pitch to test how the images would look like in a real shot. Any moiré or flickering in the upper stands indicates half resolution processing. This test provides you with a real world video that can show you how improper video processing can affect an active image. The stands in this stadium are very high in detail and a good processor, player or display should be able to reconstruct the intended 1080p image with all of its intended resolution properly.


The next segment was a subjective ranking of the players from the best to the worst.

We used a segment from the “Walmart” version of the Transformers II – the forest fight scene (59min 06s to 60min 30s) and played the same scene for all the movies.

We had a single member who operated the various players whilst the participants were blinded to which player was being used. The order of play was randomized by the tester.

The movie was first watched on the most expensive player – the Denon to appreciate the scene with and without the sound. Then the test began.

We ranked the players for video quality, and for HT sound quality.

We understand that it was a subjective assessment, and we basically asked our participants to rank the players according to how they performed, in terms of picture quality, involvement of sound, immersion in the scene and clarity (dialogue, effects and direction).

Connections:

24 Gauge 2m monoprice HDMI cables were used throughout the test for all cases. Each player was connected through its own HDMI input (the Onkyo has 8 inputs). The standard power cable was used in each case except for the Denon where the owner brought his own IEGO customized cable.

All players were plugged into a GW TD 1000 power conditioner running from a dedicated socket.

Time trials:

We also did time trials of

- Time to startup – which measured how fast it took for a player to eject the tray from a totally switched off state.
- Initiation time – time taken for a disc to load up and show the first FBI warning page (we use a disc {Paul Simon concert} with no BD live content and was tested to work on all the players).

We also looked at the feature set and remote control plus the front panel layout (whether you could operate the player without the remote) and the usability of the remote in the dark. 
 
Results I

Objective tests:

Time trials:

Speed test:
The standout from this was the Oppo which opened its drawer within 5s. As for the rest, there was less difference between the players. The mean was 16.5 seconds and the Denon also did quite well at 6s.

Response test:

The Oppo was again the fastest, with the time taken from the drawer closing to the menu appearing to be 20s. The mean was 34.2s. The difference between players was not statistically significant.

As for the remotes, only the Denon, Oppo, Sony BD 765 had backlights, and the buttons were of different shapes allowing better use in the dark. All the players had eject buttons on the remote and a soft on/off button.

The Oppo had the most number of controls on the front panel, allowing most of the functions to be used. Most of the players except the Sonys had enough buttons to play, skip chapters and eject the discs. The Sony BD 765 in particular had a poor design with the whole front panel flipping out, and blocking the rest of the buttons.

All the players were Profile 2.0 and each was Code Free for SD DVDs but only the Oppo had the means to be Region Free for Blu Ray locally. There are kits for this for the Panasonic which you have to ship over or send your player for modifications.

Only the Oppo could play VCDs. The Denon and the Oppo are universal players with the ability to play SACDs and DVD-As. The Denon also comes with Gen 4 of the Denon link for better signal transmission.

We did not have the time to test the true audio capabilities of the players using their own DACs and analogue outputs, which will be the subject of teh adjacent thread. 
 
Results II
 
Picture quality

Denon:

The Denon had stable and sharp images but in the motion test suffered from alternating color. The colors were also a little soft in the stadium image.

Panasonic BD 60

The image was stable with no flickering, but there was alternating color. The colors were also a little soft in the stadium image.

Oppo BD 83

The Oppo image was stable, with good definition but there was still flicker in motion. Again the image was a bit soft.

Pioneer

Both Pioneers did well in their tests. Image quality was more than acceptable and participants were all impressed with the picture quality and they were in no way surpassed by the Oppo. Most felt their colors were the most neutral. Colors were a bit soft in the stadium shot.

Sony BD 765

The Sony had the sharpest image on the stadium shot but video resolution was not that good with flicker and the player also did not do as well as the Pioneers in motion.

It must be mentioned that the Samsung and the Denon had some HDMI sync issues which took a while and re-boots to get them going.

Sony PS 3

How did this old war horse do? Well not too shabby indeed. It could play everything, something the Denon could not (the AVCHD disc could not load up). And the images were more than serviceable. There was little between it and the middle segment. Colors were a little soft in the stadium shot. 
 
 
 So who came out tops for video?

I will get this out of the way first. Everyone was dying to know how the Denon did. I won’t hide the fact that the Denon was the best of the lot, except for the response time. This top of the pile machine performed the best for audio and video from our objective and subjective tests.

It was ranked best by most of the testers, even on repeat tests.

BUT…..

Here is the big caveat, we found that you could discern a difference between players. With the Denon, it was a step ahead of the rest, which even the Oppo could not outperform. For the big Oppo fans this may be a sad news, but take note of the big gap in price.

The Oppo was a fine performer, able to do much of what the Denon could do for less. With the added audio capabilities of SACD and DVD-A playback, it is quite a bargain.

The Pioneers were also very decent performers, keeping up with the Oppo, except in response time.

The Sony was no slouch and it had sharper images than many of the others in real images.

Finally the Panasonic which was identified as the lowest scoring model, was more than adequate in real tests.

If the results did not prove explicit or as conclusive as many may have wanted, then you would have reached the true thrust of the results.

In HT audio

Again the Denon was tops but the differences between the other players were so small via HDMI that it was hard to place the rest. They remained bunched up together. The differences from room treatment, speakers, amps etc will make a bigger difference. 
 
Discussion

Our tests were done in a rather exacting environment. Using a screen which measured 133” and using test discs and close scrutiny, with some going close to the screen to examine details, we did find differences.

Between the best and the worst, it was easier to differentiate. But given the price gulf of close to 10 times or more, the buyer will need to ask himself what kind of budget are you looking at?

This brings us to our recommendations.

Firstly, if money is no object and you want the best, and possess a large projector based setup, the Denon is the king. In terms of build quality, even response, and of course audio and picture quality, it is the top of the pile.

However for those with more real world budgets and more modest setups, the difference between the other players are far less.

If the display is a 40-50” flatscreen, the differences are much harder to pick up and you should choose the player based on other issues than merely the performance. Factors like feature set, price, ergonomics, or even compatibility with your system will matter more.

Again our tests were more concerned with HT performance.

The true is that the difference between players in terms of their Hi Def performance was much less than in the audio realm. In particular, for HT audio, the differences were simply not worth the price difference.

However if you are using it as an audio source, you need to audition more carefully.

If you are entering the world of Hi Def, understand your own needs better, and divide your funds accordingly. The subwoofer, amp and speakers will have a great impact on the whole HT experience.

The Pioneers impressed me with how well they did compared to the Oppo, and if you don’t like or don’t need the additional functions of the Oppo, they are a good bet.

For what is costs, the Oppo is an all round player which can be a blind buy that will satisfy buyers who like an all in one player.

Yet it is not that cheap and you can easily find many players for less than half that price. They will do their job well for Blu Ray and the differences in load up time, audio performance for HT may not be that important.

The Denon was like a Maserati to me, sleek, gleaming, and supremely well built. You don't buy top of the line items just for function. From my own experience with the Reference series Marantz, you pay for the tactile feel of top notch build quality, smooth controls - see how the drawer flows or oozes out....

Although it was not 5 times better than the Oppo, it was better and for those with deep pockets, rest assured your money goes somewhere tangible and visible.

The Oppo is not cheap either but offers multi-function and does perform better than the <$USD 200 crop. Yet, do not feel bad if the basic ones are all you aspire for. The difference is in audio and upscaling, so if you have a proper CD player and only use it for BR playback, you can indeed be happy with the cheaper and better value options. 
 
Limitations

At the end of the day, we could have been more stringent in our application of the test. Playing the same test disc, especially one with more challenging colors, movement and flicker may be better. Transformers II with its CGI based movie, may not be best test disc, especially for flesh tones.

There is also an element of fatigue and whether the sequence of players mattered. Also we need to spend more time calibrating the players to the processor and display, which may influence the results as all tests were done on players “raw” – without ISF or other calibrations to ensure the best outputs from the machines.

Finally we cannot emphasis more that this is not a test of audio performance.

We also did not test the upscaling capabilities of the players. As this gathering is mainly Hi Def based, none of the members felt that this was of much importance. So if you have a large collection of SD DVDs, you may want to check which gives you a better upscaler. But it is useful to go back and read up on this topic of upscaling. A good video chip in the projector can be good enough, or one in the player. You do not need more than one chip.


In the HT audio test, the gain needs to be carefully matched so any differences in sound quality are not due to a difference in volume. 
 
Time trials

Player Start up time Initiation time Time in seconds

Pioneer LX71 30 41.5
Pioneer Elite 23 21 35
Oppo 83 3 20
Sony 765 4 35
Samsung 2550 7 na
Panasonic BD60 23 37
Denon 7 38
PS3 ( 20 GB ) na 33
 
 
 

PM Lee's National Day Rally 2013 Speech

http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/pm-lee-outlines-new-way-forward-national-day-rally-2013-speech
http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/national-day-rally-2013-live-updates



This is a compilation and summary of PM Lee's National Day Rally 2013 Speech from his Facebook account, covering topics such as home ownership, healthcare, and education:
 
Introduction
PM began his English speech recapping the OurSGConversation (http://bit.ly/1cJT4ij) process. He said the OSC has been a very meaningful exercise. "We have listened to one another and created a firmer, shared basis to discuss and plan our future."
PM said that to achieve our aspirations, we need to take into account the world around us. He knows Singaporeans feel uncertain and anxious - technology and globalisation are widening income gaps, our population is ageing, and Singaporeans are worried about the cost of living, public transport, and other day-to-day problems. PM said: I understand your concerns, and I promise you - you will not be facing these challenges alone because we are all in it together. We will find a new way to thrive in this new environment.

Nation building, community and individuals
PM said we must make a strategic shift in our approach to nation building. Individuals must still do their best, but the Community and Government must do more to reduce the pressures on individuals.
The Community must take more initiative to solve problems and get things done. As Mr S Rajaratnam, one of our founding fathers, said, we must be a "democracy of deeds, not a democracy of words".
The Government will also do more to support individuals and community. It will make 3 important shifts: (1) Do more to give every citizen a fair share in the nation's success, raise incomes and wealth of the low-income; (2) Strengthen social safety nets, so that whatever happens to you, you can get the essential social services that you need; (3) Do more to keep paths upwards open to all, by bringing every child to a good starting point, and ensuring the less privileged are not shut out.

Home ownership
PM emphasised that home ownership has been and will continue to be an important way to share the fruits of our progress with all Singaporeans, and to level up the poor.
PM said he will make sure every Singaporean working family can afford an HDB flat - a family today earning $1,000 per month should be able to afford a 2-room flat; $2,000 per month a 3-room flat; and $4,000 per month a 4-room flat. Flat prices will be kept affordable so that people can use mostly CPF to pay off their loans, and have a 25 year loan instead of a 30 year loan.
Families in 2-room flats can look forward to more help to upgrade to 3-room flats later, as they improve their lives, through Step-Up Housing Grants. Lower- and middle-income households buying 3-room and 4-room flats for the first-time will also get more support - the Government will extend the existing Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG) to purchases of 4-room flats, extend it to middle-income households, and increase the SHG quantum.
PM: "We will always make sure that an HDB flat is always within reach - affordable and available to Singaporeans."

Healthcare
PM said that the Government will improve healthcare financing to give all Singaporeans peace of mind. It will provide more help with outpatient care. It will remove the age floor (currently 40) in the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) and increase subsidies for lower- and middle-income patients at Specialist Outpatient Clinics.
MediShield will be revamped to become MediShield Life. It will cover people for life (not up to 90) and be universal (covering every Singaporean, including those not currently covered, the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions). MediShield Life will also give better protection for very large bills. Because benefits and coverage are better, premiums will be higher. The Government will subsidise premiums for those who can't afford it. MOH will conduct a public consultation exercise on this major change.

Pioneer generation of Singaporeans
PM promised to take special care of our Pioneer Generation. They worked hard to build today's Singapore and paved the way for us to live better lives than themselves.
The Government will introduce a Pioneer Generation Package to help this group of elderly pay for their premiums under Medishield Life. This will make sure they are well-covered and will not need to worry about healthcare in their old age.

Education
PM highlighted the need to keep paths upwards wide open to all, especially through education. Government is investing to give children the best start in life. It will henceforth contribute to Edusave accounts of every school-going child, including madrasah students, home-schoolers and those studying overseas.
PM said we have an excellent education system, but our society is becoming more stratified, and competition is intensifying, focusing too much on exam performance and not enough on actual learning. We must recalibrate to keep our system open and focus efforts on things that matter.
PM announced changes to Primary 1 admissions and PSLE scoring. From next year, every primary school will set aside at least 40 places for children with no prior connection to the school. PSLE scoring will be changed (not this year) to use wider bands for grades like in 'O' or 'A' levels. This will reduce excessive competition to get that extra point, and give schools space to educate and develop students more holistically. MOE will announce more details.
PM said the Government will create flexibility in secondary schools for students to tailor their education to their abilities and development. Secondary 1 students will be allowed to take a subject at a higher level if they have done well in that subject in PSLE. Secondary students who are strong in some subjects but not others can then learn each subject at a pace appropriate to them, and build their confidence.
PM said it is good that we have outstanding schools in our system, but we need to keep admissions to these top schools open. These schools must not take just students with outstanding academic results but also very good students with other special qualities such as character, resilience, drive and leadership. They must make sure that those from low-income backgrounds are not put off from applying for fear they cannot afford it, or cannot fit in. MOE will broaden the Direct School Admissions scheme to do this, and enhance Financial Assistance and Bursary schemes substantially so that students who qualify and want to attend these schools can do so confidently.
Youth corps
PM stressed that the Community will have to do more to complement individual effort and Government programmes, and some have indeed shown that spirit during the recent haze crisis.
PM was encouraged that many young people are doing good work. The Government will encourage more youths to build a better world and a better Singapore. A volunteer youth corps will be formed. The Govt will provide funding for youth corps members to start and do their own community projects. The youth corps will also match youths with critical community needs to help them make a meaningful contribution to our nation. "You are our future. Go forth, and change Singapore and the world for the better," PM said.
New policies
PM said the new policies in housing, healthcare and education are significant shifts, and part of our new way forward. But he emphasised that Government's core purpose has not changed, and that is to ensure every Singaporean shares in the nation's progress, to support the less fortunate and vulnerable, to create opportunities for Singaporeans to do their best, and to build a stronger Singapore. It will take some time to work out policies and programmes to realise the new balance between Government, Community and Individual, and Government will take further steps as we gain experience.
PM stressed that the new strategic direction will take us down a different road from the one that has brought us this far. There is no turning back, PM said, but he believes this is the right thing to do given the changes in Singapore and the world. "We proceed. But let me sound a caution: All this is not without risk." Hence, we have to tread carefully, and beware the pitfalls.
PM: We must pass on to our children a better Singapore than the one we inherited. We owe it to them to do so, just as we owe what we have today to our founding generation. PM said his responsibility is to help our young build the Singapore of their dreams: A Singapore with Opportunities, Purpose, Assurance, Community Spirit and Trust, a home where we celebrate our many talents, and above all, a society where the human spirit flourishes.

New complex at Changi Airport, Shifting Paya Lebar Airbase for land, and moving container ports at Tanjong Pagar to Tuas
To realise these dreams, we need to do tangible things to build our city and improve our living environment. We are upgrading Changi Airport with a new complex codenamed Project Jewel, two new terminals and a fourth runway, to maintain our position as an international hub and create more opportunities for Singaporeans in future. We will move Paya Lebar Airbase to Changi. This will free up a big plot of land (bigger than Bishan or Ang Mo Kio) for new homes, offices, factories, parks and more in Paya Lebar. Relocating the airbase will also remove height restrictions on a large area around Paya Lebar, and allow us to redevelop eastern Singapore in new and exciting ways. The Government is also building a new port in Tuas and will move all container ports from Tanjong Pagar there eventually. This will free up prime land in Tanjong Pagar for a brand new Southern Waterfront City.
PM said these longer-term plans reflect our fundamental mindset and spirit - to be confident, to look ahead, to aim high. He said if we can carry off these plans, we will not have to worry about running out of space or possibilities in Singapore. We are creating possibilities and opportunities for the future, for our children and theirs to continue building, upgrading and reinventing our city for many more years.
Conclusion
In his conclusion, PM said that all these are not merely plans but acts of faith - in Singapore and in ourselves: that a generation from now, Singapore will still be here; that we can thrive in the world and hold our own against bigger and stronger competitors; that we can get our politics right and have honest, capable, trusted people to lead our country well; that we can stay together as one united people and make our dreams come true.
PM called on Singaporeans to work with him and with one another. "Together, let us forge our new way forward, to create a better Singapore for all of us."


I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

How to choose and setup a soundbar for your home


  • Firstly, what is a soundbar:

Soundbar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A soundbar or sound bar is a special loudspeaker enclosure that creates a reasonable stereo effect from a single cabinet.

  • Why use a soundbar?
Not everyone likes to have 5.1 or more speakers, and aesthetics are paramount in many homes. A soundbar fits under a TV, and has some resemblance of surround sound, allowing the HT enthusiast some cinematic experience, whilst avoiding the cables running everywhere.


But having said this, one must understand that a soundbar is merely as good as the reflections off the side walls, which it uses to recreate the surround experience. That means that if you have a room with irregular walls, or different textures on the wall, you will lose the regular effects and it can never be as good as a proper surround system.


The advantages are that you can get some effects and avoid ripping up the ceilings or walls to place cables.


Other factors to consider are:


- is there an integrated disc player - that costs more, and if the play breaks down, you will find it hard to repair
- number of inputs for your other gadgets - the more expensive ones have more inputs obviously
- subwoofer - active, built in or passive (having the subwoofer in the same head unit isn't a good idea
- auto-Eq and calibration - some better ones offer a one button solution, but good placement is still a good idea
- wireless subwoofer?
- there is no need to buy the same brand as your TV or BR player
- can you tilt or adjust the height of your soundbar?
- give yourself room to see the display
- can your shelf support the weight?
- more speakers in the soundbar isn't always better
- do you need pseudo 5.1 or 7.1?
- wall mount or tabletop?



Give some thought to placement of paintings, mirrors and bookshelves, so you try to get an even reflection of sound from all the side walls and even the ceiling. Also plan the cabling, even if it's a lot simpler.



A note, built in enough space, so you give yourself room if you expand and buy a better soundbar, or decide to upgrade to a full HT system.


Also, as with most satellite and sub systems, the mids are where soundbars perform worst. So if music is your cup of tea, make sure you bring some of your favorite tunes along, and audition the system in question for the mids, the soundstage and depth.

Finally, how much you pay frequently determines the quality of the sound and surround experience. Buy a good one, and you won't need to upgrade for a while. Don't cave in and get the cheapest only to regret it. And if you are really keen on a full home theatre experience, there is nothing like a real surround system. Talk to your spouse first.






Some useful links:


Setting Up:
Setting Up a Sound Bar to Enhance Your Flat Panel TV's Audio | Audioholics


Sound Bars: How to Choose



Sound bar buying guide: What you need to know | TV and Home Theater - CNET Reviews



8 best soundbar speakers for your HD TV | News | TechRadar


Read this before you buy a sound bar | TV and Home Theater - CNET Reviews


Five Tips to Pick the Right Soundbar


9 Great Soundbars For Any Budget: TV Speakers Be Gone! | Audioholics



The 38% rule to getting that rumble and thump...

 The 38% rule

There are two movable variables - the sitting position, and the subwoofer position. For a small home, sometimes neither is variable.
I had read up on this before, and understand that sitting in a null zone was negative, but I had a lot of limitations. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try and just move my main listening position a few feet forward, and try to get to the front 38%.

The result was rather satisfying actually. My subs remained as they were before, and I didn't even re-do the Audyssey, but suddenly the bass response from my mains, the centre and also the general rumble and thump went up a notch.

So do consider squeezing that seat forward back and forward a tad...


http://www.realtraps.com/art_room-setup.htm

[quote]
THE 38 PERCENT RULE
The placement method used here is based on the "38 percent rule" which theorizes that the best listening position is 38 percent into the length of the room, when measured from either the front or rear wall. This offers the best compromise of peaks versus nulls for any given room size. For 2-channel listening you'll get the flattest low frequency response by sitting 38 percent of the way back from the front wall. However, this is not practical in many home theaters, especially those with large screens, because that puts you too close to the screen. Fortunately, you can get the same benefit by sitting 38 percent of the room length when measured from the rear wall.
Please understand that 38% is one theoretical best location to begin measurements, but it may not end up the best place to sit due to other factors - wall properties, speaker location, speaker type, furnishings in the room, and a host of other conditions that can affect frequency response. The only way to know which location really is most flat is to measure the low frequency response at high resolution using software such as ETF, FuzzMeasure, or Room EQ Wizard.
Once you know the ideal listening position from the front or rear wall, the next step is to place the loudspeakers. The speakers and listening position should be at the points of an equilateral triangle, as shown in Figures 1 and 2. Note that the theoretical point of the triangle is just behind your head, with the axis lines grazing your ears.
If you have the ETF program or RealTraps Test Tone CD, or another way to accurately measure your room's low frequency response, you can experiment with different speaker distances by sliding both speakers along each axis while you measure the response. Otherwise, put them along the axis at a distance that is convenient and makes sense for the size and layout of your room. Too often people obsess over minute details that matter only a little, while ignoring ergonomic concerns that matter much more. Top





I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

Get The Gringo - movie review

Another day with the Neural X, and DTS-X, and I took out a disc from the not too distant past: Get The Gringo A relatively simple plo...