Thought I'd create a list of HD channels that do *something* to reduce the quality of their broadcast over what it should be.
CBS/WIVB & CW/WNLO - Recently started upconverting SD programming's stereo soundtrack to 5.1, and in doing so the center dialogue channel is now duplicated to every other channel on all programming, including native 5.1 shows, resulting in an effect where voices come from everywhere. Due to this the audio track now sounds compressed and jumbled.
Global/CIII - Noticably softer image than originating networks. Several audio issues on all programming: too much bass, giving it a boomy/muffled quality. Rear channels appear to be delayed over front channels, resulting in strong echo effects when the original program is trying to itself create an echo (such as in Bones - their lab sounds like a stadium instead of... a lab).
City TV - Several audio issues on all programming: somewhat too much bass; center channel dialogue is soft; rear channels are both too loud and delayed from the front channels.
ABC/WKBW - Audio issues only on 2.0 material upconverted to 5.1: the center dialogue channel is duplicated to all 3 front channels (sort of like Pro-Logic II Music mode). Original 5.1 programming, however, is fine. Also does not yet show syndicated shows (such as WOF/Jeopardy) in HD.
NBC/WGRZ - Still broadcasting in 2.0 stereo! Besides for this omission, their audio and video quality is absolutely fine.
Last edited by Daniel Tonks
on October 6, 2008 23:15.
Likely nobody, that's the problem. I bet more often than not, broadcasters are already short-staffed in their engineering departments, and throw in DTV and they're simply unable to attend to it all. They probably have to contract-out consulting and installation/maintenance services for a new transmitter equipment; I work in a comparable environment where I see that approach fall apart all the time -- i.e. the full-time technicians don't know jack about "all this new stuff" that some external supplier installed and management doesn't see why this is a problem since at least the company is "moving forward"...
See my comments above about infancy. :) The standards are all established, but getting the transmission engineers up to speed may be the issue. As part of my work I've been to many TV transmitter locations (I work in microwave) and I don't recall ever meeting one younger than 55. Not that I consider that old mind you. :)
Bruce, don't hold back. Let us know how you really feel. ;) I've never worked in a union shop myself. I guess the way I see it is if a company has unionized staff there must have been problems in the past that ruined the management-staff relationship thereby requiring the union to come in. Thus ensuring a soured relationship for evermore. I used to run a production line and two of the employees were ex-union types and always bemoaning the fact they used to make so much more money. They were without question the two least productive of the lot.
I noticed that City's audio wasn't nearly as bad this past week. Surround channels are still at least 2-3db too loud, but dialogue seemed much better - I could actually understand what people on Crusoe were saying for a change.
I don't know what WGRZ is doing, but it sounds wretched on my system regardless of setting. I don't have one of these new fancy-assed digital receivers though. Just a Dolby pro-logic surround system from yesteryear.
Well, HD technology should be perfect now, it will take a while for the broadcasters to catch up. Consider that up until about 10 years ago, TV had mono sound only, then they added Stereo, but most studios were probably still mono for a long time, some may still be. Now they mostly have stereo speakers in their control rooms, they may not have 5.1 and that may take a while to get right. Considering that the number of 5.1 TV's is probably well under 1% of the total, it will be years before it really matters.
There are two kinds of TV users, those on cable/satellite and those on OTA.
Cable/Sattellite, probably over 90% of all viewers. With cable set top boxes required for HD cable channels whether you have an HD capable TV or not, because the cable companies charge extra for digital channels, there is no real need for that to change, cable can feed you an analog copy of a digital channel as easily as an analog one. There is no reason to have a digital TV if your getting an analog copy from your cable company, because you don't want to spend another $17.50/month for the digital TV package. I expect that once the digital conversion is complete the cable companies will reverse that aspect, in that they will give you the digital channels for free and charge extra for analog, because only 20% of their customers have digital, and they are a greedy lot.
For OTA users, I expect that when the digital conversion happens, most will buy new TV's. If a digital conversion box is $100, and a new digital TV is under $400 (many are), any TV/VCR over about 5 years of age will get retired. We have one digital capable TV, the VCR is analog and the second TV is analog. I expect to replace the VCR with a PVR sometime in 2010 and the second TV in 2011.
Seems though finding OTA based PVR's is very difficult, most retailers only have satellite or cable compatable ones, but that's another thread for another time.
Consider that up until about 10 years ago, TV had mono sound only
HDTV has been broadcasting in some form in Buffalo for about 7 years, so I think stereo NTSC has been around a lot longer than 10 years. Heck, I have a 1986 Sony 13" television with stereo NTSC reception, for both cable and antenna. Sure, some stations were really, really slow to start broadcasting stereo (almost entirely due to budgets), but everything's been there, waiting.
After at least 7 years worth of practical experience in the industry, I would expect close to perfection from most broadcasting stations. And generally the problems I've seen this year have nothing to do with actual technology limitations or even bugs that haven't been worked out - but rather the specific choices made by the station.
For example, it's more work and costs more to set up an auto volume leveller versus NOT having one. However it should cost the same to configure one correctly, verus Global who insists on doing it incorrectly.
And I agree the biggest problem seems to be that stations just don't watch themselves, so no one ever notices that the rear channels are swapped with the center channel, or that the picture breaks up during flashback scenes on CSI (which took years for WIVB to nail down).
Cable companies aren't any better. I recall a few years ago it took Rogers over 6 months to correct a problem where they were only broadcasting CTV with left channel audio. And then the problem switched to two different stations for another month until they noticed. Of course, my reports of the problem fell on deaf ears... I recall one rep saying that "if it were that way, then all of Toronto would be like that"... well, so? :-)
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