I decided to take some time to quickly write about the subject of sound quality, in terms of video streaming services. I’m not going to go into anything technical, because there’s so much to audio that it would make your head spin. It truly is hard to keep up, unless you are already working inside the technical areas of film and music. Software engineers are frequently developing new ‘n’ improved sound and video codecs for all devices. There are quite a few popular codecs, some of them are PCM, DTS-MA, DTS-HD & Dolby HDtrue DDPlus, AC3, and all are uncompressed. Now, which ones are the best? Well, some times that all depends on the ear that is listening to them. They’re those people who will say that there is absolutely no difference them; then there are others who’d think that “those” people are crazy and out of there minds. There are those who think that PCM is better, but in my opinion, it is louder not necessarily better. However, many people have always associated a louder sound with better quality, and that’s just not true. Personally, I think it also boils down to the equipment, in addition to how it is setup. The best analogy I can think of is, if you’re still using an old analog television, and you’ve connected a Blu-Ray player to it, you’re not going to see a big difference in quality. But unfortunately, those people will make an unwavering assumption that it doesn’t matter what you use, all sound and video are the same; which is not quite correct. Other times we don’t have much of a choice. Personally I’ve always preferred DTS; in fact, older movies that were originally recorded in DTS were exponentially better. I’m not sure what happened with the newer DTS, all I can tell you, it doesn’t sound as crisp and pristine as it once was. But unfortunately, the vast majority of movies now are produced using either PCM or DD5.1/DD True (although DD5.1 is better than PCM, but neither is as good as DTS). Eventually I realized it doesn’t make any sense bitching about it, because our equipment can only process what’s encoded on the Blu-Ray. Sometimes studios would come out with special edition Blu-Rays that would include different codecs, but that also means you’re usually spending more money because it’s most likely a collector’s item.
There is also one more factor we may not realize. I’ve written quite a lot about fake 3D movies, where a movie studio would print 3D on the package, however, in reality they’re just 3D conversions, because it cost too much to shoot in 3D. Well, the truth of the matter is, sound is kind of like that too. Depending on how the movie was produced, or sometimes even how old the movie is, you may not get improved sound just because your movie is on Blu-Ray. For instance, A Blu-Ray may state that an old movie has DTS 5.1/7.1 sound; but in reality, all they did what copy the same sound to 5-7 channels; giving the illusion that it is actually 5.1/7.1. Yet, they will charge you 40-70% more because it’s on Blu-Ray. Anybody who is real finicky about sound, would know right away that it’s fake.
I don’t think movie fans talk about this much, maybe a lot of us haven’t realized it yet. But sound quality have improved tremendously in the video streaming world. Do you realized that video sound on streaming is now superior to cable? Granted, I’m not familiar with all the major cable companies out there, but, lets look at the company I am for familiar with, CableVision. If you browse through your premium HD movie channels, and even a lot of the “Pay-Per-View” movies, all of them are in HD Stereo sound (actually I shouldn’t say all, but a significant number of them are stereo). Some of the HD channels are still only broadcasting 720p, WTF?? But Netflix movies are both HD and DTS/DD 5.1, and Netflix movies cost in the pennies in comparison to cable movies. Hulu also has Dolby Digital 5.1 movies, but they may be available only on certain devices. I think Amazon is DD5.1 too (on Roku/Amazon Fire/SmartTV). There are even some totally free streaming services that have DD5.1 as well, I think it was TubiTV I saw it. So why can’t cable? [By the way, google movies are regular stereo; I purchased Vampire Hunter, Battleship and Prometheus and they were stereo when I bought them. @ $15, I should have gotten bare minimum DD5.1. Never again] Because of issues like these, I never saw a good reason to buy a 4K TV, when very few things would be able to watch on 4K. By the time 4K becomes standard, your unit would be out of warranty and time for a new one. Although Netflix has 4K streaming available, they are a small selection (not Netflix fault). It’s so important to understand these technologies before you spend your hard earned money. These are just more reasons why cable/premium networks/HBO, etc.) companies will eventually go down by the next 15-20 years (maybe not extinct, but they will crumble significantly). Trust me, as soon as T-mobile’s bandwidth improves (probably around 6-7G), I will have no need for cable.
You know the interesting thing about all of this? Cable companies will tier your internet bandwidth to make more money, but in terms of actually watching movies on through your cable box, it’s full bandwidth, so there’s no reason they should be holding back on any parts of movie quality (especially sound). As a whole, in the era of movie streaming, most very old movies will never be remastered because of cost. But at least we can expect the highest of video and audio quality for all future movies, as digital technology improves, and cost goes down for the independent film maker. As Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon stream continue to grow, I wouldn’t be surprised if later on down the line; HBO, ShowTime, Starz, and all the other greedy networks start offering 1 and 2 year deals to win back customers. Kind of like how movie studios started packaging Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital bundles! Now, why would I want 3 versions of the same movie? Well, I guess I can give two away, maybe that’s it! Involuntarily pay more money for a movie, to give as a gift to someone else. Or they may just decide to come up with their own streaming service, which will cost just as much as cable if not more. Like the music industry, they had to make some serious changes and adjust for this current economy; the movie industry will learn the same. Can’t continue to charge these bloated prices, or the same circulated movies.