Audiophiles vs Cinavia: DRM that kills lossless sound on Blu-ray? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 137 Old 10-24-2010, 03:46 PM - Thread Starter
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I was curious, what is the take of AVSFORUM on CINAVIA for BLU-RAY, especially audiophiles? Read further below if you are not aware how this DRM damages soundtracks.

If you haven't heard of it, it is an audio watermark that serves two purposes. The first does not pertain to Blu-ray Discs, while the second does.

The first use is for people who cam movies in the theater then upload them - cinavia has an audio watermark in the soundtrack that can be picked up by players, which will then disable playback of the disc or mute the sound.

The second use is for Blu-ray, if you take your original Blu-ray disc and make a copy, Cinavia will detect the lack of AACS and mute sound or halt playback of the disc.


Now, putting aside why this DRM was made and whose fault it was (i.e. pirates vs studios), lets look at some of the A/V facts of it:
* CINAVIA is an AUDIO WATERMARK, thus it must be detectible in the soundtrack in order for it to work

* CINAVIA audio information is present across the whole spectrum of frequencies, including audible frequency ranges. It has already been tested and removing inaudible frequency ranges does not remove CINAVIA. Therefore, it is arguable CINAVIA does more damage to the master than high bitrate lossy sound encoding.

* CINAVIA's is present in all channels

* CINAVIA is now a requirement for all BD players

Now, here is the big question:

How could you possibly still consider a soundtrack "lossless" if it has CINAVIA DRM?

To me, those two things are incompatible. We know its in all channels, and we know it is definitely in the audible frequency range. We also know its main purpose is DRM and nothing more. So, once this foreign sound is implanted onto a lossless master, the master is essentially no longer lossless. It has been contaminated by the watermark in the audible spectrum and there is no way to restore the original lossless audio.

Next question, "how much damage does it do?" Answer, does it really matter? I mean, DTS lossy soundtracks sound pretty awesome, but if we are paying $25 for a disc with a lossless soundtrack, we should get a disc with a lossless soundtrack - not one that has more damage done to it than the typical lossy sound encode. Heck, at least DD/DTS lossy attempts to make as little audible impact as possible. CINAVIA's purpose is DRM, so even if it significantly degrades the soundtrack, it has done its job - in fact the more durable the watermark is, the more damage it does!

So far only two Blu-ray Discs have been released with CINAVIA:
The Karate Kid (2010)
and
The Losers

I'm sure these discs sound fine. But could they have sounded better with true lossless free of CINAVIA watermark contamination? I guess audiophiles will never know . It is a shame the piracy battle has gotten to the point where the A/V quality is now impacted for the paying customer as a result of antipiracy measures. Of course, there are already countermeasures being made to remove the protection by the usual suspects, but even those countermeasures could never restore the original lossless soundtrack as it is permanently damaged by the watermark.

I personally will likely avoid purchasing the above Blu-ray discs and any others with CINAVIA... But what are your thoughts?

-Ruined

Vote with your wallet. Don't buy Cinavia-infected Blu-ray Discs! Why pay a premium for pseudo-lossless audio damaged by an intrusive watermark in the audible spectrum?
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post #2 of 137 Old 10-24-2010, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruined View Post

I personally will likely avoid purchasing the above Blu-ray discs and any others with CINAVIA... But what are your thoughts?

-Ruined

Might just possibly be an overreaction on your part. Until some verifiable audio testing can be done to show that there's any audible effect - or even a theoretical audible effect - there's not much purpose to getting all in a tizzy over this.

The fact that players are required to be compliant has no bearing on audio quality. There's no requirement for any studios to use this protection either. And unless it's free for studios to use, don't expect to see it except on high-profile titles.

Further, it remains to be seen if it actually works to prevent theater recordings from being used. IOW, their claims that it works doesn't equal it actually working. This type of thing tends to be pretty easy for technically savvy pirates to get around.

But any claims of it harming AQ on BD discs are premature.
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post #3 of 137 Old 10-24-2010, 04:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, its a watermark. All watermarks functionally work by modifying the source content with audiovisual information that can be picked up by the watermark reader. The more durable the watermark, the more damage it does.

Now, in this case, this could easily have been done by putting the watermark in an inaudible frequency range. However, it has been confirmed that CINAVIA on Blu-ray is, in fact, in the audible frequency range and throughout most of it. In fact, I have read you can even resample a 48khz cinavia track to 32khz, apply filters like LPF, and the water mark is still intact - this means the watermark is durable and fully within the audible spectrum.

So, because of this common sense would still dictate that the track is no longer lossless and that there is some degradation of sound quality. Even if it is some minor artifacting, the fact is the audible frequency range *is* modified by CINAVIA. Without access to the master or an uncontaminated track, we have no idea how bad the degradation is. But, the definition of lossless is transparency to the master; obviously with CINAVIA watermarking damaging/modifying the audible range of frequencies the Blu-ray is no longer transparent to the master.

My main point is, why should paying consumers have their audio degraded in any way when they are paying $25/disc for a disc advertised as lossless, when it is really a lossy master (due to the DRM) encoded as lossless? You know like every other DRM this one will be broken, only difference is this time the DRM actually degrades the soundtrack (and even when broken, there is no way of restoring that degradation).

Vote with your wallet. Don't buy Cinavia-infected Blu-ray Discs! Why pay a premium for pseudo-lossless audio damaged by an intrusive watermark in the audible spectrum?
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post #4 of 137 Old 10-24-2010, 07:37 PM
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The studios are getting ever more desperate, it appears. I was unaware of this technology, and it is somewhat disconcerting that it's being applied to commercially released BDs. I will avoid purchasing Blu-rays in the future that feature Cinavia.
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post #5 of 137 Old 10-24-2010, 08:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruined View Post

My main point is, why should paying consumers have their audio degraded in any way when they are paying $25/disc for a disc advertised as lossless, when it is really a lossy master (due to the DRM) encoded as lossless? You know like every other DRM this one will be broken, only difference is this time the DRM actually degrades the soundtrack (and even when broken, there is no way of restoring that degradation).

There's no credible evidence that any audio has been degraded in any way. Till there is such evidence, your argument doesn't make much sense.
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post #6 of 137 Old 10-24-2010, 08:39 PM
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What does the term lossless have to do with this? Lossless just means that there is no change in the data when it is compressed and then uncompressed. Cinavia would come into play presumably in the master before compression.

Back off man, I'm a scientist.
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post #7 of 137 Old 10-24-2010, 08:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sharkcohen View Post

What does the term lossless have to do with this? Lossless just means that there is no change in the data when it is compressed and then uncompressed. Cinavia would come into play presumably in the master before compression.

Correct. Plus for all we know they are ADDING something to the audio, not subtracting. It's a complete unknown, but certainly no evidence that it's bad for the audio.
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post #8 of 137 Old 10-24-2010, 09:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Calling a track "lossless" is misleading when the fidelity of the master has purposely been compromised with a watermark in the audible stream. Watermarks damage the fidlity of the source, using the terms "adding" or "subtracting" is irrelevant, generally watermarks end up doing both (adding noise that masks previously visibile/audible data).

Would you also be okay with the studios calling the audio for the Alien Anthology "Lossless 5.1" on the back if they downmixed the master to mono for all the films prior to encoding to 5.1? I think not. The term "lossless" implies transparent to the master, and you'd hope it implies that at least some care was taken in not degrading/butchering the master prior to encoding.

Unfortunately with CINAVIA, we'll never know how much better a title could have sounded without the watermark in the audible stream. If you are curious how a watermark works, there are several programs available that can do a/v watermarks. Most commonly they introduce noise into the source - the more durable you make the watermark (more resistant to a/v processing) the more noise it adds masking previous visible/audible data... so I'm assuming Cinavia does something similar as well as we know for a fact it is a watermark system throughout the audible frequency range and in all channels.

This is Blu-ray, if you wanted "good enough" multichannel audio, DVD offers that with DD/DTS.

Vote with your wallet. Don't buy Cinavia-infected Blu-ray Discs! Why pay a premium for pseudo-lossless audio damaged by an intrusive watermark in the audible spectrum?
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post #9 of 137 Old 10-24-2010, 09:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post

There's no credible evidence that any audio has been degraded in any way. Till there is such evidence, your argument doesn't make much sense.

Agreed, also the OP doesn't seem to understand what "lossless" means.

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post #10 of 137 Old 10-24-2010, 09:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by thehun View Post

Agreed, also the OP doesn't seem to understand what "lossless" means.

I suggest you don't assume what I do or do not understand. Perhaps you should research my posting history before posting such things.

I really don't think that much effort is required to understand the point. We are paying top dollar for discs, we are promised lossless audio master quality, if we are not given that due to DRM mechanisms that have now been proven to modify the audible frequency spectrum then we are being misled and should not be charged top dollar. Yes, the encode itself may be lossless but a lossless encode is pointless if the master is purposefully marred by the studio to begin with prior to encode. Again, this is not DVD, this is Blu-ray.

Quote from the DTS website:
"A disc encoded with DTS-HD Master Audio delivers ALL of the information from the original master recording — bit-for-bit, it's identical to what the sound engineers laid down."

If that disc has CINAVIA, DTS' claim is a lie. DTS-MA is then only delivering a master post-processed with CINAVIA throughout the audible frequency spectrum of all channels, not the original studio master bit-for-bit identical to what the sound engineers laid down.

Vote with your wallet. Don't buy Cinavia-infected Blu-ray Discs! Why pay a premium for pseudo-lossless audio damaged by an intrusive watermark in the audible spectrum?
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post #11 of 137 Old 10-24-2010, 09:25 PM
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"The Karate Kid" as an illegal BR rip has been available long before the actual BR came out, so id say you don't have to much to worry about (tried, tested and failed).
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post #12 of 137 Old 10-24-2010, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by rover2002 View Post

"The Karate Kid" as an illegal BR rip has been available long before the actual BR came out, so id say you don't have to much to worry about (tried, tested and failed).

Nonsense. The purpose isn't to prevent ripping, but to prevent playback. If you try to play one of those Blu-ray rips on your PS3 (etc.) with up-to-date firmware you will get a nasty surprise.

OP, "The Losers" has been released in the UK by Optimum Home Entertainment and is soon to be released in France by StudioCanal (same company). Those should be useful for an ABX test or (more likely) computer analysis.
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post #13 of 137 Old 10-24-2010, 10:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruined View Post

Now, in this case, this could easily have been done by putting the watermark in an inaudible frequency range. However, it has been confirmed that CINAVIA on Blu-ray is, in fact, in the audible frequency range and throughout most of it. In fact, I have read you can even resample a 48khz cinavia track to 32khz, apply filters like LPF, and the water mark is still intact - this means the watermark is durable and fully within the audible spectrum.

What frequency is the Cinavia track (watermark) at?

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post #14 of 137 Old 10-25-2010, 02:00 AM
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In my opinion, the soundtrack is encoded in a lossless format, therefore it is lossless.

An audio watermark should not be detectable to the human ear because they will deliberately set it to be at a level which is so low as to disappear beneath the general hiss/noise of powered speakers. That doesn't change the nature of the original lossless soundtrack. It is still lossless on the disc. If additional low-level information is encoded for watermarking, and you can't see or hear it - who cares?

Oh, and by the way - I'm incredibly picky about audio. I've been known to buy multiple versions of music on CD to try to find the best-sounding one. But even I have my limits.
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post #15 of 137 Old 10-25-2010, 02:45 AM
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I'm not sure that it kills lossless sound, but I just don't like it because it is a really annoying form of DRM.

Let's say you're videotaping a party and somebody has a Blu-ray on (in the background, but it's still even slightly audible) and you try to play that back on a Cinavia protected BD player... Guess what? It will mute playback of that segment of the party you recorded because it detects the Cinavia from the BD that was in the background. You then have to (according to Cinavia.com):

If the video that you are playing is a home movie or other personal recording that includes some professionally produced content (including the audio track of a professionally produced video), to play your recording without muting you may either:

* Pause the video, wait 30 seconds for the audio to be un-muted, then skip over those portions where the professionally produced material is used and continue playing the rest of the video, or
* Pause the video, wait 30 seconds for the audio to be un-muted, then play video from a different optical disc for at least 10 minutes before continuing playback of this video.

Wow. So, while I'm not sure if Cinavia makes an audio track lossless or not, it most certainly adds something to the track that will annoy the heck out of you if you ever want to tape something with Cinavia in the background and then play it on a Cinavia protected player.

lol - imagine some annoying kids who rip the audio of a Cinavia protected disk and then copy it to their iPod just so they could play it in the background (on a low volume, near the camera) while somebody records you making a speech or something (imagine if it's at your wedding!) - no watching that on your Blu-ray player after the honeymoon.
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post #16 of 137 Old 10-25-2010, 03:15 AM
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Cinavia is, quite frankly, the most pathetically desperate form of DRM that has ever existed. It also has a very simple workaround, if you have to capability to bitstream the audio to a receiving device. Audio receivers will not look for it, since they only work with already decrypted material. Even if they're passing through video, the video is already decrypted by the player.

However, if companies decide to add this garbage to audio receivers, we could be looking at some serious "handshake" issues, in the future.
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post #17 of 137 Old 10-25-2010, 04:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msgohan View Post

Nonsense. The purpose isn't to prevent ripping, but to prevent playback. If you try to play one of those Blu-ray rips on your PS3 (etc.) with up-to-date firmware you will get a nasty surprise.

OP, "The Losers" has been released in the UK by Optimum Home Entertainment and is soon to be released in France by StudioCanal (same company). Those should be useful for an ABX test or (more likely) computer analysis.

Nonsense to your nonsense
A friend gave me the rip which played (and as far as i know still does) flawlessly

On a side note i am against piracy in general and as long as you can't tell the difference with this DRM, whats the problem?
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post #18 of 137 Old 10-25-2010, 04:13 AM
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Come on, play nice.

Please keep discussion limited to this one thing. General talk about DRM and piracy will result in a lock. It's not like it's something new. Thanks.

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post #19 of 137 Old 10-25-2010, 04:51 AM
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I would like to see someone clearly make the comparisons. One of the early forms of "watermarking" cd music was easily heard by audiophiles. i have long fogotten all the details, but perhaps others will remember. Indeed, it may have been a proposed system

could be the same here (hear, hear) or maybe not. If audible, I would suspicion what it would do is blur some of the details which I beleive was the complaint with the cd watermark system for music. It may not be audible for many until they hear the difference, and then sometimes, they will not be able to forget it, and will be stuck with hearing it whenever they hear sound that has been so encoded, much like with early cd and processors.

For example, I was very happy with the CD sound, until I started doing AB comparisons between LP and cd. Once I heard the difference, I could not escape it whenever a CD was playing and so I still listen to LP rather than the typical CD (excluding DVD-audio and SACD, which sound excellent when compared to the LP sound...)

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post #20 of 137 Old 10-25-2010, 07:27 AM
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I've yet to see a claim or demonstration that anyone has actually been able to hear anything as a result of Cinavia. Has anyone?

Cinavia is understandably vague (opaque, rather) as to the exact nature of these audio signals. So we don't know what to listen for. Further (or am I wrong?) there's no release available that has it where there is an identical release avaiolable without it for A/B comparison. So if there are audible artifacts that result from its use, there's no way to attribute them to Cinavia.

In theory, certainly, adding anything to the signal changes it so that the 100% correspondence with some theoretical "master," which is what we usually mean when we talk about lossless, is gone. Of course, it's not that common for the theatrical multitrack master to be transferred to a BD unaltered; my understanding is that home video releases are commonly remastered (if not remixed) BD and DVD release, and that would be the point where this Cinavia signal was added. If the mastering engineers were hearing audible side effects from this, I'd think we'd have heard about it by now.

Lossless encoding takes place after mastering, of course, so technically it would still be "lossless" because Cinavia is now part of the master. And Cinavia wouldn't even work with lossy encoding, I'd think, because the Cinavia signal would be deleted as "insignificant."

Nevertheless, it is certainly possible for very low-level content mixed with an audio program to subtly alter the sound of the program. A/B comparisons are the only way to tell, and only the mastering engineers seem to be in a position to conduct them.

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post #21 of 137 Old 10-25-2010, 08:25 AM
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I'd question whether even mastering engineers are able to A-B the audio pre and post mastering with respect to Cinavia. Couldn't the Cinavia watermarks be placed in the original audio and just left there? My assumption is that the film will have the Cinavia watermark from it's inception and carried over from the theatrical release to the video release with no intervention required.
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post #22 of 137 Old 10-25-2010, 09:35 AM - Thread Starter
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An A/B comparison would be excellent to identify just how much damage is done.

Unfortunately, CINAVIA does not allow for this, so we are left guessing how much better it could have sounded. I doubt they ever will, too, as if a shortcoming is found in their watermark it would hinder their business plan. Also making a A/B test public would help hackers crack the DRM so it is doubtful this would ever occur.

It is a fact, though, that the mark is present in all channels and throughout the audible freq range. We just don't know exactly how aggressive it is and how much harm it does to the master. Even if it is something like 5% worse to use a quantitative example, when we are paying $25/disc labelled as having lossless audio we shouldn't have to settle for that.

It seems as DRM gets more and more aggressive it increases the collateral damage of paying consumers!

Vote with your wallet. Don't buy Cinavia-infected Blu-ray Discs! Why pay a premium for pseudo-lossless audio damaged by an intrusive watermark in the audible spectrum?
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post #23 of 137 Old 10-25-2010, 09:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruined View Post

Calling a track "lossless" is misleading when the fidelity of the master has purposely been compromised with a watermark in the audible stream.

"Lossless" is a compression term. Like many people, you are using the word wrong.

Back off man, I'm a scientist.
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post #24 of 137 Old 10-25-2010, 09:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sharkcohen View Post

"Lossless" is a compression term. Like many people, you are using the word wrong.

I know exactly what lossless means, research my posting history. I have written articles for print magazines on compression & codecs.

However it remains misleading to market something as lossless and "bit for bit identical" to what was laid down by audio engineers (per DTS) when the studio purposefully damaged the audio master prior to encoding by post processing a watermark in all channels of the audible frequency spectrum for DRM purposes. Again, this is Blu-ray and not DVD, we should get maximum fidelity available.

Vote with your wallet. Don't buy Cinavia-infected Blu-ray Discs! Why pay a premium for pseudo-lossless audio damaged by an intrusive watermark in the audible spectrum?
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post #25 of 137 Old 10-25-2010, 09:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post

I'd question whether even mastering engineers are able to A-B the audio pre and post mastering with respect to Cinavia. Couldn't the Cinavia watermarks be placed in the original audio and just left there? My assumption is that the film will have the Cinavia watermark from it's inception and carried over from the theatrical release to the video release with no intervention required.

This is not how it has occurred in the wild, the cinema & home CINAVIA do not appear connected.

For a real world example, Scott Pilgrim had CINAVIA in the theatrical master, but the Blu-ray does not have Cinavia it in its tracks.

It is unlikely that a studio would bake a damaging watermark into their movies as the only master. It appears what they are doing is adding it to certain titles via post processing - but it is selective and not across the board of theatrical/home release.

Vote with your wallet. Don't buy Cinavia-infected Blu-ray Discs! Why pay a premium for pseudo-lossless audio damaged by an intrusive watermark in the audible spectrum?
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post #26 of 137 Old 10-25-2010, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdclark View Post

I've yet to see a claim or demonstration that anyone has actually been able to hear anything as a result of Cinavia. Has anyone?

The only way to try, as far as I know, is to obtain a rip of a movie that has Cinavia (or you could rip your own Blu-ray and rip the DVD-quality core audio, since Cinavia will be activated due to it being a rip), and then obtain the actual DVD audio (which is without Cinavia), and play them back to back. I don't know the details of which Blu/DVD has DTS or DD, so I don't know if they would even sound the same...

But, long story short: If you want to do any kind of comparison, you have to rip the Blu-ray audio to DVD quality, and then compare it to the Cinavia-free DVD audio. That seems to be the only possible way.
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post #27 of 137 Old 10-25-2010, 11:02 AM
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Further, it remains to be seen if it actually works to prevent theater recordings from being used. IOW, their claims that it works doesn't equal it actually working. This type of thing tends to be pretty easy for technically savvy pirates to get around.

Maybe it will prevent recording with certain equipment but it certainly won't stop recording with an analogue recorder. It won't stop the use of just an A/D converter. And unless the play back equipment is designed to recognize it it won't stop any thing being played back. How many cinema rips get played back on BD players? Usually they are played off of hard drivers or burned to DVDs.

Claims that it will stop camcordering seem like they are on par with putting a magnet on your carburettor to get 100MPG.
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post #28 of 137 Old 10-25-2010, 11:40 AM
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Lets put everything in perspective, Lossless is a compression term and have nothing to do with any change that is done to the master before its encoded. I could build an encoder that removes noise before the encoding phase and would still be classified as a lossless encode.

But of course for users here that buys a movie, expect that a lossless track is the same as the studio master. From that perspective a Cinavia title wouldnt be lossless. But from a listening perspective I doubt anyone would be able to hear the difference.

Compare this to 16bit lossless tracks that comes from 24bit masters. They are lossless encodes of converted masters. And can be marketed as lossless.

Good movies are as rare as an on topic discussion.
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post #29 of 137 Old 10-25-2010, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by DeAd MiKe 187 View Post

But, long story short: If you want to do any kind of comparison, you have to rip the Blu-ray audio to DVD quality, and then compare it to the Cinavia-free DVD audio. That seems to be the only possible way.

That wouldn't tell you anything, because the lossy transcoding would likely strip the Cinavia watermark anyway: it's supposed to be inaudible, and that's what lossy encoding does -- remove inaudible sound. The result wouldn't be equivalent to the DVD's audio because the encoding path would be different.

That's why Cinavia by definition is only for lossless masters.

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post #30 of 137 Old 10-25-2010, 12:29 PM - Thread Starter
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That wouldn't tell you anything, because the lossy transcoding would likely strip the Cinavia watermark anyway: it's supposed to be inaudible, and that's what lossy encoding does -- remove inaudible sound. The result wouldn't be equivalent to the DVD's audio because the encoding path would be different.

That's why Cinavia by definition is only for lossless masters.

Except the Blu-ray Cinevia watermark is in the audible spectrum and actually lossy encoding actually does not strip Cinavia. (this has been tried already)

There have already been attempts to remove *all* inaudible frequencies of the Cinevia BD soundtracks via various filter combinations, but Cinavia remains. Re-sample to 32khz? Cineavia remains. Re-encode with lossy encoding? Cinavia remains.

The only thing that has been found to render the watermark unreadable thus far is significantly raising the pitch of all audible frequencies in all channels - i.e. chipmunk voices. I would not consider that true defeat of the DRM because it renders the soundtrack unlistenable, but it does demonstrate exactly how embedded the watermark is when less aggressive modifications of the soundtrack leave the watermark intact.

These factors imply Cinevia is very durable, and thus is likely damaging the audible frequencies to a significant extent - as increased durability with watermarks generally means increased noise and masking/distorting of original audible information. We don't know how much because the encoder is not public and never will be. Buyer beware!!

Vote with your wallet. Don't buy Cinavia-infected Blu-ray Discs! Why pay a premium for pseudo-lossless audio damaged by an intrusive watermark in the audible spectrum?
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