The New PQ Tier thread for Blu-Ray - Discussion - Page 750 - AVS | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #22471 of 22497 Old 04-18-2015, 07:32 AM
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Yeah Phantom, how about that! It's probably my FIRST "double barrel placement."

I should have mentioned two things: 1) The November Man had MANY scenes that may cause some to consider the Top Tier, but there were inconsistencies. Some scenes simply didn't have the punch and came across as flat. I recall a couple of shots too where the contrast may have been pumped up resulting in a "washed out" look outdoors. 2) The Captive did have plenty of sharpness/clarity, but I do recall a few indoor scenes that softened. Neither of us these two titles were popular at the Box Office, especially The November Man, but I found them worth a rent.

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post #22472 of 22497 Old 04-18-2015, 04:16 PM
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Kidnapping Mr. Heineken

recommendation: Tier 4.0*

The only production information I could find on Kidnapping Mr. Heineken was that the European movie was filmed on the Arri Alexa XT Plus camera. This is one of the softest Blu-ray experiences I’ve seen from this line of digital cameras. While watching the Blu-ray I was thinking more along the lines of Super 16 film with its rather rough video quality. The cinematography is murky, filled with rough noise, and possesses dull colors. The Blu-ray transfer is a mess as well, supposedly from a digital intermediate. Something is wrong with this presentation’s black levels. There are very few moments which hit inky levels of blackness. It could be an elevated gamma level or the contrast was badly brightened.

The 94-minute main feature is encoded in AVC MPEG-4 on a BD-25. The mediocre video encode averages 21.99 Mbps. It chokes on the gritty texture and swaths of ISO noise, producing swarms of random noise and compression artifacts. Some of the problem is clearly due to the limited cinematography, which looks to have been shot with as little resolution as they could get away with on a modern camera. That may have been a conscious aesthetic choice for the period piece but there was no reason to remind anyone of VHS resolution and softness. This is flat, ugly Hi-Def video shot on the cheap.

This is rather dismal video for a movie produced two years ago. No true black levels, poor high-frequency information, and a terrible video encode add up to a rather limp 1080P video presentation. Blu-ray distributor Alchemy (formerly known as Millennium Video) does preserve the intended aspect ratio of 2.35:1.


Code:
                                                                                                                 Total   Video                                             
Title                                                            Codec   Length  Movie Size      Disc Size       Bitrate Bitrate Main  Audio Track                          Secondary Audio Track
-----                                                            ------  ------- --------------  --------------  ------- -------  ------------------                        ---------------------
00000.MPLS                                                       AVC     1:34:44 19,733,176,320  22,228,315,294  27.77   21.99   Dolby  TrueHD 5.1 2835Kbps (48kHz/24-bit)
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post #22473 of 22497 Old 04-19-2015, 10:26 AM
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Interstellar

recommendation: Tier 0* (.6)

As expected, the IMAX footage is very, very impressive. Interstellar was designed as eye candy and those aims are mostly achieved. It is an ambitious spectacle with seamless VFX for the most part. The 35mm portions look better than Nolan's other recent efforts. While I wouldn't necessarily call all of Interstellar a Tier 0 disc, the IMAX scenes by themselves are almost enough to rank it in the upper half of Tier 0.
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post #22474 of 22497 Old 04-21-2015, 06:56 AM
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This might have been discussed before but I still think they should be on the list (didn't see them) above the matching US disc would be logic. There are threads on "other" forums going into more detail about each disc.

Lawrence of Arabia Video: AVC | Audio: DTS-HD MA | AR: 2:19:1 | Sony - The JP disc is "Mastered in 4K" brand with higher bitrate thus little better PQ/less compression

Gladiator (Remastered) Video: AVC | Audio: DTS-HD MA | AR: 2.35:1 | Paramount - EU disc is known to have little better PQ altough lower bitrate, so better detail/less compression

Book Of Eli, The Video: VC-1 | Audio: DTS-HD MA | AR: 2.39:1 | Warner - EU disc is known to be a little better

Black Hawk Down Video: MPEG-2 | Audio: PCM | AR: 2.40:1 | Sony - Nordic and German disc is known to be better, both color and detail/compression

Domino Video: VC-1 | Audio: TrueHD | AR: 2.40:1 | Warner - UK disc is known to be a better transfer

Immortals Video: AVC | Audio: DTS-HD MA | AR: 1.85:1 | Fox - JP disc have different gamma thus less black crush. Looks better to my eyes

Doomsday Video: VC-1 | Audio: DTS-HD MA | AR: 2.35:1 | Universal - JP disc is AVC and higher bitrate thus a little better PQ/less compression

Incredible Hulk, The Video: AVC | Audio: DTS-HD MA | AR: 2.35:1 | Universal - JP disc is from Sony and have higher bitrate thus a little better PQ/less compression

Underworld Video: AVC | Audio: PCM | AR: 2.35:1 | Sony - JP disc is theatrical only but higher bitrate with better detail/less compression
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post #22475 of 22497 Old 04-21-2015, 10:20 AM
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I don't mind adding them in the next update. Are these international editions ones you've actually seen? I ask because we've avoided going off spec's and listed bitrates to place any disc in the PQ Tiers. It wouldn't surprise me if they surpass the domestic output, many of which were released fairly early in the format's history.

It does save me a great deal of time by listing the fields needed for the update when they get entered. Half of the time needed to update the Tiers was once hunting down spec's for each nominated Blu-ray. It has gotten tougher since CinemaSquid stopped updating his Blu-ray master review list website.
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post #22476 of 22497 Old 04-21-2015, 10:36 AM
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Yeah I own 6 of them and seen good proof of the rest.
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post #22477 of 22497 Old 04-21-2015, 05:00 PM
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The Imitation Game

We should count ourselves BLESSED! "Most" recent Blu-ray releases are finding themselves worthy of the two Top Tiers and I'm happy to say this should easily land in Tier Blu!

I was impressed, from the very beginning, with the CLARITY, DETAILS and DEPTH that grace every scene in its nearly 2 hour running time. It was shot on 35mm and there was a "trace" of grain that clearly added to the EYE CANDY. COLORS were rich, with a fair amount of bold and vibrant primaries (even in scenes where teal and orange hues were employed). FLESH TONES may have been a tad on the pale side, but they were never distracting. BLACK LEVELS and SHADOW DETAILS were simply amazing (there was a night scene at about the 40 minute mark where Mr. Turing rides his bike up to Keira Knightley's boarding house and the details were mesmerizing). CONTRAST was pitch perfect as well. FACIAL TEXTURES were pleasing. The only drawback would be with the handful of shots with stock footage of the war, but these were so fleeting that one hardly needs to consider them, much less to penalize the PQ score on account of them.

This LOOKER most definitely deserves "reference quality status" and my vote goes for....

Tier Recommendation: Tier 0* (.75)

Viewed from 7.5' using the equipment listed below....
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post #22478 of 22497 Old 04-21-2015, 06:38 PM
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Inherent Vice

recommendation: Tier 2.5*

Paul Thomas Anderson's latest film arrives next week on Blu-ray in this quality presentation from Warner Bros. Anderson is one of the last remaining directors clinging to 35mm film, Inherent Vice breathes with film-like grain in its mature cinematography. WB's AVC video encode nicely handles the 35mm movie's textures, which was still processed as a digital intermediate before hitting home video.

This is a period piece set in 1970 California, the movie's earthy color palette favors browns and grungier tones. The unfiltered transfer exudes strong definition and fine detail, however its clarity is a step behind other recent, new Blu-rays. Black levels are decent, Inherent Vice doesn't overdrive the contrast. Shadows have a weight and substance of their own, their rather average delineation more a result of a purposely-chosen vintage aesthetic than anything else.


Code:
                                                                                                                 Total   Video                                             
Title                                                            Codec   Length  Movie Size      Disc Size       Bitrate Bitrate Main  Audio Track                          Secondary Audio Track
-----                                                            ------  ------- --------------  --------------  ------- -------  ------------------                        ---------------------
00100.MPLS                                                       AVC     2:28:43 35,797,106,688  38,108,628,055  32.09   24.94   DTS-HD  Master 5.1 3296Kbps (48kHz/24-bit)
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post #22479 of 22497 Old 04-22-2015, 05:18 PM
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Vice

I believe I may have jinxed myself in my last review when I praised recent Blu-ray releases and said that "most" are worthy of the two Top Tiers. This entry will NOT find its way into those coveted tiers; you can bet on that!

One of the major downfalls of this title is the COLOR-GRADING. Its gold/teal hues were dominating and in some instances details were completely drained. Add to that a rather FLAT picture with very LITTLE CLARITY. The majority (by far) of the scenes took place at night and here too the PQ was lacking, with MEDIOCRE BLACK LEVELS and LESS-THAN-STELLAR SHADOW DETAILS. And then throw into the mix a plethora of CGI or fast-action scenes that created either out-of-focus shots or blurriness. CONTRAST was also unimpressive, with some daytime, outdoor shots leaving faces WASHED OUT.

To be fair, there were a handful of indoor shots with close-ups that veered into demo (or even reference) territory. This was especially true of most close-ups of Ambyr Childers; her face and hair were "exceptions to the rule" in this title that left much-to-be-desired in the PQ department. (But even here there were facial shots where smearing was suspect.)

This is clearly a Tier Silver Blu, but I'm not quite sure where it should be placed. It wasn't long ago that my "most generous rater" reputation would have compelled me to place it on the top of that tier, but I've become more of a pragmatist in recent years so I'm going to opt for....

Tier Recommendation: 2.5*

PQ I "almost" stopped watching this after the first 30 minutes...the movie itself was HORRIBLE!!

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post #22480 of 22497 Old 04-22-2015, 05:44 PM
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To thine own self be true, Denny. If you think Vice deserves a higher rank, don't feel pressured about being an independent voice when ranking a disc for the PQ Tiers.
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post #22481 of 22497 Old 04-22-2015, 08:09 PM
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

It's actually been a very long time since I could rightfully be labeled "most generous rater." I was "true to mine own self" then, just as I am now. Back THEN, demo and reference Blus were relatively rare (compared to today), so when I did see something that "raised the bar" I gushed and my placement recommendation was a reflection of that. But NOW, with so many demo and reference quality Blus, I am much more "guarded" in my evaluation. My "generous" days are over, having been replaced by a more "pragmatic" outlook.

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post #22482 of 22497 Old 04-22-2015, 08:20 PM
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Before I go to Sleep

This one fared much better than Vice. It still had some color-grading sprinkled throughout, but it wasn't egregious and thus didn't affect details. What I loved the most about this film was how "natural" it looked. It had a fine layer of grain which lent itself to that look, and there wasn't any spiked contrast or over-saturated colors. Flesh tones were spot on, with Nicole Kidman's signature "pale complexion" being true to form. Some indoor scenes softened a bit and came across as flat, but well-lit indoor scenes and all outdoor daytime scenes had brilliant clarity and sharpness, with a fair amount of depth to boot. Black levels were very good to excellent. Colors were somewhat subdued for most of the 90 minute running time, but when primaries "rose to the occasion" they were warm and vibrant. All in all this was a decent-looking title that I would be proud to place on my "demo shelf," had I shelled out the money for a purchase. My thinking is it belongs somewhere near the middle of Tier 1....

Tier Recommendation: 1.5*

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post #22483 of 22497 Old 04-22-2015, 09:05 PM
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These days I might be the most generous rater! Though I still throw in the occasional Tier 5 piece of garbage, which gives me a pass. Few are daring enough to trash a disc that badly.
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post #22484 of 22497 Old 04-23-2015, 06:45 PM
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A Walk Among the Tombstones

Back on track!! Here is yet ANOTHER stunning Blu that will, without a doubt, be placed in the PQ Thread's "Hall of Fame" (i.e. Tier Blu)!

I have zero negatives to report. All is positive in this razor-sharp outing from Universal. One of my first mentions must be CONTRAST (I rarely refer to this first), for I was so impressed, in every scene, with the brilliant WHITES and the unrivaled BLACK LEVELS and SHADOW DETAILS (and there were MANY nigthtime scenes to highlight these virtues). Every daytime, outdoor scene was pitch-perfect, with striking CLARITY, SHARPNESS and DETAILS, and I attribute this, in large measure, to the super-strong contrast. In keeping with excellent contrast, everything looked perfectly NATURAL; especially the many and varied shots of New York City's boroughs. FACIAL DETAILS/TEXTURES were exemplary, as were FLESH TONES. Fibers in clothing, cobble streets, texture in buildings....all were highly detailed. Thankfully there was no CGI to soften the PQ, nor were there constant, fact-action scenes to detract from taking in all the resolution that this title had to offer.

Before I give a placement, I was pleased that this was NOT another one of Liam Neeson's mindless, action flicks, for if it had been I'm quite sure we would not have been treated to such consistent EYE CANDY. As alluded to at the outset, this is, IMHO, an easy contender for the reference tier and my thinking is it should, without controversy, land right about here....

Tier Recommendation: Tier 0* (.66)

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post #22485 of 22497 Old 04-23-2015, 10:21 PM
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Annabelle

It's late...I'm tired...this WILL be short!

I'm closing the day with one more "demo disc." This was as "sharp as a tack" with plenty of details, warm and vibrant colors, accurate flesh tones, strong contrast, and very good black levels (though there were instances where they faltered, resulting in either murkiness or crush). This really was "squeaky clean," especially for a horror show.

Tier Recommendation: 1.5*

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post #22486 of 22497 Old Yesterday, 03:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djoberg View Post
A Walk Among the Tombstones

Back on track!! Here is yet ANOTHER stunning Blu that will, without a doubt, be placed in the PQ Thread's "Hall of Fame" (i.e. Tier Blu)!

I have zero negatives to report. All is positive in this razor-sharp outing from Universal. One of my first mentions must be CONTRAST (I rarely refer to this first), for I was so impressed, in every scene, with the brilliant WHITES and the unrivaled BLACK LEVELS and SHADOW DETAILS (and there were MANY nigthtime scenes to highlight these virtues). Every daytime, outdoor scene was pitch-perfect, with striking CLARITY, SHARPNESS and DETAILS, and I attribute this, in large measure, to the super-strong contrast. In keeping with excellent contrast, everything looked perfectly NATURAL; especially the many and varied shots of New York City's boroughs. FACIAL DETAILS/TEXTURES were

exemplary, as were FLESH TONES. Fibers in clothing, cobble streets, texture in buildings....all were highly detailed. Thankfully there was no CGI to soften the PQ, nor were there constant, fact-action scenes to detract from taking in all the resolution that this title had to offer.

Before I give a placement, I was pleased that this was NOT another one of Liam Neeson's mindless, action flicks, for if it had been I'm quite sure we would not have been treated to such consistent EYE CANDY. As alluded to at the outset, this is, IMHO, an easy contender for the reference tier and my thinking is it should, without controversy, land right about here....

Tier Recommendation: Tier 0* (.66)

Viewed from 7.5' using the equipment listed below....
I scored this as a 1.75 Denny. I may go back and have a re-view in due course.
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post #22487 of 22497 Old Yesterday, 04:33 AM
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Quote:
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I scored this as a 1.75 Denny. I may go back and have a re-view in due course.
Hey Russ,

I just read your review. You only had ONE fault with this Blu, which was SOFTNESS. Man, I seriously don't recall one instance of softness; in fact, I kep thinking how razor-sharp it was from beginning to end. You had some glowing remarks for it and if you had not seen any softness, what would you rate it?

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post #22488 of 22497 Old Yesterday, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger View Post
Annabelle

recommendation: Tier 1.25*

Warner Bros. provides a superb 1080P presentation for Annabelle next week on Blu-ray. Director John R. Leonetti has been working for years as a Hollywood cinematographer and his experience shows on this film. A number of tricky shots are employed, including a very effective continuous shot for the cult murder scene. He was dp on films such as The Conjuring and Insidious movies. Annabelle definitely has better video quality than The Conjuring, currently ranked in tier 1.5. Framed in an eye-pleasing 2.39:1 aspect ratio, horror movies usually do not look this good or land this high in the Tiers.

Filmed with a variety of the latest high-tech digital film cameras, including the RED Epic and ARRI Alexa XT, the horror film has startlingly pristine video. The excellent picture quality is only hampered by a slight loss in high-frequency detail, most noticeable in very tight close-ups. Facial detail is solid while vaguely leaving the impression of slight filtering, especially in a couple of clear shots with actress Alfre Woodard. A couple of other scenes, shot with lesser cameras than state-of-the-art monsters like the RED Epic, appear somewhat softer as well. Most of the film exudes incredible sharpness and inky black levels, rendering superior shadow delineation in the most challenging scenes.
Quote:
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Annabelle

It's late...I'm tired...this WILL be short!

I'm closing the day with one more "demo disc." This was as "sharp as a tack" with plenty of details, warm and vibrant colors, accurate flesh tones, strong contrast, and very good black levels (though there were instances where they faltered, resulting in either murkiness or crush). This really was "squeaky clean," especially for a horror show.

Tier Recommendation: 1.5*

Viewed from 7.5' using the equipment listed below....
Great minds think alike, we weren't that far off on Annabelle. The reason I put it a little higher was that The Conjuring suffers in comparison and is currently ranked in 1.5.
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post #22489 of 22497 Old Yesterday, 11:48 AM
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Into the Woods (2014)

Tier Recommendation: Tier 1.5


While some might be inclined to rate this one higher (and some might be inclined to rate it lower), I thought that Disney's encode was quite good. It didn't spring off the screen like Tier 0 material, but it had enough finely textured moments (check out Jack's sweater!) that I feel like it stands above "average."

Scenes were good in terms of contrast, though a few lost a little bit of black levels.

I'm not sure I can blanket recommend it to anyone (I'm personally a fan of Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Emily Blunt, and Meryl Streep--and I'm a fan of some musicals), but I think if you're interested to definitely give it a rent.

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post #22490 of 22497 Old Yesterday, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger View Post
Great minds think alike, we weren't that far off on Annabelle. The reason I put it a little higher was that The Conjuring suffers in comparison and is currently ranked in 1.5.
I just checked and we had both given The Conjuring a 1.75. So, I agree with you that Annabelle should be ranked higher. I enjoyed your review Phantom and like you I was so impressed with the PQ given it was in the horror genre.

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post #22491 of 22497 Old Yesterday, 03:22 PM
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Denny, I feel I need to give WATT a 2nd viewing before I comment further. It irks me that you don't dish out top tier placements willy nilly but also that I don't recall being blown out my seat by this title.
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post #22492 of 22497 Old Yesterday, 03:48 PM
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Halt and Catch Fire: The Complete Season One

recommendation: Tier 1.75*

I only caught the first cable broadcast of the pilot on AMC. Based off that comparison from memory this Blu-ray set represents a substantial upgrade in picture quality. Halt and Catch Fire has surprisingly respectable cinematography for a basic cable series. This is one case where it pays to watch the Blu-ray version of a currently airing program.

Solid technical parameters spread the show's ten episodes over three BD-50s, cleanly replicating its strong clarity and razor-sharp definition. The mildly muted color timing has excellent contrast and inky black levels. A lack of pop and a more vivid palette is preventing a higher ranking.
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post #22493 of 22497 Old Yesterday, 08:15 PM
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Reclaim

One of my favorite songs from MANY years ago was a title called "Lucky Man" by "Emerson, Lake & Palmer." I am a "Lucky Man," having just watched another amazing Blu with STUNNING CLARITY and DETAILS. It was filmed in Puerto Rico and we are treated to a plethora of panoramic views of coastlines and forests, and aerial views of the city (during the day and night). Believe me when I say I felt like I was in "PQ Paradise!" I had mentioned in a previous review STRONG CONTRAST and this one had it too, with both extremes (WHITES and BLACKS) being near perfect. FACIAL DETAILS were really good of all the actors, but I was especially impressed with a couple of scenes where the camera zoomed in on the lead actress (Rachelle Lefevre) and revealed amazing texture on her pale and freckled face. All of this EYE CANDY was featured in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio for our viewing pleasure!

There were a few hiccups along the way, with several indoor shots (in low-lit rooms) and nighttime scenes where SOFTNESS intruded. This is the only thing keeping this looker back from the Top Tier. But thankfully, I can, with a good conscience, place it at the top of Tier Gold....

Tier Recommendation: 1.0*

Viewed from 7.5' using the equipment listed below....

Pioneer Kuro Elite PRO-151FD....Pioneer Elite BDP-05....Onkyo TX-NR717

Cambridge Soundworks MC305 Fronts & Center...Cambridge Soundworks Ambiance Surrounds....SVS PC12-NSD

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Lucky Man is a good song.
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post #22495 of 22497 Old Yesterday, 10:18 PM
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Emerson, Lake & Palmer was a very unique "Progressive Rock Band" in their day. You may recall, after Woodstock, that the West Coast had their own music festival called California Jam and ELP was one of the featured artists.

I just paused the movie Stonehearst Asylum and have decided to retire for the night. I was hoping to finish it and write a review, but the "sandman is calling." I will say that I'm thoroughly impressed with the acting in this Edgar Allen Poe classic and the PQ is fairly good too (in spite of a very drab color palette). My wife is with one of our daughters in Minneapolis who will soon be bearing another grandchild for us! Jenny has been there for a week and this has left me with "time on my hands," which means I've had a lot of time to watch Blu-rays.
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Pioneer Kuro Elite PRO-151FD....Pioneer Elite BDP-05....Onkyo TX-NR717

Cambridge Soundworks MC305 Fronts & Center...Cambridge Soundworks Ambiance Surrounds....SVS PC12-NSD
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Hopefully my house move will happen soon and I can get my reviews back on track.

In the meantime I went on Amazon last night (beer in hand) and ordered Lone Survivor, Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Django Unchained. All for £18 :-)

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post #22497 of 22497 Old Today, 07:16 PM
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Yes, we need that house move sooner rather than later. The discs don't review themselves for the Tiers.

Freezing Vibration: The Complete Second Season

recommendation: Tier 2.75*

Like most of their single-season shows, Funimation spreads the twelve episodes over a BD-50 and a BD-25. Their encoding practices haven't gotten particularly better or this was an older encode that had been shelved before seeing release this month. There is moderate banding in the generic animation. More problematic for its visual appeal are overly bright black levels. I have a hunch that Funimation isn't properly converting the different IRE black level that many Japanese video masters are set at over there.

For a relatively new series the Blu-ray quality should look better. Freezing Vibration has fairly cheap animation but something feels off about its contrast on this set.
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