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Perhaps you could clear up my confusion over the special edition of Seven, which your review states has a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, as does the outer packaging.  However, the supplemental booklet states that the film features both Dolby Digital EX 5.1 and dts ES Discreet 6.1.

In your review you say that, on Disc 2, there are a couple of extra sound options allowing the viewer to listen to how the movie sounds in the above mentioned audio formats.  But -- and here's the rub -- 'you will need a top flight home cinema system to get any benefit...'.

Why then does my AV set up, a Technics SA-DX 940 Receiver and Panasonic RV20 DVD both of which is dts compatible (but couldn't be described as 'top flight') happily play the disc in dts audio and manage to sound so much better than the DD 5.1 soundtrack.

Even more confusing is that the Panasonic's GUI display is telling me that the DTS audio is not in surround at all but in 2-channel. Can someone please tell me what is going on?

Nick Green, via email



The short answer is that everyone is right, more or less. What we meant to say was the extra audio features on the disc are explained on Disc 2 in the Mastering for the Home Theatre featurette. The longer answer is that Seven has both Dolby EX 5.1 and dts ES Discrete 6.1 soundtracks, specially mixed for DVD. Both formats are backwards compatible with standard Dolby Digital and dts decoders, but to get the full effect you will need a suitable ES or EX decoder and the extra speaker.


For the record both systems create a sixth centre rear channel, in the case of Dolby EX this is embedded or 'matrixed' into the left and right channels, in dts Discrete 6.1 the sixth centre-rear channel is a separate entity, encoded into the digital datastream. Signals or 'flags' in the datastream tell the decoders to process the centre-rear channels, but regular Dolby Digital and dts decoders simply ignore them and process the data as normal 5.1 soundtracks. As for dts sounding better than Dolby Digital, that's not unusual on some systems, especially when using larger speakers and a beefy sub woofer. Dolby EX and dts Discrete are all very impressive but I think 5.1 sound is already excellent and I don't think I've got any more room for extra cables and speakersÖ


Display foibles like the one on your Panny player are not at all unusual and a number of decks I've looked at sometimes show the wrong info on the front panel. Normally this is just annoying and nothing to worry about, usually it's down to the player not recognising the various format 'flags' on the disc, it seems to be getting less of a problem now though. As far as I'm aware this has no impact on the bitstream output, which should be as advertised, on the disc.



I recently purchased The A-Team, Knight Rider, Airwolf and The Incredible Hulk on DVD. When I attempted to play these discs they would not run on my Pioneer DV-525 player. All the titles were experiencing problems with both the audio and video jumping and I was not able to navigate through the options. However, when I played the discs on my sisters Samsung 511 and on my PC no such problems occurred. Having had no problems with the pioneer before, I played them on my girlfriends pioneer DV-525 and the problems returned. Can you shed some light on this, is it confined to the Pioneer players or have I bought faulty discs?

Gary Hedley, via email



As you may or may not know the Pioneer DV-525's immediate predecessor, the 515 was alleged to have a bit of a problem with 'lip sync' so when the 525 was launched it received very close scrutiny and apart from a few minor (unrelated) quibbles it has been well received, in fact it's hard to find anyone who has a bad word to say about this machine. Although all of the recordings you mention are from Universal I haven't been able to uncover any common glitches on the transfer or duplication that would explain your problems so, as Sherlock Holmes use to say, when you've eliminated all other factors, the one which remains must be the truthÖ In this case it could be something as mundane as a dirty laser pickup, and the fact that it affects two machines of the same make and model is simply a coincidence. As usual alternative suggestions are very welcome.




My Grundig GFV-100 is starting to make some very strange grinding and whining noises. At first it only happened when I played certain discs, now it affects almost all of them, it's almost as is they're rattling around inside the deck. Playback is starting to suffer as well with the picture freezing and once or twice the disc has been ejected, without me pressing the button. Any ideas?

Terry Deeley, via email



It sounds serious. DVD deck mechanisms are fairly simple and there's only a few moving parts. I believe that what you are hearing is the gradual failure of the disc drive motor or one of its bearings and one thing is for sure, it's not going to get better. This machine is a first generation model and whilst I have no doubt that spares are available I suspect that the cost of repair will not be far short of the price of a new machine, with better picture and sound quality and more features. Get an estimate by all means but I think you'll be better off buying a new machine. Incidentally, this kind of thing is very rare and deck mechanisms are usually very reliable, you've just been unlucky.




I've seen ads for the Samsung SV-DVD1E, which is a combined VHS video recorder and DVD player. The blurb seems to suggest that you can copy DVDs to tape, surely that can't be right? I thought DVDs were protected against that sort of thing. Has Samsung found a way around it, if so how good are the copies?

Stan Leeman, via email



DVDs are protected in several ways, digital copying, using a PC etc., is prevented using various techniques that include 'serial' Copy Generation Management System (GGMS) and Content Scrambling System (CSS). Analogue copying using a VCR is defeated by the Macrovision system. This works by adding 'spolier' signals to the video output, resulting in wide fluctuations in brightness and instability in the picture when the signal is taped. However, unlike the other systems Macrovision is a function of the player not the disc. A signal or 'flag' on the disc tells the player to add the spoiler signals, which brings us to the Samsung DVD1E. This machine can make analogue copies on tape, but only on discs that havenít got the Macrovision flag. In practice almost all copyright discs have it, the only DVDs I've come across that donít have Macrovision protection are a few early sample recordings and promo discs so this particular facility is likely to be of very limited value to most users. Of course it may be possible to 'hack' the players Macrovision encoder but what's the point? Recordings made from DVD will look good but they'll still be in VHS quality, and since recordings from disc can only be made in real time it's hardly going to interest serious pirates who want to be able to make recordings quickly and in bulk.




I recently found out about Play247.com and have since had several DVDs and CDs from them at very reasonable prices, no shipping charges and usually received within 2 or 3 days. However I did notice that on some occasions they took several days to actually ship them out meaning that from the point of ordering to the point of receiving was sometimes 6 to 7 days, which is still not bad. The only thing I would say though, is that every item ordered came in a separate package. I ordered 7 CDs at one time and got seven individual packets thru the door. This happened with some DVDs as well and they had to be signed for which was a bit of a bore. However the last few DVD's from them have not been recorded so maybe they are now just sending ordinary post?

Most of my DVD's have been purchased from a Canadian company called DV-Depot (www.DV-Depot.com). I have used them for over a year now and not only are their prices very good, especially if you buy new ones that are PBS (Pre-Book Specials), but the shipping is great too. They use DHL and charge around £7 for 1 to 7 discs and I usually get them within 36 hours of them being picked up from the Canadian warehouse - plus you can use the DHL tracking system to see exactly where your DVD's are and when you are likely to receive them. They are also very helpful if you have any queries and will always try and obtain a film they may not have in stock regardless of how rare it is, and usually manage to come up with the goods.
Richard King, via email


You asked for comments about the service at play247.com. It's actually really good, though sometimes their reply can be slow, but that's OK. Even when it comes to broken discs, they even return the postage to your account. Delivery time is also quite fast, 4 days. So, I think they are doing a good job.
Another plus is that they also sell CDs.

You may wonder how and why a Swede is buying his discs from Jersey instead of Sweden? The reason is quite simple, but oh so annoying. Many DVD titles here have lost their option to hide the subtitles and secondly, no Swedish Internet DVD company can match Play247 prices and free delivery.
Stefan Westman, via email



I was starting to get a bit worried about all of the highly complimentary letters and emails we were getting about Play247, it's good to hear that they are ever so slightly fallible. By the way, thanks to Richard King for the recommending DV Depot, always happy to pass on details of a dealer who gets it right.




My friend recently gave me five American Region 1 DVDs but what's the point in keeping them if I can't play them? I have a Sony DVP-S735D, can it be converted?

Christian Hultman, via email



It can but it will need to be 'chipped', the cost of a multi-region upgrade for this model is typically £85 to £100, or if you are adept with a soldering iron, DIY kits are available for £35 to £45, though in both cases you should be aware that you will void the manufacturer's warranty and with some of the mods the video output on R1 discs will be 'raw' NTSC, which your TV might not be able to handle, so check first. Have a look at:












JVC XV-2000

I have recently been given a JVC XV-2000 DVD player, by any chance is there any way it can be persuaded to play discs bought in the US as I'm going there for a holiday later this year?

Jenny Clifton, via email



Indeed it can but it's a bit long-winded, so pay attention, and remember we take no responsibility if it goes belly-up. First turn the machine off, count five, press and hold the DVD Menu and On Screen buttons on the front of the player and switch it back on again. Release the buttons and press Standby and the on-screen display should show the word Test 2 (or Test 4). Now press the DVD menu button on the player twice and the display should read 000 5858. Use the Up/Down buttons to change this to read 02E 5858, then use the Right and Left arrow buttons to change the last four digits, for all-region replay set it to 0000, for Region 1 it should be 0101, 0202 for Region 2 and so on. To finish off press Enter then Standby, count five and press Standby again and it's done.




Last month I bought a new DVD player, it is a Proline DVD-2000.  I saw
the Proline had a good value for the price rating, so I bought one. I should
have done my homework better-it only plays Region 2 DVDs and CD audio discs, not really what I'm after. Can you advise me if it's possible to 'chip' or 'hack' it to be able to play all regions and also VCD discs, which will play on my computer but not on the DVD player.
A.E. Clay, via email



There is a handset hack for this machine, to enable all-region playback, but there's the inevitable problems with discs that have RCE coding and there's been reports that models with the latest 'firmware' release have problems playing Warner Region 1 titles. You should also be aware that the machine will probably reset itself to Region 2 only playback if it is unplugged from the mains. Proceed as follows, press Menu 1, 6, 7, exit the menu and load the disc.




Can you please tell me if there is a code to allow me to play Region 1 DVDs on my Panasonic DVD-A160?
Mary Holmes, via email

Sorry, the only way to get this machine, and all other Panasonic models to play R1 discs is to have it chipped.




Can you give me the Region 1 handset hack codes for the Manhattan DVD-2000 please?

M. Thomas. Via email



To enable multi-region replay press Open, Setup then 9 for region-free, or 1, 2 etc, for a specific region. To store the setting, press 2, 0, 1, 0, Step, Shuffle, Next. (N.B. on some firmware versions you may need to enter the code 3, 0, 1, 0). If that doesn't work you may have the very early firmware release, in which case try this. Press Setup, Title, Step, Next and a service menu should appear. Use the up/down buttons on the handset to select the region, or Bypass for all-region playback, select Save and Exit.




R. Maybury 2001, 1707




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