DX-5DSD : A/V engine

Ayre DX-5 Frequently Asked Questions

Adapted with permission from Bill McClain, author of Unoffical Oppo BDP-83 Frequently Asked Questions.

Updated May 28, 2010, 17:02 CDT. See the Change log.

Table of Contents

General Topics

What are other useful resources?

The Ayre DX-5 product page.

AVSForum Ayre DX-5 thread, particularly the eleventh posting, which has a nice summary.

The DX-5 On-Screen Menu Settings Checklist (PDF).

Where can I buy this player?

Ayre products are available from select retail outlets. For a list, refer to Ayre dealers and distributors.

What are the dimensions of the player?

As shown in the manual (References / Specifications): 440mm x 320mm x 95mm, 17-1/4 x 12 1/2 x 3-3/4 inches.

Features

Does the player resume at the last position when a disc is reloaded?

Yes, as long as BD-Java on the disc doesn't prevent it.

According to the manual (Advanced Features / Memory Resume) the player will remember the stopping point of up to five discs when they are ejected or the player is powered off.

Blu-ray discs with BD-Java cannot be resumed by the player automatically. You have to use the programming on the disc (if such exists) to set a bookmark or some other saved point.

The studios are responsible for disc authoring issues that the player cannot override.

Note

If you don't want the disc position to be remembered, press Stop twice before ejecting the disc or turning off the player, or press Stop when the "resuming" message appears when the disc is loading.

Can output resolution and other controls be changed during playback?

Yes, most adjustments can be made on-the-fly without halting playback.

Does the player come with a Blu-ray calibration and evaluation disc?

Yes, the Spears & Munsil High-Definition Benchmark Blu-ray Edition.

The manual is online: Spears & Munsil High-Definition Benchmark Blu-ray Edition User's Guide.

This disc is not specific to the Ayre player, in fact Oppo Digital assisted with its production. Many thanks!

Tip

The disc is available separately from Oppo Digital at the Spears & Munsil order page.

Does the AVS HD 709 calibration disc work on this player?

Yes, both the AVCHD and HDMV versions of the AVS HD 709 calibration disc work on this player when burned onto DVD.

The AVCHD version will also work when copied onto a USB device. See Is AVCHD video supported?

Does the player have a setup wizard?

An Initial Wizard runs the first time the player is turned on after the "Reset Factory Defaults" command has been run. However this reset procedure creates several configuration settings that cause improper operation of the HDMI Audio Output. It is recommended to use the On-Screen Setup Menu directly as noted in the manual (On-Screen Menu Settings Checklist). Of course, any the settings the Initial Wizard makes can be changed manually later.

Does the player have an adjustable audio delay?

Yes, up to 200 milliseconds, but only on the HDMI A/V Output. See the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Video Setup / HDMI Options / A/V Sync). The audio quality on the HDMI Audio Output is superior to the audio available on the HDMI A/V Output, but it has no audio delay capabilities. Audio delay for the HDMI Audio Output must be applied in the surround-sound processor.

What writeable disc formats are supported?

See the manual (Numbers and Specifications / Disc Types).

Supported media formats include DVD+RW, DVD+R, DVD-RW and DVD-R. Dual-layer discs and CD-R/RW are also supported, along with BD-R and BD-RE.

What are the Zoom features of the player?

The Zoom settings are described and illustrated in the manual (Advanced Features / Zoom).

Special features include:

  • Underscan to compensate for displays (such as direct-view CRT and rear-projectors) with overscan.

  • Vertical Stretch for Constant Image Heightprojectors.

  • Full Screen for black bar haters. This works for both 4:3 and widescreen "Scope" titles. It zooms them so as to eliminate the black bars on the sides or above and below. The image is trimmed on the edges, so some of the picture is eliminated. Definitely not recommended as you will not see the full image, but the aspect ratio is otherwise correct.

    However, note that Full Screen is the correct setting for zooming old transfers of obsolete 4:3 letterboxed DVDs to full screen width.

Is the Setup menu high-definition?

Yes, it is very nice and well-organized.

Is there a bit-rate meter?

Yes, on the On-Screen Display. It shows combined audio/video bit rate.

What is Demo Mode?

See the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Video Setup / HDMI Options / Demo Mode).

Demo Mode splits the screen vertically so that certain picture adjustments modify only one half of the screen. The affected controls are:

  • Detail Enhancement
  • Edge Enhancement
  • Noise Reduction

Virtually all DVD or Blu-ray disc sources will have such high quality that use of the above three controls will not be necessary.

Does the player support Deep Color?

Yes, see the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Video Setup / HDMI Options / HDMI Deep Color).

The entire display chain must be HDMI 1.3 or later, and must support Deep Color, which is an optional, not mandatory part of the HDMI 1.3 standard.

Note that there are no Deep Color Blu-ray or DVD discs.

There is no interpolation for Deep Color in the DX-5 or its Anchor Bay ABT2010 video processor. The extra bits (color depth) available in the HDMI 1.3 Deep Color mode are used to preserve the precision of calculation when modifying the image on the disc. For example, any time color up-sampling, color space conversion, brightness and contrast adjustment, and other video processing is applied to the 8-bit/channel signal, the result can have fractions. In an 8-bit system the fractions are rounded, but in the Deep Color mode the fractions are preserved so the data delivered to the display is more accurate. However, this extra accuracy is only preserved if the display supports Deep Color. A far simpler solution is to not make adjustments to the picture quality in the player. Contrast, brightness, and other video processing should be adjusted at the display, not the player.

Note

Some AVRs and displays give only lip service to 12 bit 4:2:2 or Deep Color 4:4:4 -- accepting the format as input but then immediately stripping off some or all of the low order bits prior to actually using that video stream. For example, many so-called Deep Color displays have physical display elements that can only handle up to 10 bits per component. The video processing engines inside the display feeding those display elements may also only do their math at 10 bits per component or even 8 bits.

Some Deep Color displays only actually implement Deep Color if you are feeding them a 1080p/24fps video stream -- i.e., not 1080p/50 or 1080p/60.

The result of all of this is that sometimes the only way to know what format is best for the HDMI connection is simply to try them all and see.

A Rant

Please note that Deep Color does not mean "deeper color" and that it is of (nearly?) negligible benefit when playing Blu-ray and DVD discs.

There is no such thing as a Deep Color Blu-ray or DVD disc. Deep Color does not make your blacks "blacker" or your reds "redder."

Deep Color (which ought to be called "greater than 8-bit color") provides a finer gradation of shades between the colors encoded on the disc when image processing is applied.

The truth is that Blu-ray and DVD use the same rather limited 8-bit greyscale and color gamut.

(Rec 601 vs Rec 709 is a very slight standards difference, not a change in gamut).

Turning on Deep Color doesn't change that. Both disc formats record their images as 8-bit YCbCr 4:2:0, meaning the color resolution is only one-quarter that of the black-and-white resolution.

(This saves a lot of disc storage space and the eye is rather insensitive to color resolution anyway).

Using greater than 8-bit computations when doing chroma upsampling to restore full color resolution may do something to preserve a more accurate color image, but it is a very minor effect indeed.

Does it come with an HDMI cable?

Yes. Length: 6ft.

Ayre says:

The cable has been tested and verified to support 1080p/60Hz with 36-bits Deep Color. We have not gone through the certification process for the HDMI 1.3 or Category 2 ratings.

Can subtitles be repositioned?

Yes, there is a setting to control subtitle position in Setup -> Video Setup -> Display Options -> Subtitle Shift.

More conveniently there is an onscreen control to shift subtitles interactively:

  • Press and hold the Subtitle button on the remote control handset for three seconds. An onscreen widget will appear.
  • Use the up and down arrow buttons to position the subtitles where you want them.
  • Press Enter.

This works even while playback is paused. Whatever setting you choose is automatically saved in Setup.

Note that this works for DVD and Blu-ray both with and without BD-Java features. It does not work for media file subtitles.

Another restriction is that the shift is purely "up" and "down". Sometimes subtitles appear high on the display (for example, so as not to obscure onscreen credits) and it would be nice if these were shifted down when lower titles were shifted up, but the player does not currently do that.

Note

Subtitle shifting is a feature the Constant Image Height users like. It can be used to shift subtitles out of the black bars and onto the image itself.

Anyone using full screen zoom could also benefit as part of the picture is cut off, sometimes the part containing the subtitles.

Even when using a simple flat panel without zoom, this feature can be useful. Placing the subtitles as low on the screen as possible keeps them out of the main part of the picture.

Can the On Screen Display be repositioned?

Yes, there is a setting to control OSD position in Setup -> Video Setup -> Display Options -> OSD Position.

Unlike Subtitle Shift, there is no interactive positioning widget.

Note

This feature is for use with the various Zoom modes. Without it the On Screen Display is shifted off screen when zooming.

Can the front panel display be turned off entirely?

Yes, as per the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Device Setup / Dimmer Control).

This can be done with the remote either from the Setup menu or the Dimmer button.

The status LED glows blue when the front panel display is off.

Does the player support 1080i50 Blu-ray sources?

Yes, 1080i50 content is supported. The output depends on the player resolution and TV System settings:

  • when resolution is Source Direct (recommended only for systems with high-quality external scalers): 1080i50
  • other resolution settings produce the expected result (eg, 1080p, 720p, etc.) and the frame rate is determined by the TV System setting:
    • when TV System is NTSC: 60hz
    • when TV System is PAL or Multi-system: 50hz

There is no 24p output available for this type of source.

Obviously, your display must be capable of receiving a 50hz signal if you want to use one of those options.

Frame rate conversion is handled by the Anchor Bay Technology VRS chip.

See the List of Blu-ray movies authored in 1080i50.

What HDMI CEC functions does the player support?

Ayre says:

The HDMI CEC controls are based off of the commands typically used by Sony. They are designed only for the most basic of functionality, such as Power On/Off and play controls. They are not designed to support advanced functions like Resolution or Setup.

Are there any hidden features?

  • Pressing Eject on the remote with the unit in "Standby" will power on the player and eject the tray.
  • If you press and hold the Setup button on the remote you will get the Picture Adjustment menu directly. (Please note that it is not recommended to adjust the picture with these controls. Normally any adjustments should be made at the display.)
  • Pressing the Display button for 10 or 15 seconds will reset the Video Setup options when you release the button. This includes the HDMI Options but not the Picture Adjustment settings. This is handy if you've accidentally made a change (Color Space, for example) that your display does not accept.
  • For DVD the Top Menu remote button is the same as "Title Menu", and the Popup Menu remote button is the same as the "Chapter Menu" function on DVD remotes. (Not all discs use both functions. For most discs, the "Chapter Menu" is the main navigational tool.)
  • When playing DVD (not Blu-ray), pressing the Yellow button on the remote will take you to Chapter One of the longest title on the disc. You can press this button after placing the disc in the tray to skip the introductory material.
  • When playing DVD, the Blue button performs the random/shuffle cycle for titles and chapters, just as with media files and audio tracks on CD and SACD.
  • JACKET_P images on DVD are supported. JACKET_P is optional cover art that displays when a disc is stopped.
  • With mp3 files, the browser will display ID3v2 tags, including "PIC" cover art images.
  • CD-Text is shown on the On Screen Display: album name, artist and track title.
  • You can play AVCHD. See Is AVCHD video supported?
  • You can switch Secondary Audio processing on and off by pressing and holding the SAP button on the remote. See What is Secondary Audio?
  • There are a small handful of video discs that have been authored incorrectly. Instead of just putting special effects into the LFE (Low-Frequency Effects) channel of the soundtrack, they have erroneously mixed the low frequencies of all the channels into the LFE channel. Normally the two-channel mixdown played through the Analog Audio Outputs does not include the LFE channel. This is done because the LFE channel has a reference level +10 dB higher than the other channels and because the special effects may stress a normal (non-subwoofer) speaker. However in the case of these mis-authored discs, playback without the LFE channel produces a "thin" sound.

    To allow proper playback of these misauthored discs when listening to the two-channel mixdown through the Analog Audio Outputs, the DX-5 has a special "LFE Mixdown" mode that mixes the LFE channel in with the other channels. This only affects the two-channel Analog Audio Outputs. When using the "LFE Mixdown" mode, the overall output level is decreased by -6 dB to compensate for the alternate reference level used by the LFE channel. This requires that the volume of the system be adjusted to compensate, and then re-adjusted when returning to "Normal" mode.

    To enter "LFE Mixdown" mode, press Setup - 7 - 1 - 2 - 0 on the remote handset buttons. ("7 - 1 - 2 - 0" signifies "7.1 channels to 2.0 channels".) The status LED glows red when you are in "LFE Mixdown" mode, to warn that the volume levels need to be re-adjusted before returning to "Normal" mode. To return to "Normal" mode, press Setup - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 on the remote handset buttons.

    LFE Mixdown Warning

    The "LFE Mixdown" mode is only for use with the two-channel Analog Audio Output and only for use with that very small minority of discs that have been improperly authored.

    Since the volume will need to be adjusted up when using the "LFE Mixdown", do not forget to turn the volume back down when reverting to "Normal" mode.

Performance

Is the Blu-ray picture quality of this player amazingly better than any other player?

Opinions vary, but the consensus seems to be that Blu-ray player picture quality is very similar among ordinary players producing 1080p images from 1080p disc content, which is how almost all film-based movies are mastered on Blu-ray disc. However the Ayre DX-5 differs from ordinary Blu-ray players in two major aspects:

  • Ordinary Blu-ray players use multiple switching power supplies. Each switching supply creates noise which is inevitably introduced into the circuitry. Remember that every electronic circuit, digital or analog, is nothing more than a modulated power supply. With this in mind, it becomes immediately clear that only a quiet, low-noise power supply can create a quiet, low-noise signal.

    In contrast to the noisy switching supplies used in ordinary players, the Ayre DX-5 utilizes only pure linear power supplies. Multiple regulators are used to ensure isolation between the various circuit blocks. These regulators are specially selected for their low-noise performance, and in the case of critical circuits (both digital and analog) discrete regulators are employed.

  • The other problem present in home theater systems is that all displays are built around a noisy switching power supply. And to make matters worse the video signal itself is switching on and off at high rates, creating even more noise. Therefore the display becomes a large source of high-frequency electrical noise. With a conventional player, this noise is coupled into the audio system.

    The DX-5 takes a different and completely unique approach (except for its Ayre DVD predecessors) whereby the video circuitry is totally isolated from the audio circuitry, using opto-isolators. Now the noise generated in the video display remains there. Only by completely separating the video and audio systems can the full performance potential of both systems be realized.

The net result is that most careful viewers will both see a distinct improvement in the video quality produced by the Ayre DX-5 when playing Blu-ray discs. Over the course of decades, audiophiles have built up a vocabulary of terms to describe improvements in sound. However the phenomenon of a high-fidelity home theater is much newer altogether. The vocabulary and distinctions are not as well developed. It is not as obvious what to look for, nor how to describe the differences seen.

When watching a Blu-ray disc on the DX-5, one isn't likely to see additional details or increased resolution. (The Blu-ray format already provides fantastic resolution even with an inexpensive player.) Instead the dividends come in a more dimensional image, with a smoother sense of motion and realism.

This is perhaps most obvious during the edits (that occur as frequently as every second in modern films). Remember that the image on your display is simply a two-dimensional array of colored dots. When you first look at that image, your mind must make sense of it -- it must be interpreted as a three-dimensional representation of reality. A tan oval becomes a face, a patch of green becomes a grassy field behind the actors, and so on.

With a conventional player, the added noise in the signal makes it more difficult for your mind to make this interpretation at every edit point in the film. It becomes fatiguing to watch a film. In contrast, the Ayre DX-5 allows this interpretation of a two-dimensional array of dots as a three-dimensional scene to happen virtually instantaneously -- just as it does in real life. There is no fatigue when watching a film, as the transitions are interpreted easily by the eye/brain. Perhaps the most important difference is that the picture is simply more engaging - once you start watching, you won't want to stop.

Players will also differ in these factors that affect picture quality:

  • how well they deinterlace 1080i sources (like concert videos)
  • whether they accept 1080i50 sources
  • how well they scale a 1080p Blu-ray image to other resolutions (to match your display's capabilities)
  • how well they deinterlace 480i/576i sources like DVD
  • how well they scale those sources to high-definition

All of these functions are performed by the Anchor Bay Technology VRS which provided unexcelled video performance.

Other factors which differentiate players:

  • support for Constant Image Height projectors
  • optional Source Direct, which is useful for systems with extremely high-quality external video processors
  • optional Deep Color interpolation (note that there are no Blu-ray or DVD Deep Color sources, so interpolating larger color bit depths is the best a player can do)
  • choices for audio processing and outputs
  • support for other media types such as SACD, DVD-A, and media files on data discs and USB devices
  • load times, responsiveness, speed of layer changes
  • networking features like DLNA and streaming
  • fan noise
  • build quality
  • quality of customer support, including firmware updates to fix bugs and add new features

Is the DVD picture quality of this player amazingly better than any other player?

In addition to the techniques required to get the most out of Blu-ray, DVD requires even more craft to get the best possible images, particularly in deinterlacing ( = progressive scan = converting 480i/576i to 480p/576p). DVD video must be deinterlaced before it can be scaled.

You can learn a lot about the various errors that can occur when a DVD player deinterlaces the image on the disc from the Secrets of Home Theater and Hi Fidelity shootout test database. There is a huge variety in progressive scan performance in DVD players. Particularly instructive articles on deinterlacing artifacts from that site are:

Sadly, the site is no longer maintained and many recent players have not been tested.

Many people claim that Anchor Bay Technology VRS processing, as used in this player, is the current top dog in DVD image quality. It is not clear what the limits are in getting the best possible picture out of the 720x480 pixels on DVD, but we must be close to the limits of deinterlacing and scaling techniques.

One would never claim that a DVD image can match a good Blu-ray image, but many times people have looked at images on these players and said "I can't believe this is standard definition."

How fast are the load times?

Here are some timings reported during the beta period, as compared with the 40GB Sony PlayStation 3 running firmware 2.43 (the PlayStation uses an extremely powerful main processor and has much faster load times than most Blu-ray players):

Ratatouille (Blu-ray)
test PS3 DX-5
From power on to first previews image 00:53 00:40
From first previews to top menu 00:22 00:30
From top menu to total menus 00:14 00:20
From total menus to start of play 00:03 00:04
Chapter forward by 10 chapters 00:15 00:04
Chapter backward by 10 chapters 00:15 00:04
Men in Black (Blu-ray)
test PS3 DX-5
From power on to first Sony intro image 00:47 00:50
From power on to main menu 01:05 01:09
From main menu to PG-13 warning screen 00:03 00:04
Chapter forward by 10 chapters 00:16 00:04
Chapter backward by 10 chapters 00:16 00:04

And here are times as compared to the Pioneer BDP-51FD:

test BDP-51FD DX-5
From power on to "No Disc" message 00:24 00:11
Load Disc (from tray open to Top Menu) Fellowship Of The Ring disc 1 (DVD) 00:37 00:13
Load Disc (from tray open to Blu-ray Splash Screen) Wanted (Blu-ray) 01:24 00:37

And compared to the Panasonic BD-35:

The Nightmare before Christmas (Blu-ray)
test BD-35 DX-5
Press open tray to tray opening 00:24 00:03
Press tray close to movie preview 00:44 00:24
Movie preview to main menu 00:38 00:23
Press play movie to Disney intro 00:03 00:03

Notes:

  • From power off to tray eject using the Eject button is about 4 seconds.

  • If BD-Live is enabled some discs will download content from the network while loading. For example, the Transformers disc takes over 2 minutes to load the first time, and about 25 seconds to load if you play it again without erasing the persistent storage. Iron Man is said to be another example.

    See Can BD-Live be turned off?

How fast are the layer changes?

On DVD, it is reported that the Avia Pro layer change stress test shows a time of 0.8 seconds. This is the worst case; real world examples should be quicker. In normal viewing it is sometimes possible to detect a DVD layer change, but it is too quick to estimate the time.

By way of comparison, using the same test, the PS3 (V2.50 firmware) shows 1.2 seconds and the Pioneer Elite DV-59avi SD-DVD player shows 2.0 seconds.

Note

It is hard to minimize layer changes with Blu-ray players which use SATA drives. The drives have a limited amount of buffer memory and although players can buffer at the decoder, this is not as effective in concealing the layer change. In the future chip makers may deliver a "single-chip" solution which contains both the "front end" (laser control and radio frequency analog circuitry) and "back end" (decoding and A/V processing) which would allow better layer changes.

By which time no one will care as we may have shifted to purely downloaded content!

How well does the player handle scratched and dirty Blu-ray discs?

Apparently very well. Other testers report taking no special care in cleaning their rental discs and have had no troubles.

As of April 16, 2010 one tester has played 118 Netflix rentals and 23 video store rentals, all Blu-ray, and had no disc damage or smudge/dirt issues except for one disc which was visibly bent and would not load.

Hardware

Does the player have a memory card slot?

No, but a USB adapter for memory cards works.

What are the USB specifications?

See the manual (Controls and Operation / Media File Playback).

The player has two USB ports to control external storage, one in the front and one in the rear. (There is also a USB audio port on the rear, for input only, from a computer used as a music server.)

How loud is the fan?

The fan does not run most of the time. When it does run, most users do not notice it. It has been designed to run very quietly, with ball bearings to assure a long lifespan.

Do the remote codes conflict with those for other players?

See the manual (Optimization and Customization / Remote Code).

You can set the remote so that it either does or does not control other players. There is a 3-way switch inside the battery compartment.

Code set 1 is the same as used for some other players. If you use code set 2 or 3 the DX-5 will not obey the other remotes and its remote will not control the other players.

Note that the physical switch setting on the remote must match the Setup value in the player's On-Screen Menu Settings. See Why did my remote stop working when I changed the code set?.

Do the Source and Home buttons on the remote have the same function?

Yes. One of the buttons was left over from a previous model player.

Does the player have two HDMI outputs?

Yes, but only one has video signals. One ("HDMI A/V Output") is an A/V output with both audio and video signals. The other ("HDMI Audio Output") is an audio-only output.

The audio-only output provides higher audio quality as the jitter levels are lower, it is capable of supporting the new "Audio Rate Control" feature of HDMI version 1.3a (very few SSPs support this feature yet), and the ground is isolated from the video section.

The highest performance is achieved by connecting the HDMI A/V Output directly to your display and the HDMI Audio Output directly to your SSP.

Is a rack mount available for the player?

Not currently.

Are codes for other remotes available?

  • Logitech has the DX-5 in its Harmony database. It is listed under the Oppo BDP-83, which has the same codeset.
  • Universal Electronics JP1.
  • Universal Electronics Nevo.

How do I use the alternate code sets on my Logitech/Harmony remote?

Set the remote switch in the Ayre remote's battery compartment to 2 or 3 and follow Harmony's instructions:

You should be able to confirm the commands from the original remote. This will request 3 to 6 keypresses, and will not require you to learn the entire codeset. To do this, please follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your account using the Logitech Harmony Remote Software.
  2. Connect your Harmony remote to the USB cable.
  3. Click on the "Devices" tab, then beside the device, click on "Settings".
  4. Select "Confirm Infrared Commands" and click "Next".
  5. You will be asked for some button presses. Point your original remote to the bottom end of the Harmony, and from 2-5 cm away, press each button as the software asks for it. The computer screen will blink (refresh) once the key is detected, and you will see the message "Key detected." Once the software has found the best set of codes, you will get confirmation. You may need to answer some set up questions, just click "Next" to go through and make any changes needed.
  6. Update your remote to test this with your activities.

If there is a "remote address" you should be able to select or view this on the receiver itself without contacting Ayre. We almost certainly already have the codes in our database and you should not need to provide these. The easiest way to is to try following the steps provided above. Again, it should only require 3-6 keypresses.

Does Ayre publish the remote code values?

Yes, as an Excel .xls spreadsheet: Ayre DX-5 Remote Control Codes.

All three code sets are shown and the last tab has large-scale images of the remote, front and back.

Is there an RS232 interface?

The Ayre DX-5 can accept RS-232 commands via the AyreLink port by using an optional converter box.

A traditional RS-232 port creates ground loops which can degrade the performance of the system. The AyreLink ports utilize opto-isolators to avoid any ground connections. This allows the system to reach its full performance potential.

Ayre provides an RS-232 Control Protocol document.

Note

The primary benefit to RS232 control is that it allows the player to send feedback to the device that's controlling it. This would allow you to do things like have the control system dim the lights when a movie starts playing and turn them back up when the movie is paused or stopped, or display current track, elapsed time, et cetera on a touchpanel controller (potentially useful if the player is in an equipment closet).

There are also additional commands, like direct access to the various fast forward speeds.

To use RS232 control, you need a system controller such as a Crestron or AMX, et cetera.

Most typical universal remotes like the Logitech Harmony don't have support for RS232 control of devices.

Component Output

Does the Ayre DX-5 have component video output?

No, the DX-5 only uses HDMI for its video output as it provides state-of-the-art performance for today's modern digital displays.

Firmware

How do I check the firmware version?

As shown in the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Device Setup / Firmware Information), use Setup -> Device Setup -> Firmware Information. The firmware is the line labeled Main Version.

Will updating firmware erase my settings?

No, your settings will be retained. Persistent memory is also preserved.

Important

It is possible that either by updating the firmware or some other action that your settings will be change or erased. It is recommended to keep a record of your settings so that they may be readily reapplied if necessary.

The DX-5 On-Screen Menu Settings Checklist (PDF) is a handy way of noting your settings customizations.

If I have missed some firmware updates, should I install each one?

No, each firmware is cumulative, completely replacing what was installed before. You can install the latest version without concern for the previous ones.

How do I update firmware using a USB stick?

See the "Installation Instructions and Download" link at the Help & Support page.

Usually the player detects the presence of firmware when you insert the USB device. If it doesn't, sometimes cycling power on the player will help. Or, as the instructions say, just do Setup -> Device Setup -> Firmware Upgrade -> Via USB.

If the player is not finding the firmware:

  • Verify that the stick is formatted with FAT or FAT32. Other files systems, such as NTFS or HFS+ will not work.
  • Verify that the player mounts the stick correctly. Use the Home button on the remote to bring up the media file browser and make sure you can navigate into the stick and see its other contents.
  • Verify that the firmware files are in a top-level folder called UPG.

How do I update firmware using an optical disc?

See the "Installation Instructions and Download" link at the Help & Support page.

Note the list of recommended disc burning utilities at the bottom of the page linked there in the section called General instructions on working with ISO image files.

Another utility often recommended for burning iso files is ImgBurn.

Can firmware be updated over the internet?

Yes, it is quick and painless if you have high speed internet. If you are using a dial-up connection, it is not recommended.

See the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Device Setup / Firmware Upgrade).

Does the internet update know when the player firmware is current?

Yes. If the firmware is current the player will not perform the update.

Why is the Firmware Upgrade option grayed out?

See the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Device Setup / Firmware Upgrade).

Make sure no disc is playing, or just eject the tray.

Why isn't my player showing that new firmware is available via the internet?

There are several possible reasons:

  • The Firmware Notification Setup option is not On.

  • The player already has the updated firmware applied.

  • The player can't access the Ayre website due to some kind of internet access/connectivity issue.

What are the different firmware files?

Firmware updates can include several different files:

UPG/AYDX-5.bin:the main firmware
UPG/DVD.BIN:the disc loader
UPG/DVD430.BIN:an alternate version of the disc loader with a different laser (no performance difference)
UPG/MCUD5-1.BIN:the micro controller unit

Not every firmware update will include each type of file.

When updating the firmware, there will be a separate on-screen dialog box for each file.

Is there a listing of the Setup options and their defaults?

Yes, in this PDF file: DX-5 On-Screen Menu Settings Checklist.

The purpose of this document is:

  • To note the settings required for proper operation of the HDMI Audio Output.
  • To provide a convenient place to note your own Setup customizations.
  • To show the differences between the Setup Wizard "Compatible" and "Advanced" Audio Settings: all the differences are in the Audio Format Setup section.

Picture

What is the best output resolution for my display?

See the manual (Setup and Configuration / Output Resolution).

What is the best color space?

See the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Video Setup / HDMI Options / Color Space) which recommends Auto as the best setting.

What if I want to set the color space manually?

Spears & Munsil have an article: Choosing a Color Space.

In theory, when every device in the chain is using 8 bits for all components, there should be no difference between RGB Video Level and the two YCbCr settings. Blu-ray and DVD are both recorded using YCbCr 4:2:0. This is chroma-upsampled by the hardware decoder in the player to YCbCr 4:2:2 which then must be upsampled to YCbCr 4:4:4 and converted to RGB for display. These last two conversions can occur in the player, in the display, or in some intermediate box.

In practice there may be visible differences between the settings. The best result may be attained through simple trial-and-error.

The Anchor Bay Technology VRS video processing engine may perform the YCbCr-to-RGB conversion more accurately than the circuitry inside the display. As long as the signal isn't re-converted to YCbCr in the display for additional processing, this setting may result in a higher picture quality.

Note

Many displays temporarily convert an RGB input signal to YCbCr as it is simpler to perform brightness, contrast, and color adjustments in YCbCr color space. However the signal must be re-converted to RGB for presentation to the display element, as all displays require an RGB signal. Converting between RGB and YCbCr is simple math and is theoretically lossless, but only if the conversion uses enough bits of precision.

RGB PC Level should not be used unless you know your display expects it. Some computer monitors may require this, but A/V displays should be using RGB Video Level.

Unlike HDMI, a DVI video connection is always RGB regardless of the player setting.

If your display supports Deep Color and HDMI 1.3 you can experiment with the player's Deep Color options. It is unlikely that there will be any noticeable differences, but it doesn't hurt to try.

Specific advice from an expert

  • My recommendation is that folks start with:

    • YCbCr 4:4:4 if the next device is an HDMI device
    • RGB Video Level if the next device is a DVI device

    The Auto setting should already do this for you.

    Note

    The Ayre firmware already handles the SDTV (rec. 601) vs. HDTV (rec. 709) YCbCr color space settings correctly and automatically -- there is no setting in the DX-5 to alter that.

    If the next device has a control for this, it too should be set to Automatic (i.e., it should be expecting HDTV color space if it is getting YCbCr from the player at 720p or above and SDTV color space if it is getting YCbCr from the player at resolutions below that).

    If RGB is being used, this choice is not relevant. The SDTV vs. HDTV settings are only relevant to YCbCr output.

    If the SDTV vs. HDTV color space settings are wrong (i.e., the devices at either end of the cable are not in agreement) then the error will show up primarily in the greens -- which will be 15% hot or dull depending on which way you have the error.

  • If your next device supports Deep Color then turn that on as well in the player. This will yield YCbCr 4:4:4 or RGB Deep Color data format.

  • If the next device supports Deep Color and it appears to be working bug free, then you are done. Continue using YCbCr 4:4:4 or RGB Deep Color output from the player.

  • If you are using YCbCr 4:4:4 and the next device does not support Deep Color, then, after you are familiar with how YCbCr 4:4:4 is working for you, try an experiment with YCbCr 4:2:2 output from the player to see if your next device supports that.

    If it accepts the signal, calibrate the video levels again for YCbCr 4:2:2 (don't just assume your YCbCr 4:4:4 level settings are also right for 4:2:2) and see which data format seems to be working better for you -- seems to be giving you a more pleasing image. YCbCr 4:2:2 may be able to give you smoother gray scale and color ramps for example.

    Note

    YCbCr 4:2:2 is an alternate data format (not supported by all receivers or displays) which allows you to transmit the fineness of gray scale and color step sizes characteristic of "Deep Color" connections while only consuming the signal bandwidth of "normal" connections. It makes this all fit by the trick of sending only half the horizontal color resolution: that is, sending 12 bit values for each of the 3 components but only sending one or the other of the color components for each pixel -- like this -- YCb, YCr, YCb, YCr, etc -- so that it still only consumes a total of 24 bits per pixel.

    YCbCr 4:2:2 is part of the older HDMI specs. So you may discover that you have hardware which is not HDMI V1.3 (or is HDMI V1.3 without the optional Deep Color feature) but which does accept YCbCr 4:2:2 at 12 bits per component. And if, so, it is worth giving that format a try.

  • If, on the other hand, you have a DVI device (or an HDMI device that has a bug in its handling of YCbCr input), you may discover that the starting choice of RGB Video Level is making it hard for you to properly set black and white levels. In that case, see if RGB PC Level output from the DX-5 works better for you.

    Note

    This will typically be the case if the next device is engineered primarily for computer use, especially as with some projectors.

    You may also discover that the DVI input on the next device has a setting that configures it to expect Studio RGB (Black=16) or Extended RGB (Black=0) in which case switching it to the Studio RGB choice should make it match up well with RGB Video Level from the Ayre. Some home theater devices with DVI inputs will actually state that their DVI input is not intended for computer use. That's fine too. It just means the device is set to receive Studio RGB (RGB Video Level) and offers no setting to change that.

    Switching between RGB Video Level and RGB PC Level will make the image look darker or lighter (which is why the RGB black levels choice in some devices is even labeled "Darker" vs. "Lighter), but that's just because you have not yet reset the levels properly in the next device to account for this change in the player's output.

    If the next device has enough calibration range, RGB Video Level and RGB PC Level will look identically light or dark once matched with the corresponding, proper level settings in the next device.

    If the next device doesn't have enough calibration range, then pick whichever of RGB Video Level or RGB PC Level works better. If both work, you really ought to use RGB Video Level unless there is some bug in the next device that forces you to use RGB PC Level.

    RGB PC Level ranges the full scale from 0 to 255. It was designed to handle computer-generated images such as a spreadsheet or word-processor display screen. RGB Video Level ranges from 16 to 235. It was designed for video and allows for occasional overshoots in the signal beyond those levels ("below black" and "above white"). All video discs use the video levels, and converting to PC levels introduces another conversion where rounding errors will occur.

What is the best Deinterlacing Mode?

The manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / HDMI Options / De-interlacing Mode) has a nice summary of the options and recommends Auto.

Note

Deinterlacing is required for DVD playback, which has all content stored in an interlaced format. Some extras on Blu-ray may be interlaced, and some main features like concert videos (shot with video cameras instead of film cameras), but most Blu-ray titles are stored in a progressive format that does not need to be deinterlaced.

Therefore this setting is not relevant for most Blu-ray main features.

Tip

There are some DVDs where changing the default deinterlacing mode can improve playback. An example is the 1965 TV series Honey West. Using Auto deinterlacing, the image often shimmers, shows broken diagonal lines and spectacular moire on striped shirts.

For some reason the way this disc is authored makes it difficult for the player to detect and lock on to the correct cadence. Setting deinterlacing to Film Bias Mode gives a big improvement in image quality.

Since this setting, like most others, can be made while the title is playing, you can quickly see whether or not the changes are an improvement.

What is the best CUE-Correction setting?

The manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / HDMI Options / CUE-Correction) has a nice summary of the options and recommends Auto.

Note

See this article for more on Chroma Up-sampling Error (CUE) and Interlaced Chroma Problem (ICP): Chroma Upsampling Error.

CUE is a fault of the video decoder chip, and since the Ayre DX-5 is free of the fault, it doesn't have CUE anyway.

ICP may still be present in interlaced video (material sourced from video cameras and not film) and CUE-Correction willdetect and correct it.

In any case, both CUE and ICP are issues of interlaced video. This applies to DVD, some Blu-ray extras and a few Blu-ray features (shot with video cameras), but most Blu-ray main features are stored in a progressive format and will not have either problem.

Audio

Are all audio outputs active at the same time?

No.

To achieve the highest audio quality requires the lowest jitter levels. The Ayre DX-5 is carefully designed to provide the absolute lowest jitter on each output. When using the Analog Audio Outputs for two-channel outputs, there is an ultra-low-jitter master audio oscillator right next to the D/A converter chip. When using the HDMI Audio Output for multi-channel outputs, there is a separate ultra-low-jitter master audio oscillator (running at a different frequency) right next to the HDMI Audio Output transmitter chip.

As only one oscillator clock can be in charge at a time, connecting the HDMI Audio Output to an active HDMI receiver input will automatically turn on the circuitry for that output and also turn off the master clock for the Analog Audio Outputs, thereby turning off those outputs. Selecting a different input for the HDMI Audio Output connection will automatically turn the Analog Audio Outputs back on.

Do I need to set Speaker Configuration and Downmix?

See the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Audio Processing / Speaker Configuration).

It is critically important that the Speaker Configuration settings be correct for proper operation of the HDMI Audio Output. These settings are already preconfigured at the factory, so there is no need to change them unless you have inadvertantly used the Reset Factory Defaults.

Be absolutely sure that these settings be configured as follows:

  • Down Mix Mode = 7.1
  • Speaker Size = Large (all except SubWoofer = On)
  • Distance = 0 ft (all)
  • Trim = 0.0 dB (all except SubWoofer = +5.0 dB)

What is DSD and how can I use this player's DSD features?

See the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Audio Format Setup / SACD Output).

"DSD" stands for Direct-Stream Digital. It is a different way of encoding digital data than the industry-standard Pulse-code modulation. DSD was developed by Sony in the late '90s in an attempt to create a new format to replace CD, whose patents (and $1 billion per year royalty stream) were expiring.

DSD is extremely difficult to use in the recording studio, as it is extremely difficult to perform signal processing operations. Similarly all surround-sound processors convert the DSD to PCM to allow bass management and/or time delays. Nevertheless, when used simply as the means to transfer legacy analog recording to digital, or in the rare cases when a recording is made completely in the DSD domain, the sonic results can be outstanding.

While the Ayre DX-5 can convert the DSD data from SACDs to high-resolution PCM (88.2 kHz at 24 bits), whenever possible you should listen to a DSD recording in its native format for the best possible sound quality.

When the player is set to output DSD for SACD, the analog outputs will output a direct DSD-to-analog conversion.

DSD over HDMI is a direct bitstream of an SACD format to your receiver. In order to use this feature you must have a processor that can decode DSD.

In both the above scenarios, you avoid a DSD-to-PCM conversion in the player. Setting the player for PCM output for SACD will output PCM over HDMI and also cause a DSD-to-PCM-to-analog conversion over analog outputs, which degrades the audio quality slightly.

Note

If the HDMI Audio is set to anything but Off, the player will communicate with the downstream devices connected to the HDMI A/V Output. If any of these devices cannot accept a DSD signal, the player will be forced into PCM mode when playing SACDs regardless of any other player settings. To avoid this, set the HDMI Audio to Off.

Does PCM have any advantages over DSD for SACD?

The only advantage to selecting PCM is that older surround-sound processors that cannot accept DSD signals can play multi-channel SACDs by allowing the player to transcode DSD to PCM and send it over the HDMI connection.

Despite the conversion concerns mentioned previously, PCM output for SACD will still produce a very high quality audio stream (88.2 kHz at 24 bits).

When converting DSD to PCM over HDMI, what is the highest resolution supported?

When the DX-5 converts DSD to PCM internally, the resulting PCM data is 88.2kHz/24bit.

How do I switch between an SACD stereo mix and an SACD multi-channel mix?

Most SACD discs contain both a stereo mix and a multi-channel mix of the recording on the SACD layer. To switch between the stereo mix and the multi-channel mix of an SACD disc, press the Audio button on the remote.

However, selection of the CD layer contained on a hybrid SACD disc is not supported through the Audio button. In order to select the CD layer of a hybrid SACD disc, you have to eject the disc and change SACD Priority as shown in the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Playback Setup / SACD Priority).

Note

If the multi-channel mix of an SACD is selected, the two Analog Audio Outputs will output only the Front Left and Front Right channels of the multi-channel mix. The Center, Surround, and LFE channels will be omitted. The result will be very unsatisfying, which is why it is very uncommon to find a multi-channel SACD that does not also have a separate stereo mix.

How good is the analog audio section?

Ayre's track record of digital products is unparalleled. From our very first disc player, the D-1 to our latest USB D/A converter that turns your personal computer into a state-of-the-art music server, the QB-9, Ayre has been at the forefront of digital video and audio technology for over a decade.

The DX-5 represents the culmination of all those years of knowledge and experience. Simply put, the audio quality of the DX-5 is the best of any digital product we have made to date.

In fact, it was so good that we chose not to limit its use to the playback of all your optical discs (video and audio alike). Inside is also the latest version of our USB audio receiver PCB, using the Streamlength asynchronous USB transfer mode that provides a jitter-free link to your personal computer. This board has a new high-speed processor that is capable of running up to 96/24 with all operating systems right out of the box, and up to 192/24 if the operating system supports it (or if a special device driver is installed on your computer.)

The audio performance of the Ayre DX-5 is one of the areas that sets it apart from any of its competitors. It is perhaps the only video player in the world that also provides reference-quality audio performance.

Is the audio decoding performed in the player?

Whether using the two-channel Analog Audio Outputs or the multi-channel HDMI Audio Output, the Ayre DX-5 decodes all Dolby and DTS compressed formats to standard PCM. This ensures compatibility with the widest variety of surround-sound processors. The only exception are SACDs, which play back DSD, but even that can be converted to PCM by the player if need be.

The new "lossless" audio packing formats for Blu-ray (Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA) are "lossless" in the sense that what comes out of the decoder is bit-for-bit identical to what went into the encoder in the first place when the studio created that track. The result of decoding is high-bandwidth, multi-channel LPCM -- the simplest form of digital audio. The LPCM the Ayre sends out over the HDMI Audio Output after decoding is the same LPCM as the SSP would get internally if it were asked to do the decoding. Letting the Ayre do the decoding also makes it easier to take advantage of "secondary audio mixing" on Blu-ray discs.

What are the proper subwoofer/LFE settings?

Using the audio channel of the HDMI A/V Output is not recommended. The HDMI Audio Output has lower jitter, supports Audio Rate Control, is galvanically isolated from the video sections, and provides superior sound quality.

See the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Audio Processing / Speaker Configuration).

It is critically important that the Speaker Configuration settings be correct for proper operation of the HDMI Audio Output. These settings are already preconfigured at the factory, so there is no need to change them unless you have inadvertantly used the Reset Factory Defaults.

Be absolutely sure that these settings be configured as follows:

  • Down Mix Mode = 7.1
  • Speaker Size = Large (all except SubWoofer = On)
  • Distance = 0 ft (all)
  • Trim = 0.0 dB (all except SubWoofer = +5.0 dB)

The two-channel Analog Audio Outputs normally use just a downmix of the normal channels, omitting the LFE channel. However in the case of a handful of incorrectly authored multi-channel discs, the LFE Downmix mode also requires that these settings be configured correctly.

What is Secondary Audio?

Secondary Audio is an optional yak-track that goes with the Blu-ray Picture-in-Picture (PIP) feature. It is mixed in with the main audio so both tracks are audible together. See the manual (Advanced Features / Secondary Audio and Video).

Like BD-Live and excessively complicated menus, it is a marketing-driven Blu-ray feature that no one ever asked for.

Is audio quality reduced when using Secondary Audio?

Yes, for high-resolution audio soundtracks. The Secondary Audio is always standard resolution, and requires that the resolution of the main soundtrack be reduced in order to mix them together.

Eliminate Secondary Audio

If you are concerned about Secondary Audio reducing your audio quality, do both of the following:

  • Turn off Secondary Audio in the Setup menu.
  • Use the on-disc menu of the title you are playing to turn off any PIP and SAP options that may be present.

How can I tell when Secondary Audio processing is being used?

The On Screen Display has a special icon for this.

On the lower left of the screen, the normal audio icon is three overlapping circles. When Secondary Audio processing is enabled, the icon changes to a jagged waveform.

Why am I not getting any Secondary Audio with my Picture-in-Picture?

  • Make sure you have Setup -> Audio Format Setup -> Secondary Audio set to On.

  • Some discs are authored in such a way that you must turn features off and on through the disc's menus; not everything can be done with the remote.

    For example, this occurs with several of Universal Studio's discs with "U-Control". You can toggle Picture-in-Picture on and off with the remote's PIP button, but toggling Secondary Audio on and off with the SAP button does not work unless you first turn on U-Control in the menu.

    Further, the disc's instructions state that U-Control can be toggled with the RED button; this works, but you still get no SAP audio unless you do it with the menus.

    There are yet other discs (Serenity, for example) where PIP and SAP cannot be toggled from the remote; everything has to be done from the disc menu or U-Control widget.

Can I toggle Secondary Audio on and off without using the setup menu?

Yes, press and hold the SAP button on the remote to switch Secondary Audio processing completely on and off. As to why you would want to, see Is audio quality reduced when using Secondary Audio?

Note that if the disc uses BD-Java the disc software must cooperate in making the PIP and SAP features work correctly. See Why am I not getting any Secondary Audio with my Picture-in-Picture?

24hz Output

What is 24hz output?

Until recently, DVD and Blu-ray players have produced 60hz signals in NTSC countries and 50hz signals in PAL countries. But film-based sources are recorded at 24hz and converting them to something else can produce motion artifacts. Many players now have the option of producing 24hz directly.

Can I use 24hz output?

Only if your display accepts a 1080p24 signal; check your display documentation.

You should also verify that your display supports 1080p24 signals at multiples of 24hz. Some displays accept a 24hz signal but convert it to 60hz, which reintroduces the motion artifacts.

How to check this yourself:

  • Set explicit 1080p HDMI output in the Ayre with 1080p/24 Off.
  • Play any normal, Blu-ray movie shot on film that has the typical, vertical credits scroll at the end. Scene select to the closing credits. Observe closely the vertical upwards motion of the credits.
  • Now switch the Ayre to 1080p/24 Auto. Check that the front panel shows the Ayre as switching to 1080p/24 output. If the Ayre doesn't shift into 1080p/24 then your display (or other intervening device) is telling the Ayre it won't accept that. Some displays that do handle 1080p/24 input properly are known to not publish that fact to the player during the HDMI handshake. If you think that might be the case with your display, switch the Ayre to 1080p/24 On. For 1080p/24 content coming off the disc, this will force the Ayre to use 1080p/24 output even if the display says it does not want that. (You'll still get 1080p/60 if the disc contents are not appropriate for 1080p/24 output.) If you lose video, you can recover by using the Resolution button on the Ayre remote to switch to 1080i (press Resolution, press Down Arrow, press Enter), and then go turn 1080p/24 back Off again.
  • Presuming you can get 1080p/24 into your display at all, now recheck the motion of those scrolling end-credits. If your display is "doing the right thing" with 1080p/24 input, then the vertical scroll of those credits should appear as smooth motion. Switch back to 1080p/24 Off (i.e., 1080p/60 output from the Ayre) and you should see a fairly subtle stepping or ratcheting upward of those credits instead of a smooth motion. That's the "2-3 cadence judder" you are trying to eliminate. Get up close to the screen to check this.
  • If the display accepts 1080p/24, but the credit scroll doesn't get smoother when fed 1080p/24, then your display is not doing the right thing with 1080p/24. It is accepting it, but converting it to 1080p/60 on input. There may be a setting you need to change in your display to correct this.

How do I turn on 24hz output?

See the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Video Setup / 1080p24 Output).

Can I force 24hz output?

Yes, as described in the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Video Setup / 1080p24 Output).

As it says there, if you force 24hz output and your display does not really accept it, you will get no video.

Can I get 24hz output for DVDs?

Yes, as described in the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Video Setup / DVD 24p Conversion).

24hz playback for DVD is not always reliable. Ayre Customer Support has provided these comments:

  • Some discs are inherently mastered poorly and will result in audio sync errors. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and The Departed are two movies which have variable sync errors. This is due to incorrect cadencing which confuses the reverse telecine video processing enging required for 24p.
  • Enabling subtitles on DVDs can cause frame tearing. This is because the subtitles are at a different frame rate/cadence than the movie. Ayre generally does not recommend enabling 24p when using subtitles for this reason. It throws off the player's cadence detection.
  • In both cases, turning off DVD 24p conversion in the Ayre Setup menu eliminates these issues.

Note

Since the transition between /60 output and /24 output requires a new HDMI connection setup "handshake" (meaning a couple seconds of distorted video while the new connection -- and its copy protection -- gets established) the player will tend to stay in "convert to /24" mode after it sees enough film-based repeat cadence to begin doing this at all. This keeps you from having constant re-handshakes in and out of /24 on a flakey disc.

But it also means that a flakey disc may very well turn on /24 and then stick with it even though it can't really be converted in a pleasing fashion because it is more flakey than not.

The workaround is to turn off the DVD /24 option while playing that disc. The player will then stay in /60 output throughout the playback of that disc.

And even though the disc is flakey, the Ayre will switch rapidly between film-based and video-based deinterlacing as necessary so things will look way better than you might be used to from playing such a disc on some other players. That's a transition that does not require a new HDMI handshake.

Why is the DVD 24p Conversion option grayed out?

As stated in the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Video Setup / DVD 24p Conversion) Setup -> Video Setup -> DVD 24p Conversion is disabled unless Setup -> Video Setup -> 1080p24 Output is set to On or Auto.

Source Direct

What is Source Direct?

According to the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Video Setup / Output Resolution), the Source Direct resolution setting is for use with high-quality external video processors.

When the resolution is set to Source Direct, the player acts as a transport, outputing the original resolution of the disc content with minimal additional processing.

Some ABT VRS processing is bypassed when using Source Direct. When set to Source Direct the player does:

  • color space conversion
  • picture controls (brightness, contrast, saturation)

...but does not do:

  • PReP
  • deinterlacing
  • noise reduction
  • detail or edge enhancement
  • scaling
  • frame rate conversion
  • chroma upsampling error detection and correction
  • Y/C delay
  • aspect ratio control
  • zoom

Note that your video processor must be capable of receiving a 1080p24 signal, or you will get no video when playing Blu-ray with Source Direct.

Similarly, the video processor must accept 480i or 576i over HDMI or you will get no video when playing DVD with Source Direct.

What is the difference between Blu-ray 1080p24 and Source Direct?

Some ABT VRS processing is bypassed when using Source Direct. Some of the video settings will not be used. See What is Source Direct?

What is the difference between DVD 480i and Source Direct?

Some ABT VRS processing is bypassed when using Source Direct. Some of the video settings and the player's aspect ratio controls are not used, so Wide/Auto will not pillarbox 4:3 material. See What is Source Direct?

Why are 4:3 DVDs not pillarboxed with Source Direct?

That is an example of the type of video processing that is bypassed when using Source Direct. Use one of the other resolutions if you want the player to pillarbox 4:3 DVD titles with the 16:9 Wide/Auto setting.

Media Files

What are the supported media file types?

These are the actual file name extensions the player can read. For example, the player will see and display a file called abc.jpg, but if you rename it to jpg.abc it will become invisible to the player and you will not be able to display it. ".abc" is not a supported file name extension.

These file types are currently supported:

  • avi
  • divx
  • gif
  • jpg
  • mka
  • mkv
  • mp2
  • mp3
  • mpg
  • png
  • vob
  • wma

These file types are not currently supported:

  • 3gp
  • ac3
  • bmp
  • dts
  • fla
  • flv
  • m4v
  • mlp
  • mov
  • mp4
  • mpc
  • m2ts (except in AVCHD directories)
  • ogg
  • ogm
  • tif
  • ts
  • pcx
  • wav
  • wmv

Most of this testing was done with the downloadable divxtest.com disc.

What are the supported media file containers?

See:

What is the difference between a container and a codec?

A container is a file, an envelope to hold audio and video data. The audio and video is encoded by a standard codec, a program or format.

People ask "I thought AVI (or MKV or DIVX...) was supported. Why won't my file play?"

AVI (or MKV or DIVX) are the type of container. They are supported. But the video inside the container must be of a supported video codec or you won't get any video. The audio inside the container must be of a supported audio codec or you won't get any audio.

What are the supported media file audio codecs?

  • AC3 (Dolby Digital)
  • AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) (including HE-AAC)
  • DTS (Digital Theater System)
  • LPCM (Linear pulse code modulation)
  • MP1 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer I)
  • MP2 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer II)
  • MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3)
  • WMA (Windows Media Audio) (up to 192kbps and 48kHz) (not WMA Pro, Lossless or Voice)

See:

Is there a maximum number of media files the player can see?

One tester reports that 6000 files on a hard drive works fine, but that 20,000 is too many: the player does not reliably display the drive contents when it has too many files.

Is AVCHD video supported?

Yes, on both disc and USB.

The AVCHD directory name must be all capital letters as shown, but can be within any subdirectory, meaning you can have a collection of AVCHD directories on one disc or USB device.

See the directory layout in the AVCHD wiki article.

How do I return to the browser in the same folder when playing a video file?

As shown in the manual (Controls and Operation / Media File Playback / Playing Movie Files), press Stop twice.

Why don't all media video files show attributes in the browser?

For .avi containers the browser will show:

  • time
  • resolution
  • frame rate
  • format

...but for other container types it shows nothing. Presumably each container type has it's own API and development for each type has to be prioritized.

Why are media file names not sorted alphabetically?

It's a bug. Files are shown in their physical ordering on the device, which is usually their creation order. Some mp3 players and other devices exhibit the same non-sorting behavior.

Here are some utilities that will sort the files on a USB FAT device correctly (use at your own risk! make backups first!):

Are data discs with long file names supported?

Yes, with some restrictions.

  • For a disc created with ISO9660 version 2 (ISO-9660:1999) the player will show 207 characters of directory names and 120 characters of file names (by scrolling).
  • A disc created with the joliet long file name extension will show 103 characters of directory and file names (by scrolling). The file name limit is actually 99 because you need 4 characters for the "." + extention.

Note

Regarding the joliet long file name extension, the Linux documentation says:

Allow Joliet filenames to be up to 103 Unicode characters, instead of 64. This breaks the Joliet specification, but appears to work. Use with caution.

Are DVD directory structures on USB devices supported?

No. Individual .vob files are supported but DVD directory structure is not, meaning the supporting information found in the .ifo files is missing.

When playing .vob files:

  • there are no chapters
  • there may be no total time or time remaining
  • subtitles can be strangely colored
  • transition between .vob files will not be seamless

Can the player be used as a media server?

In a way. The player is a DLNA client. See What is DLNA?

To be a complete media server you would want features that are not currently supported:

  • files larger than 4GB on local USB storage
  • .iso files
  • DVD directory structures
  • more containers and codecs
  • ...and no doubt other things

Networking

What network functions are supported?

So far:

  • BD-Live
  • firmware updates
  • notification that new firmware is available
  • DLNA
  • BluTV

Other functions are often requested, but there are currently no plans to add them: Netflix and other video service streaming, CD track information.

Does the player have built-in wireless networking?

No, wireless networks create RFI that can be picked up on the A/V cabling and power lines in the house. This can degrade both the audio quality and the video quality.

Can BD-Live be turned off?

Yes. See the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Network Setup / BD-Live Network Access).

What is DLNA?

Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) "is a standard used by manufacturers of consumer electronics to allow entertainment devices within the home to share their content with each other across a home network."

With a DLNA server running on a PC or NAS box, the player can access and play certain media files over the network.

Benefits:

  • Network access might be more convenient than optical discs or USB devices.
  • You are no longer limited to the 4GB file limit size imposed by the FAT file system on USB devices.
  • File name sorting is controlled by the DLNA server; this gets around sorting limitations of the player when reading USB and data discs. See Why are media file names not sorted alphabetically?

Limitations:

  • The player only accepts and plays a limited number of file types. The server may offer more types but the player either will not see them, or they will be visible in the browser but not playable.

    Currently these file types are supported:

    • jpg
    • mkv
    • mp3
    • mpg
    • pcm
    • png
    • vob

What are some DLNA servers?

See a list at How to choose a DLNA Media Server for Windows, Mac OS X or Linux.

Here are some servers people are using with the DX-5:

  • Asset UPnP

    Unable to provide folder navigation for the Ayre, is limited to lists by artist, album, etc. Will play stereo FLAC and WAV up to 24/192, but 5.1 not yet supported by the Ayre.

  • Elgato EyeConnect

  • foobar2000

    A full-featured music server for the Windows platform, it can require signficant work to configure properly.

  • J. River Media Center

    An excellent music server for the Windows platform, it is rapidly adding networking features including DLNA.

  • LinkSys NMH300

  • MediaTomb

  • Mezzmo

  • MiniDLNA

  • Netgear ReadyNAS Pro

  • Nero MediaHome 4

  • PS3 Media Server

  • Serviio

  • Synology Discstation DS108j (works fine with firmware 2.3.xx)

  • Synology DiskStation DS209

  • Synology DiskStation DS409

  • TVersity

    Supports FLAC and WAV, (stereo only, no 5.1) but transcodes everything to 16/44 or 16/48. Offers folder, artist and album navigation.

  • Twonky Media Server

    For Windows, Mac and Linux.

    Available for free trial download, then pay the license fee ($29.95). Support seems to be problematic. The online forum is helpful but often has more questions than answers.

    Despite that it works well and may be the best Linux solution.

    Tested only for media files on the server. It supports some media feeds (PhotoBucket, Handpicked Radio [?], Flickr, Picasa Web, SHOUTcast Radio, YouTube) but these have not been tested yet. The data would have to be presented to the Ayre as a supported file type, which is probably an obstacle. Reencoding data on the fly is possible but probably a big burden on the server.

  • Wild Media Server

  • Windows Media Player

How do I get DLNA working?

Networking is a big topic, beyond the scope of this FAQ.

Some resources:

Some brief notes:

  • You need a DLNA server.

  • You have to have a working network connection between the player and the server. If Setup -> Network Setup displays correct DHCP settings from your server, you should be ok.

  • There may be firewall and security issues on your PC. DLNA requires port 1900 open for both TCP and UDP.

  • The server must be looking at the correct network interface. For me, Twonky works without specifying any additional parameters, but I have to startup Mediatomb as:

    mediatomb -e eth0

  • The Ayre has to be working correctly. DLNA support is still experimental and you may have to try an operation more than once to get it to work.

What is BluTV?

See the Dreamercorp pages on BluTV.

Problems

How do I get rid of the funny icons on the upper right of the screen?

Use Setup -> Video Setup -> Display Options and set all of these entries to Off:

  • Angle Mark
  • PIP Mark
  • SAP Mark

How do I rerun the Setup Wizard?

As shown in the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Device Setup / Reset Factory Defaults) use Setup -> Device Setup -> Reset Factory Default.

Warning

Don't do this! This will erase the Speaker Configuration settings. Doing so will cause improper operation of the HDMI Audio Output and the LFE Downmix feature.

Additionally it will erase all of your other current settings, so write them down if they are important to you.

Print off and mark up the DX-5 Settings Checklist (PDF) to document your custom settings.

Why does the player turn off when I turn off the display?

Or vice versa, or some other weird interaction.

As explained in the manual (On-Screen Setup Menu / Device Setup / HDMI CEC) this is a feature of the HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) standard. It allows multiple devices to mess with each other more effectively.

Use Setup -> Device Setup -> HDMI CEC to set the feature to Off or Limited.

Why is there a vertical black line in the center of the screen?

That sounds like Demo Mode. Use Setup -> Video Setup -> HDMI Options -> Demo Mode and set it to Off.

See What is Demo Mode?

Why did my remote stop working when I changed the code set?

As shown in the manual (Optimization and Customization / Remote Code) eject the tray (using the control on the player, since the remote is not working), point the remote at the player and press the Enter button for 5 seconds.

This will resynchronize the remote and the player. The setting of Setup -> Device Setup -> Remote Control Code will be changed to match the remote. A confirmation message will appear on the front panel.

How do I resume from the screensaver on Universal Studio discs?

Try any arrow key, Enter or the Popup Menu. It's not intuitive, but that's how these discs are programmed.

What does PBC - Play Back Control do?

Play Back Control determines whether menus for old VCD and SVCD discs are used. It has no effect on Blu-ray or DVD discs.

How do I show title and chapter time elapsed and remaining?

See the manual (Advanced Features / Display).

When the On-Screen Display is showing, use the Page Up and Page Down buttons to cycle through title and chapter elapsed and remaining times.

The front panel continues to show the selected mode when the On-Screen Display is dismissed.

Why is my remote not working correctly?

See the manual (Optimization and Customization / Remote Code).

If you've been changing the remote codes, see Why did my remote stop working when I changed the code set?

Otherwise it's probably the batteries. The backlit remote seems to use batteries faster than the other remotes.

If new batteries don't help, try this first:

  • Remove the batteries.
  • Press and hold each button, one at a time, on the remote control for 3 seconds.
  • Put fresh batteries into the remote.

Note that Ayre recommends not using lithium batteries.

Why does the On Screen Display show every title as #1?

This will happen with some Blu-ray discs that are authored as one title -- the contents are split out using an internal playlist structure. The player has no way to display a title number.

Why does the player ask to update firmware when I load a disc or USB stick?

If there is firmware on a data disc or USB device the player will ask if it should be installed.

Delete the UPG/ folder and try again.

Why won't my USB device work?

See the manual (Controls and Operation / Media File Playback):

  • The device must be formatted as FAT or FAT32.

    NTFS and other file systems are not supported.

  • From the manual:

    This unit supports "USB Mass Storage Class Bulk-Only Transport" devices only. Most USB thumbs drives, portable hard disk drives and card readers conform to this device class. Other USB devices such as MP3 players, digital cameras, and mobile phones may not be compatible.

  • Hard drives should have external power.

Warning

Some USB-powered 2.5" drives do in fact work with the player, but some of these can burn out the USB ports. As Ayre advises, use external power.

Why is the player not remembering my settings?

Settings are saved when the player is powered down, not when the setting changes are made. If you have some sort of irregular shutdown, for example if the player locks up, the recent setting changes may not be saved.

Do an orderly shutdown to make sure your settings are retained.

What do I do if a Blu-ray disc will not load or play, or if it freezes the player?

  • Eject the tray, then press Setup.

  • Do Device Setup -> Reset Factory Default.

    Important

    This erases any custom settings you have applied, so note them down first. The DX-5 Settings Checklist (PDF) is a handy way of noting your settings customizations.

  • turn off BD-Live: Network Setup -> BD-Live Network Access -> Off.

  • Erase BD-Video Data: Device Setup -> Persistent Storage -> Erase BD-Video Data.

  • Exit Setup, power off and on again.

  • Reapply any custom settings to Setup (leave BD-Live off for now)

  • load the disc.

Why are the menus on some DVD-A discs not working properly?

On some DVD-A discs the player does not properly display the cursor or highlighting on the disc menu. Sometimes it's invisible, sometimes it appears intermittently.

This seems to happen when the player aspect ratio is set to Wide/Auto. The workaround is to use a different setting (Wide, for example) when playing these discs.

The DVD-Audio authoring was designed for 4:3 (originally) and was only in its late cycle changed to 16:9. This is why compatibility issues exist with some DVD-Audio discs.

Example discs that exhibit the problem:

  • Talking Heads, "Remain in Light" (US Dualdisc)
  • Talking Heads, "Speaking in Tongues" (US Dualdisc)
  • Porcupine Tree, "The Incident" (just-released UK DVD-A)

Calibration

This section is intended for absolute beginners.

Do I adjust the player or the display?

Always adjust the display unless you have some specific reason not to. The display is what requires calibration. Fix the problem at its source.

Can I use a DVD calibration disc to adjust Blu-ray settings?

DVD and Blu-ray use the same grayscale standard, so Brightness and Contrast should be the same on DVD and Blu-ray calibration discs.

Blu-ray uses a slightly different color standard than DVD, but if the player converts the signal properly when upscaling, a DVD calibration disc should work well enough for a Blu-ray player. The Ayre DX-5 does the correct color standard conversion.

What is Y/C Delay?

The luma (black-and-white) and chroma (color) channels of a video signal must be synced up when they are displayed or image artifacts will appear.

The Y/C Delay control adjusts this timing. However this was largely a problem with the older analog-based displays. Modern digital displays rarely require adjustment of the Y/C timing of a source component.

The calibration DVDs include Y/C test patterns, and a Blu-ray version on the Spears & Munsil disc.

Do I need to calibrate if my display has already been professionally calibrated?

The user controls (brightness, contrast, saturation) still need to be adjusted for each input device.

How do I calibrate when my system does not pass Blacker-than-Black or Whiter-than-White?

Many users will not have the problems passing the Blacker-than-Black and Whiter-than-White data, but this approach to setting up gray scale levels will work whether or not your setup has that problem.

First of all, try the alternate data formats from the Ayre to your display. Some devices only clip YCbCr or only clip RGB.

Second, make a direct connection from the DX-5 to your display whenever possible. Intermediate devices can clip the signals and cause other forms of signal degradation.

Note

If you use the RGB PC Level there is no place in the data format for Blacker-than-Black (BTB) or Whiter-than-White (WTW) data so they will, necessarily, be clipped. Only use this setting if your display won't accept any other signal format.

The RGB Video Level will pass BTB and WTW data to properly engineered and set up displays. For some background on what's going on in these data formats and some hints as to why you might prefer one over the other when paired with particular hardware, see What if I want to set the color space manually?

Again, it is worth trying to find a way to set up your hardware to pass BTB and WTW data, but with some displays you just won't be able to do it.

In that case you can still use the Spears & Munsil disc to calibrate your video levels.

The first suggestion is that you leave the Ayre's Picture Adjustment settings at their factory default values. Try calibrating using only the controls in your Display.

The reason for this is that the Ayre puts out "correct" levels at its default settings. So if you find things are not right using those default settings then that's an indication there is something wrong in the settings in your display and/or intervening equipment. (You should avoid using intervening equipment whenever possible. A direct connection provides the best picture quality.)

One more preliminary

The factory default settings in most displays are flat out wrong for best quality viewing. These are the justifiably disparaged "torch mode" settings -- way too bright and contrasty, overly sharpness "enhanced", way too blue a color temperature, and overly red pushed to compensate for the faulty color temperature. The "torch mode" settings are designed to be eye catching in garish store lighting. So do not hesitate to move away, often far away, from the factory default settings.

Everybody has to do that.

Many modern displays offer "picture modes" that are different combos of factory default settings. Avoid like the plague any modes labeled "vibrant", "dynamic", "scorch your eyballs" or the like. Try to find one labeled "movies".

If you can't figure out which to use, pick the one that looks darkest and softest and start from there. And don't assume you can pick just any "picture mode" and alter it via user settings to be correct. "Picture modes" often make hidden setting changes in the background that you can not alter from the user controls. So find the correct "picture mode" to begin with and make your adjustments from there.

So again, assuming you are directly connected to a display:

  • You will use the Brightness control in the display to adjust Black levels (a good way to remember this is that they both start with "B").
  • You will use the Contrast (or Picture) control to control White levels.

The two controls interact so you will need to iterate to find the sweet spot setting for both of them that works best.

The next thing you need to know is that the data coming off an SD-DVD or Blu-ray disc encodes "Black" as digital 16 and "Reference White" as digital 235. The range from 1 to 15 is the Blacker-than-Black data (not intended to be seen) and the range from 236 to 254 is the Whiter-than-White data (intended to be seen but not essential). 0 and 255 are reserved values.

The Spears & Munsil charts actually label blocks that have been encoded with values above and below Black and Reference White.

  • Use the Dynamic Range Low chart for a best look at Black levels.
  • Use the Dynamic Range High chart for a best look at White levels.
  • Use the Contrast chart to view both at the same time in an image that's got a kind of "in between" average image brightness.

So what you do is lower the Brightness control until 17 and above become invisible (blend into the black background) and then raise it until 18 becomes slightly visible (and perhaps just the slightest hint of parts of 17 are also visible -- i.e., a few "dither pixels" light up). Note that you should not see 16 = Black or below. All of that data should merge into one, uniform, indistinguishable "Black". Also note that you will need to check this sort of thing in a darkened room.

Note

Some displays have "floating" black levels that vary according to the average brightness on screen. So if you look at say the Pluge Low and Pluge High (Picture Line-Up Generating Equipment) charts you may see a distinct change in your effective black levels. Some such displays have dynamic brightness or automatic brightness settings that can be turned off to prevent this. If not, you will need to pick a compromise Brightness setting that works well across a range of content for you. Typically you would target a lower Brightness setting that works well in dark scenes so that you don't see noise in dark scenes -- at the expense of losing some "near black" details in brighter scenes.

At the other end, lower Contrast quite a bit. The bright blocks in the Dynamic Range High chart should be visible although you won't see any above 234 due to the clipping in your display. Now raise Contrast until whites have a pleasing "whiteness" to them rather than looking grayish, but don't raise it so far that you lose the ability to distinguish the blocks at and below 234. If those blocks at and below 234 start to blend into one common "white", lower Contrast until they become visible again.

Note

If your display doesn't clip the BTB and WTW data you still want to adjust Black levels so that 16 and below are completely invisible. At the other end, see if you can find a Contrast setting that is high enough to give a pleasing "whiteness" to whites but also low enough so that you can distinguish the Whiter-than-White blocks all the way up to 252 or even 253. The "correct" Contrast setting will almost certainly be quite a bit lower than its factory default setting.

You may find that you have a small set of Brightness/Contrast pairs that look equally good. If so, you can choose between those pairs by viewing the gray scale ramp on the Contrast chart. Pick the pair that produces the smoothest look to the ramp -- the least amount of "banding".

Brightness and Contrast control the end points of the gray scale ramp. The response of the display to values between Black and Reference White is controlled by the Gamma setting. Many modern displays have Gamma set too low by factory default as this gives false "pop" to the imaging in stores. Just another "torch mode" setting.

Adjusting Gamma is complicated. Doing it right requires an optical sensor tool. Nobody has much luck trying to do full Gamma curve adjustments by eye alone -- although some displays offer a single, all in one Gamma adjustment that may prove helpful. So I'll only point out here that if you do adjust Gamma you will probably find that Gamma, Brightness, and Contrast all interact. So you will need to iterate -- re-checking Brightness and Contrast as you adjust Gamma. (Proper Gamma correction is a major factor in eliminating "banding" or "false contours" in your video. So it is worth the effort to get right. But as I said, this is complicated).

Why aren't displays calibrated correctly at the factory?

Old joke:

Spectator: Say, Mister, how do you tune that banjo?

Banjo Player (outraged): What do you mean? I bought this thing tuned!

A/V gear has adjustment controls for a reason -- the units need to be adjusted to compensate for:

  • variations in individual hardware
  • differences caused by combination of hardware
  • local viewing environment
  • viewing preferences

Change log

  • 2010.05.28: Initial version.


Special thanks to Bill McClain (wmcclain@watershade.net)