Local Pressing VS Imported Blu-ray Disc

Article by WL Low


Great war movie, by Peter Berg.


It’s been a long while since I’ve done something about AV, or home theatre to be more specific, and here’s something else to ponder over if your movie experience matter much to your well being. Audiophiles have long compared various pressing of the same CD and concluded that usually if disc is pressed in the home country, or certain countries can indeed sound better than others. Most audiophiles love US, German or Japan pressing. Australian, China and Malaysian pressing are usual suspects to be avoided in general.


We’ve found that recently certain “original” and new movie Blu-ray titles have their prices slashed to RM$79.90, due to local or regional pressing. Whilst this is good news for the avid Malaysian Blu-ray collector, does, it provide good value? We bought an original Blu-ray in the form of Mark Wahlberg’s Lone Survivor which is a regional pressing at the special price of RM$79.90, to compare with an imported US pressing of the same movie, borrowed from a fellow videophile and movie collector.


Another version of Lone Survivor


I’ve taken note of Peter Berg’s work since his Directorial and Producer credits on the movie Battleship. Though the script was somewhat flawed, due to the need to adhere to the classic naval board game rules of the same name and work it in to the script, the movie was nevertheless entertaining, and most of all as factual as possible when it came to show casing American Navy hardware. Hence when he combined talents with Mark Wahlberg to make Lone Survivor, a script based on an true event which happened on the mountains of Afghanistan, I am waiting with glee to watch this movie.


The fact that AV Designs used part of this movie to show case their awesome KLIAV 2014 demo system made me curious if I can get similar satisfaction in my humble HT system, consisting of a Pioneer BDP-450 Blu-ray player, a Denon AVR-1612 receiver powering 5.1 all Bose speaker set up, with an SVS PB-2000 sub woofer. Display is Samsung PN64E8000 plasma TV.


Chapter 17-20, the rescue from village.

Now let’s start the ASEAN pressing vs US Blu-ray pressing of Lone Survivor. The cover back page starts to give the game away, the ASEAN version has a small Dolby Digital (lossy) logo, while the US version had DTS (lossless) log for soundtrack encoding. In practice, while watching the two versions, I felt the US version gave more intelligible dialogue quality, and overall cleaner sound separation between the 5.1 channels on my HT system. The ASEAN version had weightier low end, but is does somewhat muddy up the dialogue and overall sound clarity.


Next most noticeable problem with the ASEAN version is the sub tittles, located partially between the lower end of the picture and some parts of the black bars in 16:9 aspect ratio. However for some funny reason, when viewed with a 2:35 screen ratio projector set up, the sub titles had gone missing!


Now we come to the picture quality difference, using chapter 17-20 of the movie, yep! The rescue from village scene. Mr Wahlberg’s character made him self comfortable in the house of the family that had saved him. He slipped in to a white robe like dress, and here is where the difference between the versions became apparent. The whiteness of the robe like dress looks crispy white, like new clothes in the US version, while the same white dress looked decidedly grayish, like ol’tarty school uniform. The other area of picture quality differences lies in the shadow detailing, in which the US version proved superior.


I think the ASEAN version seems inferior in sound and video quality compared to the US version.


I feel the local or ASEAN movie distributors should look in the quality issues more thoroughly, because or someone in Malaysia at least, to pay RM$79.90 to buy a movie for home entertainment should be given the total package, as in the US(country of origin) pressing. To short change ASEAN videophiles is a very short sighted business plan, given the long term collectors nature of the hobby, because indirectly they are encouraging people increasingly to buy sites like www.amazon.com if they want quality.


Article by WL Low

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