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How good is the DirecTV HD Signal?

Discussion in 'DIRECTV HD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by wismile, Aug 15, 2007.

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  1. wismile

    wismile Legend

    Jul 19, 2006
    I'm curious about the changing quality of DirecTV's HD Signal. I've seen posts that refer to improved HD quality...or on the down side...HD-LITE. Where can I go to see the quality of the signal I'm watching at any given time?
  2. Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

    Jun 18, 2006
    I think you'll get different answers depending on who you talk to, and it's hard to get an apples to apples comparison. Maybe if you go to a local store that sells both and might have the ability to show you them.

    If you're asking in the abstract, how is the quality, I think that it's very good. In most cases, most people will be very pleased.

    Bottom line is try to see for yourself, and make your own decision.
  3. wismile

    wismile Legend

    Jul 19, 2006
    Thanks...but when someone refers to the fact that DirecTV improved the signal on a specific channel...are they just offering an opinion? or is there some way to quantify the quality of the signal.
  4. raoul5788

    raoul5788 Guest

    May 13, 2006
    It can be quantified by reading the bitrate of the signal.
  5. wismile

    wismile Legend

    Jul 19, 2006
    where can I find that bitrate information?
  6. 4DThinker

    4DThinker Godfather

    Dec 17, 2006
    Your signal will depend on where you live, how many obstacles may block the sky view, the dish you use, your cable quality and cable lengths, the aim of your dish, your mutiswitch, grounding block, the competency of the installer, etc. For most people the signal gets through well enough. As for the quality of the content, the HD channels look HD on my HDTVs, and the SD channels also look great on all my TVs. Some OTA channels broadcast at 720p which is what I've always thought was HD-light. Most HD content I've seen from DirecTV appears to be 1080i. The compression used to get it to you is not obvious. Some segments of some HD shows look like upscaled SD, and I'm assuming ithey do because parts of the edited material were only available in SD format and the only choice was to upscale those clips so that the whole thing could be broadcast in 1080i. The same will be true for the same content sent to you over cable.
  7. Meklos

    Meklos Legend in his own mind...

    Nov 7, 2006
    I think the number I've seen tossed about is 1280x1080i (for D* HD-LITE) vs 1920x1080i (for "true" or spec broadcast 1080i). You also have to consider the fact that many of the new MPEG-4 DMAs are using first-generation MPEG-4 encoders, fed from an (already-compressed) MPEG-2 source... so you're going to get two 'generations' of artifacts.

    I've personally seen problems here in the Nashville DMA with the MPEG-4 encoders, and others have reported in newer DMAs that the same problems either do not exist or do not happen as frequently. Problems like alternating white/black blocks in horizontal lines on certain frames, the so-called 'screen door' effect where larger, patterned blocks appear for a frame or two while the rest of the image is built-in and detailed up, and other image-related issues. I haven't seen any reports of sound-related issues on MPEG-4 channels, but there are a few notorious MPEG-2 national channels with sound issues.
  8. convem24

    convem24 Icon

    Mar 11, 2007
    Again going to LamontCranston's comment it depends, sometimes Discovery HD looks fantastic while other channels like Espn look a little worn. My local HD channels (when there is something on in HD) look fantastic (I have Mpeg 4 local HD channels). This gives me hope that when the new nationwide HD channels goes live in the Fall the Mpeg4 compression will improve all the current existing Mpeg 2 national channels. Again Lamont is right to look at retail feed but retailer feeds are typically crap since it is some monkey has aligned the dish. Go to an independent dealer's showroom (their feeds typically look great). Good luck. I have great hope that the new HD satellite will improve the national feed quality since the locals are using the same technology. Good luck either way.:)
  9. Doug Brott

    Doug Brott Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

    Jul 12, 2006
    Los Angeles
    Certainly YMMV, but for me I'd give the HD Quality :up: :up: :up:
  10. 1948GG

    1948GG Icon

    Aug 4, 2007
    Absolutely Positively one of those internet fallacies that continues to be put forward day after day, week after week. There is NO repeat NO actual studies that shows ANY correlation of some 'bitrate' to actual 'perceived' picture (or audio) quality.

    The entire wealth of over 30+ years of work by the Motion Picture Expert Group (MPEG), that developed the standards we view today, have shown that human visual acuity can be easily manipulated to the point that anyone can be 'fooled' into thinking that sample 'A' is worse (or better) than sample 'B', no matter what the 'specs'. The biggest problem today is the proliferation of downright poor display technologies (like LCD, Plasma, and DLP) that have much more influence in people's perception of the video quality than anything else.

    Anyone who's worked in this field, or been a member of the MPEG working group, would find the base statement ('it can be quantified by reading the bitrate') as being laughable at best, and extremely misleading at worse. I've quoted the following before, and would direct those again to re-read it; since the s/w on this forum won't allow url's to be posted, you'll have to actual work a bit to go to the article, which in my opinion ought to be posted in a 'sticky' at the top of the forum:

    TV Technology Magazine
    "TV Is Pictures and Sound; 'Taint Numbers and Specs"
    by Mario Orazio, The Masked Engineer, June 27, 2007
  11. SirDave

    SirDave Cool Member

    Aug 16, 2007
    Maybe bitrate isn't the only answer, but there is a difference.

    Example: Super Bowl '07.
    I'll assume the network broadcasting OTA is getting essentially the same signal as Directv. Same source so the type of camera is moot.
    15 people looking at 56" DLP via the HDTivo from Directv.
    Both OTA and Satellite are receiving MPEG2, right?
    Each and every person in the room agreed the OTA picture was better. Almost 3-dimensional vs not. More detail in the picture. More 'life-like'.
    Nobody was being 'fooled'. The picture was dramatically different.

    Is that due to compression bitrates? Maybe. It's a given that on MPEG2, Directv is bankwidth-challenged. Does bandwidth directly relate to the amount of information delivered to the box, i.e. bitrate?

    I have the luxury of living near NYC and I can compare OTA to Directv. The new MPEG4 streams are better than the old MPEG2. Much better. Not enough to 'bug' me anymore, but still not as good as OTA. Plain and simple.

    I just hope that the addition of more HD channels doesn't result in bandwith starvation from the new satellites and more compression to individual channels.
    Only time will tell.

    You don't have an easy way available to analyze what Directv is doing in the delivery of the satellite signal. It's not delivered as a facility in their receivers.
    I don't believe we'll ever know exactly what causes the difference in the picture.
    I do believe, however, you as a consumer can have a subjective viewpoint to the quality of the picture you're viewing and that viewpoint is valid.
  12. cawgijoe

    cawgijoe Legend

    Dec 22, 2005
    I've had HD now for about five years. I have a Sony KV-34XBR800 TV which is being fed by a Directv HR20 DVR currently and I also have a roof-top mounted Winegard UHF/VHF antenna. I'm in the Washington, DC area. I can easily compare the local OTA broadcast stations to the same feed from Directv. The local news is being broadcast in 1080i HD on WUSA channel 9 daily. I can tell you that the difference in quality between the OTA picture and what Directv is sending is minimal. There is a slight difference in overall "sharpness", but it is extremely small.

    At least from what I can see in my area with my equipment, I would have to completely disagree with the idea that there is a huge difference between the same Directv HD signal and OTA.

    For me it's simply untrue and I don't see it.
  13. LI-SVT

    LI-SVT Icon

    May 18, 2006
    Best Buy and PC Richards locally use D* to drive their displayed HD TVs. You could go there to see it it with your own eyes. Of course that is not answering your question directly, but may be helpful in your conclusion.
  14. Rockermann

    Rockermann Legend

    Aug 9, 2007
    It's going to be really tough to see a difference on a 34" set. Larger displays tend to show more 'shortcomings'.

    That being said, I've always been pretty happy with D*'s HD channels. I get all my locals off-air and most of the Sat HD stations stack up. There are differences, but they're minor for the most part. This is based on viewing via a 65" Mitsubishi Diamond Series CRT RPTV and now via my AX100U projector on a 118" screen.

    That being said II, there are some folks out that that would NEVER see a difference. Some people are more attuned to picking up visual aspects than others. Some out there have a hard time telling the difference between HD and SD.
  15. oldavman

    oldavman Mentor

    Nov 2, 2003
    My locals (St. Louis area) all look good whether via OTA or via satellite. Very sharp. Very rarely see any artifacts. The national HD channels, especially Discovery HD Theater, HDNet, and ESPN-HD all look good with the exception of TNT-HD which the up-conversion suffers. I saw a slight improvement when I switched from my HR10-250 Tivo unit (OTA HD channels) to the HR20.
    Just a note- wouldn't switching displays make a difference in perceived picture quality. When I switched from a 30" CRT HD set to a Hitachi 42" plasma I noticed that I had lost that black level and color purity that I enjoyed on my 30" CRT. The resolution may not have changed, but, I now prefer watching everything on my BenQ projector and 8' screen. Not only for the screen size, but I think my picture quality is better through the BenQ projector than the plasma screen.

    Hitachi model 42HDF39 42" plasma screen
    HR20-100 via HDMI, native off
    AT-9 dish,
    Zinwell WB68 multiswitch
    BenQ PE7700 projector
    Carada screen
    HR20-700 via HDMI, native off
  16. Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

    Jun 18, 2006
    Best case scenario would definitely be to find a local high-end, unaffiliated electronics store and talk to them.
  17. wismile

    wismile Legend

    Jul 19, 2006
    Thanks everyone!

    I guess the answer is there is...no easy answer and other than knowing what the resolution is...there isn't an actual number that reflects the quality of the image.

    I had always found my local OTA broadcasts using the HR10-250 to be of higher image quality than the satellite version and assumed D* is compressing the signal to save bandwidth. I haven't done a comparison recently...so I will check out the new MPEG4 locals.
  18. MikeR

    MikeR Hall Of Fame

    Oct 5, 2006

  19. skyboysea

    skyboysea Icon

    Nov 1, 2002
    I am not absolutely expert in the field but I have to agree with you. In the four year I had my DTivo I have often compared the files size of saved shows trying to see if there is a correlation between size and quality and my conclusion is that there is none. A few times I had the chance to compare the same show recorded on two different channels and see that the sometimes much bigger files, and I am talking of 30% or more difference, had a worse quality than the smaller file.
    I think there is so much going into transmitting the image that bitrate is just a component a nd probably not the most important.
  20. paulman182

    paulman182 Hall Of Fame

    Aug 4, 2006
    And, as someone said, the size of the display and one's distance from it, make a huge difference in the quality one perceives.

    It almost makes comparisons moot, unless we are all looking at the same set from the same distance.
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