Old Dog Learns New Tricks

The new Waldrep media room is still in progress. The painting, carpet and most of the furniture are in place. Yesterday was all about installing curtain rods for the black out drapes that are needed to keep out the bright afternoon sun. And I’ve made the switch from satellite TV (tens years of DirecTV at $140 per month) to streaming Internet entertainment delivery. Pretty cool…more choices AND I save money on my monthly bill.

I heard a piece on the radio recently about how quickly the tide is turning away from companies like DirecTV and Dish network in favor of Netflix, Vudu, Cinema Now and the others. The industry is rapidly shifting from the old paradigm to the new age of “anything you want, anytime you want it, anywhere you want it and on any device you own”. Of course, there are lots of tricky variations in the model, especially when it comes to image and sound quality. But it’s clear that connecting to a high-speed network is much more than faster Internet. You can get your data, TV and phone through the same digital pipe.

Here’s a brief summary of my own transformation. For about 10 years, my household has received its entertainment via two discrete channels. The satellite on the roof has been the gateway to our local TV stations, some premium services like HBO and the Discovery Channels and a whole slew of programming that neither my wife or I have ever accessed (although she does enjoy the HGTV channel). The other incoming stream of data bits comes via the DSL Internet connection provided by Verizon (until this morning when I my cancellation request pulled the plug on my 768 kbps data feed). The modem/router fed an Apple Airport, which then supplied wireless connectivity to my wife’s office and my daughter’s laptop (when she’s home and trying to do work at home…she’s complained bitterly about the anemic speed).

So here’s the new plan. I cancelled the Verizon service. In spite of the fact that they dangle promises of 50 – 500 Mbps in the online ads, the FIOS Quantum service is not available in my neighborhood (which is hard the understand because the Palisades is not a shabby part of Los Angeles…Giada Delaurentis of “Cooking with Giada” lives only a few doors away). I’ve heard that everyone hates Time Warner but they are the only high speed Internet provider in the area. So Time Warner it is.

TW installed a new cable connection in the house that will bring up to 15 Mbps downloads into my new Motorola modem, router and WiFi box and allow up to 5 Mbps data uploads…for the same price that Verizon was charging for a measly DSL connection.

After a few phone calls to DirecTV, I got the cost of local TV channels (I can’t live without 60 minutes or Frontline) down to less than $20 per month. I thought about going with OTA (over the air) broadcasts but there are mountains between my home and Mt. Wilson that prevent me from getting free broadcasts. I think I can live with the current numbers…we’ll see how many on demand movies we rent every month. But the new model promises to cut my entertainment bill in half! Why I’ve been paying for the “Xtra” DirecTV package all these years and not accessing more than a few channels has been a huge mistake.

And just how is the new high speed Internet integrated into the new hardware setup? It’s the Ethernet connector on the back of my Oppo BDP-105. The main remote in the new Waldrep media room is not the A/V receiver or the DirecTV remote, it’s the remote for the Oppo box.

After watching a couple of movies using the SD connection provided by the DSL line, I’m looking forward to the HD upgrade coming tonight. And I got 5.1 surround sound thanks to Dolby Digital Plus. This looks promising.

More soon…


Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

3 thoughts on “Old Dog Learns New Tricks

  • Frank L


    Congrats on the new setup. Since we moved to LV 3 years ago we enjoy the incredible fast internet here provided by Cox. I watch German and French and Italian News and TV shows in very good quality streamed right into my HTPC. BTW if you want to watch REAL news go and watch at http://www.france24.com or Aljazeera.com. They don’t talk about another killing last night or as often in LA another car chase but what happens around the world. Must see news for people that claim to be informed.
    Anyways good luck with your system.
    P.S. I was tired too to pay so much for Dish and reduced our programming to $49 a month incl HD.

  • Hi Mark

    Very interested you have the Oppo bdp105.

    I have had the bdp 95 for quite some time and it is fantastic. Have ordered the 105 because of the extra inputs to enable me to streamline my system. The bonus is that it is supposed to better than the 95.

    I was curious how you were going to connect yours up to the output side ie to a pre- amp or direct to amplifiers ect. I have been using an onkyo pr sc 5009 av reciever and have found it difficult to tell the difference between the multi channel analogue and the HDMI output. I run the xlr stereo outputs to my krell ka150 amp and that sound is great.

    Just curious as to your thoughts.( By the way my front main speakers are Kef reference 4) most of my equipment is fairly long in the tooth like me now days.

    Love reading your e mails very informative and looking forward to you increasing your library of older music.


    • Admin

      Ian…I’m a big fan of the Oppo players. I think they’ve done a wonderful job technically, value for the money and customer support. I have the analog outputs of mine connected to the preamp inputs on my aging receiver AND the HDMI connected as well. I have a full THX set of B&W FCM-8 speakers in a nice ITU 5.1 circle. It works great.


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