Sound Advice: Go Blu-ray for true widescreen view

  • Article by: DON LINDICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 28, 2011 - 2:22 PM

Answers to your multimedia questions.

Q I have several pay movie channels that are almost always shown full screen on my 16:9 TV, even though they were filmed in the wider 2:35 aspect ratio. This leads to the image being cropped, and I feel cheated because we can't see everything that was originally released to theaters. Some of our friends can't tolerate watching a movie when it has the black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. I have not been successful in explaining to them that they're not seeing the entire image from the movie. They simply don't care.

Why do pay services not broadcast in the original aspect ratio, and is there any hope of getting them to do so?

A You hit the nail on the head when you said, "Some of our friends cannot tolerate watching a movie when it has the black bars on the top and bottom of the screen."

Sadly, they represent the majority of viewers, and broadcasters are accommodating them. I still get e-mail stating, "I hated black bar movies on my old TV, which was not widescreen. Now I have widescreen and the bars are back! I can't escape them!"

This usually happens when they play Blu-ray movies, which are almost always recorded in the original aspect ratio to please purists.

This situation is unlikely to change until most viewers change their minds and demand that movies be broadcast as originally recorded. I can tell you that based on almost 10 years of public interaction while writing this column, things are unlikely to swing in your direction.

You might want to consider renting Blu-ray copies of your favorite films to see them as they were originally filmed. You'll get a better picture and sound, as well.

Time to clean your records

Cleaning vinyl records makes them sound better and last longer. Doing a thorough job usually requires a record-cleaning machine. The machines apply cleaning fluid, scrub it into the record grooves then vacuum the dirty fluid off, getting out the grit and leaving behind a clean-looking, clean-sounding record.

Typically only audiophiles and record collectors have used the expensive machines, leaving most listeners to rely on simple brushes and cleaning fluids that are not effective.

Now you can clean your records perfectly without the big expense.

The $79 Spin-Clean Record Washer (www.spincleanrecordwasher.com) is simple and elegant. Fill the trough with water, add the supplied cleaning fluid, insert a record and spin it by hand three times. The internal brushes get off the dirt and the cleaning solution keeps it suspended, so when you pull out the wet record the dirt is left behind. Dry it off, and you are ready to go.

The simplicity and purity of its design makes the Spin-Clean reliable and effective. If you listen to a lot of records and don't have a fancy cleaning machine, you need a Spin-Clean.

Submit questions and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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