For evident reasons, my residence theater has actually primarily concentrated on Blu-ray and Ultra HD content, to add cable TV and also streaming at a minimum that high definition quality. Even so, i still prefer to save older styles around. Recently, ns dusted off my old Laserdisc player and also hooked it increase again.

Laserdisc to be the layout that first got me into home theater. When I checked out college ago in the 1990s, VHS to be still the standard for watching movie at home. Ns encountered my first LD player at my work-study job and also never looked back. The picture quality ~ above a Laserdisc was significantly far better than VHS, and most movies were letterboxed to their original theatrical facet ratios. Even better, countless discs available cool features like audio commentaries and also behind-the-scenes documentaries the were exceptionally fascinating and also novel developments a movie student like me ate up and also couldn’t get sufficient of.

After college, the acquisition of my own first LD player naturally caused a need for better equipment to clock the discs on. I bought a enlarge TV and my first surround sound system, and my attention in the house theater understanding escalated rapidly.

I to be deeply committed to Laserdisc and also resisted the transition to DVD at first. (To be fair, at an early stage DVD releases were pretty crappy.) Eventually, that course, the civilization moved on and also so go I. Studios quit releasing movies on LD and manufacturers quit making the players. Fortunately, the top quality of the DVD layout got a lot much better too. My first professional composing gig was for the now-defunct DVDFile internet site, and also by the moment I began there, Laserdisc was currently well in the rearview mirror. Nevertheless, I retained my player around and also continued to collection discs I discovered interesting. In fact, come ensure that I gained the many out of the format, ns invested in among the best Laserdisc players ever before made, the Pioneer HLD-X9, a 38-pound beast ns imported indigenous Japan for a quite penny.

The size of the thing and its shining gold complete made because that a really impressive item of hardware ~ above an devices rack, and also still do.

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As an analog video clip format, Laserdisc photo quality could vary wildly through the player used. Entry-level models tended to deliver very soft, according to images. The more money you invested on a player, the better results you can get. The X9 was significantly superior to any kind of LD player released in the unified States, and also I’ve cherished owning the ever due to the fact that I purchase it.

Sadly, over time, my interest in watching Laserdiscs declined. As soon as we moved to Blu-ray – much much less 4k Ultra HD! – the assumed of city hall analog standard meaning again seemed almost unbearable. Added to that, many of the contents I ever before owned on LD at some point made its method to digital formats. Even once-exclusive rarities ns paid a many money come buy ~ above Laserdisc deserve to now quickly be discovered in higher quality on smaller discs or streaming. Mine beloved HLD-X9 sat unused because that a number of years. Although I maintained it sitting in my tools rack, largely for its superior visual presentation, the player no even associated to anything because that a very long time.

Getting It running Again

I’d entertained the believed of connecting the player again from time come time, but it always seemed like such a huge project. Laserdisc is just not a convenient layout in any type of respect, and also that includes setting it up. Once I ultimately made the decision to carry out it, I had to collection aside a good chunk the time.

The biggest concern is the morass that cabling requirements. Nowadays, friend can easily plug in a Blu-ray or UHD player with a strength cable and also one HDMI cable and also be all collection to go. No so v Laserdisc. To take advantage of the format to that is fullest, you need:

1 video cable (Composite video clip preferred)1 Toslink or digital coax cable because that PCM and also DTS soundtracks1 set of analog audio cables because that commentaries and pre-digital discs1 digital coax cable native the AC-3 RF calculation for Dolby Digital 5.1

That AC-3 output has to be plugged into a separate RF demodulator device to extract the Dolby Digital and convert it to a standard form an A/V receiver can decode. The Kenwood demodulator I have actually makes points marginally an ext convenient by permitting me to plug both the AC-3 and standard digital outputs right into it, where it will certainly auto-switch in between them and also only take it up one input on the receiver.

Further, due to the fact that the player I have actually is a Japanese model designed for 100 V electricity (as protest to 120 V in the U.S.A.), the strength cable demands to go into a voltage converter.


For every one of the glitchiness and also problems that it may suffer, HDMI has significantly simplified home theater in many respects.

It might seem counter-intuitive to use a Composite video clip cable once the HLD-X9 additionally has one S-Video output. No S-Video supposed to be the superior link method? not exactly. Laserdisc video is in reality encoded on disc in Composite format. When using the player’s S-Video output, you count on the comb filter inside the player to separate the shade from the black color & white parts of the signal. Unfortunately, even though the X9 had actually one that the best comb filters accessible in the mid-1990s, the does not play fine with modern-day digital displays. The S-Video output results in major “checkerboard” artifacts where areas of solid shade will pixelate into huge squares throughout motion. It’s practically unwatchable now, especially when viewed on a projector. Meanwhile, the Composite video output is unaffected by this.

The question is moot given that practically no residence theater tools offers S-Video inputs anymore anyway!

From the player, every those cables have to go somewhere. I’m absolutely not walking to run a lengthy Composite cable all the method to mine projector (which doesn’t also have any analog inputs). The most logical move is to send everything to one A/V receiver, yet even it is not particularly convenient for me. I have actually so much home theater gear that it filling two equipment racks, and running 4 cables native the LD player and also RF demodulator on one rack come the recipient on the other is a large mess.


Until recently, a Lumagen Radiance XS video clip processor had actually been the central hub because that my residence theater through which all of my various video clip sources to be routed, scaled, and switched. Unfortunately, the XS design cannot perform 4k. I had to bypass it and pull it the end of my device when ns upgraded mine projector a couple of months ago. Thankfully, Laserdisc actually gives me a use for that again. I’ve moved that processor end to the exact same rack together the LD player and connected every one of the X9’s assorted cables to it. The Radiance will digitize and consolidate the video clip and audio right into a solitary HDMI calculation that’s much much easier to operation over to the receiver. It also does a pretty good job that scaling the standard-def video clip to 1080p, which enables the projector a slightly easier task of just needing come upconvert from over there to 4k.

Spinning Out

With all that accomplished, I put in my an initial Laserdisc (Dune, naturally) to check the player and my heart sank. The maker simply ejected the disc there is no playing. Ns tried a few times to the exact same result.

I switched come GoldenEye (another CLV format disc) and also tried again. Although the one loaded, playback was very glitchy. The video froze repeatedly while audio continued playing. The player no responsive to any commands indigenous the remote (and yes, i did placed in new batteries). Just the front panel buttons walk anything.

I to be all set to shoot off an e-mail to a friend of mine who works on LD football player to see if it was worth trying come repair. Fortunately, i took a breath and tried one much more disc. Toy Story (CAV format) play fine v no troubles at all. I popped in an additional CAV disc (Dick Tracy) and that worked as well.

Thinking that maybe the player would now only read CAV discs, i tried an additional in CLV layout just to it is in sure. Once Tomorrow never ever Dies functioned without issue, ns went ago to GoldenEye and it beginning playing effectively this time. I also got Dune to play.

My theory at the minute is that the player simply needed time to warm up after together a lengthy stretch that disuse. It is what I’m informing myself, anyway. That has ongoing to it is in a small finicky with additional attempts. Also though Dick Tracy functioned on one day, it took me 6 tries to get it to load when i tested the same movie again a few days later. That did lastly start playing, fortunately.

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The next concern I encountered is that any content ns play through a 4:3 element ratio displays static and other crap native the vertical Blanking Interval at the optimal of the screen. Earlier in the day, stuff prefer this would certainly be concealed by the screen overscan natural to any type of CRT pipe television, yet it’s all totally visible top top a display screen with zero overscan.


Luckily, the Radiance conserved the day right here as well. The processor has video controls that allow me to zoom in a step and slide the picture up sufficient to get rid of the rubbish without shedding real photo content. Because that those who don’t take place to have actually such an esoteric item of equipment, plenty of HDTVs have an “overscan” setting that will certainly zoom the photo up a little when you operation into difficulties like this. You’ll probably lose a tiny image indigenous the bottom that the screen, but it’s better than seeing all this unwanted junk girlfriend were never ever meant come see. Any kind of widescreen movie that’s letterboxed on key is intended to it is in zoomed increase anyway, which will certainly take treatment of the worry on that own.

Is It worth It?

If every one of that seems choose a most work come play part 20+ year-old Laserdiscs, i wish I might state through some enthusiasm that the initiative was rewarded. I have to be honest, however, that even with among the ideal Laserdisc players ever made, the LD photo is an extremely soft and also flat and noisy, v dull and muddy colors. I don’t think any of it is a player issue. We’ve just come a long method since Laserdisc. When you’ve started getting used to 4k HDR, analog standard definition is kind of an eyesore. Ns might have the ability to tweak and far better calibrate the photo by playing with the settings in my video clip processor, which will certainly probably help a little, but I will should temper mine expectations for what might be possible there.

I still have actually a very strong sentimental attachment to my Laserdisc collection, and for that reason I’m very glad that I acquired the LD player working again. I even still have actually a small amount of content on LD that never ever made the shift to digital media. It’s nice to have accessibility to that again. Realistically, though, the major value that this experiment was pure nostalgia. As lot as it saddens me, i can’t honestly say there’s much helpful use for great ol’ LD anymore.