Theta Debuts New DVD/CD Transport

If you're in the market for a disc spinner compatible with all current DVD and CD formats, Theta Digital has just what you're looking for. The Agoura Hills, CA- digital pioneer has announced its new "Carmen" transport, said to be state-of-the-art in third-generation DVD technology.

The Carmen's dual-laser drive mechanism can handle digital audio at sampling rates of 44.1, 48, and 96 kHz with resolutions of 16, 20, and 24 bits. Disc type detection circuitry automatically selects either the 650-nanometer laser for DVD or the 780nm laser for CD, CD-R, CD-RW, and Video CD. Low-jitter digital servo circuits control motor speed, laser tracking, and focus. An unusual feature is the machine's sophisticated parametric statistical analysis system, which corrects errors caused by fingerprints, dust, and disc warping. Theta's advanced design "yields exceptional readout precision and keeps errors at an absolute minimum," according to an August 8 press release.

Digital signals (audio and video) within the Carmen are kept free of noise and artifacts by independent processing circuits, separate low-jitter crystal oscillators, and extensive buffering, re-clocking, and datastream realignment before the outputs. As expected in a product of this quality, the Carmen features multiple transformers and highly filtered and regulated power supplies, including integral RF suppression. A 10-bit/27MHz digital-to-analog converter (DAC) converts digital video to analog, which exits the machine via ultra high-speed output buffers. Standard video outputs include one component, two S-video, and two composite. Digital audio outputs include "PCM Only" on an RCA jack and PCM/DTS/Dolby Digital 5.1 on RCA, BNC, and XLR jacks.

Theta also offers several intriguing options at additional cost. One is an optical audio output (either AT&T or Laser Linque); the other is a so-called "4:2:2" digital video output said to prevent signal degradation caused by multiple conversions from digital to analog and back. Theta claims this is the best feed for any plasma display or digital projector. Of interest to video purists is the Carmen's "UltraSync" progressive (480p) output, which "deinterlaces" the signal in the digital domain before it is converted to analog, a technique said to be superior to most external line doublers. The result? "Exquisite picture quality-clear, color-balanced, and finely detailed." The Carmen is priced at $3,000, and is available in ebony or platinum.