Audio reference discs are nothing new, but when somebody creates a DVD with audio tones in 5.1 surround format, you gotta take notice. Produced by Gold Line and Performance Media Industries, the TK51 “The 5.1 Audio Toolkit” is just that — a collection of useful signals, test tones, and reference materials for calibrating, setup and troubleshooting 5.1 surround systems with THX Surround EX.
Retailing at $149.95, the TK51 offers more than 80 test signals presented in Dolby Digital format for playback on any DVD player. Tracks include Midrange Pink Noise, Wideband Pink Noise, LF Pink Noise, Crossover Point Check Signals, Imaging Tests, Third-Octave Pink Noise, 1-Octave Pink Noise, Third-Octave Burst Headroom Test, Noise Leakage Tests, Sinewave Signals, Swept Sinewave Signals and “A Whole Lotta Bass” — a track designed specifically for checking up subwoofer (LFE) performance. The disc also provides a variety of well-recorded musical selections, ranging from classical to rock and big band, as well as the now-classic Dolby Digital (“City,” “Train” and “Egypt”) theatrical trailers, which put both picture and audio playback to the test.
Navigation through the menus is easy and fast, and the disc also includes “cycled” tones that play one at a time through the L-C-R-Sr-Sc-Sl channels to ensure that levels are set properly. Although the disc works best with an RTA or SPL meter, most tests require little more than a well-trained set of ears to make sure playback levels are matched or to listen for rattles, hums or buzz. My only complaint with “The 5.1 Audio Toolkit” DVD is that it should have included some 5.1 DTS and LCRS Dolby Pro Logic material as well as a few simple picture performance checks, such as colorbars, convergence grids and focus checks. Those minor shortcomings aside, this is a must-have accessory for anyone installing, mixing or using surround gear.
Gold Line; www.gold-line.com; 203/938-2588.