While I've been able to enjoy the uncompressed PCM soundtracks on several of my discs, there are audio formats that weren't yet being decoded properly. The two DTS formats (HR - High Resolution and MA - Master Audio lossless) were only available via a downgraded signal (albeit "downgraded" at 1.5 mb/s, the very highest that DVDs could offer) and Dolby TrueHD lossless was available uncompressed, but unfortunately only in stereo.
The new firmware upgrade takes care of all of that. Everything plays in full bandwidth audio, and it is interesting to switch between the downgraded DTS and their parent signals. At times the differences are very subtle, but there is a detail and presence that just doesn't show up any other way. As I said before, all of the richness of sound that laserdiscs had with the added bonus of the dimensional quality of multi-channel audio.
I was particularly taken by the Dolby TrueHD tracks on both Batman Begins and Gattaca; the former one would expect to sound particularly striking, being a summer action flick. The latter, while not very noisy, has a very detailed sound mix. I've actually often felt that as much fun as the most cacophonous chase scene might be, the test of a good sound mix is how the quieter moments are handled. In the case of Gattaca, in which quieter moments abound, the audio track fills the room, transforming it into whatever the setting is in the film at the time. And Michael Nyman's score sounds damn amazing, too.
One of the things that I found surprising about both HD-DVD and Blu-ray players is that not all of them upconvert. One would think that was a no-brainer, but... That feature was the main (but not only) reason why I decided on this model instead of the LG 200 (strange, as the LG 100 did upconvert), and this player has the best upconverting chip out there. And DVDs look fantastic... but all one has to do is A/B test the DVD with the corresponding HD DVD or Blu-ray and it's impossible to look at the older image again without feeling a little dirty.
I can't wait to see Alien and Apocalypse Now on Blu-ray... hopefully... someday...
On the other hand, North by Northwest has been announced for 2009...