AV Rant #587: Cursing Canadian

April 21st, 2018 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Miguel for his donation, our 58 Patreon Patrons, as well as Curt G. for letting Accessories4Less know he heard about them from us, and Bobby K. and John S. for sending links to help Tom’s son build a gaming PC, including a pre-built AMD-based PC for under $700.

In the news, Vizio announced their 2018 TV lineup with the new P-Series looking like the highest value, and the all new P-Series Quantum delivering 98.5% of DCI-P3 color and 192 zones of local-dimming. And the Emotiva HDBaseT Extender offers 18 Gbps over a single Cat6 cable up to 130 feet.

Chris T. shared a photo of all the AVRant-recommended gear he’s purchased and is now ready to install. Ted M. discovered that his new Denon AVR-X4400H Receiver fixed a problem with blurry video he was having before. And Marc N. wanted to share his excitement about finding a lightly used Epson 5030UB projector for $700 on Craigslist.

0:17:25 Chris M. asks if it’s beneficial to use a Y-splitter to feed both the Left and Right inputs on a subwoofer.

0:19:22 Josh F. wants us to “grade” his setup, and we think the most worthwhile upgrades he could make would be a new subwoofer, and some Ascend HTM-200SE, Focal Bird, or NHT Super Series speakers.

0:31:18 Infinite Gary wonders if listening for a phantom Center between Surround Back speakers might be the best way to determine their toe-in.

0:33:42 Jay C. asks if the Focal Sib speakers would be a good alternative to the Focal Birds.

0:35:26 Nathan D. feels like this is an evolution, not revolution product year, so he wants to know if we’re excited for anything that’s launching soon.

0:40:46 Jack H. wants to buy an Oppo player, but he’s trying to decide between an Ultra HD Blu-ray model, or an older 1080p Blu-ray unit.

0:47:02 Allen G. wants to know if a Sony Ultra HD Blu-ray player will play SACDs and provide good upconversion, and he also asks why Dolby Vision isn’t a concern for projectors, and what label he needs to look for on HDMI cables to ensure 4K HDR capability.

0:52:57 Lance H. asks about the 4:4:4 chroma input on LG OLED TVs when you designate an HDMI input as being a PC input, and he asks why images of fire in HDR felt more impressive when viewed on a Sony Z9D TV.

1:02:55 Rob W. shares a ton of experience from his home theater build, then he asks why not all speakers sound very similar to one another, and why a speaker manufacturer would purposely design an inaccurate response curve.

1:22:49 Damien D. can’t connect an external amp to his current AV Receiver, and he doesn’t know what his future speakers will be, but he’s still itching to buy an amp, so we mention the limited stock of refurbished Monoprice Monolith amps, and recommend pairing one with a refurbished Denon AVR-X4300H.

1:31:18 David S. recommends using cinder blocks as speaker stands. Then he asks where we think he should place his absorption panels, how to mount them so that they’ll have an air gap, and which speakers in his collection we think he should mount as his Surrounds.

1:38:57 Justin B. is moving to a new house and is trying to decide if his theater should go in a loft or a spare bedroom.

1:44:41 Don G. gets some advice about how to connect the overwhelming number of wires in a 7.2.4 setup that includes a separate 3-channel amp.

1:50:55 Nick B. asks, what is the highest crossover frequency we would ever consider using?

1:55:32 Jack R. gets our recommendation for an Audio-Technica LP-60 turntable.

1:57:45 Shane T. gets some quick, incomplete advice about his theater build in case some of it is time sensitive.


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AV Rant #586: Waiting for CEDIA

April 16th, 2018 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are our 58 Patreon Patrons, as well as Heath for talking us up to AV Science and SVS, Ted’s wife for telling Accessories4Less that the Denon AVR-X4400H she bought Ted for his birthday was an AVRant recommendation, Chris for letting Accessories4Less and HSU know we recommended them, Cesar for telling Monoprice his speaker wire purchase was because of us, and Ron, Patrick, and Kris for offering to help Tom’s son with his gaming PC build.

In the news, Larry let us know that Sinemia has launched in Canada, offering a similar discount movie ticket subscription as MoviePass in the States. And Antoine gave us a heads up about the JVC LX-UH1 4K DLP projector for $2,500.

Chris tried the Monoprice 9723 $100 subwoofer, but he was unimpressed. Bob took our advice to move his seats and will upgrade to one of the 5.1 speaker sets we suggested. Noah recommends Monoprice’s projection screens as an inexpensive alternative to Elite Screens. And Joseph shared his photo comparing the sizes of the Focal Little Bird, Focal Bird, and SVS Prime Satellite speakers.

0:20:34 Chris T. asks what difference strictly driver size makes, what are the pros and cons of ported, sealed, and cylinder subwoofers, what are the pros and cons of upmixing content to utilize more speakers, what’s the best way to watch Ultra HD Blu-rays on a 1080p display, and whether the crop of $1,500 4K DLP projectors are worth considering. Then we recommend Blue Jeans Cable for customizable wall plates, explain why NavePoint speaker wire is so inexpensive, figure out the dimensions of a backer box for HSU in-wall speakers, share some opinions on a video about Oswalds Mill Audio, and talk about backing up 3D Blu-rays and playing them on a 2D display.

0:48:08 Jonathan F. gets our thoughts on the Audioholics preview of REL T/i Series subwoofers.

0:54:02 Nick wants to add a second subwoofer to his Sunfire True in a small room, so we think an SVS SB-1000 could suffice, although an SB12-NSD would be our top choice.

0:57:12 Heath B. applied our advice with fantastic results. He saved money with a male electrical inlet rather than a full in-wall power kit. And he asks how to best align his projector’s image using his mount’s adjustments plus the projector’s lens shift.

1:04:30 Adriano M. asks for speaker recommendations in Australia on behalf of a friend, and we think either KEF or Jamo would fit the bill.

1:10:07 Brock R. wants to know if he should return the Oppo UDP-203 he just bought, and we point to Acoustical Solutions Signature Sound Barrier Ceiling Tile as an example of drop ceiling tiles with an STC rating for soundproofing.

1:15:17 Josh S. gets our thoughts on Rtings long-term OLED burn-in test, and we speculate about future 77-inch OLED pricing.

1:23:54 Ted M. asks if there’s such as thing as a reference waterfall graph for audio decay times.

1:27:32 Bob G. gets us to make a single choice for three Front speakers for $1,500. Rob picks Aperion Verus II Grand bookshelf pair and Center, while Tom agrees, but offers three RBH R-515E Impression Elite as an alternative.

1:31:13 Infinite Gary gets clarification about Surround Back speaker placement and toe-in. Then we discuss dynamic range compression of music in movie soundtracks, and what sorts of differences you might hear if a cable is of very poor quality.

1:36:28 Jeremy P. gets our honest recommendation for a cheap anamorphic lens and video processor for use with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio screen.

1:40:56 Jeff G. gets our thoughts on whether to wait or buy a 4K HDR-compatible projector now, and we recommend the new TCL 6-Series for a relatively inexpensive 65-inch 4K HDR flat panel.

1:47:57 Jeremy W. gets our general feedback about the positioning and setup of his home theater, and the gear he’s purchased. The one thing we agree could benefit from an upgrade is his subwoofer.

1:54:08 Cesar R. gets our recommendation for Outdoor Speaker Depot MK650 in-ceiling speakers for his low ceiling.


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AV Rant #585: Thumbs Down

April 6th, 2018 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Earle and James for their donations, our 57 Patreon Patrons, including James, and Gary for telling Emotiva his A-300 amplifier purchase was our recommendation, Earle for telling Ed Mullen at SVS that he bought dual SB16-Ultra subwoofers because of us, and James (making a trifecta of support) for telling Accessories4Less that his latest AV Receiver purchase was because of us.

If you can help Tom’s son pick the parts for a gaming PC, please get in touch.

In the news, a petition to add Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support to the Xbox One S/X. Philips finally released their UHD Blu-ray player Dolby Vision firmware update. And shockingly, Oppo is closing down their business in North America.

Dave and Ted confirm the low audio levels on the 4K disc of Thor: Ragnarok. Ted tried Legacy Audio’s setup tips, but now he’s moving on to experimenting with toe-in. And Kris P. shared his clever idea of using a ceiling mount with a quick release to mount his Center speaker to his fireplace mantel.

0:23:39 Damien D. wants to know if he should buy Klipsch Reference Premiere speakers based on store demos, or consider some other options. And we talk about whether subwoofers need to match the speakers or the room.

0:30:30 Byron S. wants an upgrade, so we suggest projectors, decor, acoustic treatments, and backing up discs for playback via Plex. He also asks about phase plugs, and why some of RBH’s smaller speakers have higher sensitivity than some of their Towers.

0:41:57 Monty N. gets clarification about Rob’s 2017 OLED TV settings.

0:43:03 Travis D. already has a good list of bookshelf speakers to audition. We add some more, so it now includes: Focal, B&W, Martin Logan, SVS, Ascend, KEF, Aperion, RBH, Revel, Paradigm, PSB, and Monitor Audio.

0:46:34 Allen G. would like to upgrade to a 4K HDR projector, so he asks what a Receiver needs in order to pass-through those signals, whether HDMI 2.1 is a concern, when genuine 4K projectors will hit $2,500, and where he can find a list of 4K discs, which would be Next Gen Home Theater.

0:52:26 Leighton wonders where the Spotify app for his Denon Receiver went, and what he can do if he doesn’t want to use Spotify Connect.

0:54:53 Infinite Gary swears he heard a difference between two CD players. He asks what setups we use for 2-channel, why we think so highly of JBL Synthesis, whether small noise differences in the Outlaw Model 5000 amplifier are audible, whether eyeballing speaker positions and setting trim levels by ear is ok, what we think of the Emotiva A-300 amp and its lack of XLR inputs, how he can experiment with Atmos in his theater without touching his existing setup, and which pre-cut, pre-terminated speaker wire we recommend, such as SVS SoundPath, Blue Jeans Cable, and Sewell.

1:11:41 Justin B. has a Harmony Hub that still gets “stuck” repeating commands. We suggest the Harmony software troubleshooter or double checking his network connections.

1:14:41 Adriano M. wants to connect four 4K sources to two displays while extracting optical audio. He found an expensive matrix switch solution, or he could do things piecemeal with a Sewell SwitchDeck, Avantree HDMI audio extractor, and a Sewell SplitDeck.

1:18:41 Darren N. gets a bit of a deep dive into HDR metadata.

1:24:49 Jack R. has a Roku 4 that is sending wildly different volume levels for each app. And he has one blown tweeter in speakers that are old enough that it either means a potentially costly repair, or full replacement.

1:29:00 David F. has a strange HDMI Zone 2 synchronization issue.

1:33:36 Miguel M. wants to upgrade his Canton speakers. We like his options of KEF Q Series, Focal Chorus, and RBH Impression Elite, and we add HSU, SVS Prime, Aperion, and Ascend.

1:39:00 Trevor W. wants to know why we don’t recommend Aperion Intimus speakers even more often, and he asks if he could benefit from a separate amp.

1:41:25 Earle B. needs his anxiety over his dual SVS SB16-Ultra subwoofer purchase quelled.

1:43:58 Ted M. wants all the power and headroom, so we don’t bother fighting, we just recommend an Emotiva XPA-3.

1:48:19 Doug S. is moving into a condo, so he asks about a damping platform under his subwoofers and whether yoga mats might work.

1:51:23 Ray S. wants to add backer boxes to his in-ceiling speakers, but the Dynamat DynaBox is a bit expensive, so we suggest either DIY, or seeing if the Monoprice Back Enclosures will fit.


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AV Rant #584: Open Rooms

March 30th, 2018 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Brock and Brandon N. for their donations, along with our 56 Patreon Patrons, including John S., as well as ShoeBoo2 on YouTube for alerting us that our AV Rant Podcast YouTube page is easier to reach than ever, John S. for putting a check mark beside AVRant when he bought an SB12-NSD subwoofer from SVS, and Terry Q. for sending Rob a couple of Ultra HD Blu-rays.

In the news, via Kris P. some devices are now offering VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), which is prompting some online outlets to proclaim that HDMI 2.1 has arrived. But it’s really just a case of new features being added to HDMI 2.0 devices. And speaking of updates, Vizio’s latest beta firmware for their TVs unexpectedly added Dolby Digital Plus support for optical audio connections.

Michael M. from Austria reminded us that Europe’s digital radio system is called DAB+, but it did not replace FM broadcasts. And Henry requested some tips for when his second subwoofer arrives, so Rob typed up A 12 Step Guide to Setting Up Dual Subwoofers.

0:17:22 Brock R. asks if it’s a good time to buy a 2017 OLED, or if the 2018 models are worth a higher price. He also gets our input on improving his current theater room and planning for a future theater in his basement. And we recommend Power Sound Audio 15V or SVS PC12-Plus subwoofers to match his HSU VTF-15H.

0:41:55 Marc N. asks how many Aura Sound Pro Bass Shakers a single Dayton SA70 plate amplifier can drive. And we urge him to use butt splice connectors to extend his speaker wire runs.

0:47:39 James P. wants a subwoofer that can do it all: loud, low, and clean for under $3,000. Our top recommendation is a pair of Power Sound Audio V1801, but if he just wants one huge sub, the JTR Captivator 2400ULF fits the bill.

0:53:03 Michael S. gets the update on when older Denon and Marantz AV Receivers will get the Dolby Vision and HLG pass-through firmware update.

0:54:18 Joe K. gives us a list of home theater designers and asks us to pick whom we’d choose if we had an unlimited budget.

0:58:03 Karl R. wants to hear what we think about the Bose audio augmented reality platform.

1:01:17 Chris M. asks if Focal Super Bird speakers can be mounted on the ceiling.

1:04:07 Dan C. wants our take on a 12-pack of studio foam, and the AfterShokz Trekz bone conduction headphones.

1:08:09 Bob B. wants to try Atmos and possibly upgrade his speakers, so we recommend a refurbished Denon AVR-X4300H Receiver,  HSU horn-loaded, Klipsch Reference, RBH Impression, or RSL speakers, and repositioning his existing speakers to serve as Atmos overheads.

1:19:08 David F. wants sealed, over-the-ear, affordable, durable headphones, so we recommend the Audio Technica ATH-M50x, or Sony MDR-7506.

1:21:12 Justin B. wants a pair of small, high output subwoofers for $1,000 each. Our top performance pick would be a JL Audio E-Sub, but they’re too expensive. So we suggest a Power Sound Audio S1500. Or if that’s too big, a Rythmik L22. We also discuss comparing graphs and CEA-2010 measurements, and Elite Screens.

1:32:27 Nick B. was interested in a comment mentioned in The Wirecutter Best Surround-Sound Speakers article about larger speakers almost always sounding better than compact speakers.

1:37:58 Steve T. has a Marantz SR7009 Receiver with a busted HDMI board, so he asks about either getting it fixed, or using the SR7009 as just an amplifier.

1:42:16 Anthony S. wants to upgrade his speakers and Receiver. We think the Denon AVR-X3300W would be nice, although the AVR-X1400H is likely sufficient. And we recommend HSU horn-loaded, and RBH Impression Series speakers again.

1:48:36 John S. wants to know what to look for in a dedicated theater room when he goes house shopping.

1:54:36 Miguel M. asks what we think about Canton Chrono speakers, and what he should put on top of his subwoofers if he uses them as speaker stands.


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A 12 Step Guide to Setting Up Dual Subwoofers

March 27th, 2018 No comments

1) if your room is an enclosed rectangle, put the subs directly across the room from one another. Mid-points of opposing walls is best. Diagonally opposite corners is 2nd best.

2) Feed them both the same signal (mono).

3) Level match them by using your Receiver’s built-in test tone. Set the Receiver’s master volume to 0dB (very loud), set the subwoofer trim level in the Receiver to 0dB. Temporarily connect only one sub and adjust its volume dial until your SPL meter (C-weighted) reads 72 dB at your primary seat. Then disconnect Sub1, temporarily connect only Sub2, and repeat – adjust Sub2’s volume dial until SPL meter reads 72dB at your seat. Then connect both subs. Playing in mono together, they should read ~75dB at your seat now.

4) Run your auto-setup as usual. Since the mono subwoofer signal is being played by two subs that are across the room from each other, you might get an odd looking setting for the distance. Leave that alone.

5) If your room is not an enclosed rectangle, or you simply cannot position the two subs directly across the room from each other, then still try to position them roughly across your space. Try not to have them both on the same side. Spread them apart as much as possible.

6) Level match them – same procedure as above

7) Now, figure out which sub is physically farthest away from your main seat. Set that sub’s phase knob to 0°. We’ll call this Sub1.

8) Start with the Sub2’s (physically closer to your main seat) phase knob at 0°.

9) Play a bass sweep on repeat (you can download a bass sweep from audiocheck.net , or just play one off of YouTube on repeat)

10) With the bass sweep repeating, move from seat to seat (every seat you care about, but nothing way off to the sides. Think 3-seater couch). Listen to the sweep. What you want to hear is uniformity. Not necessarily linearity at this point. Some humps & dips in the sweep are ok. But you want the same humps & dips in every seat. Uniformity is the goal.

11) Adjust the phase knob of Sub2 only. Ideally, do so 3° at a time, although that can be very tedious, so you can start with 6° at a time and possibly fine tune after.
It’s just trial & error. Adjust Sub2 phase knob, listen to sweep in all seats, try to find uniformity (although no total nulls. If it’s uniform, but you have a full on null (silence) at some point in the sweep, then you need to keep searching). Repeat until uniformity is achieved!

12) Once you have uniformity, run auto setup. Again, two subs are playing the single subwoofer output in mono, so expect a strange distance setting in the Receiver.

Lastly, manually set all speakers to “small” if any were set to large by the auto setup. If auto setup set the crossover frequency of any of your speakers higher than 80Hz, leave those alone. If it set any crossovers lower than 80Hz, manually raise those to 80Hz.

That should do it!

As a final note, if you want to set up three or four subwoofers, check out the Multi-Sub Optimizer Software.

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