AV Rant #499: Buying Advice

August 18th, 2016 No comments

PrintOur Listeners of the Week are Steve and Niels for their generous donations. Thank you!

In the news, sadly, Kenny Baker, the actor who played R2-D2, passed away at the age or 81. Back in home theater-land, Antoine sent us JVC’s “Blu-Escient” 4K laser projector teaser video. Vizio P-Series and M-Series monitors got new firmware that adds HDR10 support. Home Theater Geeks interviewed Stacey Spears from SpectraCal about the state of HDR. The Panasonic DMP-UB90 is much less expensive than Panasonic’s first Ultra HD Blu-ray player. And Dolby and AMC will build 100 Dolby Cinemas seven years ahead of schedule!  Read more…

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Plex HTPC HD Audio Video Tutorial

August 15th, 2016 2 comments

PrintOne of our awesome AV Rant Podcast Listeners requested a bit of a step-by-step tutorial on getting full, lossless HD Audio and Immersive Audio bitstreams from an HTPC to an AV Receiver, as well as how to play physical Blu-ray discs in full quality from a PC, and how to set up a nice media library using Plex.

Rob H. decided to take a stab at putting together a simplistic slideshow presentation and posted it to YouTube. It’s not exactly great production values, but some folks might find a few useful tidbits of information in there, so we hope you enjoy it!

AV Rant #498: Absorptive Cats

August 11th, 2016 No comments

PrintOur Listeners of the Week are Thomas, Brandon, Ted, Simon, and Jay. Thank you all for your generous donations! Rob H. saw Suicide Squad and liked it. And judging by its box office haul so far, maybe he wasn’t alone after all (Lots of terrible movies did well at the box office. That doesn’t make them not terrible – Tom).

In the news, Andy from NoAudiophile.com noted the Kickstarter campaign for the new $1,600 Smyth Realiser A16 model that can decode immersive audio formats. Yoeri Geutskens posted a terrific Dolby Vision FAQ. And thEndUsr Podcast has concluded with episode 204. Our congratulations to Chris and Taylor on over six years of weekly podcasting!

Mike B. explains why the Nura headphone system is potentially even less useful than we first thought. Rob G. inverted his ceiling-mounted speakers and heard a big improvement. Antoine and Steve O. both showed us a clip from the TV show “Hometime” where they show you how NOT to position speakers. Ted M. shared a video about IMAX audio. And Infinite Gary found some light-absorbing material measurements.

Jay C. loves his dual HSU VTF-3 Mk5 subwoofers, so he asks for our advice about: Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers RAAL to replace his Polk speakers, getting white Ascend Acoustics Surround speakers or other white speakers such as the Focal SuperBird on-walls, using GiK Acoustics FreeStand Acoustic Panels or GiK Acoustics Screen Panels, and what he should look for in an area rug. Moanis wants to put his Ascend Sierra-2 speakers in his theater, so we recommend a Sierra-2 Center to match, and potentially the forthcoming Sierra Sat for Surrounds. And Jason S. wants to know if it matter which way subwoofer drivers are facing.

Heath B. gets our thoughts on where to build his theater room in his basement along with our recommendations for dual SVS PC-2000 cylinder subwoofers and the upcoming Epson 5040UB HDR projector. Jason P. wants to know if it’s really necessary to remove speaker grills for the best possible sound. And Rafael S. gets our thoughts on whether he should buy a new subwoofer or AV Receiver (or acoustic treatments) first, which Marantz Receiver model he should aim for, and whether he should add Surround Back speakers to his system. 

Johnny D. asks if the EMP Tek E3b satellite speakers are a good choice for overhead and Surround positions. And we think the SVS SoundPath Pivoting Wall/Ceiling Bracket or Pinpoint Mounts AB100 are great options for mounting them. Cody B. asks us to compare the Marantz SR7010 vs. Denon AVR-X6200W, and gets our thoughts on where to mount them for Atmos. And Michael M. asks some questions about SoundBars for his parents, so we recommend the Pioneer Andrew Jones SP-SB23W or one of the Vizio SoundBar options. 

Bill R. wants to nail down his projection screen choice. We discuss size options, aspect ratio, screen gain, and magnetic masking using a SeymourAV Premier Frame. We also suggest Sanus Racks or Peerless AV Racks for holding all of his gear. Will T. wants to know how the ports on his speakers are configured and for us to clarify exactly how close ported speakers can be to the wall. And Matt H. gets a mini-rant from us regarding DIY subwoofers. 

Matt G. wants to know if there are some simple, unobtrusive ways to improve his room’s acoustics, whether he should agonize over Center speaker placement, and our thoughts on speaker wire. Antoine would like an easy online calculator for subwoofers vs. room size, but the best we can offer is a combination of Josh Ricci’s data-bass.com measurements combined with Audioholics room size guide. And Brandon wonders whether he should buy a Yamaha RX-A3060 Receiver right now, or wait for the Denon AVR-X4300H to be released.

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AV Rant #497: Speaker Burqa

August 4th, 2016 1 comment

PrintOur Listeners of the Week are donors Kyle, Richard, George M., and Jay C. who also let HSU Research know his dual VTF-3 Mk5 subwoofer purchase was because of AV Rant! Rob starts the podcast with a gut-wrenching Kuro TV update. Prepare yourselves.

In the news, Antoine shared CEDIA’s “Best New Products” finalists list, and we speculate as to why the only AV Receiver on the list is a Sony. China’s leading internet content distribution company LeEco bought Vizio for $2 billion. Nintendo NX is portable. Ultra HD Blu-ray player prices drop thanks to Xbox One S. And Philips 8600 Dolby Vision TVs are delayed until 2017.

Wesley M.’s volume jumping mystery has finally been fixed by a firmware update. Josh Pollard from The Digital Media Zone asks about using a 2-channel HDMI Audio Extractor, while we mention 4×2 HDMI Matrix, and 7.1 HDMI Audio Extractor alternatives. Randy gets our recommendation for the Denon AVR-X1200W from Accessories4Less, which slightly exceeds his budget, but delivers the features he’s looking for. And Infinite Gary asks about manufacturing moving back to the USA, and the most light-absorbent fabrics, which include Fidelio and Baritone black velvet (halfway down page), or Royalty 3 Velvet from Jo-Ann Fabric (thanks, Ray Coronado!)

Bobby K. gets Tom and Rob to spill their full equipment lists (Rob’s list will be posted as a comment to this article). Will S. wants good, small computer speakers without a bass module, so we suggest the Audio Engine A2+. And Nathan D. asks about long RCA cables vs. long speaker wire, requests a deep dive on determining if he needs an external amplifier, asks about Slew Rate, Class A vs. Class AB vs. Class D, and balanced vs. unbalanced, and finishes by asking about subjective opinions vs. objective measurements.

Christopher V. gets some clarification about inverting speakers mounted up high. Ryan T. explains his seating riser plans and asks about Outlaw vs. Emotiva amplifiers. And Bill R. asks if we think Focal SuperBirds and Focal Birds are good choices for on-wall and on-ceiling speakers. Bill also gets our opinions on HDR-capable projectors and “true” 4K vs. “wobble-K”, as well as dual subwoofer choices and where we think he should place them and his equipment rack.

Andrew N. could use a MiniDSP 2×4 to add independent subwoofer controls to his system. Lucas M. asks about the “+6dB Dynamic Headroom” IHF amplifier specification, and whether unused speaker binding post outputs are still drawing power when nothing is connected. P.J. has a tough choice between a new AV Receiver and a new subwoofer, and also wants to know what Audyssey’s various “level” mean. Ed wants to know if it’s worth keeping his old subwoofer, and how likely it is that lossless audio and immersive audio will be supported by streaming services. And John W. asks about minimum listening distances from larger speakers and whether or not we think he should upgrade.

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AV Rant #496: Saving Money on Amps and Rooms

July 28th, 2016 No comments

PrintTom is back! And we thank Josh Pollard from The Digital Media Zone for helping us out with some very useful information about the cable/satellite industry this week.

In the news, Antoine gave us the heads up about the new Outlaw Audio OAW4 Wireless Speaker Kit. Antoine and Gary both sent us the headline about the new Sony Z-Series HDR TVs with Backlight Master Drive. DTS announced new DTS:X Content Creation Tools just as Paramount released more DTS:X Blu-rays. The Xbox One S can’t output Dolby Vision, Immersive Audio, or HD Audio Bitstreams. And the last VCR ever will be manufactured this month.

San Diago Comic-Con News included Mystery Science Theater 3000 coming to Netflix, Brie Larson being cast as Captain Marvel, and Star Trek: Discovery being announced as the title for the new streaming-only TV series. We also weigh in on some of our favorite trailers and teases!

Ryan T. gets our thumbs up for either EMP Tek Impression Series or Ascend Acoustics CMT-340SE Front speakers. We suggest the RBH Sound A-610 in-wall and A-615 in-ceiling speakers to match the EMP Tek Fronts, or Sonance VP62 in-wall and VP62R in-ceiling speakers to match the Ascend CMT-340SE. We touch on his speaker placement, seating placement, subwoofer placement, and screen size plans. We recommend pairing the Emotiva A-500 amplifier with a Denon or Marantz Receiver. We highly recommend waiting for the Epson HC 5040UB Projector. And we don’t think he has anything to worry about soundproofing-wise.

Brandon M. gets our recommendation for the HSU STF-2 subwoofer. Glenn S. has a wonderful collection of excellent gear, and we tell him which rooms we think should house which gear, and shockingly say his intended second subwoofer would be overkill. And Sam P. got some unexpected advice from DirecTV when they referenced the upcoming Unlock the Box and Ditch the Box Cable/Satellite plans that were explained to us by Mary Silbey and Josh Pollard. Sam also wonders what happened to the Amazon Echo Dot and whether it will be coming back.

Ed bought a Denon AVR-X1200W and asks about expanding beyond 5.1.2 Atmos and why DTS:X doesn’t seem to work yet. John D. finds out how to reassign the internal amps of his Marantz SR6010. And Bill R. gets our recommendation for Focal in-wall and in-ceiling speakers to match his Ascend Acoustics Sierra RAAL Fronts, and gets even more reasons from us to go with a Denon Receive rather than an Anthem.

Brandon G. asks about the durability of glossy finishes. Tom M. wants to know if an external amp will improve the sound of his system and what he can do next to improve his sound as much as adding a second subwoofer did. And Jonathan F. wants to know if this Roon Labs Audiophile Music Server review is to be trusted or rejected.

Nick B. really likes Anthony Grimani’s MSR Dimension4 acoustic treatment system, but he wants to know if there’s a way to get something similar at a lower price, which leads us to GiK Acoustics Diffusion Products, and suggesting some modifications to account for Atmos ceiling speakers and a carpeted floor. Martin D. tries to figure out why his iPhone SPL Meter App gave unusable readings, and asks how YPAO compares to Dirac or REW filters. And Matt G. discovered that Audyssey 2EQ can do more harm than good, and gets us to weigh in on his speaker placement, speaker height, and which music services we use.

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