AV Rant #570: Freeflowing Bass

December 15th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Tyson for his donation, as well as our 39 Patreon Patrons, including Bari, Karl, and Weldon. We also want to thank Greg for mentioning us to Accessories4Less when he bought a pair of Focal Super Bird speakers, and Tyson for letting HSU know we recommended them.

In the news, Patreon announced major changes to their fees, but UPDATE: after we had recorded this episode, Patreon decided not to implement those changes after the backlash they received. Playstation VR bundles are $100 off until Dec. 24. AppleTV 4K uses a new Match Content setting for HDR and frame rate, but getting everything to look right is highly unintuitive. And Disney might buy 21st Century Fox.

Terry G. recommends the movie Lucy for testing whether you’re able to pressurize your theater with deep bass. And Karl R.’s wife corrects us about architectural planning for ducts, pipes, and wires, and she explains why modifications to original plans are the reason for unwanted exposures or bulkheads.

Brian B. is building a dedicated theater, so he asks us to confirm his speaker placement and projector placement. We recommend an APC J25B battery backup UPS. We talk about acoustic panel placement, and suggest Focal Super Bird on-wall, or Aperion Audio or RBH in-wall speakers, along with dual SVS PC-2000 or HSU VTF-2 MK5 subwoofers. And we touch upon his subwoofer wiring, AV Receiver choices, screen size options, and the difference between a standard distribution amplifier and a matrix distribution amplifier. And Nick B. saw measurements of Emotiva’s Gen3 amplifiers in Stereophile that indicated high distortion at the highest frequencies. Those measurements don’t line up with the ones found in Secrets of Home Theater’s Emotiva Gen3 review, nor Emotiva’s own measurements, and the whole thing sparks a rant from Rob.

Chris T. is finalizing plans for his friend’s theater. We’d normally recommend an Elite Screens Saker Tab-Tensioned motorized screen for acoustically transparent material and screen size options, but to save money, the Elite Spectrum Series makes sense. We recommend HSU HIW-1 Horn in-wall speakers and describe making rear enclosures or using RBH retrofit or Dynamat En-Wall and DynaBox options. Andy M. gets some clarification about what display we think he should use for casual viewing, and how to construct his basement ceiling for soundproofing. And Tyson H. gets our thoughts on how he should utilize four KEF Q100 bookshelf speakers in his room.

RAID5 from our AVRant.com comments section rightly suggests using an AV Receiver’s Zone 2 capabilities when it doesn’t have 7.1 analogue inputs, but you want to use it to power more than two speakers just as a dumb amplifier. Bill W. asks about Atmos speaker orientation, turning a box subwoofer sideways, having a “window” from his theater into his equipment room to access disc players, and we stress the installation of conduit for future proofing. And Bari W. has an L-shaped basement with an unfortunate soffit covering a pipe that gets us talking about his Atmos speaker placement options, our thoughts on his desire for a false wall, and our suggestion to possibly reorient his entire basement layout.

Steven T. isn’t satisfied with his current KEF subwoofers in his dedicated theater, and we think a pair of SVS PB12-NSD are the perfect balance of output and price for his room size. Bobby K. in Canada gets our thoughts on EluneVision’s Reference screens vs. their much less expensive Titan Tab-Tensioned screens. And Daniel M. wants to improve his Atmos effects, and we make several suggestions for repositioning his existing speakers before purchasing anything new.

Shane T. wants some advice regarding what brand of insulation to use when building DIY absorption panels and bass traps. John M. gets an oversimplified explanation of how multiple subwoofers work to make bass response more uniform throughout a room from us, and a far more detailed explanation from Harman. And Keith M. is deciding between a 65-inch OLED and a 75-inch LCD, but we still end up talking about projectors.

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AV Rant #569: Subwoofer As A Coffee Table

December 8th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Tyson and Laurence for their donations, along with our 36 Patreon Patrons, including Andy M. We also want to thank Tim and Mark for alerting us to a problem with our podcast feed last week, Rob Z. for talking us up to SVS and Accessories4Less, Ryan L. for letting Accessories4Less know he heard about them from us, and Larry W. for emailing SVS CEO Gary Yacoubian directly to let him know his dual SB12-NSD purchase was thanks to us.

Tom has some comments about the fit and finish and mounting procedure of the Focal Bird speakers. He still hasn’t heard their sound quality though. So hopefully a review next week.

In the news, SVS launched their new 4000 Series subwoofers, which replace the 13-Ultra Series while adopting the newest features from the 16-Ultra Series. And the final HDMI 2.1 specification was released, although Blue Jeans Cable details the present lack of new “Category 3” compliance testing.

Jeb B. weighed our comments about a 55-inch OLED vs. a 65-inch LCD, and settled on a 70-inch Vizio M Series. Joe K. got a door for under $100 after hearing our constant nagging. Marc N. had good customer service experiences from Elite Screens, Logitech Harmony, and SVS. Ian E. still wants three screen sizes (HDTV, CinemaScope, and IMAX). But Steve M. doesn’t care if HDTV is larger than CinemaScope, although he went to the trouble of installing a 2.35:1 setup for constant image height, so he mentions adjusting subtitle placement using an Oppo player, and comments that motorized lens memory does drift in its movement, but only by a small, easily fixed amount.

Lee V. gets our thoughts on Real or Fake 4K. Dan S. asks whether he should adjust the speaker impedance setting on his AV Receiver when using nominal 6 ohm rated speakers. And Bill W. got a recommendation to use Cotytech speaker ceiling mounts for Ascend HTM-200 SE speakers while Rob suggests PinPoint speaker flush mounts for wall mounting. Bill also gets precise Front speaker and overhead speaker placement suggestions, an explanation of why speakers wired in parallel are a more difficult load for an amplifier than speakers wired in series, recommendations for HSU, RBH, or KEF in-wall speakers along with a Power Sound Audio S3000i subwoofer to use as an end table, and a plea from Rob to run conduit rather than trying to predict what cables and wires might be needed in the future.

Kris P. got unexpectedly great results adding a third 10-inch subwoofer to his open concept space, and he wants an explanation of how it happened. He also suggests a cheap subwoofer damping solution, dolls out his findings as an Xbox One X tester on the media playback front, and asks us what we think about the Harman Kardon Invoke, a smart speaker that uses Cortana. Dan C. wants to make some DIY absorption panels, so we point him to Rob W.’s Movie Poster Panels, Tom’s DIY Absorbers, and DIY kits from GiK Acoustics and Acoustimac. And Josh S. asks about genuine Atmos soundtrack sources, using a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player with a 1080p plasma, and the value of Audyssey MultEQ XT32 with SubEQ HT over MultEQ XT.

Ryan L. gets an explanation of how many Watts is typically needed from an AV Receiver, why not all Atmos Receivers can be expanded to 5.1.4 or 7.1.4, why we think it’s fine to start with just a pair of bookshelf speakers, which speaker brands we think he should audition first, why trying to enclose a space and block sound with a curtain is difficult, and why a fully enclosed room, even if it’s small, might deliver a great experience. Scott gets Rob’s list of home theater-related podcasts, including: Home Theater GeeksHDTV & Home Theater Podcast (HT Guys), Entertainment 2.0 & Home:On – both from The Digital Media Zone, AVForums, AVexcel, Smart Home Showl, CEDIA Tech Council, AV Week, CNET, and DigiGods (aka CineGods). And Robert E. gets our run down of why we recommend using multiple subwoofers, and our recommendation for an SVS SB12-NSD to match his Sunfire True Subwoofer Mk 4.

Infinite Gary gets an explanation of what causes motion blur on various types of displays. David F. managed to get the spider web out of his projector, but now he has dust blobs, so we tell him to inquire about lens replacement to find a shop that can help him. We also tell him to use a ceiling tile bridge to support in-ceiling speakers installed in a suspended ceiling. And Tyson W. has an open-concept space with a built-in entertainment cabinet. We make suggestions for a Power Sound Audio subwoofer and HSU speakers along with Focal Super Bird on-wall speakers, although a smaller, dedicated room would be much better, in our opinion.

We tell Heath B. to contact AV Science to buy the JVC projector that he wants. And we think the Power Sound Audio 15V is the loudest subwoofer for under $1,000 for Matt’s 6,500 cubic foot space.

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AV Rant #568: Melting IMAX

December 2nd, 2017 1 comment

Our Listeners of the Week are our 33 Patreon Patrons, including Ian E., as well as Josh S. Daniel A., and Tim B. who all took advantage of the SVS Black Friday sale to buy PB12-NSD subwoofers, and they let SVS know they heard about the sale from us.

In the news, Karl R. gave us a heads up that the FCC has approved the ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard, and we recommend listening to Episode 31 of the CEDIA Tech Council Podcast to hear more details. Sony demonstrated the Dolby Vision update for their X1 Extreme TVs. And Ascend Acoustics is running a Holiday Sale.

Josh L. found a discount for a Sony XBR-75X940E 75-inch TV, and while it was still expensive, he talked himself into buying it after we said it was our absolute top choice for his setup last week.

Andy M. has an unfinished basement, so we discuss options for how to finish the ceiling in his theater area, and we think a 65-inch flat panel is too small for his setup, so perhaps an Elite Screens CineGrey 5Dprojection screen will suit his needs. Ian E. wants the ability to have three screen sizes for HDTV, CinemaScope, and IMAX, so we discuss his options, talk about the light output capabilities of the Epson 5040UB projector, and recommend Lutron Serena Shades to cover his windows. And Ted T. gets clarification about object-based audio, how to set up and position overhead speakers for both Atmos and Auro 3D, and why we don’t praise Polk speakers as much as some other brands.

Infinite Gary wants to know where that new product smell comes from. David B. asks about D-Box Motion Codes and how to use them at home. And Dave asks about using the ground screw on the back of his APC J35B battery backup power conditioner, as well as using a Cables2Go IR Repeater to send commands directly to the 3.5mm IR input plugs on the back of some of his equipment.

Ryan T. asks what the backlight setting on his Vizio M Series TV ought to be for HDR, and we also explain why lossy movie soundtracks, like Dolby Digital 5.1, have noticeably lower fidelity vs. lossy music files such as 256 kbps AAC. Marc N. switched to bitstream audio output for Netflix and is now getting Dolby Digital Plus on his Receiver, but he’s still hearing a difference compared to physical discs, so he asks why that is, and whether there’s a quality standard to which all movies and TV shows are mastered. And Henry T. wants new computer speakers, so we suggest AudioEngine or KRK Rokit monitors if he wants to stick to 2-channel, HiFiMan HE400S headphones, or a Denon AVR-X1300W Receiver with a Monoprice Premium 10565 5.1 speaker package plus a pair of Monoprice Premium Satellite speakers for a full 5.1.2 Atmos setup.

Finally, Chris T. is helping a friend install a theater in her basement, and he will be handling all of the installation and labor. We go over layout and Elite Screens AcousticPro UHD screen placement options for the oddly-shaped room, mention the BenQ HT2150ST short-throw projector if the mounting position requires short-throw, and recommend an APC J25B for battery backup power protection. We give an inexpensive male power outlet a thumbs up for running power to the projector, suggest a Denon AVR-X4300H or Marantz SR6011 with a 5.2.4 configuration, and urged him to take advantage of the SVS Black Friday sale to get a pair of SVS SB12-NSD subwoofers. We think Outdoor Speaker Depot MKW650 in-wall and MK650 in-ceilingspeakers would work well, discuss some other speaker brand options, and encourage him to make use of Auralex Room Analysis and GiK Acoustics Room Advice, both of which are free, to help plan the layout of acoustic treatments.

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AV Rant #567: Re-man-der Door-cast

November 24th, 2017 1 comment

Our Listeners of the Week are Andre, James, and Tom for their donations, as well as our 33 Patreon Patrons, including Andy S., and James and Tom again. James completed the trifecta of AVRant Podcast support by talking us up to Accessories4Less when he ordered a pair of KEF LS50 speakers from them.

Rob quickly reviews Justice League and highly recommends watching the HISHE Dubs Batman V Superman – Comedy Recap if you’ve forgotten where the DCEU story left off.

In the news, SVS has a Black Friday sale on SB12-NSD and PB12-NSD subwoofers. LG OLED and Sony X900E 4K HDR TVs are also on sale. Karl R. sent us word that the Apple HomePod is delayed until 2018. And Joel N. is pleased that Microsoft has fixed the Xbox One X Ultra HD Blu-ray HDR issues, and a future Xbox One X firmware update will fix its Atmos problems, although HDTV Test still found some minor UHD Blu-ray color decoding errors.

Herb from Cross-Spectrum Labs made a small correction regarding USB measurement microphones that was brought up in our interview with Brent Butterworth. Adam K. reminds everyone to go directly to Intel’s website for integrated graphics drivers since the Windows 10 Update drivers don’t always properly support bitstream audio output. Tom K. warns that the new JVC projectors require extensive calibration in HDR mode, and he totals up how much Tom and Rob have “made” him spend. And David B. found an old Best Buy flyer that’s a clear reminder of how far home theater tech has come.

Matt V. wants to connect an Ultra HD Blu-ray player to his Yamaha Receiver for Atmos, and then feed a 1080p projector and a 4K HDR flat panel, so we mention that he might need an HD Fury Linker to make that work. David F. found a spiderweb inside his BenQ HT2050 projector and made matters worse with some compressed air, so we try to help, and we also recommend Aperion Intimus I6, KEF Ci160.2CR, or Outdoor Speaker Depot MK650 in-ceiling speakers as alternatives to RBH in-ceiling speakers. And Dave has a Receiver with YPAO, a Perfect Bass Kit, and a new measurement microphone with a miniDSP, so we discuss the order in which he should use them, and how the signals should be managed.

Francis A. wants to use SVS Prime Elevation speakers for Atmos, so we make some suggestions for mounting positions in his room. Dre wants to know what to look for in terms of an existing room for a theater when purchasing a house, and since he’s in Canada, we talk about his in-ceiling speaker options, such as: Paradigm CI Home H65-R, Paradigm Pro P65-R, KEF Ci160.2CR, Aperion Intimus I6, OSD ICE650, or Monoprice Caliber. And Aidan C. asks about mixing SVS Ultra and Prime Series speakers, whether Surround Backs are worth it, using Prime Satellites as ceiling-mounted Atmos speakers, and pairing a different subwoofer with his Rythmik FV15HP.

Joe K. has four subwoofers in a large room, but they aren’t playing as low as he’d like, so we suggest a pair of Power Sound Audio 15V. We nag him to install a door before anything else, but we also discuss putting black fabric on his ceiling, professional video and audio calibration, getting measurement equipment, building a seating riser, expanding beyond 7.2.4, and some other ideas for his theater. Jim B. took lots of subwoofer measurements across all three of his seats, so we help him sort through the results and understand which placement combo is best. And Daniel A. gets our list of online speaker vendors, including: Aperion Audio, SVS, and RSL for free 2-way shipping; Ascend Acoustics, Philharmonic Audio, and Salk Sound for RAAL ribbon models; HSU Research, JTR, Power Sound Audio, and Tekton for high efficiency models; ELAC, NHT, and RBH for neutrality; Outdoor Speaker Depot, and Monoprice for low-cost; Rythmik, and Legacy AudioAccessories4Less for Receivers, Focal, Pioneer, and KEF (also KEF Direct); and Amazon.

Dan C. isn’t satisfied with his sound quality, and he wants to know where he should focus in order to improve it, so we urge him to address his room’s acoustics, suggesting free-standing panels from GiK. Larry L. asks if he can use a mono in – stereo out adapter connected to a stereo extension cable, which would then feed a stereo in – mono out adapter for use with his setup microphone. And Benjamin B. asks if he can use his Onkyo TX-NR636 Receiver to power the last two channels of his 7.2.4 setup, or if there’s a way to use it to power his Front three speakers.

Christopher M. got a Sony Receiver from a co-worker, and now he wants a pair of speakers to go with it. He asks about Celestion and Def Tech, but also wants more <$500/pair options, so we suggest: ELAC Uni-Fi UB5, Aperion Intimus 5B, SVS Prime Bookshelf, Ascend CBM-170SE, RBH Impression, KEF and Focal from Accessories4Less. Don G. is placing his Monoprice Monolith amplifier about 8 feet away from his Marantz Receiver, so we recommend inexpensive 10-foot coaxial audio/video Monoprice cables to connect them. And Josh L. has no light control, lots of windows, and he wants a 75-inch display, so our top recommendation is the Sony XBR-75X900E for a bright image at a reasonable price.

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AV Rant #566: Don’t Call Me Tommy

November 17th, 2017 1 comment

Our Listeners of the Week are Nathan and Henry for their donations, our 30 Patreon Patrons, including Fred R., and Fred also mentioned us to SVS when he received his Prime Elevation speakers.

Tom has a quick update on his Thiel Audio Aurora Tour wireless speaker review; a DTS Play-Fi update fixed the WiFi issue he described last week. And thanks to Fred C. for correcting our pronunciation of Thiel.

In the news, Logitech will replace all Harmony Link devices with a free Harmony Hub replacement since the Link will become non-functional on March 16, 2018. Via Matt G., Disney will charge less than Netflix for their streaming service, but already plans to increase prices as their content library grows. Matt also suggests checking out Techmoan, and a 3-Sided Cat Scratcher to distract any speaker-destroying cats. And Herb from Cross-Spectrum Labs wants to alert potential customers that UMIK-1 measurement microphones are presently in short supply, so please be prepared for a wait time if you order.

Scott S. shared that he’s going with our advice for a 65-inch Vizio M Series TV and AV Receiver in his gaming room, along with a Yamaha YAS-207 SoundBar for a different, casual setup. Daniel B. admits he’s a bit embarrassed, but our constant nagging about setting all speakers to “small” with an 80Hz crossover got him to reexamine his connections and discover that his subwoofer had been plugged into the wrong pre-out for the past eight years. Don G. suggests the Android Polarity Checker or iOS Speaker Polarity apps to verify that your speakers are correctly wired in phase. He also mentions the simple AA battery test where pressing the positive lead to the top “button” of the battery while pressing the negative lead to the flat bottom of the battery should result in the woofer pushing outward. Infinite Gary received his new JVC DLA-RS640 projector, but he isn’t certain he likes it better than his Runco. Ryan T. took a spare pair of bookshelf speakers, propped them at an angle on some doorstops, and fired them at his ceiling as makeshift Atmos Modules, which surprisingly kind of works. And Tom K. shared his method for installing Ascend Acoustics HTM-200SE speakers in his theater columns for Bill who wants to do something similar.

Marc N. is experiencing a huge drop off in volume, bass, and sound quality whenever he watches Netflix, so we urge him to use a bitstream audio output to ensure it isn’t a source decoding issue. Josh S. wants to upgrade his AV Receiver, but he also needs a new subwoofer. In addition, he has plans for a different room in the future, so we recommend he buys an SVS PC-2000 or HSU ULS-15 MK2 to nicely handle both his current and future spaces, while getting an inexpensive Denon AVR-X1300W from Accessories4Less to keep the price down now, and allow him to upgrade again later. And Michael wants to know if the Xbox One X will serve as a good Ultra HD Blu-ray player for his non-HDR 4K TV, and according to John Archer from Forbes, Xbox One X has HDR problems and Atmos problems, but Microsoft is working on a fix.

Byron S. wonders if stacking and aligning two projectors could deliver brighter HDR, but we think there are some additional complications. Sam P. has what we assume must be a Roku Premiere+ that he says delivers HDR when plugged directly into his LG OLED, but HDR doesn’t pass through his Marantz SR7010, so we mention an HDMI Ultra HD Deep Color setting that needs to be activated in his LG TV. And Tom D. is planning a large home theater, so we discuss ideal room dimensions, screen size, seating distances, speaker placement, and subwoofer capabilities.

Jonathan F. gets our thoughts on Regal Cinemas surge pricing, and whether Ultra HD Blu-rays look better than 1080p Blu-rays on an SDR display. Geoff R. wants to know what’s been updated in the Marantz SR6012 AV Receiver over the SR6011, other than HEOS. And Tommy gets confirmation that the KEF R-Series is an upgrade over his Polk RTi speakers, but we slightly disagree about which model of Center speaker he should get.

Nick B. spotted Josh Ricci’s in-room measurements of subwoofers over at data-bass.com, so we discuss their usefulness and how well they line up with expectations based on calculations from the CEA 2010 measurements. Bill wants an over-the-air tuner, so we run through the options of a Tivo Roamio OTAChannel Master DVR+SiliconDust HD HomeRunnetwork tuner, or an inexpensive 1byone ATSC Converter. Bill also measured an improvement when using two subwoofers vs. one, but it wasn’t super audible, although we point him towards an SVS PC-2000 to match with his existing sub all the same. And Brandon N. used two Receivers to solve his Zone 2 setup, but inside his theater, we discuss dual subwoofer placement, using sealed and ported subs together, avoiding running Front Towers full range, and generalizing the sound quality of an entire brand.

Nathan D. gets some clarification about Atmos speaker placement and whether overhead sounds are ever played out of the floor-level speakers. Jeb B. gets confirmation that we think Focal Bird speakers, dual SVS SB-1000 subwoofer, and a Denon AVR-X1300W will be an excellent setup in a small room. Then we tackle the decision between a 55-inch LG OLED vs. a 65-inch Vizio P-Series for about the same price, which we end up side-stepping by suggesting a 75-inch Vizio M-Series.

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