AV Rant #595: Computers Be Dumb

June 15th, 2018 No comments

Insteon Hub Give Away: Listener Kris P. sent us an Insteon Hub to give away. If you would like it, email Tom directly (if you don’t already know his email address, we say it during the podcast intro every week. And if you email a different address about this giveaway, we’ll know you weren’t listening! ūüėČ ) by June 30.


Our Listeners of the Week are Josh L. for his donation, our 61 Patreon Patrons, Josh S. for talking us up on Reddit, Kris P. for the Insteon Hub giveaway, and everyone who alerted us about our website getting hacked!

In the news, Oppo released beta firmware for their 203 and 205 Ultra HD Blu-ray players that adds support for sending Dolby Vision to Sony TVs. And Amazon released the Fire TV Cube.

Axiom isn’t selling their extremely flat speaker wire anymore, but¬†Sewell Ghost Wire¬†is just as flat, and a whole lot less expensive. Lee V. warns that PC-2000 cylinder subs make for terrible speaker stands, since they vibrate on their isolation feet so much. Michael M. says a Sound United rep insists that¬†Dolby’s new upmixing mandate¬†won’t be retroactively applied to older products. Roger J. provided an excellent link to¬†comprehensive information about oversampling. And Nathan & J. spotted new Monoprice Monolith 9 and 11-channel amplifier models in a recent¬†coupon exclusion list.

0:20:28 Chad B. is figuring out how many overhead speakers to wire for in advance, and we say he should spend a minimum on new amplifiers by either getting an AudioSource AMP100, or skipping straight to getting a new Receiver right away.

0:29:13 Joseph S. is trying to sort through his HTPC settings to get 4K playing smoothly on his B7 OLED. We suggest using an¬†NVidia Shield. And we point to the¬†Asus BW-16D1HT¬†as the best “UHD-friendly” disc drive.

0:36:07 Mark H. wants to know how to determine if his bass could be further improved, and whether a miniDSP would be necessary.

0:43:22 J. wants to know if buying used M&K speakers is a good idea, and we suggest¬†Ascend Acoustics SE Series¬†instead if they’re cheaper. We also discuss Audyssey Dynamic EQ not boosting overhead speakers. And we suggest either a complex¬†DIY 12 Volt trigger box, or the¬†Emotiva ET-3¬†plus a remote control wall outlet for gaining manual control over sending 12 Volt trigger signals.

0:53:11 Terry G. has a Dolby Vision TV, but an older Receiver, so we recommend an HDMI audio extractor with HDCP 2.2, or an HDMI switch with audio extractor.

0:56:27 Heath B. has had four SVS SB-4000 subwoofer amplifiers die on him. SVS support has been excellent, but nobody can figure out what keeps killing his amps. We offer our speculation, but we’re just as stumped.

1:01:43 Travis D. is considering a Receiver upgrade in order to get better room correction, but since he likes his existing sound, we think he’d benefit more from manual EQ using a¬†miniDSP 2×4, or stepping up to a¬†miniDSP with Dirac.

1:08:04 Monty’s brother would like “budget” picks for a Dolby Vision TV under $600, and the least expensive Dolby Vision Ultra HD Blu-ray player, so we point him to the¬†TCL 55R615¬†and¬†LG UBK90.

1:10:25 Infinite Gary gets us talking about using a miniDSP to create a crossover for adding subwoofers to self-powered speakers. We recommend the Sony UBP-X800 for universal disc playback. And we discuss where to put acoustic spot treatments and what we do with all of our shipping boxes.

1:18:39 Mark T. is speculating about a new Receiver. We’d understand pouncing on a Denon X3300W or X4300H if he finds one at a great price. But otherwise, we think he should wait until he’s moved into his new place.

1:22:22 Tim T. gets our advice about how to layout his bonus room, and we suggest where he should put absorption panels, and recommend going with an SVS 2000 Series subwoofer.

1:33:26 Josh L. gets our take on the “perfect” shape and size for a dedicated home theater room. And we mention using the¬†Room Mode Calculator.

1:37:49 Earle B. gets our suggestion to try using the Multi-Sub Optimization Software with his existing gear before considering the addition of a miniDSP or Dirac to his subwoofer setup.

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AVRant #594: Three Sub’s a Crowd

June 8th, 2018 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Stephen, Jaremy, and Joseph for their donations, our 61¬†Patreon Patrons, Jason D. for telling SVS we were the reason for his PC-2000 subwoofer purchase, Kris P. for providing an Insteon Hub that we’ll be giving away, and James C. for offering to put Tom’s¬†Fearless Mobile Climbing¬†logo on some merch.

In the news, Audioholics reported that¬†Dolby is mandating only the Dolby Surround Upmixer be used on Dolby signals. The¬†Sony UBP-X700 Ultra HD Blu-ray player got its Dolby Vision¬†update, but there’s no auto-detection. And¬†tvOS 12 will add Dolby Atmos output to the AppleTV 4K.

David F. tried the Dr. HDMI device with his JVC projector, but it still did a new HDMI handshake every time his DirecTV box changed resolutions. And Roger J. sent us more detailed information about oversampling audio signals.

0:19:10¬†Luke wants to know why 1440p flat panel TVs and projectors aren’t widely available, why variable refresh rate isn’t being offered on projectors, and why large displays in general aren’t catering to gamers.

0:31:32¬†Nick B. forwarded a¬†Secrets of Home Theater interview with Todd Welti about multiple subwoofers, and wanted our takes on the¬†Double Bass Array¬†and Todd’s¬†Sound Field Management¬†approach to bass optimization.

0:36:16 Curtis D. wants to know how we determine if a subwoofer is capable of playing down to 20Hz.

0:39:49¬†Andrew T. followed Audyssey’s onscreen instructions for setting the volume knob on his subwoofers to half-way before starting the automated test tones. The end result was too loud, so he wants to know why those are the given instructions.

0:42:36 Chris T. installed four Outdoor Speaker Depot MK650 in-ceiling speakers, but his auto-setup gave them a 200 Hz crossover, so we offer a theory for why that might have happened.

0:44:55¬†Kris P. wants to upgrade three subwoofers in his room. We really want him to start with two. But if he must have three, we suggest an alternative placement option, or warn that a¬†JL Audio D110¬†might be the only sub small enough to fit the space he has that isn’t massively under-powered.

0:52:20¬†Earle B. asks about stacking subwoofers: how much more output he’ll get, how to wire them, and how auto-setup will handle them.

0:59:41 Steve W. gets our recommendations for a Seymour AV motorized screen, or an Elite Screens CineTension 2 if the budget is tight. We share thoughts on Sony vs. JVC projectors, and say to use a Receiver plus his existing 5-channel amp to expand to Atmos, or add an Emotiva A-700 if separates are set in stone. And we recommend Aperion in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, or RBH.

1:13:37 William G. found a Klipsch Reference Premiere 5.1 speaker package from a Canadian online retailer that is a fine choice for his room. But we suggest a Paradigm Monitor Series 5.0 speaker package with two SVS PC-2000 subwoofers, plus a Denon AVR-X3400H Receiver, and some absorption from Acoustic Panels Canada.

1:28:27 Karl R. gets our take on people saying Solo: A Star Wars Story looks too dim.

1:31:44 Everett L. wants to know if speaker levels, in addition to subwoofer levels, should be set with an SPL meter before running auto-setup.

1:33:28¬†Marc N. achieved some impressive results using three different subwoofers with the¬†Multi-Sub Optimizer Software, so we go over his results and discuss what he’d need to do to improve any further.

1:38:49 Jaremy P. is turning his home gym into a dedicated theater. We go through his initial plans, suggest screen size and front speaker placement, and make some speaker brand and subwoofer recommendations.

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AV Rant #593: Wi-DoG

June 1st, 2018 No comments

Our Listeners of the week are Marty and Karl for their donations, our 62 Patreon Patrons, and Toby H. for telling Accessories4Less that his Integra DTR-40.4 and Yamaha RX-V583 Receiver purchases were because of us.

In the news, Onkyo announced three new RZ Series AV Receivers that all have nine amplifiers built-in. Byron S. let us know about the new miniDSP Wi-DG WiFi to USB adapter. Karl R. sent us a heads up about Redbox now renting some Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, and we remind everyone about Rent4K.com if you want Ultra HD Blu-ray rentals by mail. Steve from Next Gen Home Theater ponders if DTS:X is in trouble. And THX shared the original sheet music for the Deep Note logo theme.

Tom shared a list of vinyl record accessories. And Chris T. says he has now listened to every available episode of AVRant.

0:20:13 Marc N. sparks a discussion about using Plex on an NVidia Shield.

0:26:06 Brian R. finds out what kind of microphone stands we use for AV Receiver auto-setup. Rob uses a Yorkville Tripod Base with a Boom, and Tom recommends whatever is least expensive on Amazon.

0:30:05 Jonathan T. finds out what gear is on Tom’s shopping list if he were to move into a new house.

0:36:37 Ted M. has reached the end of his attempts to improve the imaging of his on-wall Legacy Silhouette speakers. And we suggest the HSU VTF-1 MK3 and RSL SpeedWoofer 10S as good performing, inexpensive, compact subwoofers.

0:46:29 Cesar wants to pressurize his small room with bass for under $1,000, so we recommend dual SVS PB-1000 or dual Monoprice Monolith 10″, or possibly dual SVS SB-1000 if those are physically too large.

0:51:48 Jordan gets our tips for compensating for stronger reflections on one side of his room than the other. And in what becomes a running theme for this episode, we recommend replacing his current subwoofer with two new ones.

1:00:27 John B. gets us to choose the Xbox One S as the highest value out of the three Xbox One console models.

1:04:40 Clara wants a 7.2.4 pre-pro, so we suggest the Marantz AV7703 for maximum features at the lowest price. But we also have full confidence that a Denon AVR-X4400H¬†could handle powering just the Surround Back and two pairs of overhead speakers while an Emotiva BasX A-5175¬†powers the Fronts and Surrounds. We also discuss RCA to XLR conversion and checking to see if an amp with no RCA inputs probably has 1/4″ TS inputs instead. We talk about switching to very high efficiency speakers. And we touch upon the future of AVRant.

1:22:31 Joel N. is worried that the tweeters in his speakers are degrading over time. We go over his Audyssey measurement results, talk about the popular advice that says EQ should only be applied to bass frequencies, and suggest one reason why his high frequencies might be rolling off more steeply than when his speakers were new that he probably shouldn’t check (but we say it anyway).

1:34:15 Infinite Gary got some Dynaudio Focus 20XD self-powered speakers that have a DAC and volume control built-in. We go over the best connection methods and player output settings. And we discuss the latest advancements of LG’s rollable OLED displays.

1:47:48 Mauricio G. gets our pick of the HSU VTF-2 MK5 as the top  subwoofer value choice for a medium-sized room, although the SVS PC-2000 cylinder might be worth the price for its form factor.

1:51:07 Jeremy W. gives us an easy choice between Ultra HD Blu-ray discs with HDR10 and lossless audio or streaming movies with Dolby Vision and lossy audio.

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AV Rant #592: Dynamic EQ and You

May 25th, 2018 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Dale for his donation, and our 61 Patreon Patrons. We also want to correct ourselves from last week by thanking Grant A. and Amar S. for donating during our pledge drive. We’re sorry for mixing up your names, and we greatly appreciate your support!

0:07:37 We briefly mention the new $200 Fluance Ai40 Bluetooth bookshelf speakers.

In the news, Yamaha announced their new Aventage Receiver lineup. Nathan D. let us know that Oppo is now completely out of stock of their Ultra HD Blu-ray players, but there will be “last batches” of their UDP-203¬†and UDP-205¬†later this year. And yes, we weigh in on laurel vs. yanny¬†and brainstorm vs. green needle.

0:14:11 Roger J. shared a graph of the Fletch Munson Equal Loudness Contours (image below). Infinite Gary bought a pair of the new Revel Performa Be Series bookshelf speakers, and he shares his impressions. And David F. tried an HD Fury Vertex, but discovered that it only scales between 1080p and 4K, and does not keep its output locked at all times, so his JVC projector still has long HDMI handshake renegotiations.

0:22:06 Francis A. gets us to double check his Audyssey subwoofer level and crossover settings, and we further explain Dynamic EQ.

0:27:24 Chad B. gets our input on Surround and Atmos speaker placement, we mention flat speaker wireoptions from Parts-Express and Axiom Audio, and we discuss acoustic panel placement.

0:41:13 Nelson S. wants to maximize his HDMI connection path, making sure his Oppo UDP-203 is put to its best possible use.

0:46:40 Abhue F. wants to know what we think of the Xbox One Plex app now that it supports HDR.

0:51:20 Greg L. wants to speculate about Epson 5040UB projector price drops and whether an HD Fury device would let him use 4K60 sources with that projector and his older AV Receiver.

1:00:08 David S. tried manually level matching his subwoofers with diagonally opposite corner placement and achieved better uniformity. And he asks about noise and banding in the near-black levels of his LG EG9100 OLED TV.

1:06:14 Jack R. asks for ways to inexpensively clean used vinyl records.

1:08:57 Antoine wonders if he should even consider trying to pressurize his 8,200 cubic foot basement with bass output.

1:12:02 Everett L. wants to manually adjust his speaker trim levels, but he had a bit of difficulty finding them in his Denon X4400H settings menus.

1:14:04 Richard gets clarification about the best way to goose his subwoofer output levels without setting his trim levels too high.

1:16:27 Alex P. shares his before and after theater results, which turned out so good that he can’t stand his Living Room SoundBar anymore. We think the Sony HT-X9000F or HT-Z9F with SA-Z9R wireless Surroundsmight be worth a try in his case.

1:26:016 Andrew T. gets our input on his speaker positioning and settings. We also talk about DIY acoustic panels and placement. And we suggest Ideal Lume bias lighting, GiK Tri-Trap and Acoustimac corner bass traps, and HT Market recliners as potential further upgrades.

1:39:51 Christian S. had his AV Receiver turn on at maximum volume. We discuss possible causes and setting max output and initial turn on volume limits.

1:44:37 Justin B. gets our setup suggestions and recommendation for a 92″ Silver Ticket screen¬†in his small, dedicated theater room.

1:50:43 Travis D. has questions about PC sound cards regarding sampling frequency output, HDMI vs. TOSLink, and overall relevance these days.

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AV Rant #591: Pledge Drive Success!

May 18th, 2018 No comments

Thank you! Our donation match pledge drive was a success! We have a lot of Listeners of the Week to thank, so here…we…go…

First, big thanks to Anonymous, James C., and Dipan for matching $100 each and getting this whole pledge drive going!

Paul, Earle, Nate, James D., Clarence, Shane, Daniel C., Terry G., James F., Tom D., David P., Tom T., Weldon B., Larry L., Daniel M., Christian S., Jason D., Jayson W., Roger H., Keith S., Grant A., Amar S., Jonathan F., Steve T., Brandon W., Peter S., Ian E., Kris I., Douglas J., Ben M., Fred R., Greg L., Richard R., Bret R., Matthew L., Vincent H., Jack R., David F., Paul B., Robert B., Brent R., Joe K., and Chad – thank you all so much for your donations!

We also want to thank our 59 Patreon Patrons, including Jeff K.

And thanks to Tom D. for ordering seven Elite Home Theater Seating recliners and letting them know he decided to buy from them because of us.

In the news, THX launched their THX Standard website where they claim to list objective measurements and unbiased comparisons. However, an Audioholics analysis and our own perusal reveal some puzzling and questionable inconsistencies and methods regarding their scores.

Infinite Gary let us know that manatees hear higher frequencies than humans, but not as high as dolphins, and he also shared his impressions of newer Atmos releases vs. earlier discs. Keith S. just wanted to wish us luck during our (successful!) pledge drive and say he appreciates our commitment. Curt G. warns that even though Walmart Blackweb HDMI cables claim to be “premium certified”, he still had signal dropouts, while a generic cable worked fine. And Travis D. shared his listening impressions going from GoldenEar Aon 3 speakers to Martin Logan Motion 35XT speakers.

0:24:22 Damien D. gets our thoughts on a YouTube video titled, “Why SDR is Greater than HDR“. We talk about Sony’s “active” HDR processing for projectors. And we make recommendations for how high to mount Surround speakers.

0:34:43 Michael I. gets our recommendation for Spoonflower and My Fabric Designs for printing custom artwork on fabric to wrap around acoustic panels.

0:41:23 Paul T. asks if he should change his 7.2 setup to a 5.2.2 configuration.

0:46:36 Christian S. has questions about Audyssey Dynamic EQ, gets confirmation about his bass measurements, gets our recommendation for APC Back-UPS BE600 or BE850¬†power protection, and speculates about what’s next for his theater.

1:00:47 Bret R. asks for our help figuring out which OLED TV model to purchase.

1:05:58 Jeff K. gets our input about which projector(s) to buy.

1:10:33 Jon wants a subwoofer upgrade, and we suggest an HSU VTF-3 MK5 HP or SVS PC12-Plus for his room.  We mention the RBH AO-520 Outdoor Speakers as an alternative to Yamaha. And we say an inexpensive 50-foot HDMI cable from Monoprice should be fine for 1080p.

1:18:20 Infinite Gary shares a laugh at the marketing claims for the Parasound Halo CD 1, as well as Scott McGowan’s 20-amp circuit in a reverberant room. And he asks for more thoughts on Samsung Cinema LEDscreens.

1:25:24 Bobby M. asks for help with manual subwoofer and AV Receiver settings, whether his subs need damping, and whether he might be buying subs that are “too much” for his room.

1:30:56 Nick B. requests a comparison of current streaming boxes where HDR video and bitstream audio output are concerned.

1:35:41 Nathan D. wants to know if Panasonic Ultra HD Blu-ray players will be good alternatives to Oppo.

1:37:26 Aidan C. clarifies his closet and subwoofer placement, and asks how much having his closet door open will affect the bass measurements in his room.

1:41:34 Travis D. wants to know more about the hosts, Tom and Rob.

1:48:05 Chris T. finds out which 4K TVs still do 3D, and we recommend the Audio Source AMP100 or an Emotiva BasX amplifier for expanding from 9 speakers to 11.

1:52:32 David F. gets our recommendation for an HD Fury Linker to help with the very long HDMI signal switching times of his JVC projector.

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