AV Rant #559: Canadian Conversion

October 13th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Donald and Micah for their PayPal donations, our Patreon subscribers, including Kris I., Michael I. for telling Ascend Acoustics that his Sierra-2 speaker purchase was thanks to our recommendation, James C. for letting SVS know his PC-2000 subwoofer purchase was because of us, and Oppo for sending Rob one of their UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray players to make sure we’re always up to date with its latest abilities.

We are still working on scheduling interviews with RBH Sound, SurgeX power protection, and Brent Butterworth. So if you have any questions you’d like us to ask them, please email them to us at [email protected]

In the news, David B. made some awesome fan art for our Producer Austen’s podcast, We Watch Movies, which you can see in the YouTube Video for this episode. Efrain, who lives in Puerto Rico, let us know that he’s alive and ok, but communication is still very limited. The Home Theater Geeks Podcast was cancelled by the TWiT Network. The mini SNES Classic Edition has already been cracked to run side loaded game ROMs. And the TCL 75C807 brings a 75-inch screen size with Dolby Vision and Roku 4K down to just $2,000.

Tim K. updates us on his rattling fireplace and using an Oppo Ultra HD Blu-ray player as an HDR10 and lossless audio splitter. Jonathan shared Paul and Storm’s “Thanksgiving (George Lucas)” song (with some NSFW language). Michael I. compared a pair of KEF LS50 speakers to a pair of Ascend Sierra-2 and quickly decided which pair he’s keeping. Marc N. tried one of the Marseille mCables, but had some issues with it. And Justin B. says he has a cat who really did use his speakers as scratching posts, so he suggests the older Pioneer Andrew Jones FS-51 Towers or Martin Logan Motion Series Tower as options with metal grills, while Tom recommends the Catscram Electronic Cat Repellent.

Jaremy P. resisted the temptation to open a brand new Denon AVR-X6400H and will use an AVR-X4300H instead. He wants to know which external amplifier he should buy now, and while we think he should just keep one of the amps he already owns, if he’s going to buy a new one, we suggest a Monoprice Monolithmodel. And Don G. gets more of our thoughts on seating distance, we recommend Focal Bird speakers mounted on his ceiling for Atmos, we remind him of the Outdoor Speaker Depot MK650 in-ceiling speaker model, talk about potential projection screen and projector placement, suggest installing 20 amp electrical circuits, and offer HT Market HT Design Seating as an affordable option for recliners.

Daniel A. wants to check whether any of his speakers are wired out of phase, so we suggest the Spears and Munsil HD Benchmark 2nd Edition setup disc or using the THX Tune-up App, although that will require manually moving some wires around. Bobby M. has finalized his seating, which might mean a different choice of Surround speaker model is in order. And if he decides to build DIY subwoofers, we think a Behringer NU3000 amplifier would power it nicely. And Patrick P. wants an inexpensive desktop speaker so directional, it won’t be heard by anyone but him. We couldn’t think of anything that meets all of his criteria, so we suggest a pair of open back headphones like the Sennheiser HD 559.

Karl R. wants to know what picture mode and settings he ought to use with his JVC X750R projector when watching the slightly unusual 1080p HDR signal being used for Star Trek: Discovery, and he also asks what BT.2020 content is all about. Marc N. wants to know all about the miniDSP nanoAVR-DL with Dirac Live room correction and how it compares to Audyssey MultEQ XT32. Lemuel G. has a large room and five Focal Electra speakers, so we once again recommend the Focal Bird speakers for his Atmos positions, and discuss which configuration would be best. And Byron S. is using 12 Volt triggers, but he’s getting a hum, so we troubleshoot his connection paths.

Jonathan F. shares a laugh at the idea of using virtual and mixed reality to simulate mundane tasks and office work. Mike F. wants to stream 4K Vudu content to his 1080p projector so that he can retain the Dolby Atmos audio, but he’d need a $180 HD Fury Linker to ensure that works properly. Kris I. has us go over his computer’s output settings to make sure they’re all correct for his Epson 5040UB projector. And Dave M. gets our thoughts on figuring out the optimum height for mounting a display.

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AV Rant #558: No Emotion, Just Logic

October 6th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are John and Jason for their donations, our new AVRant Patreon patrons, Dave for letting Accessories4Less know he heard about them from us, Terry for letting SVS know his Prime Satellite purchase was because of our recommendation, and Kris for offering to hook Tom up with a discount on a Motorola smartphone.

We are attempting to schedule a few interviews. So if you have any questions for RBH Sound, SurgeX power protection, or Brent Butterworth – former editor-in-chief of Home Theater Magazine – please email them to us ([email protected]).

In the news, 2016 Denon & Marantz AV Receivers now have access to the firmware update that adds Dolby Vision and HLG pass-through support. Denon UK and Marantz UK both posted notifications that 2015 models will receive the update in 2018. Google Play and Amazon lowered their 4K movie prices to compete with Apple. The new $70 Amazon Fire TV supports 4K, HDR10, Dolby Atmos, but not Dolby Vision. And Emotiva added the XPA-9 Gen3 and XPA-11 Gen3 amplifiers to their lineup using their new stereo amplifier “blades”.

Tom K. has a dedicated theater, but it has passive vents for air circulation, so he asks whether those make it more difficult to pressurize his room with bass. Damien D. wants to know which $500 or less subwoofer he should buy for an open concept space. We think the SVS PB-1000 would be his best option in terms of performance, but he’d prefer smaller and cheaper, so the RSL Speedwoofer 10S is also recommended. And Karl R. gets our thoughts on the Dreamscape Immersive virtual reality multiplex experiences being added to AMC theaters.

Dave asks what the RS-232 and Remote In & Out ports are for on the backs of some AV Receivers. Jaremy P. wants Dolby Vision pass-through right now, so we discuss his options for replacing his Marantz AV7702 MK2 pre-pro, with our top recommendation being a Denon AVR-X4300H. Michael I. gets some tips on how to conduct a fair listening comparison between a pair of KEF LS50 and Ascend Sierra-2 speakers. And Jason B. wants to construct a dedicated theater in his basement, so we begin the process by discussing the overall layout and orientation of the room, as well as some construction and code concerns that might require some professional assistance.

Marc found the Marseille mCable Series HDMI cables. There’s a Gaming Edition that adds anti-aliasing, and a Cinema Edition that scales any image to 4K and adds edge enhancement. We also discuss some speaker settings when using Room EQ Wizard to take measurements. Kris I. wants to connect both a home theater system and an Oculus Rift to his gaming PC, so we suggest using a Club3D Displayport to HDMI Adapter for one of those connections. Jeff G. gets some more input regarding his Top Middle speakers and what he should do to make them more noticeable overhead. And David B. stumps us by asking for Tower speakers with metal grills to thwart a cat. We question the scenario a little bit, but suggest some Klipsch Towers with their fabric grills removed.

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AV Rant #557: Tom Doesn’t Thread

September 29th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Lemuel and Tony for their donations, Blaine D. for mentioning us to HSU during his VTF-3 MK5 HP purchase and Nathan D. for talking us up to Oppo, and Mike for hooking us up with Mark from Accessories4Less who came through big time with a Denon AVR-X4300H AV Receiver for Tom!

We know we have listeners who live in Puerto Rico, like our good friend Efrain, and we are praying that everyone is safe after the destruction wrought by Hurricane Maria. If you are able to help, PBS has information and a list of organizations to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.

Back in home theater land, Rob was a guest on the Entertainment 2.0 Podcast with Josh Pollard to talk about 4K HTPCs. And last year’s Denon AV Receivers have started getting the firmware update that adds Dolby Vision and HLG pass through support.

CORRECTION: Nathan D. and Earle let us know that Oppo UDP-203 and 205 Ultra HD Blu-ray players can pass 4K HDR10 signals through their HDMI inputs and separate the HDMI audio thanks to a recent firmware update. Our words last week on that topic were incorrect.

Last week, Jim asked why Denon and Marantz Receivers don’t include a graph for the subwoofer in their Audyssey results menu, and Chris Kyriakakis himself responded that it’s something Denon/Marantz decided to omit years ago, and they’ve simply never changed it. Infinite Gary’s brother-in-law shared a photo of some huge, horn-loaded, tube-amp-driven speakers that we can’t identify. And we revisit the anonymous listener who had some blown planar tweeters to reveal they were RAAL ribbons in a pair of Ascend Acoustics Sierra-2, so we’re very curious to know if any other owners have ever experienced similar damage.

Michael I. asks us to clarify which audio formats can pass through TOSLink, which formats can pass through HDMI ARC, and what sort of audio does the new Apple TV 4K support? Grant A. asks why a single Surround Back speaker doesn’t seem to work with Atmos or DTS:X, whether he should consider a speaker like the SVS Ultra Surround that can play in dual mono mode, or what else he could do to play two Surround Back channels from one speaker location. And Jonathan F. questions Andrew Jones’ ELAC Adante Seriesspeakers: why a dual-driver subwoofer, but not dual subs, why include gloves to handle the speakers, and why use something as inelegant as a “rubber wedge” to angle the Center speaker?

Bill P. wants to know if he can use his older Denon AVR-X3000 Receiver strictly as an amplifier to bi-amp his Front Towers in a 7.2.4 configuration. Jeff G. followed Dolby’s guidelines and placed his Top Middle speakers the same distance apart as his Front L/R speakers, but he isn’t hearing them as distinctly as he would like as a result, so we discuss ways to compensate. Infinite Gary wants to know what it would take for a display calibration graph to show no errors whatsoever. And Brandon G. asks about adjusting the volume levels of his subwoofers and Center speaker after having run Audyssey.

Justin B. wants a small, affordable, down-firing subwoofer, so we suggest the Outlaw Audio M8. We also talk about the new Monoprice Monolith Desktop THX Headphone Amplifier and DAC and it’s inclusion of Dirac Sensaround. Brandon N. wants an Atmos setup in his theater along with a Zone 2 setup, so we recommend a Yamaha RX-A3060 or RX-A3070 with Yamaha’s MusicCast system. And Karl R. found an HDMI cable at the Apple Store claiming to be “Ultra High Speed” with “bandwidth up to 48 Gbps, so we debunk some of the naming with the official HDMI Specification 2.1.

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AV Rant #556: Don’t Over Splay

September 22nd, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Barry, Todd, Timothy, and Luke for their donations.

Tom is back! We hear all about how Tom and his family dealt with Hurricane Irma. And we’re super grateful to Clint DeBoer and his family, once again, for helping out Tom. And we’d like to thank Austen and Lee again for filling in as co-hosts in Tom’s absence.

In the news, Yoeri Geutskens wrote a comprehensive article explaining The State of HDR Video for FlatpanelsHD. And that same website is maintaining a helpful list of every 4K, HDR10, and Dolby Vision movie available on iTunes.

Nathan W. found Netflix’ Display Calibration Best Practices for video content providers interesting and applicable for home theaters, as well.

Nathan D. wants to know if there are any “present proof” TV, player, and AV Receiver models that are likely to support all of the HDR standards, including HDR10, Dolby Vision, and now HDR10+. Ed wants to further improve his room’s acoustics with absorption panels and reduce the sound that’s “leaking” from his basement theater into the rooms above. He also wants to switch between two amplifiers powering one pair of speakers, so we suggest a simple Monoprice Speaker Selector that can be wired in reverse. And Infinite Gary gets some real world examples of wide color and HDR to help him evaluate his new projector, and also gets our thoughts on whether Dolby Vision and HDR10+ are in a format war or not.

Mark O. wants to know if the RBH Impression Series I-12e subwoofer will pair nicely with his SVS PB-2000. Michael L. upgraded some of his speakers and reran YPAO automatic setup, so he gets us to double check all of his Receiver’s settings. And Dillon S. found an attractive price on a 2016 Vizio M-Series TV, but he wants to make sure it’s a good HDR display and a good deal.

Mark H. has moved to a new house, and he asks about Surround speaker placement, whether he should add Surround Back speakers or not, leaving a closet door open to make a perfectly square room less square, adding more absorption panels, and what he should look for in his Room EQ Wizard measurements to help him improve his acoustics. Tim K. is having problems with rattles in his room, so we discuss what will help and what won’t, and we also talk about using an Oppo Ultra HD Blu-ray player to split HDR10 video and lossless audio for an older Receiver. What we say is old information and no longer correct! So we shall correct ourselves next week. And Brian R. needs a pair of subwoofers that can recreate the tactile experience of a Dolby Cinema that impressed his wife and mother-in-law, so we try to correctly set his expectations, and recommend the SVS PC-2000Outlaw Audio Ultra-X12, or HSU VTF-2 MK5 dual sub options for his room size.

Richard gets our thoughts on The Wirecutter’s pick for best banana plugs, while we still recommend the Sewell Strikeand GLS Locking banana plugs, neither of which were tested. Jim B. asks why the Audyssey “results” menu on Denon and Marantz AV Receivers doesn’t include a graph for the subwoofer output. And Mitch R. questions our recommendation to aim Atmos ceiling speakers straight down, since Dolby mentions angling them towards the primary listening position if your speakers have narrow dispersion.

Jason wants to know if he should purchase di-pole, bi-pole, or monopole Surround speakers for his small room size. Luke asks if he can expand his 7.2.2 Atmos configuration to 7.2.4 using his Yamaha RX-A2050 AV Receiver. And Dan S. asks how to tell if your AV Receiver supports Dolby Vision and HDR10 pass-through, and what looks better: 1080p Blu-ray or streaming 4K?

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AV Rant #555: Politically Tweaking It

September 15th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Clint DeBoer and his family, who provided a safe home for Tom and Tom’s family to ride out Hurricane Irma. We truly cannot thank the DeBoer family enough. And the least we can do is check out Clint’s website, Pro Tool Reviews, where you’ll find superb information for tools users and tradespeople. We also want to thank Josh Pollard from The Digital Media Zone for talking us up to Accessories4Less when we pointed him their way. Check out Josh’s new podcast, Story Players, where they recap and review story-driven video games. And Christian and Kris both took SVS’ recent customer survey, where they noted that AVRant Podcast is among the options for letting SVS know where you heard about their products.

Lee Overstreet co-hosts with Rob H. this week, and we get a bit extra rant-y. Tom and his family are safe, and we look forward to him returning to the podcast as soon as possible.

In the news, CEDIA brought official announcements of the Sony VPL-VW285ES, the least expensive genuine 4K projector to date, along with the VW385ES and $25,000 laser-based VW885ES. We also saw the JVC X590, X790 & X990 projectors introduced at lower price points. And Epson is keeping their wobble-K projectors the same this year, but introduced a 1080p, laser-driven, ultra short throw LS100 for $3,000. The Optoma UHZ65 brings laser-driven 4K DLP to the $5,000 price point. Infinite Gary sent us a link detailing several new Monoprice Monolith products with THX certification. And the Emotiva RMC-1 16-channel Pre-pro was demoed, with verbal confirmation that it can run a 9.1.6 Atmos configuration. Disney will keep exclusive streaming rights for Marvel and Lucasfilm movies in 2019. And Ultra pure green LEDs mean Rec. 2020 might be possible using LED light sources.

Jose confirms the Elite VMAX motorized projection screens lack the ability to manually set how far they drop or rise when you press the button on the remote. And Robert Z. suggests that streaming lossless audio via DLNA is another scenario where eARC could be useful.

PJ wants an affordable, compact speaker upgrade, but he sits fairly far away, so we suggest the HSU HB-1 MK2 Horn Bookshelf speakers. We also discuss buying Ultra HD Blu-rays strictly for audio, and recommend the Samson QH4 4-channel Headphone Amplifier for connecting multiple pairs of headphones. Mike L. asks about the tuning options of the HSU VTF-2 MK5 subwoofer, and whether the ELAC Uni-Fi UC5 Center is a good match for the ELAC Debut B6 bookshelfspeakers. And Don G. asks about positioning his bi-pole Surround speakers, how he should adjust his seating and Atmos positions if he gets a larger TV, and whether he can use his older B&K 507 AV Receiver as just an amplifier.

Jonathan F. sent us an article to discuss about a Utah law that bans movie theaters that serve alcohol from showing movies with nudity or sex scenes. Josh B. gets some clarification on the settings needed to use his 7-channel Outlaw Audio amplifier with his Pioneer Elite LX801 AV Receiver. And Josh Pollard wants a basic 5.1 AV Receiver that can handle 4K HDR, so we suggest the Yamaha RX-V383 from Accessories4Less, which is scheduled to receive Dolby Vision pass-through support later this year.

Infinite Gary asks about the practicality and usefulness of the 8K resolution TV announced for Japan by Sharp, and he also wants to know what visible difference a laser light engine makes in a projector versus a lamp. Marc N. got a taste for Front Wide speakers thanks to Rob’s meddling, so now he’s wondering what he’d have to buy to make them a part of his future Atmos setup. And David B.’s wife wants new, more attractive speakers that can still blast out high volume levels capable of filling their whole house, so we suggest going high efficiency with some Klipsch Reference Premiere speakers.

Jon wants a very slim, on-wall Center to match his Klipsch Icon VF35 Towers, so we recommend the Klipsch Gallery G-28. Andrew gets our advice for di-pole Surround speaker and Atmos speaker positioning. And we give Karl credit for prompting us to rant, big time, about the latest HT Guys interview with David Dicks in which he claims to “bust speaker myths”.

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