AV Rant #514: Subwoofer or Center Speaker

December 3rd, 2016 No comments

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Our Listener of the Week is Chris S. for letting EMP Tek know that he heard about them from AV Rant.
Infinite Gary saw Audioholics’ video of the Martin Logan demo room and thought it sounded terrible. And Justin B. (and Rob) confirm that a new Marantz firmware update allows Dolby Surround Upmixer to work on DTS signals, and DTS Neural:X Upmixer to work on Dolby signals.
Josh S. wants an affordable TV with good sound, so we suggest the combo of a Vizio D-Series TV with a Vizio C or D SoundBar. Jonathan F. prods us to rant about a Lumin D1 Audiophile Network Music Player review. And Bobby K. asks about Audyssey Low Frequency Containment and any other methods to avoid bothering the neighbors.
Matt G. asks about using dual subwoofers in an open concept room, as well as matching sealed subs with ported subs. Anand wants us to speculate about the future of quantum dots vs. OLED. And Monty N. tries to sort through IPS vs. VA LCD panels, 60Hz vs. 120Hz refresh rates, screen size vs. price, OLED burn-in, calibrating his image, the Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray player price point, and how ATSC 3.0 tuners will work with PCs.
David F. needs some help setting up his BenQ HT2050 projector and will likely need an ultra low-profile projector ceiling mount. Greg F. and Tara both ask for our thoughts on LG’s Super UHD TVs and get our recommendations for Vizio P-Series, Sony X930D Series, Vizio M-Series, and Samsung KS8000 Series more or less in that order. And Charleston L. wants to know if he’d be better off with four lower output subwoofers or two higher output subwoofers.
Greg P. upgraded to four subwoofers and wants to know if he needs to run Audyssey again. He also wants to know if it makes sense to use a smaller projection screen so that he can better place his flat panel and seating, and whether he should rearrange his subwoofers, as well. Justin B. wants to shop for $2000/pair speakers at Amazon, so we suggest: KEF R300, Dali Opticon 2, Paradigm Signature S2, Martin Logan Motion 35XT, and NHT C 3. And Chris S. gets our suggestion to use AudioCheck.net to make a bass sweep when doing the subwoofer crawl, as well as our thoughts on whether he should upgrade his subwoofer or his Center speaker next.

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AV Rant #513: On, In, and Around

November 25th, 2016 No comments

PrintHappy Thanksgiving! Our Listeners of the Week are Bret, Fab, and Alan for their generous donations!

With Tom away this week, Lee Overstreet fills in once again.

Karl R. shared some hyperbole-filled coverage of the opening of the Devialet flagship retail store. Chad T. noticed and interesting use of the black bars on the 3D release of Ghostbusters. And Heath B. found the Projector Central HDR-compatibility article enlightening.

Grant M. asks about suede-covered absorption panels from Acoustimac and Acoustical Solutions, as well as options for speakers that will work well laying horizontally inside a TV stand, such as the KEF Q-Series and Ascend Acoustics HTM-200SE. Infinite Gary gets the scoop on how we put together our AVRant YouTube videos, as well as our thoughts on a lone Center speaker vs. multi-speaker mono, and what’s up with speaker prices in Canada. And Johnny D. wants to know what a variable iris does in a projector, and is itching to upgrade, although we think he should wait for the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB.

Christian S. loves his new EMP Tek speakers, but he wants to know where to set the crossover and why all of his other speakers seem to sound better, too. John J. needed an SVS cylinder subwoofer manual for discontinued models, and some tips on connections and using an inexpensive SPL Meter, or a professionally calibrated SPL Meter from Cross-Spectrum Labs. And Jonathan F. gets us to compare and contrast the SVS SB-1000 vs. the HSU VTF-1 Mk3 subwoofers.

Nick B. gets our recommendation for a Monoprice Blackbird HDMI Switch with Audio Extraction. Josh Pollard is also looking for an HDMI matrix switch, although what he really needs is an HD Fury. We also discuss HDR streaming video services on the Xbox One S. And Fab F. wants to know if it’s ok to build a subwoofer into a wall in order to save floor space.

Jason S. asks if the included microphones that come with Audyssey-enabled Receivers are truly good enough to get the job done. Michael S. gets us to recommend AudioEngine self-powered speakers and the JBL LSR305 Studio Monitors to use with an Echo Dot. Bret R. wants a 4K HDR TV that can also serve as a computer monitor, and we think the Samsung KU7000 Series is the way to go. And Jefferson G. stumped us with a Chromecast Ultra HDCP 2.2 issue that we only know how to resolve by using an older Chromecast.

Corey B. isn’t as happy with his projected image as he used to be. We discuss Sherwin-Williams neutral paint, Screen Goo, and image settings, as well as older upmixing listening modes and why a bigger Center speaker doesn’t necessarily mean clearer dialogue. Alan L. is planning his basement theater. We talk about his layout, projector choices, and 7.2.4 wiring options; and also recommend the EMP Tek I-12 subwoofer, Outlaw Audio Ultra-X12 subwoofer, and Monoprice Caliber in-ceiling speakers with Monoprice Back Enclosures along with a Marantz SR6011 from Accessories4Less and a Dayton Audio APA100 or Emotiva A-500 Amplifier to power it all. Travelling IT Guy gets our thoughts on Vizio’s D-Series vs. their E-Series, and our suggestion to check out the HSU VTF-15H Mk2 and Power Sound Audio 15V subwoofers for a large room. And Ted M. is finally happy with his equipment choices, but now he’s bleeding sound into other rooms, so we discuss what can be done about that.

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AV Rant #512: Tin Foil and Bedspreads

November 18th, 2016 No comments

PrintLee Overstreet fills in for Tom this week, but there’s a surprise about an hour and a half into the podcast.

In the news, LG 2017 Wallpaper W7 OLED TV might be coming to market. And Samsung bought Harman for $8 billion!

Rob has an update on his Kuro plasma shipping disaster. Rob also amends his Reaction Audio recommendation in light of them shutting down. Bret R. found success with our Intel graphics settings for use with Kodi. Jeb B. thinks curtains can offer acoustical advantages, especially psychologically. And Andy C. created a very interesting Windows app for optimizing multiple subwoofers, and he’s giving it away for free, so check it out!

Brian F. has a small theater with actual theater chairs and a stepped tray ceiling. We discuss Atmos speaker placement, recommend Monoprice Caliber Series in-ceiling speakers with Monoprice Back Enclosures, and confirm that he should still upgrade to dual subwoofers. Bret R. wants to know what modern TV will take over the mantel for “best display” from the Kuro plasmas. And we spend a ton of time with Rick and his two setups; first, discussing his UMC-1 EmoQ bass handling, potential alternatives using a miniDSP 2×4, nanoAVR-DL, or just a calibrated microphone from Cross-Spectrum Labs plus the built-in manual EQ options, or replacing his Processor entirely with a Denon AVR-X3300W from Accessories4Less. Then we tackle Rick’s dedicated theater build, including: room dimensions, ideal seating distances and screen sizes, JVC DLA-RS500 vs. Epson LS10500 projectors, and pre-wiring locations for speakers.

John W. wanted a further discussion of Audyssey target curves vs. Direct listening mode playback. Ted M. seems to really want an extremely powerful subwoofer, and he’s willing to leave his door open to get it. And Matt H. wants an affordable, large, cutting edge display, so we suggest the Vizio M-Series.

Heath B. wants to know if three identical bookshelf speakers across the front makes sense, and we also suggest the DIY Movie Rooms Riser Height Calculator to help figure out ideal screen and riser height. Chad T. asks about BlackoutEZ window covers, but we offer a cheaper solution. We also mention Wired and LifeHacker’s pick for transcoding iTunes videos: NoteBurner. And Bill C. wants independent volume control via a tablet or phone for his whole house audio system, so we suggest pairing several Dayton Audio WFA02 Wi-Fi Adapters with a Dayton Distribution Amplifier.

David is moving and wants to confirm his plans for a new theater. We go over subwoofer capability, false wall and projector screen setup, seating distance, acoustic panel placement, and the possibility of a “full” Atmos setup with 11 or 13 floor level speakers and all 10 overhead speakers. Jordan B. wants to know if he should opt for a gray or white projector screen. And Jeff B. is helping his brother-in-law with a long term buying plan. We confirm a speaker audition list including: Aperion Audio, SVS, EMP Tek, Ascend Acoustics, and KEF.

Ian E. wants to save as much hard drive space as possible, so we discuss transcoding Blu-ray audio and potentially using Audio DiffMaker to figure out what lossy codecs are discarding. Michael I. has some upgraditis and wants to know what will be worthwhile when replacing his Ascend CMT-340SE speakers and HSU VTF-2 Mk4 subwoofers. And Fil C. wants inexpensive surround sound in Canada. Rob’s go-to picks of a Yamaha RX-V381 Receiver, Monoprice 12-inch Subwoofer, and Fluance Classic Elite Series speakers, or Energy Take Classic 5.1 speakers all end up being too expensive, so we suggest The Wirecutter’s pick for best 5.1 SoundBar, the Vizio SB4051-C, or Vizio SB3851-D with Google Cast.

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AV Rant #511: ToughTested Solar Dual USB 10,000mAh Battery Pack Review

November 11th, 2016 No comments

PrintThank you to our Listeners of the Week, Grant, Jimmy, and Rick B, for your generous donations!

Pomegranate! (listen to Ep. 510 if you want to know what that’s about)

Tom reviews the ToughTested Solar Dual USB 10,000mAh Battery Pack. In the news, new 7.2.4 AV Receivers and Pre-pros are now available: Onkyo PR-RZ5100, TX-RZ3100, and TX-RZ1100 that are THX Certified and use AccuEQ; Integra DRC-R1, DRX-R1, and DRX-7 that add HDBaseT and MQA; and, Pioneer Elite SC-LX901, SC-LX801, and SC-LX701 that drop THX and use MCACC. All of these Receivers use Pioneer’s D3 Class D amps. ATI introduced their Class D Hypex N-Core AT52 and AT54 Series amplifiers. And Infinite Gary let us know about the new Outlaw Audio Model 7140 Class A/B amplifier with a Class F power supply.

Scott S. loves the most recent update to the Plex App on the NVidia Shield TV that has granted lossless bitstream audio output support, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. And Karl R. pointed out that Apple’s new favorite things – dongles and proprietary cords – are on sale.

Fab F. has decided to build a dedicated theater in his basement. We discuss which room we think he should use, how to contend with ductwork, where he should place his speakers, and that pesky 4 ohm setting on Receivers. Kevin A. wants new Front L/R speakers that can play loud and clean, and he’s deciding between passive and active. We shorten his list of candidates down to the EMP Tek R5Bi for passive, and the JBL LSR305 for active. And Vince H. asks about Tom’s and Rob’s plans regarding the PlayStation 4 Pro and HDR displays. He wants a large HDR TV and a new Receiver, we suggest the: Vizio P-Series, LG OLED B6 Series, Sony XBR Z9D Series, and LeEco uMax85 for TVs, and the Marantz SR6011 for a Receiver.

James B. wants to know which projectors under $1,500 we recommend these days, so we mention BenQ projectors, and the Epson Home Cinema 3700. Tim B. wonders, what’s the deal with oxygen-free speaker wire? And Travelling IT Guy wants an inexpensive 65-inch TV, so we recommend the 1080p Vizio D-Series, UltraHD Vizio D-Series, and Samsung 1080p J6200 Series.

Jonathan F. sent us some articles to rant about: first, London’s audiophile listening clubs; and second, the rise of analog recording studios. Infinite Gary wants to know why the Center speakers he’s auditioning have more dramatic differences between them than the expensive SoundBars he was trying before. And Justin B. asks for our opinions about Philharmonic Audio speakers, how futureproof his Marantz SR6010 will be, and also asks for an explanation of how the Dolby Surround Upmixer works, and what he ought to see on his front display.

A different Justin B. is moving to a smaller room with a smaller budget. He’s planning to buy high sensitivity speaker kits from DIY Sound Group. We suggest Power Sound Audio and Tekton Design if he’d like non-DIY options. (Rob also mentioned Reaction Audio before realizing they’ve suspended business for the time being.) And we point to the Dayton Audio RSS460HO 18-inch driver as a suitable option for his DIY subwoofer. Nathan W. gets the low down on whether Chromecast with Plex can handle lossless bitstream audio. And Grant M. requests our help with Marantz SR7010 pre-out settings, placement of his overhead speakers, GoldenEar on-wall vs. in-wall speaker choices, and absorption panel placement ideas.

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AV Rant #510: Throw Babies At It

November 4th, 2016 No comments

PrintIn the news this week, many, many AV Rant Listeners let us know that the Xbox One and Xbox One S will be getting lossless bitstream audio output, including Atmos and DTS:X support. Logitech Harmony Hub Remotes now officially work with Amazon Alexa voice commands. Rythmik Audio announced two gigantic new subwoofers: the Rythmik FV18 and FV25HP. And Nick B. is excited for the Nintendo NES Classic Edition.

Boshko S. is using an optical audio connection from his Xbox One to his Harman Kardon AV Receiver. He wants to know why he isn’t hearing surround sound sometimes, what he’d gain by using an HDMI connection, as well as what it would cost him in electricity to always power up his Receiver, and why the front panel display doesn’t seem to match his speaker setup. He also asks about his computer’s HDMI audio output settings. Greg F. is constructing a home theater in his basement, and he wants to figure out acoustically ideal room dimensions. We mention the Room Mode Calculator as a helpful online tool. And Troy T. wants to know if he can use an existing speaker wire run with a speaker wire to RCA converter cable to send a signal to his subwoofer. We caution him to use butt splice terminals if he does, and to switch to a wireless subwoofer kit if he hears noise or a hum.

Ted got his Legacy Audio Silhouette on-wall speakers. They’re huge and sound fantastic! We discuss why Legacy’s own engineer suggested avoiding putting the tweeters at seated ear height, as well as rolling off the Center speaker’s high frequencies, and why they use a phase plug on the midrange driver. We also discuss dual driver subwoofers, Audyssey Flat vs. Audyssey Reference curves, and whether or not Apple TV is getting left behind when it comes to 4K and HDR. Will and Liz rearranged their Living Room and want to make sure a Monoprice TV wall mount is ok. We also suggest possible new locations for their Surround speakers and subwoofer(s).

Matt G. asks our opinions of Monitor Audio Silver Series speakers and how they compare to Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1 and Sierra-2 models. Terry G. has updated his theater plans yet again and asks us to weigh in on the overall seating placement, Atmos ceiling speaker placement, and Surround speaker positions. And Bret R. is running Kodi on an Intel NUC that we suspect is having some issues with a dynamic contrast video setting.

Mark H. found some DIY bass trap plans that we don’t like, so we point him to Tom’s DIY Absorbers articles that we do like. We explain why paper or foil-lined insulation isn’t a good idea. And we tackle Mark’s subwoofer placement and irregular room shape. Michael R. gets a short list of bookshelf speakers to audition in Canada, as well as an explanation of why paper woofers are just fine, and our suggestion to use Canuck Audio Mart to sell his PSB T5 Towers. And Bob G. moved his theater to a much larger room, and he’s finding his lack of tactile bass disturbing. We suggest the HSU VTF-3 MK5 HP as the perfect balance of output and price for his room size and budget.

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