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AV Rant #566: Don’t Call Me Tommy

November 17th, 2017 No comments

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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AV Rant #565: Interview with Brent Butterworth

November 13th, 2017 No comments

In this special episode of AV Rant, we talk with industry veteran Brent Butterworth. He’s worked in just about every medium in the AV field and has firmly established a reputation for giving fair and rational reviews. We had a great time talking with him and we can’t wait to read what he has coming out next. Look him up at www.brentbutterworth.com. Enjoy!

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AV Rant #564: Thiel Aurora Home and Tour Speaker Review Pt. 1

November 11th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Tom for his donation, and our 30 Patreon Patrons, including Rob W. who let us know he’s one of them. Also Tate L. for letting Accessories4Less know he bought a Denon AVR-X4300H from them thanks to our recommendation, and Fred R. for letting SVS know that he heard about their SoundPath Isolation Feet and Prime Elevation speakers from us.

Tom begins the episode with a review of the Thiel Aurora Home ($899) and Aurora Tour ($599) Bluetooth and Play-Fi wireless speakers. Stay tuned next week for a followup on the WiFi issue he described in the review!

In the news, Apple is adding automatic mode switching for frame rate and HDR to the Apple TV 4K. And Karl R. sent us word about SpectraCal’s proposals for HDR display calibration as presented by Tyler Pruitt at the recent SMPTE conference.

Jim B. found a deal on a pair of Jamo 6.5CS in-ceiling speakers, and he wanted to share his opinion that combining them with ELAC and NHT speakers resulted in surprisingly good Atmos results with no concerns at all about a timbre mismatch.

Scott S. isn’t pleased that several Blu-ray releases lack Atmos or DTS:X while their Ultra HD Blu-ray counterparts have immersive audio. He asks if there’s a less expensive player than the Oppo UDP-203 that does a good job of down-converting to 1080p SDR, so we suggest the Sony UBP-X800. We also suggest a Denon AVR-S920W AV Receiver and a Vizio M65-E0 or Sony XBR-65X900E for his gaming room and many video game consoles. Jim B. tried the Audyssey Left/Right Bypass target curve and then double checked its results using Room EQ Wizard. He could understand the initial results, but he figured out on his own that he had Audyssey Dynamic EQ active, and turning it off gave him the results he was expecting. And David F. gets our go ahead to buy RBH A-600 or RBH VA-607 in-ceiling speakers, no matter which floor level speakers he ends up getting. We warn him away from shopping at New Audio Video, a non-authorized retailer. And we suggest adding Aperion Audio, SVS, and NHT to his speaker audition list.

Tony K. has an amplifier with no 12 Volt trigger, and he wants to be able to turn it on and off with his Harmony Hub and/or voice control, so we suggest an APC Power Conditioner with Master and Slave outlets or a SurgeX Axess Power Management unit with individual outlet control over IP. Tate L. gets some clarification on menu settings for his 5.2.2 Atmos configuration, and using a Harmony remote to directly access various Audyssey settings. And Rob W. gets our recommendations to save money with a Denon AVR-X4300H instead of an X6300H, to get the less expensive Dayton Audio distribution amplifier, and to use a HEOS Link to connect existing speakers to his HEOS system.

Jack R. gets our thoughts on comparing the value of various 55-inch TVs, as well as our thoughts on Grado headphones. Fred wants to know if adding a second SVS Ultra subwoofer will be a huge benefit in his small room. And Mark H. wants to better understand how movies that were shot on film can be converted to HDR when the original film prints topped out at around 50 nits.

John N. asks about true sine wave power vs. stepped approximations of a sine wave. Shane T. wonders whether he should orient his theater room to be wider or longer, and where he should position his subwoofers in either case. And Christopher M. wants to know if the Xbox One S or One X will make a good Ultra HD Blu-ray player, and whether we think it will get the ability to handle Dolby Vision soon.

Kevin L. gets our recommendation for the Yamaha YAS-207 SoundBar or a Vizio SoundBar as long as it’s one of the models that includes dedicated tweeters. Bill W. gets some more thoughts about soundproofing his theater, flush mounting Ascend Acoustics HTM-200SE speakers, using Focal Bird speakers for overhead positions, placing his Front L/R speakers inside or outside the borders of his projection screen, combining HSU and SVS subwoofers, using a Peerless AV or Quest Manufacturing equipment rack to save money, and budgeting for a 4K HDR-capable projector. And Anonymous gets some home theater-related Christmas gift ideas, including: Harmony Hub-based remote, subwoofer isolation feet, printed acoustic panels and Acoustic Art panels, calibrated measurement microphone, SpectraCal C6 colorimeter, bias lighting, Amazon Echo, Oppo headphones, Monoprice headphone amplifier, NVidia Shield TV, Playstation VR, or neutral gray Sherwin-Williams paint.

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AV Rant #563: Interview with Charlie Jones from SurgeX

November 6th, 2017 No comments

On this special episode of AV Rant, we interview Charlie Jones from SurgeX. If you would like to see us live and in person, we’ve posted our interview on YouTube. If you would like to contact Charlie with any follow up questions about SurgeX, power protection products, or anything else, contact him at Charlie.Jo[email protected].com or www.espsurgex.com.

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AV Rant #562: This Podcast Needs a Name

November 3rd, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Nate, Daniel, and David for their donations, our 30 Patreon Patrons, including Kyle G. who let us know he’s one of them, and James C., Josh A., and David F. for mentioning us to SVS, Accessories4Less, and HTMarket, respectively.

We’ve posted our interview with Charlie Jones from SurgeX in which we discuss all things power protection. And we have scheduled our interview with Brent Butterworth for Thursday, Nov. 9, so send any questions you have for Brent to [email protected].

In the news, we’ve made the decision to no longer make individual YouTube videos for each question. With our limited time, we want Producer Austen to prioritize helping Rob with the Topic List each week instead. Hisense is launching their 100 L8D 100-inch “Laser TV” that’s actually an ultra short-throw DLP projector with built-in speakers and an ambient light rejecting screen for $10,000. And Dunkirk releases on disc on Dec. 19 with switching aspect ratios and no immersive audio, just as Christopher Nolan wanted.

Jaremy P. is selling his Marantz AV7702 MK2, three Emotiva Gen1 amps, and the Denon AVR-X6400H he found at a discount at Best Buy, all in favor of an AV7704 and a new Emotiva XPA-11 Gen3. Nick B. suggests trying Roku’s “universal search” feature to find movies across a multitude of streaming services. Jeff G. moved his Top Middle speakers and achieved the convincing sense of sounds coming from directly overhead that he desired. Joseph H. recommends FreeNAS open source software to convert and PC into network storage. And regarding Patrick P.’s search for wireless, Bluetooth, open back headphones, Jim W. gives the Sennheiser RS120 a thumbs up, even though they lack Bluetooth, and Nathan W. suggests the Apple AirPods.

Bobby M. is saving up for dual SVS PB-1000 subwoofers, and he asks if temporarily using dual Onkyo SKW-204 subs is a reasonable stop gap. Matt S. picked up a used Aperion Center speaker to replace his Pioneer Andrew Jones Center, and now he wonders if the matching Aperion Towers would be worth buying. And Bill W. continues his questions about the house he’s building from scratch, so we discuss: acoustic ceiling tiles, Harmony Hub and Harmony Home Hub Extender, recommendations for dual HSU VTF-3 MK5 HP subwoofers, Ascend Acoustics CMT-340SE and HTM-200SE speakers, and a SeymourAV Center Stage XDscreen.

Ken M. needs to replace some Belkin surge protectors that sacrificed themselves, so we suggest a combo of an APC J35B and a Back-UPS BE850. Justin B. wants something new in his 2-channel and headphone rig, so we suggest the new Sennheiser HD 660 S or RBH Beryllium HP-2 headphones with the Monoprice Monolith Desktop Headphone Amp, and using the Tidal website to find Tidal-compatible products. Kyle G. wants to make sure it’s ok to run a long extension cable for an Audyssey microphone. Dave gets our thoughts on connecting two pre-pros together to allow him to connect more sources. And Greg B. gets our list of recommended TV models (Vizio M Series, Vizio P Series, Sony X930E or an LG OLED if Dolby Vision support is desired; Sony X900E if HDR10-only is ok) to look out for on Black Friday.

Karl R. wants to know why Blade Runner 2049 literally shook both a Dolby Cinema and an IMAX theater, and according to Scott Wilkinson’s measurements, it’s because the bass is unusually loud. Dan C. wants to upgrade his sound system a little at a time, and we like the ELAC Debut Series speakers he’s eyeing, so we give our recommended order of upgrades, and discuss the Atmos configuration and placement he could aim for. And Bill could experiment with two subwoofers, but he has limited time, so he asks if his current gear is up to the task of testing, and we suggest an SVS PC-2000, HSU ULS-15 MK2, Rythmik E15, or Power Sound Audio S1500 as physically smaller subs with enough output for his room size.

Byron S. would like to understand why a couple of specific frequencies result in ringing or reverberation in his room, even though the room is acoustically treated, so we talk about tuned membrane bass traps. David F. gets clarification about setting Tower speakers with built-in powered woofers to “small” and still setting an 80 Hz crossover frequency, although a wrinkle is thrown our way when there’s only room for one subwoofer in the rear corner. And Josh S. tried to explain the ins and outs of dual subwoofers on Reddit, but wound up doubting himself, so we go over output, power, and perception levels when using multiple subs.

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