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AV Rant #496: Saving Money on Amps and Rooms

July 28th, 2016 No comments

PrintTom is back! And we thank Josh Pollard from The Digital Media Zone for helping us out with some very useful information about the cable/satellite industry this week.

In the news, Antoine gave us the heads up about the new Outlaw Audio OAW4 Wireless Speaker Kit. Antoine and Gary both sent us the headline about the new Sony Z-Series HDR TVs with Backlight Master Drive. DTS announced new DTS:X Content Creation Tools just as Paramount released more DTS:X Blu-rays. The Xbox One S can’t output Dolby Vision, Immersive Audio, or HD Audio Bitstreams. And the last VCR ever will be manufactured this month.

San Diago Comic-Con News included Mystery Science Theater 3000 coming to Netflix, Brie Larson being cast as Captain Marvel, and Star Trek: Discovery being announced as the title for the new streaming-only TV series. We also weigh in on some of our favorite trailers and teases!

Ryan T. gets our thumbs up for either EMP Tek Impression Series or Ascend Acoustics CMT-340SE Front speakers. We suggest the RBH Sound A-610 in-wall and A-615 in-ceiling speakers to match the EMP Tek Fronts, or Sonance VP62 in-wall and VP62R in-ceiling speakers to match the Ascend CMT-340SE. We touch on his speaker placement, seating placement, subwoofer placement, and screen size plans. We recommend pairing the Emotiva A-500 amplifier with a Denon or Marantz Receiver. We highly recommend waiting for the Epson HC 5040UB Projector. And we don’t think he has anything to worry about soundproofing-wise.

Brandon M. gets our recommendation for the HSU STF-2 subwoofer. Glenn S. has a wonderful collection of excellent gear, and we tell him which rooms we think should house which gear, and shockingly say his intended second subwoofer would be overkill. And Sam P. got some unexpected advice from DirecTV when they referenced the upcoming Unlock the Box and Ditch the Box Cable/Satellite plans that were explained to us by Mary Silbey and Josh Pollard. Sam also wonders what happened to the Amazon Echo Dot and whether it will be coming back.

Ed bought a Denon AVR-X1200W and asks about expanding beyond 5.1.2 Atmos and why DTS:X doesn’t seem to work yet. John D. finds out how to reassign the internal amps of his Marantz SR6010. And Bill R. gets our recommendation for Focal in-wall and in-ceiling speakers to match his Ascend Acoustics Sierra RAAL Fronts, and gets even more reasons from us to go with a Denon Receive rather than an Anthem.

Brandon G. asks about the durability of glossy finishes. Tom M. wants to know if an external amp will improve the sound of his system and what he can do next to improve his sound as much as adding a second subwoofer did. And Jonathan F. wants to know if this Roon Labs Audiophile Music Server review is to be trusted or rejected.

Nick B. really likes Anthony Grimani’s MSR Dimension4 acoustic treatment system, but he wants to know if there’s a way to get something similar at a lower price, which leads us to GiK Acoustics Diffusion Products, and suggesting some modifications to account for Atmos ceiling speakers and a carpeted floor. Martin D. tries to figure out why his iPhone SPL Meter App gave unusable readings, and asks how YPAO compares to Dirac or REW filters. And Matt G. discovered that Audyssey 2EQ can do more harm than good, and gets us to weigh in on his speaker placement, speaker height, and which music services we use.

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AV Rant #495: Lee Likes Puns

July 21st, 2016 No comments

PrintTom is away, so Rob H. is joined by Lee Overstreet this week! Our Listeners of the Week are: Karpov, Sam, and Nathan D. for their generous donations, and Paul MacDonald for helping Rob find a packaging depot to ship his Pioneer Kuro plasma TV to its new owner.

In the news, via Toby H., a Star Trek fan spent over $1.5 million on his Enterprise-D home theater. Samsung $1,500 HW-K950 and $1,000 HW-K850 Atmos SoundBars are available to order. MoviePass has new pricing from $15 – $50 per month. Disney is rumored to finally support Ultra HD Blu-ray with “Finding Dory”. And via Infinite Gary, ASUS is including DTS Headphone:X processing in its ZenFone and ZenPad products.

Andy from NoAudiophile.com recommends Outdoor Speaker Depot for inexpensive outdoor and installation audio products. And Adrian A. is happy with his Audio Technica AT-LP60 turntable and being able to find 50 cent records! Rob and Lee also place a bet on how long Tom would last in a conversation with Stereophile’s Michael Fremer.

Infinite Gary gets us to put projector vs. flat panel light output in terms of incandescent light bulb watt ratings, asks whether a new projection screen is needed for 4K, asks about LG OLED TVs using a fourth, white sub-pixel, and tells us that preventing every last bit of ambient light in his theater was like getting a new projector. Nick B. found an AccuCal HD review of several projection screen surfaces. We try to assuage his concerns about sitting close to an acoustically transparent screen, convince him to hold off on buying the SDR-only Epson LS10000 projector, and explain why we keep suggesting he put all of his Front speakers behind his screen.

Ian E. asks about ISFccc and ISF Day and Night picture modes. Justin B. tried some DTS:X demo clips from Demo-World.eu that didn’t work, and we try to explain why. And Bill R. is gets us to compare Anthem’s Atmos Receivers vs. Denon and Marantz, and we comment on Brent Butterworth’s “What’s the Ideal Speaker Driver Configuration” article.

Ted M. is returning his M&K MP150 speakers. He liked some Totem speakers, but can’t support them as a brand because they also sell snake-oil “Beaks”. So we touch on the Legacy Audio Silhouette and Silhouette Pro, and also recommend the Sunfire Cinema Ribbon Trio on-wall speakers. George M. might actually have a situation where it would be ok to pair wildly different subwoofers together. And an anonymous AV Rant Listener asks about using three horizontal speakers, as well as what sort of speakers to use with a false wall or baffle wall.

Nathan D. wants to know which black finish option to choose for his Ascend Acoustics Sierra Series speakers. Another anonymous Listener helps us learn a lot about optical HDMI cables such as the Monoprice SlimRun or Fibbr Active Optical, which are unidirectional optical/copper hybrid options; or, the MyCableMart Fiber Optic or Cables To Go RapidRun Optical, which are bi-directional. And Jonathan F. found the Nura headphone KickStarter that promises to automatically correct for your hearing, as well as an AVS Forum response that explains why it’s a bad idea!

Will T. has us run through the process for level matching his subwoofers. And Mike likes a lot of bass from his earphones, so we compare Shure’s various in-ear models, including their $3,000 Shure KSE1500 electrostatic system!

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AV Rant #494: 4k 3D

July 14th, 2016 1 comment

PrintOur Listener of the Week is Jeffrey for donating to support the podcast. Thank you! This week, we talk about 4k 3D. That’s right! You heard it here first.

In the news, the ITU-R has ratified BT.2100 for HDR TV broadcast signals. And Justin B. let us know that the Emotiva Passive Airmotiv Speakers are now available for pre-order with shipping expected in August.

Bill found a review of the Monoprice Monolith 7 amplifier that pretty much confirms ATI as the OEM. Bob thinks our discussion last week of Audio Pixels was lacking, so we respond. And Karl K. shared a write up about analog vs. digital format survival.

Kevin A. asks about All Channels Stereo listening mode and why the subwoofer doesn’t get louder. He also asks how amplifiers respond to different speaker impedances and sensitivities, what happens when you wire speakers in parallel, one Center speaker vs. two Center speakers, and whether we think Avatar 2 will mean a new 4K 3D format. Finally, Kevin weighs in on plasma vs. OLED, and why he thinks it’s a good idea to watch and adjust during the construction of a theater, even though Tom might have disagreed at some point in the past.

Jason asks about using Audysey Dynamic Volume and Low Frequency Containment to avoid bothering his neighbors. He also asks about turning a Center speaker vertically. Ken M. gets us to detail how to manually adjust the phase and other settings to optimize two subwoofers that are both on the front wall. And Paul R. has space constraints, so we suggest a Silver Ticket Thin Bezel Screen, dual SVS PB-1000 or SB-2000 subwoofers, and wall mounting bookshelf speakers rather than using Source Technology in-wall speakers whose website got Tom really excited (in a rant-y way).

Robert G. wants to know if he should turn his ceiling-mounted speakers upside-down. Morgan asks what he should be listening for during the “subwoofer crawl”: the answer is bass sweeps from AudioCheck. And Jason S. has Oppo player issues that we think require a repair.

Greg P. wonders just how small a theater can really be, so we offer some ideas. Justin C. did an excellent job (in our opinion) installing his speakers, but we think he might have a floor bounce reflection issue. And Diego L. is helping a friend upgrade Receivers, and we recommend the Denon AVR-X3200W or higher.

Mike M. might also benefit from springing for an AVR-X3200W and then using the Dayton Audio WS-12 Sub-Link XR or AudioEngine W3 Wireless Kit to feed Zone 2, although a Chromecast Audio might also do the trick. Mark O. wants to know if he should buy the Aperion Audio Verus Grand Towers or the Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers. And Adam P. wants outdoor speakers, so we compare the various Yamaha models for him.

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AV Rant #493: Just Buy the Fourth Sub

July 7th, 2016 1 comment

PrintOur Listener of the Week is Matt G. for letting Ascend Acoustics know he bought his Sierra-1 speakers thanks to AV Rant’s recommendation!

In the news, Jonathan F. sent us the announcement that IMAX now offers a $400,000 private home theater package and $10,000 “Home Premier” playback system. Antoine gave us the heads up on Sony’s four new “XBR” 4K TVs with HDR10 support. Walmart’s $49/year ShippingPass subscription looks to take on Amazon Prime. And Panasonic’s DMP-UB900 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player will be available in September for $700.

Kris I. found a list of Auro-3D movie theaters. And Dorsel F. is very happy with his dual SVS PB-1000 subwoofers that we recommended!

Ted M. completely changed his speaker purchase plans when his wife vetoed his first choice. But she surprised him by buying the M&K Sound MP150 speakers for him! Ted asks about matching subwoofers, speaker placement, amplifier requirements, separates vs. a Receiver, and self-powered speakers vs. passive speakers.

Adrian A. wants to get into vinyl, and we suggest the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB might be worth the extra money over the AT-LP60. Justin B. asks if we’d rather have Ascend Acoustics Sierra-2 bookshelf speakers or the Sierra Towers with the standard dome tweeter. And Adriano M. saw a video presentation of Audio Pixels and wants to hear our take.

Jim B. is temporarily running his system without any subwoofers, and that resulted in some scary and very bad sounds after Audyssey seemingly tried to boost the bass from his Front speakers too much. Matt G. decided to buy Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1 speakers, and he wants to know how they compare to Towers, and whether the CBM-170SE will provide a good timbre match in the future. And Infinite Gary asks about beryllium tweeters vs. ribbon tweeters, Guilford of Maine fabric color choices, BT.1886 gamma vs. 2.2 or 2.4 gamma, color contouring after a calibration, 4K resolution pass through on his Anthem D2v Processor, and why Back to the Future on Blu-ray looked like it was shot on a camcorder on his new TV.

Jerry D. wants to know how Rob is able to use dual SVS PC13-Ultra subwoofers in an apartment. John W. wants to know at what point a room gets too large for bookshelf speakers. And Nick B. found Dr. Earl  Geddes’ approach to multiple subwoofer setup (additional LINK 1 and LINK 2) very interesting, and wonders if it is worth paying his $400 software-based setup fee.

Will T. would like our recommendation for the Monoprice 6.5-inch Kevlar in-ceiling speakers with backer boxes, as well as some advice on how to set his subwoofer volume prior to running YPAO. And Sean F. is nearly ready to put up drywall in his theater, so he has some final questions about series. vs. parallel wiring, clearance for a ceiling fan, insulating a false wall, choosing speakers to go in that false wall, light loss through acoustically transparent screens, and any last ideas we might have before he closes up his walls!

Lastly, just for fun, we take a look at Boston Dynamics’ “SpotMini” robot, which is clearly the beginning of Skynet.

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AV Rant #492: Like How You Say Dome

July 4th, 2016 1 comment

PrintOur Listeners of the Week are Jerry D. for his donation, and anyone else we might have missed while Tom is away! Lee Overstreet joins Rob H. for an extra long episode! And we hope our AV Rant Listeners can help Lee find a new sound card/audio interface; Rob suggested the Behringer UCA-222.

In the news, the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB projector with HDR10, DCI-P3 color, motorized zoom, and “wobble-K” resolution will be available in August for $2,999. Amazon has begun streaming some Dolby Vision content. And SVS introduced their new SVS SoundPath Pivoting Wall/Ceiling Bracket for small speakers up to 7.7 lbs.

Our good friend, Herb, from Cross-Spectrum Labs explains why their calibrated measurement microphones are on backorder. Ray Coronado helps us out with the Lion AV Tech list of THX Certified Video Calibrators. Tyler F. showed us the hilarious “Vinylfied” website. Kris I. is interested in HDTV Test’s comparison of HDR10 to Dolby Vision. Samsung demonstrated their HDR10 Evaluation Disc. And Ted thanks us for getting him to switch out of “Native” color mode on his plasma TV!

Matt G. wants a “fuller” sound from his speakers. We mention the Pioneer Andrew Jones Speakers, ELAC Debut Series, Ascend Acousitcs CMT-340SE, and EMP Tek Impression Series. We suggest the MiniDSP 2×4 for subwoofer EQ. And we try to sort out Dish vs. DirecTV image quality. Mark O. similarly wants “fuller” sound, and he specifically asks about the Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1 and Aperion Audio Verus Grand Bookshelf speakers.

Jason S. fixed his hum! But he still has HDMI handshake issues. Jerry D. sorts through compatible formats using PLEX on Xbox One, and he winds up with our recommendations for using Handbrake Video Transcoder. Infinite Gary wants us to discuss the broadcast equipment used for the 4K MLB Network on DirecTV, and also why his video calibrator said to wait 200 hours before calibrating Gary’s OLED. And Will T. wants the lowdown on 7.2.4 AV Receiver options, the new 2016 Receiver models from Denon and Marantz, and good setup discs such as Disney WOW or Spears and Munsil HD Benchmark.

Eric S. asks all about Front Height speakers and whether 5.1.2 is really Atmos or not. Josh A. has four subwoofers in a small room and apparently wants even more by asking about Rythmik F25 and SVS PC13-Ultra subs. Jonathan F. gets our thoughts on the Murphy Corner-Line-Array speakers. And Moanis wants to know if he should buy a 2015 LG OLED TV.

Nick B. is nailing down his theater build plans, but has concerns. We explain why the Seymour AV Center Stage UF screen fabric and Millibel AT Masking Panels should work for him. We go over Anthony Grimani’s seating placement suggestions. And we clarify a graph and table about distortion from Audioholics’ Status Acoustics Titus 8T speaker review. Martin B. gets our recommendation for the Denon AVR-X2200W AV Receiver. And John M. wants neutral gray paint, so we suggest the Sherwin Williams 235 “Gray Screen” paint options.

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