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AV Rant #527: Hands and Balls and Amps

February 24th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Weldon for his donation, and Bret R. for letting Accessories4Less and SVS know he bought a Marantz SR7009 AV Receiver and dual PB13-Ultra subwoofers from them, respectively.

In the news, Caavo is a $400, voice-controlled HDMI switch and universal remote replacement that “watches” your content using AI.

Nathan D. notes the rapid pace of Oppo UDP-203 firmware updates. Karl R. exceeded his 4K HDR projector budget, but snagged a near-flagship model. And John M. shared a link to AcousticModelling.com where you can graph a prediction of how your acoustic panels will perform.

Mark H. asks if we have a rule of thumb for allocating percentages of a home theater budget to various components. Bill C. wants to know if Klipsch RF-10 Towers are junk and why they’re being sold at such a low price. And Infinite Gary gets some clarification about HDR and Dolby Vision signals vs. display capabilities, some speculation about 12-bit flat panel displays and future OLED TVs, an explanation of what “pants-flapping bass” really means, and a discussion of why we don’t recommend changing your subwoofer configuration based on content and why EQ can’t make everything sound the same.

Jim W. saw “Atmos” appear on his AV Receiver’s display while watching Netflix and wants an explanation. Nick B. is deciding between two or four subwoofers, the best way to calibrate and level match them for two rows of seating, and how to tackle his HVAC and soundproofing concerns. And Bob N. requests a refresher on different amplifier Classes and why some people claim a certain Class sounds better than others.

Justin B. gets our comments on Ascend Acoustics Sierra-2, Ascend Sierra Luna Satellite, Polk LSiM703, RBH SV-61R, RBH SV-661R, Axiom Audio M5HP, and Axiom QS10HP speakers. Corey M. wants to add in-ceiling Atmos speakers, and we feel comfortable recommending RBH A-600. And Ian E. managed to make his RBH Impression Series Center speaker audibly distort, which we suspect is a cabinet defect, and RBH seems to agree.

John B. requests a list of 4K content services and playback devices. Jay P. has an enormous volume of air, but a set budget for a subwoofer. We discuss some of his options, as well as his shortlist of speaker candidates. Everett L. needs a replacement tricolor filter for Digital Video Essentials. And Allen G. wants a simple, RCA input headphone amplifier, so we suggest the Topping TP21, SMSL SAP II Pro, or SMSL SAP VI.

Adriano M. has a friend who needs an HDMI Matrix switch with optical audio extraction. Weldon B. noticed his NVidia Shield TV offers settings for 60 frames per second and 59.94 fps output, and wants to know which one to use and why. And Mitch needs to buy a new AV Receiver, so we go over the feature differences that might influence his decision.

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AV Rant #526: Wascally Wabbits

February 20th, 2017 3 comments

Our Listeners of the Week are: Justin for his donation, Karl R. for letting Oppo know he heard about their UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray player from us, and John S. for mentioning us to RBH Sound when he ordered a pair of R5Bi bookshelf speakers.

Tom is away this week, so we welcome back Lee Overstreet and James Bujold as our guest co-hosts.

In the news, a new reference design specification for HDBaseT now supports HDMI 2.0 with 18 GBps bandwidth. And Nathan D. and Nathan W. both pointed us to a Marantz UK FAQ response regarding Dolby Vision and HLG HDR signal pass-through that says a firmware update will be necessary, and only the latest Receiver and Pre-Pro models will get it.

Mark O. wants three new Front speakers for under $1,000. Ascend Acoustics CMT-340SE, RBH Impression Series, and Paradigm Monitor Series top our recommendations. We also discuss NHT Media Series upward-firing Atmos-enabled speakers, and speculate about Emotiva Airmotiv speakers based on their design. Abby S. is helping her workplace find a woven acoustically transparent screen. Since they can build their own DIY screen frame, we highly recommend SeymourAV DIY Center Stage UF or SnapAV Dragonfly Ultra AcoustiWeave screen fabric. And Will T. wants a 5.1.4 Receiver with a large front display for under $800. The Denon AVR-X4200W from Accessories4Less fits the bill.

Jonathan F. asks us why we still go out to movie theaters when we have nice home theaters. Jason P. wants the settings for getting the best quality audio out of an AppleTV 4. Mitch R. asks if he should rearrange his acoustic panels to accommodate the size of screen he wants, and he also asks if the JVC DLA-X770R is really worth the large price increase over the DLA-X570R. And Charlie H. listened to AVRant with his wife, and it killed his dreams! Now he wants to know how to convince her he still needs new speakers, so we point out Aperion Audio and SVS free 2-way shipping.

Hector has a Dayton Audio DTA-120 amplifier but wants higher output capability. We mention the Lepai LP7498E, and Crown XLi 800 amps for higher wattage, or the Topping VX1 with USB. We also discuss phantom Center channels and three identical Front speakers, coaxial and concentric drivers, and AVRant’s release schedule. Ted M. wonders if he should buy a projector or a Receiver first, we suggest a SeymourAV Center Stage UF screen for his close seating distance, and we talk a bit about Dirac Unison. And Damian D. is recalibrating his projector, so we mention optimized PS3 settings, Receiver pass-through settings, and suggest the THX Tune-up App.

Karl R. asks about less expensive 4K HDR-compatible projectors, so we mention the Epson HC 5040UB and JVC DLA-X550R. We compare those to some other models, and also explain DLP-Link 3D glasses. Informal Gadget on Twitter asks about a Receiver upgrade. And Nick B. asks about optimizing his Atmos speaker placement and bass management and potentially having two different room correction configurations.

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AV Rant #525: Bulk AV Rant Mousepads

February 10th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Michael and Larry for their donations, as well as Fred R. for letting Epson know his 8350 projector purchase was thanks to our recommendation, and Anthony S. for letting Accessories4Less know he heard about them from AVRant when he bought his Marantz SR6010 AV Receiver.

In the news, you can now watch copy-protected cable TV on your Xbox One using an HDHomeRun Prime Network CableCARD Tuner. All 2017 Sony TVs support HDR, even their 1080p HDTVs. You’ll soon be able to use PlayStation VR to watch 3D Blu-rays. Nathan D. let us know that Microforum and Viryl are making new vinyl record pressing machines. And he also forwarded us the announcement that Trinnov will expand their Altitude32 Processor to 48 channels.

Bill R. thinks THX Certified Streaming could be useful. Buddy L. shared his happiness over finally having his beloved ESS Heil speakers. Infinite Gary took our advice and concluded that Atmos is an enhancement after all. Ted M. reminds Audyssey users to measure in more than one location for the best results. And Vince H. suggests counting ceiling tiles instead of paces at your local movie theater when you’re trying to figure out your preferred field of view and ideal screen size.

Brandon G. wants to send 4K video to his display and lossless audio to his Receiver from a source with only one HDMI 2.0 output. Unfortunately, an HD Fury Integral or a new Receiver are his only options. We also discuss potentially adding HDMI 2.1 features to existing HDMI 2.0 devices with firmware updates. John W. wants to hear a rule of thumb for how far away Front speakers should be from the front wall. And BD is using satellite speakers in a large room. We suggest the HSU HB-1 Mk2 or Focal Super Bird speakers to replace them, as well as some ways to inspect a used subwoofer before buying it.

Justin B. has a Vizio TV that randomly shuts itself off. We try a bit of troubleshooting, and conclude it’s likely a failing power supply. Nick B. asks about placing a subwoofer behind an acoustically transparent screen and using subs as speaker stands. We also discuss building a room within a room with help from Sound Proofing Company, and go over why buying a Receiver with pre-outs often makes more sense than buying a dedicated Pre-Pro. And Chris D. wants some info on ambient light rejecting screens, including how well they might work outdoors.

Brian H. needs some assistance planning his theater layout in a converted garage. Christian S. learns all about IMAX Theatres, and gets our suggestion for a new subwoofer (or two). David F. is making progress with his theater build, and we evaluate his acoustic panel placement. His very large screen continues to cause headaches, though, so we share some thoughts on how to mount and position it. And Jeb B. told his neighbor she got a good deal on her new OLED TV, but he wants confirmation.

Robert G. wants to upgrade his Polk Tower speakers for under $400. All of our recommendations are bookshelf speakers, including: Ascend Acoustics CBM-170SE, KEF Q300, RBH R5Bi, SVS Prime Bookshelf and Aperion Intimus 5B. Micheal S. gets more setup advice for his bedroom setup involving YPAO, listening modes, crossover choices, and HDMI vs. optical and bitstream vs. PCM output. And Tim B. added a network power line adapter to his home that’s causing a hum in his self-powered speakers. He also asks about setting distance and speaker trim levels when the listening area is very large and has no real sweet spot.

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AV Rant #524: Beacon of Rationality

February 3rd, 2017 No comments
Our Listeners of the Week are Anthony and Jonathan for their donations, and Jefferson for letting Cloner-Alliance know he heard about them from Lee Overstreet on AVRant.
In the news, official Ultra HD Blu-ray PC drives from Pioneer were announced. Two BDR-S11J models offered at reasonable prices, but your PC will need a Kaby Lake CPU. And Microsoft is removing the “snap” feature from Xbox One.
Nathan, Vince, and Gary all commented that the Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray player can pass 4K resolution through its HDMI input, but not HDR signals. Nathan D. found word the Audyssey App is coming in March. And Nick B. details why an Oppo Blu-ray player region-free modification is the best solution for playing discs from other countries.
Boshko S. wants to know the best signal to send his Airport Express, and the best connection to get the signal out. Chris M. wants a headphone amp/DAC for his computer, and we suggest the Teac HA-P50, FiiO E10K, Cambridge Audio DACMagic XS, or AudioQuest Dragonfly. And Nathan W. wants to make sure the NVidia Shield has sorted out some of its early issues.
Infinite Gary continues his upward-firing Atmos experiment, and he has some questions about Audyssey setup, bitstream audio signals, and how to evaluate this new sound compared to what he was used to. Byron S. wants better computer speakers, so we recommend AudioEngine Self-Powered speakers, JBL LSR305 Studio Monitors, or KEF LS50 Mini Monitors if you wanna go nuts. And Justin B. would like more details about the Smyth Reailser A16 and how it works, what you need to set it up, what headphones will work with it, and what else can be connected.
Larry L. is planning his theater and gets our thoughts on speaker placement, in-ceiling speaker choices, dual subwoofer options, screen size decisions, and VideoSecu side-clamping speaker mounts. Ted M. mentions the importance of setup details, asks what measurement and EQ equipment he should buy, and wants to know why home theater is so important to all of us. And Josh C. is trying to optimize his subwoofer placement while keeping his higher frequencies in mind, as well.
Aidan has some questions about hanging a projection screen in a spare bedroom. Alan C. shared his wonderful-looking printed absorption panel and wants to know where else he should place absorption to optimize the sound in his theater. And Corey B. needs a wireless Surround speaker connection that can be purchased in Canada, so we suggest the Amphony Model 1700.
Micheal S. wants to improve the sound in his bedroom setup. Mitch R. wonders if now is a good time to buy an HDR projector. Ian W. wants to know why we don’t talk more about Pioneer MCACC room correction. And Greg wants to know if stacking two SVS PB-1000 subwoofers will give him the boost in volume he’s looking for.
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AV Rant #523: John’s Dog

January 27th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Jason for donating, and Jordan for both donating and mentioning us for Accessories4Less when he bought his Focal Bird speakers based on our recommendation.

In the news, John M. let us know about the new THX Streaming Certification Program.

James B. and Nathan W. both shared some great advice about in-wall and in-ceiling speakers. Christian S. thinks the number of returns is a big factor in which brands Best Buy employees recommend. Nathan D. noted a new official Oppo UDP-203 firmware update. Mark shared his advice for facing Dolby Digital Plus playback issues. And Kris I. is going with Tom’s idea for his bar, because Rob is just so, so wrong.

Gabe M. wants to find a way to share one speaker setup for both regular 5.1 and Ambiophonics. Srini R. wants to know what restrictions his HDMI 1.3a Receiver will place on his new 4K OLED TV. And Neil S. wants dual subwoofers, but he’d like to know if he can spend less on the second one.

Infinite Gary asks about: DTS:X firmware updates for his Receiver, concerns over factory refurbished products, our picks for speaker wire and banana plugs (Belden bulk speaker wire, Sewell Banana Plugs, Blue Jeans Cable), Audyssey microphone positioning, TCL P-Series 4K TVs with Dolby Vision, and color volume vs HDR accuracy. Dave asks why Blu-rays with Dolby Atmos don’t always include Atmos when you rent them from Netflix. And Mark K. gets our recommendations for a new AV Receiver, whether to buy external amplification, how much to worry about future-proofing, and adjustments he can make to his existing layout.

Jim B. wants more discussion about CNET vs. Rtings TV reviews. Buddy L. is finally getting his dream speakers and asks for advice about a Pre-amp to drive them (Denon AVR-X3300W), Class A equipment, replacing some of the parts in his dream speakers, getting a bigger, better subwoofer, as well as our thoughts on Legacy Audio and our own dream speakers. And Bob N. wants to know if he should use a 2nd order or 4th order crossover slope.

Justin B. wants our thoughts on setting up a projector in a very small room, how small is too small, and what headphones to buy for a child (Sony ZX310 or Sennheiser HD 206). Andrew N. asks about gray screens vs. white screens and high gain vs. low gain. And Christian S. needs to replace his AV Receiver’s remote and his Media Center Edition remote, so we recommend a Harmony Companion or Harmony 650.

Troy H. asks about older SVS subwoofer models and how the version of YPAO in his Receiver will handle dual subwoofers. Joe S. gets our recommendation for a calibrated UMIK-1 measurement microphone from Cross-Spectrum Labs. And an anonymous Listener wants to know what makes the JTR Triple 12 speakers sound so real, why other speakers don’t sound as real, and what he can read to learn more, such as the Loudspeaker Design Cookbook.

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