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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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AV Rant #554: Back Speakers or No?

September 8th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are George for his donation, as well as Martin for letting Oppo know he bought a UDP-203 UHD Blu-ray player because of us, Jay for telling Gary Yacoubian at SVS that he bought four Prime Elevation speakers because of Tom’s review, and a huge thanks to Mike for speaking so highly of us to Mark at Accessories4Less that Mark has decided to send Tom a Pioneer Elite Atmos Receiver (which pack a lot of amplifier power and a 3 year warranty at attractive prices over at A4L).

Tom is away this week, so we’re very happy that Producer Austen was able to co-host with Rob. You can check out Austen’s other podcast over at We Watch Movies Podcast.

In the news, Karl R. sent us links to stories that detail Sonos preparing a smart speaker that works with multiple voice assistants, while confirming that Amazon Echo now supports multi-room music with a growing list of partnership companies. Dirac will debut their Mobile Dirac Live App at CEDIA for more user-friendly setup and adjustment. JVC announced new e-Shift 5 D-iLA projectors at IFA. And Sony launched new genuine 4K resolution SXRD projectors at their lowest price points to date.

Marc praised SVS’ build quality, especially their metal subwoofer grill that stood up to some forklift abuse. Fred got a quote from EluneVizion and discovered that Seymour AV projection screens are still slightly less expensive in the USA. George heard our voices in the back of his mind telling him his speaker wires were to blame for his Receiver going into protection mode. And Mark shared a successful Denon repair story.

Michael S. asks if a single subwoofer could be paired with a single tower speaker that has a self-powered, built-in subwoofer, rather than having to use both self-powered towers that would result in less than ideal placement. Byron S. is loving having four subwoofers, but he wonders about headroom, hitting full Reference Volume, and what he should do to accentuate the most tactile bass a little bit. And Justin B. would like to better understand binaural recordings, and wants to know why all (or at least more) recordings aren’t made that way.

Blaine D. wants to maximize his upgrade budget, so he asks about replacing Surround speakers, replacing Atmos speakers, replacing his subwoofer, or just adding a second sub. Nathan D. has questions about eARC – enhanced Audio Return Channel. And Jon gets our thoughts on the Paradigm Millenia LP on-wall speakers, which leads to some suggestions to check out Revel on-wallsMartin Logan Ultra-Slim Motion, or KEF T Series speakers.

Infinite Gary wants a “final word” on Surround Back speakers, asks about HDR10+ for projectors, wants to know what a 4:4:4 12-bit input would be useful for, and confirms what visible improvements we’d expect to see with a genuine 4K resolution projector. And Bobby M. wants a comparison of the SVS PB-1000 and HSU VTF-1 MK3 subwoofers, and asks about Surround speaker height.

Nick has a nice theater, but some older equipment, so he asks about ideal screen size, upgrading his speakers, whether 5.2.4 Atmos is worth it over 5.2.2, whether it’s ok to use wall-mounted rather than ceiling-mounted Atmos positions, whether dual subs are still worthwhile in a small room, and what streaming devices support the latest formats. And Tony K. asks about curved projector screens, gets our suggestions for a PinPoint Center Speaker Wall Mount and Premier Mounts Low Profile projector mount, confirms if on-ceiling Atmos speakers are ok, asks if the APC J35 with voltage regulation is really necessary over the more affordable J25, gets our recommendation for the Audio Source AMP100 or Dayton APA 102 2-channel amplifiers, and our suggestion to use an NVidia Shield TV or Xbox One for his streaming services.

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AV Rant #553: Won’t Let You into the Country Club

September 1st, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Martin, Greg, Brad, and Jeff for their donations, as well as Casey P. for telling SVS we “pushed him over the edge” into buying a PC-2000 subwoofer. We’re happy, SVS is happy, Casey is happy, but Casey’s wife is mad. Best of luck, Casey!

In the news, Samsung, Panasonic, and 20th Century Fox have formed the HDR10+ Partnership to promote the royalty-free alternative to Dolby Vision. And Monoprice announced their Monolith THX-certified subwoofers.

Michael I. noted that 2016 Vizio TVs are receiving the firmware update that lets you use streaming apps without being forced to Cast them, while also giving users a code for a free remote control. Nathan W. found out how Blade Runner is being brought to Ultra HD Blu-ray with HDR. Chris A. took our advice to replace his speaker wire and banana plugs, and everything is sounding great. And Producer Austen took delivery of a pair of SVS PB16-Ultra subwoofers and some SVS Prime Series speakers for our forthcoming review and tutorial.

Brandon W. wants to improve his open concept, acoustically reflective, non-light controlled setup. We discuss room treatments, adding more speakers and subwoofers, and potentially upgrading his projector. And Fred R. drew up detailed theater plans, but he has concerns about how close together his Front speakers are, how high his Surround Back speakers will be, and whether his Atmos positions will sound redundant with any other speakers. We also discuss his choices for a projection screen with Elite Saker, Seymour AV, and EluneVision all offering acoustically transparent, motorized options.

Greg has KEF Q-Series speakers, but he also has an itch to upgrade. He’s intrigued by ribbon tweeters, but also has a budget, so we discuss various tweeter types, and offer some suggestions for how he should proceed. Neil S. is trying to decide between the 3-way Philharmonic BMR Philharmonitors and the 2-way Ascend Acoustics Sierra-2 speakers. And Martin B. wants to make sure he can put his Epson 5030UB projector on a high, rear shelf given where his screen is positioned.

Greg L. bought a house that already has a dedicated theater with existing equipment. We discuss swapping out speakers, adding more subwoofers, building a partial false wall, acoustically treating the room, putting up a projector screen, repositioning the projector and speakers, and planning for future upgrades. Andrew wants to know if his speakers are too close together and whether a couch will muffle his bass drivers. And Steve M. is somehow still alive – we’ve no idea how – even though he “only” has a Full HD, 5.2 setup, and little desire to upgrade.

Karl R. wanted us to dissect a recent interview on another podcast, but other than some clarifications, we didn’t have much in the way of disagreement. And Rob W. asks if the Monoprice in-ceiling back enclosures are enough for soundproofing, or whether he should build his own backer boxes.

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AV Rant #552: Wait For CEDIA

August 26th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Ilango, Brandon, and Fred for their donations, as well as Jason for letting Accessories4Less know our recommendation led to his Yamaha RX-A760 Receiver purchase from them, Byron for letting Herb from Cross-Spectrum Labs know that he heard about their calibrated UMIK-1 measurement microphones from us, and a huge thank you to Herb from Cross-Spectrum Labs for donating a calibrated UMIK-1 to our Producer Austen for use in our upcoming dual subwoofer setup video.

In the news, the very well reviewed TCL P-Series will only be available in its 55-inch size; the planned 50 and 65-inch models have been scuttled. And Apple has budgeted $1 billion for its own original TV shows.

Lee V. suggests using window tint to darken home theater windows. Kris P. shared a link to the $129 LoFelt Basslet tactile transducer for your wrist. Michael I. found a useful ABX listening test for lossy vs. lossless audio. And Byron S. shares the story of his latest upgrades to 5.4.4 Atmos and his plans to make use of Andy C.’s Multi-Sub Optimizer Software.

Craig L. double checks his plan to audition SVS Ultra and Aperion Audio Verus II Grand speakers along with dual SVS PC-2000 cylinder subwoofers. Then he asks about acoustic treatments, sealed vs. ported subwoofers, reducing the rattling of a picture frame, and upward-firing vs. rear-firing ports. Jay has speakers with powered bass woofers in them, and he wants to know if he can use them in conjunction with one external subwoofer while still getting the benefits of multiple subs. And Jay C. asks about using SVS Prime Elevation speakers for Atmos, where to position them, what to label them, and also gets our recommendation for Sanus SF34 speaker stands to hold his Surround speakers.

Brad P. has a very tall and open theater area, but a limit of $800 to spend on a subwoofer, so we suggest the SVS PC-2000, or an HSU VTF-3 MK5 HP. Dave noticed that Blade Runner is getting an Ultra HD Blu-ray release, and he wants to know how a film that old can deliver HDR. And Ron W. gets our recommendations for Belden speaker wire, GLS Audio Locking Banana Plugs or Sewell Strike Banana Plugs, Monoprice Cabernet in-wall rated HDMI Cable, Visual Apex All-in-one Projector Ceiling Mount, using a white projector screen no larger than 150 inches, projector zoom range settings, and output settings for his Samsung Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

Chris A. has recurring noise and signal loss that we think warrants the purchase of some new speaker wire. Infinite Gary gets us to discuss a new feature proposed for Oppo’s Ultra HD Blu-ray players that would place black bars on all four sides of 16:9 content for use with 2.35:1 constant image height setups. And Ryan F. wants to know if it’s ok for his Top Rear Atmos speakers to be farther behind his seats than his Surround speakers.

Luke H. gets some advice about dual subwoofer placement and setup, along with a DIY subwoofer combination suggestion that includes a Dayton 12-inch Ultimax driver, DIY Sound Group sealed cabinet, and Dayton SPA500 Plate Amplifier. Terry G. wants to use HDMI ARC, but it isn’t nearly as easy to setup as it ought to be, and he wants to know why, as well as why it’s necessary for HDMI-CEC to be active in order for ARC to work. And Monty wants some inexpensive headphones for his kids, preferably wireless and with volume limiting. We mention the WireCutter’s top recommendation of the Puro BT2200, although they cost $100, so we also mention the Koss Porta Pro for their good sound quality, low price, and lifetime warranty.

Andrew asks if it’s worth upgrading from a 55-inch to a 65-inch TV given his 12 foot seating distance. Tom K. wonders whether he should wait a bit or buy a 4K-compatible, HDR projector right now. And Jeremy P. wants to know if his dad should buy NAD separates to power his Magnepan speakers, to which we respond that a Denon AVR-X3300W paired with a Monoprice Monolith amplifier will perform extremely well and cost far less.

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AV Rant #551: Exclusively for Horses

August 18th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Jay for his donation, and Fred R. for letting Accessories4Less know that his recent Denon AVR-X4300H purchase is the second AV Receiver he’s bought from them because of our recommendations.

In the news, Tom K. let us know about the $843 million Elbphilharmonie in Germany with its algorithm-designed central auditorium for perfectly balanced reverberation. The Internet Archive is digitizing a large collection of 78’s. And Disney is leaving Netflix in 2019 just as Shonda Rhimes leaves ABC for Netflix.

Bobby M. asks how far apart his Atmos speakers should be, which Klipsch speakers he ought to use as his Surrounds, and how high his 92-inch projection screen should be mounted. Matt H. raises an eyebrow at Engadget’s “best home theater gear for back to school” video, and gets our alternative suggestions of a TCL P-Series Roku TV, and Fluance AB40 SoundBase or Vizio SoundBar, plus what we think college students will really find useful, which are Audio Technica ATH-M50x or Sony MDR-7506 headphones, AudioEngine A2+ Powered Speakers, and maybe a Pico Projector.

Andrew asks if it’s ok to use satellite speakers for Atmos, whether bi-pole Surround speakers are worthwhile, and how important timbre matching is for the Surround and Surround Back positions. TJ likes his B&W speakers, but has a new room with aesthetic concerns, so we suggest B&W in-walls, KEF in-walls or a KEF Passive SoundBar, or RBH in-walls or the RBH Ultra Series on-walls. And lazboy74 wants to improve his dialogue intelligibility and asks about seating distance from his back wall, using high-backed, leather seats, and what he can do to make voices easier to understand.

Geoff R. is planning to use a portion of his family room as a theater area, so he asks about a dual screen solution, what his Atmos configuration should be, whether it’s better to use wide or narrow dispersion speakers, plus we offer thoughts on subwoofers in his irregularly-shaped room, seating placement, and acoustic treatments. Son D. wants to add a subwoofer to his 2-channel system, and he wants to know if a REL subwoofer is better than the offerings from SVS or JL Audio. And David B. is having lip sync issues when using his Xbox One S, and he also wants to know what audible difference higher or lower output subwoofers would actually make, as well as when AVRant will go HDR and Immersive Audio.

Rob W. made some construction upgrades that ate up some of his soundproofing budget. We go over insulation options, ceiling construction, and plans for mounting a projector in the future. Infinite Gary wants to know if the “digital blanking” feature offered by some projectors and video processors would be useful to him. And Ken W. wants to know how to make certain an AV Receiver offers a full set of pre-outs, what happens if his speakers are something other than 8 ohms, and what features to look for other than Atmos.

Marc N. wonders if it would heighten the movie-watching experience to include senses other than vision and hearing. Justin B. wants to know what the multiple filters options included with the Trinity Phantom Sabre in-ear monitors actually do. And Mitch R. has applied a lot of our advice, but he was disappointed by the results when he tried our suggestion of placing auto-setup microphone measurement position #1 equidistant from his Front Left/Right speakers rather than in his actual primary seat. We go over why that hurts the imaging when listening to 2-channel stereo, and also talk about Atmos speaker positioning, suggest the Focal Bird or SVS Prime Elevation speakers, describe assigning amplifiers in his AV Receiver, give our thoughts on painting the room and using an ambient light rejecting screen, and make a suggestion to add drapes.

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