AV Rant #535: AV Addictive

April 21st, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Jim W. and Josh L. for their donations, as well as Nelson A. for contacting SVS to let them know we played a big part in his dual PB16-Ultra subwoofers purchase.

In the news, the LG UP970 Ultra HD Blu-ray player is available now for $300, with Dolby Vision on the way. And CyberLink PowerDVD 17 software brings Ultra HD Blu-ray to PCs, and also makes it clear you’ll need very specific hardware.

Infinite Gary finally found a TV he likes, and that means no more OLEDs in his house. And Josh L. used our advice to convince his wife that a new Denon AVR-X4300H AV Receiver purchase would be worthwhile, and he loves the results.

Muzammil directly compared two external sound cards and heard a big difference, so he wants to know why we downplay the importance of DACs, and he wants to know what other parts of the devices – such as pre-outs or line-outs – are making an audible difference. Bobby M. is deciding on a new AV Receiver and Atmos layout. We also suggest Outdoor Speaker Depot for low cost in-wall speakers, and we mention using Zone 2 pre-outs to send a signal to a Buttkicker amplifier for use with headphones. And Karl R. gets our thoughts on JVC 3D glasses, keystone correction, many Ultra HD Blu-rays lacking immersive audio, and IMAX 12 Track sound.

Jackson L. is trying to use the lossless bitstream output option on his Xbox One, but it refuses to play. Stephen B. asks if a full THX Baffle Wall is necessary to improve his mid-bass measurements. Josh A. wants a large, acoustically transparent screen with high price performance, so we recommend either the Silver Ticket Woven screen, or Seymour AV DIY material. And Michael R. asks why his internet streaming sources aren’t in surround sound, whether any more streaming services are planned in Canada, and why “audiophile” Receiver brands are seemingly avoiding Atmos.

Mark H. is considering a used JVC projector, so we go over some previous model year features, things to look out for and ask sellers of used gear, and we suggest Audiogon for listings. Jim B. wants a reasonably priced HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2 HDMI splitter, although an HD Fury might be necessary for handling two different resolution displays. We also go over Jim’s connection path and whether a new Receiver could solve all of his issues. And Ed gets our thoughts on replacing his older JBL Towers with speakers that use smaller drivers, share a designer, and are less efficient.

Ryan T. gets our input on his projector screen and AV Receiver choices. Matt V. asks about using an SPL Meter as his measurement microphone with Room EQ Wizard. And Robert G. gets our recommendation for either a Vizio P-Series or Vizio M-Series if he’s in a dim room, or the Samsung KS8000 Series if he’s in a bright room for an HDR display, and we touch upon inexpensive HDR projectors.

Roberto C. has an AV Receiver that tripped into protection mode, so we try to track down the cause. Brian and his wife demoed some Martin Logan electrostatic speakers that convinced her they’re worth it over in-walls or in-ceilings. We recommend keeping all five of his speakers within the Martin Logan ElectroMotion ESL Series and matching ElectroMotion in-ceilings, and our guts say a Monoprice Monolith Amplifier should be on tap, too. And Larry L. has decided to spend as little as possible on a 1080p projector for now. We fully agree with his choice of an Epson HC 8350, which also improves his placement options.


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AV Rant #534: Save a Bunch or Spend it All

April 15th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Brad and Roberto for their donations, as well as Roberto’s call to Accessories4Less where he let them know that we sent him their way.

In the news, Xbox One lossless bitstream audio pass-through is here, but only for Blu-ray discs so far. Xbox Project Scorpio tech specs were revealed. Audyssey MultEQ Editor App is finally available for $20 on iOS and Android. Emotiva will keep prices the same all year, no more sales or promotions. And LeEco isn’t buying Vizio after all.

Jonathan F. had us try a flawed lossy vs. lossless audio comparison. And Mark H. hopes everyone recognizes the value of 3D Blu-ray Rental Subscription Plans.

Ian E. got his RBH Impression Series Center speaker replaced, along with the blown tweeter in one of his Towers, but he’s concerned about how the speakers got damaged in the first place. Ed has questions about the streaming versions of 4K, HDR10, and Dolby Vision vs. the physical media versions, which Blu-ray players (that aren’t Oppo) do a good job of upscaling DVDs (we suggest the Panasonic DMP-BDT360, Sony BDP-S6700, or Sony UBP-X800), and whether newer always means better when it comes to speakers. And Mark H. gets some more discussion about motorized zoom and lens shift in projectors, and whether to go cheap, expensive, or somewhere in the middle.

Roberto C. wants to know if an older Receiver with “4K passthrough” will handle the latest video formats, as well as how Denon’s reliability compares to Yamaha’s. Michael D. gets our thoughts on his planned in-wall speaker placements, as well as the Acoustic Research RX-2512 subwoofer. And Brandon wants to know why the default target curve for Audyssey includes some low frequency roll-off.

Justin B. gets our recommendations for the Outlaw Audio OAW4 Wireless Subwoofer Kit and Amphony Model 1800 Wireless Speaker Kit. We also revisit his on-wall speaker placement options, and suggest the Emotiva TA-100 Integrated Amp for his separate music setup, although he wants tubes, so we mention the Jolida Glass FX 10 if he insists. And Larry L. has rearranged his theater layout, so he double checks his projector positioning, speaker placement, choice of projector, and light output concerns with us.

John B. gives us a hypothetical retail store to populate with our choices of brands and demonstration setups, so we play along with some of our picks. And Infinite Gary wonders if a professional calibrator would approve of Sony’s X-Reality Pro image processing.


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AV Rant #533: Bearers of Bad News

April 7th, 2017 3 comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Gary and Kevin for their donations, and Kevin H. for letting SVS know he bought some Prime Satellite speakers from their Outlet Store because of our recommendation.

In the news, Nathan D. sent us the announcement of the new Pioneer VSX-832 5.1 entry-level Receiver with Dolby Vision and 3.1.2 Atmos. New Yamaha RX-V 83 Series Receivers specifically mention Dolby Vision and HLG support.Despicable Me 1 & 2 are the first Ultra HD Blu-rays with Dolby Vision. And Samsung Cinema Screen is a 500 nit, 34-foot wide LED display for theaters.

Trey noted Xbox One now supports bitstream audio output via HDMI. Kris P. says Vizio HDR TVs got a firmware update for HDR issues with Xbox One S and to add Dolby Digital Plus support via ARC. And PJ suggests checking out 3D Blu-ray Rental for 3D and Ultra HD Blu-ray rentals by mail.
Justin B. wants high value, high-end headphones to use with a Smyth Realiser or Out of Your Head software with perhaps an Emotiva Stealth DC-1 Headphone Amp and ButtKicker Tactile Transducer. He also wants on-wall speakers such as the Ascend Acoustics Sierra Luna, Revel Concerta, or GoldenEar SuperSat. Jason H. gets our recommendation to order black velvet with adhesive backing from McMaster-Carr. And Mark O. needs a physically smaller Center to match his RBH Impression Series speakers, so we suggest some bookshelf model solutions, or the Aperion Audio Intimus 5C.

Michael I. gets an explanation for why HDR default picture settings appear darker than SDR in a room with ambient light. PJ asks about using the Dayton Audio SAT3W Cube Speakers for Atmos. And Justin B. discovered the DIY Sound Group Stonehenge Subwoofer Cabinets are huge, so we suggest SVS SB-2000 or HSU ULS-15 Mk2.

Jim W. asks about using an Andrea Superbeam binaural microphone instead of the standard Audyssey measurement mic. Ted M. gets some updated suggestions for measuring and addressing a dip in his system’s frequency response, and we discuss the best positioning and usage for his 6th & 7th speakers. And Infinite Gary wonders how the black levels on a newer Sony LCD TV compare to older Sony models, and whether glossy screens and super high contrast contribute to the “garish” look of TVs in stores.

Greg wants to reposition his subwoofers, and we nearly panic about it. Christian S. wants durable, do-everything headphones for under $100, so we suggest the Sony MDR-7506 or Audio Technica ATH-M40x. And Mark H. has a new, square room to deal with. We talk about opening doors and closets, and positioning subwoofers. And we dig into a constant image height plus IMAX projector screen setup while suggesting the Panasonic PT-AE8000 as a low-ish cost projector with lens memory.

Brad W. likely needs JVC Projector Recommended Settings for HDR Content. John J. gets our thoughts on the RSL Speedwoofer 10s Subwoofer, and a refresher on what we think of Germany’s Hollywood Theatres UltimateLine designs. And Brian R. has a frozen video problem that’s difficult to diagnose, a question about Outlaw Audio Ultra-X12 subwoofers, and shared curiosity with Ted M. about Tekton speakers with a new tweeter array patent that sets off an epic rant.


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AV Rant #532: Neapolitan Rainbow Mid-range

March 31st, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the week are Bob and Ilango for their donations, and Alan C. for including a mention of AVRant in his recent EBay auctions.

In the news, Nathan D. was eager to spread the news that Ascend Acoustics Sierra Luna Satellite speakers are now completed and available to order. Samsung is promoting their royalty-free “HDR 10 Plus” dynamic metadata HDR standard, as well as opening their trademark of “QLED” for any quantum dot-based display manufacturers to use freely. And self-emitting quantum dot displays are facing development hurdles and likely won’t come to market until after the year 2020.

Kris P. got word from Onkyo that their flagship AV Receiver models from 2016 will get a Dolby Vision firmware update, and Marantz reiterated they’ll be adding Dolby Vision support to their 2016 models, as well.

Kris I. asks how long a good speaker should last, how to tell when it’s dying, and when it’s the best time to sell the speakers that you own. Paul R. gets some tips on setting up an A/B comparison of speakers, and wants to know if his initial results are typical, and whether Tom and Rob use different settings for music vs. movies. And Christian S. has made a new friend…and rival, and it’s up to us to decide which of them owns the better speakers.

Josh L. has a large, reflective room, and he needs to install in-wall speakers with backer boxes. He could construct KEF in-wall cabinets for KEF in-wall speakers, go with RBH Sound in-wall speakers that we so often recommend, opt for high efficiency and a sealed design with Klipsch in-wall speakers, or save a lot of money by using HSU Research HIW-1 in-walls. Josh also has a dedicated theater where Tom and Rob agree that a 5-channel amp could help to lower the noise floor and provide Reference Level headroom. A Monoprice Monolith Amp would be spectacular, but a much less expensive Emotiva BasX A-500 would suffice.

Karl R. likes the value offered by VUDU Disc to Digital that now works via the VUDU app, but wants to know if there’s a non-Walmart alternative. Justin B. wants in-ceiling speakers that can keep up with high end in room speakers, so we suggest RBH in-ceiling speakers and RBH back cans. And Dipan discovered a hum that was largely mitigated by a cable TV ground loop isolator, but he wants to know why only some of his speakers made noise, and how to eliminate the remaining vestiges.

Jason D. found his banana plugs are loose, so we recommend locking banana plugs. Michael R. has an issue where his audio always works, but not his video, and he might use it as an excuse to upgrade his AV Receiver to a Denon AVR-X3300W or AVR-X1300W. And Alan C. gets us to rant about plaid vs. “boring” solid colors.

Infinite Gary wonders if YouTube videos can be used to evaluate HDR, what type of display he should use in a room with ambient light, and whether LG’s “wallpaper” OLED might have unforeseen downsides. Bret R. has limited space for his speakers, but the Ascend Acoustics Q-Plugs could help, or he might consider the KEF R-Series, or Sierra Luna speakers. And Bob L. wants to calibrate an LG OLED65E6 without measurement tools or a professional, so we suggest keeping it simple by using the Disney World of Wonder Setup Disc.

Wesley M. is using a Sony WEGA TV, and wants to know if his AV Receiver can convert HDMI sources to analogue component video. James P. wants to know if he should reposition his subwoofers, or maybe upgrade to one higher output model. In a second near field setup, he asks about the Total Harmonic Distortion specification, what specs indicate a low noise floor, and we mention the Emotiva A-100 as a small, high quality amp. And Jim B. proposes a method for confirming that diagonally opposite corner subwoofer placement really works that we mostly agree with, although we suggest a couple changes and additions.


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AV Rant #531: 42″ Selfie Stick

March 27th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Ted, Ryan, Geoffrey, and Joshua for their donations, as well as Bob L. and Kevin H. for letting SVS and APC, respectively, know that they bought their products thanks to AVRant recommendations.

In the news, Denon announced new S-Series AV Receivers that bring HEOS to lower price points and specifically mention Dolby Vision support.

Christian S. greatly reduced his “overly long” bass ringing by adding SVS SoundPath Isolation Feet to his dual PB-1000 subwoofers. Jay P. applied lots of our advice and shares his successful updates. And Bobby K. informs us that SpoonFlower is being forced to crack down on reprinting copyrighted images, but MyFabricDesigns.com is a potential alternative.

Micheal S. wants to mount Surround speakers on his side walls without any holes or marks, so we suggest VideoSecu Telescoping Stands, Sway Shelves, or 3M Command Adhesive Strips. Justin B. asks about converting half of his garage into a dedicated theater, or potentially using the Smyth Realiser Exchange to simulate excellent theater rooms through high-end headphones, such as: Sennheiser HD650, Audeze LCD-2, or Shure SE535. And Bill R. unfortunately has a hiss coming from his Denon AVR-X6300H AV Receiver that we believe is a defect in need of factory repair or replacement.

Leighton wonders if opening his curtains would give him better Audyssey results. Ted M. is enjoying measuring and graphing his audio and asks how to solve an upper bass dip. And Mark H. asks how high a projector screen ought to be mounted.

Luca F. in Canada needs a subwoofer, and we think an SVS PC-2000 fits the bill. Benjamin D. thinks he might install a suspended ceiling, which we think is a great idea for adding acoustic absorption, running wires, and hanging Atmos speakers. We also comment on his dual subwoofer choices and placement options. And Mike F. has questions about light spill from his projector onto his ceiling, unbalanced sound when using Audyssey Dynamic EQ, Surround speakers with a variable tweeter adjustment, and a bothersome audio delay from some of his sources.

Ryan M. got some free acoustic treatments and asks for our advice on where he should place them. Michael A. wants to know how much of an upgrade SVS’ “middle child” Plus-Series models are over the 2000-Series. And Bob L. could use some clarification about HDMI Premium High Speed Certified Cables, why video bitrates can vary so wildly, and how he can have dramatically different preferences for 2-channel only speakers vs. surround sound speakers.

Infinite Gary hates the look of glossy flat panels, but without complete light control, could an ambient light rejecting screen and a projector deliver an improvement? Geoff D. asks about Hisense HDR TVs in Australia and pairing his SVS SB-2000 with a less expensive subwoofer. And Larry L. took lots of our advice regarding his theater build, and now he asks about RBH in-ceiling foam enclosures, using a subwoofer as a speaker stand, using a microphone extension cord to run Audyssey, using a Stereo Female to Mono Male Adapter to run whole house audio from Chromecast Audio devices, and whether he should replace his Center speaker.


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