AV Rant #478: Bizarro Theater

March 24th, 2016 No comments

electric_rdThis week, we thank Robert, Tyler, James, Brock, and Fred for their donations. Fred used AV Rant Listener Rob W.’s Printed Absorption Panels write-up with fantastic, affordable results! Our Producer Austen was thankfully able to join us this week! And Tom reviews his new Silver Ticket Projection Screen.

In the news, Playstation VR will cost $400, or $500 if you want Launch Bundle. Sony is also rumored to be working on a more powerful “Playstation 4.5“. And Tyler F. pointed us to the “HD Vinyl” story that was all the rage this past week.

Paul MacDonald had a visit from Rob H. to help restore his Kodi Add-Ons from TVAddOns.ag that were lost when he updated his Minix NEO X8-H Plus Android TV box. Patrick G. shared his amazement at seeing LG’s OLED UHDTVs in person. And Jared F. (sorry we forgot your name while we were recording!) recommends the RBH EP-SB Bluetooth Earbuds. We hope our Mystery Caller to our Offline Rant Line hears the podcast and writes to us. Brenden G. might know a simple solution to Wesley’s jumping volume mystery: check the batteries in your remote! And SteveTheGeek got exactly what he expected when he added an Outlaw Audio Model 770 to his system.

Robert F. from Australia wants to expand to a 5.2.4 Atmos setup, but that requires more expensive AV Receiver models like the Denon AVR-X4200W, Marantz SR6010, or Yamaha RX-A2050. We also weigh in on speaker placement and Robert’s options for a second subwoofer. Tyler F. gets the lowdown on the Ascend Acoustics Sierra speakers that Rob H. uses and the Aperion Audio Verus Grand speakers that Tom uses. Tyler also asks us to compare the B&W CM6 S2 with its Tweeter On Top design vs. the less expensive traditional box CM5 S2 that appears to have all the same specs. And he puts out the call for a database of AV reviewers that would allow readers to quickly figure out whom to ignore!

James B. wants to know if Tom still agrees with his own “5 Reasons Dolby Atmos May Be DOA” article. Zach R. wants to double check that the Vizio E65-C3 from Sam’s Club, is the best deal (we think it is). And Kris I. (who totally lives in a McMansion) wants to use a $1600 budget to improve the sound in his Living Room. We suggest EMP Tek Towers or Ascend Acoustics CMT-340SE speakers mated to an HSU VTF-3 MK5 to handle the large space. We also discuss ported vs. sealed design, and we recommend a Marantz Slimline Receiver as a great way to get 2.1 pre-outs plus HDCP 2.2 support all at an affordable price.

Tyler S. needs help deciding between 5.1.4 and 7.1.4, and he wants to know if he can use an older AV Receiver as an external amp in either case. Brent S. asks about DTS Neo:X vs. DTS Neural:X. Tom K. read some advice about how to adjust subwoofer phase that we completely disagree with. And Glenn M. has an enormous space with in-wall speakers that cannot be moved and asks if there’s anything he can do to improve the sound.

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AV Rant #477: Defy YPAO

March 17th, 2016 No comments

electric_rdThis week, we thank John, Cliff, Ed, Brendan, and Tyler as our Listeners of the Week for their generous donations! Ed replaced dual subs with a lone Paradigm Prestige subwoofer, but that lone sub gets firmware updates, so there’s that.

Tom got a new Silver Ticket projection screen, and he’s testing the SVS Prime and SVS Ultra Series speakers, so look forward to reviews of all of those coming soon!

In the news, LG revealed their complete “Super UHD” 4K LCD TV lineup and pricing, all of which support both HDR10 and Dolby Vision. Brandon M. gave us a heads up about The Screening Room, which aims to offer first run movies at home for $50 with backing from Hollywood directors. And Tyler F. sent us Ford’s projector screen for autonomous cars patent.

Jeff G. heard us ranting about Shun Mook Mpingo wood products, and that sent him down the rabbit hole, including their claim that a wood disk can weigh more if you flip it over in your hand (seriously). And Wesley M. has a seemingly unfixable volume malfunction in his system, but Tom has one last troubleshooting idea, which is to try a 2-channel analogue signal.

David has $2,000 to upgrade his loft setup, and we suggest spending it all on subwoofers and speakers. Justin B. gets our recommendations for the Teac HA-P50 headphone amplifier, Outlaw Audio Model 5000, Emotiva XPA-200, and Crown XLS DriveCore amplifiers to go with his new Center, Surround, and possible Magnepan Front speakers. And Brian R. has some questions about his Logitech Harmony Smart Control (now Harmony Companion) universal remote setup.

Cliff Heyne is finishing his basement, and we offer suggestions for subwoofer, Atmos speaker, and Surround speaker placement. Darren L. asks about Reference Volume. Infinite Gary wants to know how close a ported speaker can be placed to a wall. And Chris T. asks if he should manually override YPAO, and where he should position his projector.

Joe W. gets us to spill the beans on where really old AV Rant episode downloads went. Brandon G. has a subwoofer budget and size restrictions, and wants to know if driver materials indicate quality. And Bill R. asks about >$2,000 projectors and whether we think affordable 4K HDR models will arrive in the next 2-3 years.

Brendan G. could use an inexpensive 2-channel amplifier from AudioSource or Dayton Audio to expand to 11 speakers in what Rob insists should be a grey and black theater. Sammy C. gets us to rant about CNET’s Steve Guttenberg’s claims that old Receivers sound better than new ones. And an Anonymous Listener asks about Tower vs. Bookshelf vs. Satellite speakers.

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AV Rant #476: JansZen zA1.1 Speaker Review

March 10th, 2016 1 comment

electric_rdThanks to Thomas, Adriano, Robert, and Karl this week for their donations. Karl and Richard C. both bought SVS Prime Tower speaker packages and let SVS know they heard about them on AV Rant!

Tom gives his review of the $4,495/pair JansZen zA1.1 Monitor Electrostatic speakers with their unique airLayer tweeters (see some pics Tom took at the bottom of this post).

In the news, Keith S. alerted us last week to Slysoft’s shutdown. But the team behind AnyDVD HD quickly returned on the RedFox Forum, and the brief shutdown led to a handy compilation of disc decryption alternatives. Jason H. pointed out the new Bugatti Chiron’s Accuton sound system with diamond tweeters. Amazon expanded the “Echo” product line with their new $130 “Amazon Tap” and $90 “Echo Dot”. And the Avegant Glyph headset is now available for $700.

James B. sent us articles explaining acoustic metamaterials from Nature and acoustics.org, as well as a long article on speaker wire. John W. wanted to inform everyone that an SVS SB-1000 in a large room can still have headroom to spare. And Richard C.’s wife just laughed at our advice from last week, but he managed to purchase our speaker, subwoofer, and AV Receiver suggestions anyway while waiting for a new display!

Ian E. is likely in need of a Pre-pro repair or replacement, so we weigh the pros and cons of slightly older Receiver models. Justin B. wants a calibrated measurement microphone from Cross-Spectrum Labs. Kris I. compares Denon’s AVR-X6200W and AVR-X7200WA, as well as a 9.2.2 speaker layout vs. 7.2.4. And Nathan D. unfortunately doesn’t get much help from us in his search for A/V showrooms in Tampa, Florida.

Justin C. wonders if a Rythmik L12 subwoofer can team up with an SVS subwoofer to handle a large room. Wesley M. unfortunately did not solve his strange volume jumping problem with a Toslink cable, so he looks for more advice. And Gaylen H. wants to know how to stream TV recordings from a PC to a Chromecast.

Tommy B. completed his gorgeous new theater, but wants to double check his PS4’s output settings. Jessie F. wants whole house audio that works with iRule. He’s leaning towards the HTD MCA-66A, and we also mention the Monoprice 6-Zone Kit along with the Yamaha NS-IC800 in-ceiling speakers from Accessories4Less. And Jeff G. wants to install 4 overhead speakers for Atmos, but he needs to nail down the best positions.

Adriano M. took our advice regarding his theater plans, and now he’s back to ask about his patio, so we recommend Yamaha All-weather speakers. Leighton is painting his theater gray, and we mention: the expensive option – GTI Munsell Gray, the reasonable option – Sherwin Williams “Gray Screen”, and the easiest option – mixing your own. And Srini wants Bluetooth in-ears to replace his Jaybird BlueBuds. The newer Jaybird X2 are one option, while the Mee Audio X7 Plus seem like a bigger change.

Brendan G. is building an extension on his house in Northern Ireland that will look like a garage from the outside, but will be a dedicated theater on the inside. He asks about optimal dimensions, the best location for the door, soundproofing, replacing any existing gear, projector and screen recommendations, seating layout, and how to deal with a chimney. David M. wants to dig into bass optimization for home theater. And lastly, Josh Pollard from The Digital Media Zone wanted a bit of clarification on the new Axiim WiSA speaker packages, particularly their subwoofer specs and how their forthcoming app-based auto-EQ might work.

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AV Rant #475: Mpingo Perfume

March 3rd, 2016 No comments
electric_rdThis week, we thank Tim and Gabe for their donations, and Phil B. for mentioning us to “The Listening Post” in New Zealand. In the news, Raspberry Pi 3 is available now for $35 with WiFi and Bluetooth built in. And 23 years later, someone finally found the hidden menus in Mortal Kombat arcade cabinets.
Karl R. commented that so far, Blu-ray releases that include DTS:X actually have DTS:X when you rent them from Redbox. We apologize to Tyler F. for somehow misplacing his questions from a few weeks ago. He’d like suggestions for <$3,000/pair speakers, and we mention: Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers with RAAL ribbon upgrade, Aperion Audio Verus II Grand Towers, and Magnepan MMG trial. Richard C. has an oddly-shaped, open concept room with many placement restrictions. We first suggest some potential layout options, including a retractable screen in front of a window plus a flat panel above the fireplace. For a new flat panel, we recommend waiting until July for the Philips 8600 Series on a Z-Line 3-in-1 TV stand. For speakers,Satellite speakers from NHT, or Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1 LCR with HTM-200SE Surrounds plus theAmphony Model 1800 Wireless Speaker Kit. For subwoofers, HSU ULS-15 Mk2 or Power Sound Audio S1500. And a Marantz SR5010 AV Receiver from Accessories4Less.
Jason H. wants us to compare the Ascend Acoustics Sierra-2 to the stock Sierra Horizon. Richard F. wants some clarification on the “LFE” vs. “LFE+Main” “Subwoofer Mode” setting. And Toby H. sent us a video of a $1 million system that is extremely rant-worthy. Wesley M. has mysterious volume fluctuations from his cable box after adding a Denon AVR-X4200W to his system. John W. wants to know if an SVS SB-1000 can contend with his new, larger room size. And Jonathan F. wonders exactly how ELAC’s 4Pi Super Tweeteradd-on might work. Chris T. wants to know where to position his bi-pole Surround speakers, and Tom and Rob disagree! Kris I. wants our take on the Epson 5030 vs. Sony VPL-HW40ES projectors, asks about screen size and aspect ratio options along with throw distance choices, and wants a very inexpensive Monoprice HDMI Switch. Infinite Gary asks about a mono setup vs. a SoundBar and using an outboard EQ on a SoundBar. James B. sent us some very interesting information on a new acoustic “metasurface” absorptionthat could allow for tiny, effective bass traps. Tim P. wants to know if an NHT SW2P subwoofer could match up with his SVS PB10-NSD. And Gaylen needs a new OTA DVR, and we suggest the TiVo BOLT, Channel Master DVR+, Xbox One TV Tuner, or HDHomeRun Network Tuner. Gabe M. found some more opinions on MQA audio downloads. Josh Z. has a dual subwoofer placement question. And Tom K. has subwoofer and Y-splitter connection questions.
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AV Rant #474: Extra Ranty

February 26th, 2016 No comments

This week, we thank Andrew, Tyler, Mark, Ben, Justin, and Richard! Thanks so much for your donations, gentlemen! In the news, Tom found awesome NASA poster images that would make excellent printed acoustic panels. HTC’s Vive Virtual Reality system will cost $799 and ship in April. Scott Wilkinson posted an HDR-capable TV chart on AVS Forum. And Yamaha’s DTS:X firmware is coming in early March.

Tom K. commented on Disney World’s villas that include surround sound, but all the speakers are in the ceiling. And if you check the Visitor Posts on the AV Rant Facebook Page, you can see part of Joseph P.’s conversation with Synergistic Research who really don’t seem to like having their ridiculous marketing claims questioned.

Andrew S. is building a basement theater. We weigh in on seating distance, Atmos speaker placement, Surround speaker height and alignment, matching subwoofers, Silver Ticket’s 120-inch screen, projector options such as the BenQ HT4050, Epson HC 3500, and Epson HC 5030UB, and soundproofing concerns. Dan B. has a large, non-rectangular basement theater and entertainment room, and he’s looking for advice on dual subwoofer choices and placement, as well as putting up drapes. Dan B. also wants to know how to prevent his TV from controlling his AV Receiver because of HDMI-CEC. We suggest an optical cable.

Robert F. has some more DVD-Audio player settings issues. Byron S. wants to know if we agree with Audioholics’ DTS:X evaluation results. And Tyler H. convinced his wife that a cylinder sub is more attractive than cutting open their ceiling!

Tim K. has a long basement room and wants our thoughts on speaker and subwoofer choices. He’d also like to know how Andrew Jones’ ELAC speakers stack up to his Pioneer speakers. Kris I. wants to know if it’s worth spending $2,000 right now on a projector or if it would be better to wait for new 4K models. And Toby H. shared a video by Brian Dunning on Vinyl vs. CD audio.

Dev B. has crossover and Y-splitter questions. Brad L. needs a very short throw projector and some clarification about lens offset and lens shift range. And Justin C. really wants in-wall Surround speakers, but he’d like them to match his Ascend Acoustics Sierra-2 Front speakers as best as possible. We suggest Ascend Acoustics’ Sierra Sat on-wall, RBH’s MC-6, Focal’s Chorus IW 706, Revel’s in-wall models, and possibly KEF’s in-wall speakers, none of which are cheap, which leaves Aperion Audio’s Intimus L6-IW as the “affordable” choice.

James B. shared details on the Spherovox Corner Folded Horn subwoofer. Justin B. wants to know when Emotiva’s new Passive Airmotiv speakers will start shipping and whether he’ll need to match his Surrounds if he gets them. He’s also interested in “different”-sounding speakers, so we suggest: Magnepan, Klipsch, KEF, GoldenEar Technology, B&W, Bang & Olufsen, Martin Logan and Polk’s LSi Series. Infinite Gary shared details on Harman and ARUP’s $15-million Virginia Tech audio test lab called “The Cube”. Gary also asks if soft dome tweeters inherently break up below 20 kHz. And lastly, Leighton is interested in the Sennheiser Urbanite XL headphones, but we’d lean towards the Sennheiser Momentum, PSB M4U, or V-Moda headphones.

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