AV Rant #512: Tin Foil and Bedspreads

November 18th, 2016 No comments

PrintLee Overstreet fills in for Tom this week, but there’s a surprise about an hour and a half into the podcast.

In the news, LG 2017 Wallpaper W7 OLED TV might be coming to market. And Samsung bought Harman for $8 billion!

Rob has an update on his Kuro plasma shipping disaster. Rob also amends his Reaction Audio recommendation in light of them shutting down. Bret R. found success with our Intel graphics settings for use with Kodi. Jeb B. thinks curtains can offer acoustical advantages, especially psychologically. And Andy C. created a very interesting Windows app for optimizing multiple subwoofers, and he’s giving it away for free, so check it out!

Brian F. has a small theater with actual theater chairs and a stepped tray ceiling. We discuss Atmos speaker placement, recommend Monoprice Caliber Series in-ceiling speakers with Monoprice Back Enclosures, and confirm that he should still upgrade to dual subwoofers. Bret R. wants to know what modern TV will take over the mantel for “best display” from the Kuro plasmas. And we spend a ton of time with Rick and his two setups; first, discussing his UMC-1 EmoQ bass handling, potential alternatives using a miniDSP 2×4, nanoAVR-DL, or just a calibrated microphone from Cross-Spectrum Labs plus the built-in manual EQ options, or replacing his Processor entirely with a Denon AVR-X3300W from Accessories4Less. Then we tackle Rick’s dedicated theater build, including: room dimensions, ideal seating distances and screen sizes, JVC DLA-RS500 vs. Epson LS10500 projectors, and pre-wiring locations for speakers.

John W. wanted a further discussion of Audyssey target curves vs. Direct listening mode playback. Ted M. seems to really want an extremely powerful subwoofer, and he’s willing to leave his door open to get it. And Matt H. wants an affordable, large, cutting edge display, so we suggest the Vizio M-Series.

Heath B. wants to know if three identical bookshelf speakers across the front makes sense, and we also suggest the DIY Movie Rooms Riser Height Calculator to help figure out ideal screen and riser height. Chad T. asks about BlackoutEZ window covers, but we offer a cheaper solution. We also mention Wired and LifeHacker’s pick for transcoding iTunes videos: NoteBurner. And Bill C. wants independent volume control via a tablet or phone for his whole house audio system, so we suggest pairing several Dayton Audio WFA02 Wi-Fi Adapters with a Dayton Distribution Amplifier.

David is moving and wants to confirm his plans for a new theater. We go over subwoofer capability, false wall and projector screen setup, seating distance, acoustic panel placement, and the possibility of a “full” Atmos setup with 11 or 13 floor level speakers and all 10 overhead speakers. Jordan B. wants to know if he should opt for a gray or white projector screen. And Jeff B. is helping his brother-in-law with a long term buying plan. We confirm a speaker audition list including: Aperion Audio, SVS, EMP Tek, Ascend Acoustics, and KEF.

Ian E. wants to save as much hard drive space as possible, so we discuss transcoding Blu-ray audio and potentially using Audio DiffMaker to figure out what lossy codecs are discarding. Michael I. has some upgraditis and wants to know what will be worthwhile when replacing his Ascend CMT-340SE speakers and HSU VTF-2 Mk4 subwoofers. And Fil C. wants inexpensive surround sound in Canada. Rob’s go-to picks of a Yamaha RX-V381 Receiver, Monoprice 12-inch Subwoofer, and Fluance Classic Elite Series speakers, or Energy Take Classic 5.1 speakers all end up being too expensive, so we suggest The Wirecutter’s pick for best 5.1 SoundBar, the Vizio SB4051-C, or Vizio SB3851-D with Google Cast.

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AV Rant #511: ToughTested Solar Dual USB 10,000mAh Battery Pack Review

November 11th, 2016 No comments

PrintThank you to our Listeners of the Week, Grant, Jimmy, and Rick B, for your generous donations!

Pomegranate! (listen to Ep. 510 if you want to know what that’s about)

Tom reviews the ToughTested Solar Dual USB 10,000mAh Battery Pack. In the news, new 7.2.4 AV Receivers and Pre-pros are now available: Onkyo PR-RZ5100, TX-RZ3100, and TX-RZ1100 that are THX Certified and use AccuEQ; Integra DRC-R1, DRX-R1, and DRX-7 that add HDBaseT and MQA; and, Pioneer Elite SC-LX901, SC-LX801, and SC-LX701 that drop THX and use MCACC. All of these Receivers use Pioneer’s D3 Class D amps. ATI introduced their Class D Hypex N-Core AT52 and AT54 Series amplifiers. And Infinite Gary let us know about the new Outlaw Audio Model 7140 Class A/B amplifier with a Class F power supply.

Scott S. loves the most recent update to the Plex App on the NVidia Shield TV that has granted lossless bitstream audio output support, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. And Karl R. pointed out that Apple’s new favorite things – dongles and proprietary cords – are on sale.

Fab F. has decided to build a dedicated theater in his basement. We discuss which room we think he should use, how to contend with ductwork, where he should place his speakers, and that pesky 4 ohm setting on Receivers. Kevin A. wants new Front L/R speakers that can play loud and clean, and he’s deciding between passive and active. We shorten his list of candidates down to the EMP Tek R5Bi for passive, and the JBL LSR305 for active. And Vince H. asks about Tom’s and Rob’s plans regarding the PlayStation 4 Pro and HDR displays. He wants a large HDR TV and a new Receiver, we suggest the: Vizio P-Series, LG OLED B6 Series, Sony XBR Z9D Series, and LeEco uMax85 for TVs, and the Marantz SR6011 for a Receiver.

James B. wants to know which projectors under $1,500 we recommend these days, so we mention BenQ projectors, and the Epson Home Cinema 3700. Tim B. wonders, what’s the deal with oxygen-free speaker wire? And Travelling IT Guy wants an inexpensive 65-inch TV, so we recommend the 1080p Vizio D-Series, UltraHD Vizio D-Series, and Samsung 1080p J6200 Series.

Jonathan F. sent us some articles to rant about: first, London’s audiophile listening clubs; and second, the rise of analog recording studios. Infinite Gary wants to know why the Center speakers he’s auditioning have more dramatic differences between them than the expensive SoundBars he was trying before. And Justin B. asks for our opinions about Philharmonic Audio speakers, how futureproof his Marantz SR6010 will be, and also asks for an explanation of how the Dolby Surround Upmixer works, and what he ought to see on his front display.

A different Justin B. is moving to a smaller room with a smaller budget. He’s planning to buy high sensitivity speaker kits from DIY Sound Group. We suggest Power Sound Audio and Tekton Design if he’d like non-DIY options. (Rob also mentioned Reaction Audio before realizing they’ve suspended business for the time being.) And we point to the Dayton Audio RSS460HO 18-inch driver as a suitable option for his DIY subwoofer. Nathan W. gets the low down on whether Chromecast with Plex can handle lossless bitstream audio. And Grant M. requests our help with Marantz SR7010 pre-out settings, placement of his overhead speakers, GoldenEar on-wall vs. in-wall speaker choices, and absorption panel placement ideas.

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AV Rant #510: Throw Babies At It

November 4th, 2016 No comments

PrintIn the news this week, many, many AV Rant Listeners let us know that the Xbox One and Xbox One S will be getting lossless bitstream audio output, including Atmos and DTS:X support. Logitech Harmony Hub Remotes now officially work with Amazon Alexa voice commands. Rythmik Audio announced two gigantic new subwoofers: the Rythmik FV18 and FV25HP. And Nick B. is excited for the Nintendo NES Classic Edition.

Boshko S. is using an optical audio connection from his Xbox One to his Harman Kardon AV Receiver. He wants to know why he isn’t hearing surround sound sometimes, what he’d gain by using an HDMI connection, as well as what it would cost him in electricity to always power up his Receiver, and why the front panel display doesn’t seem to match his speaker setup. He also asks about his computer’s HDMI audio output settings. Greg F. is constructing a home theater in his basement, and he wants to figure out acoustically ideal room dimensions. We mention the Room Mode Calculator as a helpful online tool. And Troy T. wants to know if he can use an existing speaker wire run with a speaker wire to RCA converter cable to send a signal to his subwoofer. We caution him to use butt splice terminals if he does, and to switch to a wireless subwoofer kit if he hears noise or a hum.

Ted got his Legacy Audio Silhouette on-wall speakers. They’re huge and sound fantastic! We discuss why Legacy’s own engineer suggested avoiding putting the tweeters at seated ear height, as well as rolling off the Center speaker’s high frequencies, and why they use a phase plug on the midrange driver. We also discuss dual driver subwoofers, Audyssey Flat vs. Audyssey Reference curves, and whether or not Apple TV is getting left behind when it comes to 4K and HDR. Will and Liz rearranged their Living Room and want to make sure a Monoprice TV wall mount is ok. We also suggest possible new locations for their Surround speakers and subwoofer(s).

Matt G. asks our opinions of Monitor Audio Silver Series speakers and how they compare to Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1 and Sierra-2 models. Terry G. has updated his theater plans yet again and asks us to weigh in on the overall seating placement, Atmos ceiling speaker placement, and Surround speaker positions. And Bret R. is running Kodi on an Intel NUC that we suspect is having some issues with a dynamic contrast video setting.

Mark H. found some DIY bass trap plans that we don’t like, so we point him to Tom’s DIY Absorbers articles that we do like. We explain why paper or foil-lined insulation isn’t a good idea. And we tackle Mark’s subwoofer placement and irregular room shape. Michael R. gets a short list of bookshelf speakers to audition in Canada, as well as an explanation of why paper woofers are just fine, and our suggestion to use Canuck Audio Mart to sell his PSB T5 Towers. And Bob G. moved his theater to a much larger room, and he’s finding his lack of tactile bass disturbing. We suggest the HSU VTF-3 MK5 HP as the perfect balance of output and price for his room size and budget.

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AV Rant #509: LeStupid

October 28th, 2016 No comments

PrintFresh off of last week’s incredible donor turnout, our Listeners of the Week are Brad, and Ted M., who made good on his pledge with an amazingly generous $200 donation! We also thank Mark H. for telling SVS his Prime Bookshelf speaker purchase was because of AV Rant. And Bobby K. in Canada for mentioning us to Gibby’s Electronic Supermarket. Thank you, all!

In the news, LeEco announced a ton of “Le” products and “Le” services. We focus on their LeEco Super4 and uMAX UHD HDR TVs, which do seem like excellent values. Vudu Movies On Us will offer streaming movies for free with ads. AT&T is buying Time Warner for $85.4 billion. And Nintendo Switch is a home console/portable hybrid with detachable controllers that will launch in March 2017.

Ken M. has a problem keeping Kodi full screen on Windows 10, and wants to retain Atmos and DTS:X audio when making MKV backups. We also recommend the Yamaha RX-V381 from Accessories4Less for an inexpensive AV Receiver. Mahi is trying to decide between the Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers RAAL, Revel Performa3 F208, and RBH SV-6500R. We weigh in, and also add the KEF R-Series and DALI Loudspeakers into the mix. And John M. gets the lowdown on Dolby AC-4 audio.

J asks whether Atmos speakers should aim straight down or at the listening position. Josh S. wants to know the best way to connect and configure a miniDSP to add a subwoofer to one of his whole house audio zones. And Nick B. experienced some networking problems and asks if a battery backup UPS might be a good countermeasure.

Jason S. wants to know what will happen if/when dynamic metadata gets added to HDR10. Infinite Gary gets our advice on acoustic panel placement in a kitchen setup. And Mark H. wants to maximize the acoustic performance in his small room, so we discuss absorption panel and bass trap placement, as well as Eclipse Absolute Zero Drapes and what to do with a skylight.

Michael R. gets our input on which locally available speakers to audition, plus a suggestion to try Axiom Audio. Kevin C. wants to hear more about PlayStation VR launch games. And Fab F. gets more advice about the complicated process of setting up dual subwoofers when ideal placement isn’t an option.

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AV Rant #508: Ted’s Gambit

October 21st, 2016 2 comments

PrintAmazing! We are awestruck by the outpouring of support from our MANY Listeners of the Week. Ya ready?

Terry G., Richard C., Nathan D., Brandon W., Peter M., Fabrizio F., Stefan B., Eric B., Mahidhar, Jay C., Pieter, Tom K., Ian, Karl R., Carl M., James D., James O., Joshua L., Frederick R., Antoine C., Bryon S., Jeffrey B., Miles W., Jayson W., Vincent H., John S., Lee V., Ilango, William C., Keith M., Wade E., Tom T., Sean M., Gabe M., Geoffrey D., Chad T., Matthew F., Gavin B., Jason S., and Ronald G. who also told A4L that his Marantz AV8802A purchase was thanks to AV Rant!

And a huge thank you to Ted M. who inspired all of these donations with his generous offer to match them dollar-for-dollar! This is far beyond our wildest expectations.

Our official YouTube Page – https://www.youtube.com/c/AVRant/ – features Tom as a logo for the entire podcast this week thanks to technical difficulties. We’re working on it!

Rob gives his first impressions of the PlayStation VR. And Infinite Gary sent us breaking news that Razer bought THX.

Tom K. says our advice to replace a pre-pro with an AV Receiver worked out well. Kris I. says a pair of SVS PC12-Plus subwoofers in a 10,000 cubic foot space is 80% satisfying. And Kevin N., our 500th Episode SVS Giveaway winner has received his SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Speaker Package! Congrats!

Byron S. has a new house and a new dedicated theater room. We discuss screen sizes, seating distances, and speaker layout ideas. Bob wants to make sure Ascend Acoustics speakers that use RAAL ribbon tweeters can hit full Reference Volume, and we suggest the Ascend Pedestal Stands. And Infinite Gary asks if an acoustically reflective room benefits from speakers with narrow dispersion, how to tell what kind of dispersion a speaker will have, whether playing up to 40 kHz is useful, and what type of insulation we prefer for DIY absorption panels.

Bill C. is moving to a much larger house with an existing sound system. We suggest a Pro Amplifier to power the passive subwoofers, and a Distribution Amplifier to power his whole house audio system. Fab F. is disappointed after adding an SVS PC12-Plus to his PB-1000 in an open concept living room. We talk about placement and dual subwoofer considerations. And Terry G. gets our input on his updated theater plans. We discuss false walls, dual subs that are different brands, and Logitech Harmony Remotes vs. Control4.

Karl R. asks, is Apple’s Lightning headphone jack digital or analogue? Ken S. wants to know if AV Receivers need anything special to support Dolby Vision. And Fred R. is renovating his room to focus on the fireplace. We recommend Dynamic Mounting or MantelMount to put his flatscreen above it.

Nick B. wants to know how much louder four subs will be in a room vs. outdoors, and he also wants to know why Ascend Acoustics doesn’t show distortion measurements. Michael R. wants to swap his Tower Front speakers for Bookshelf speakers, but his choices are limited in Canada. And Casey P. wonders if he can repurpose an old Receiver as an amplifier for Atmos speakers.

Aidan has a left speaker channel problem that we are convinced is being caused by a bad speaker wire connection. Josh Pollard is upgrading his TV, and we think a 55-inch Vizio M-Series is the perfect choice. And Jim O. wants to know if Front Wide speakers are really a thing of the past.

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