AV Rant #521: All of the Speakers

January 13th, 2017 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Robert and Vincent for their donations, as well as Hector F. for telling Silver Ticket he heard about their projection screens from AVRant, and Steve W. for letting HSU know his VTF-3 Mk5 subwoofer purchase was an AVRant recommendation.

Tom and Rob joined Austen to talk about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on the We Watch Movies Podcast.

In the news, we cover some of the interesting topics from CES 2017:

OLED – Sony Bravia XBR-A1E screen is also the speaker. Panasonic EZ1000 forgoes Dolby Vision and a North American release. LG has five 2017 OLED Series, including the W7 “Wallpaper” OLED. And Samsung QLED with “metallic” quantum dots are still LCD TVs, just with a better backlight.

Dolby Vision – Sony, TCL, and Philips TVs, plus LG and Philips Ultra HD Blu-ray players all get Dolby Vision. Sony Z9D flagship LCDs will get a Dolby Vision firmware update. And Dolby Vision Ultra HD Blu-rays are on the way from Lionsgate, Universal, and Warner Bros.

HDMI 2.1 was announced with 48 Gbps bandwidth, new cables required, eARC, VRR, and Dynamic HDR.

Projectors – Optoma 4K UST, Sony VPL-VZ1000ES, and Hisense H10D Ultra Short Throw Laser Projectors are all still expensive, but less than half the price of previous models. And JVC refreshed their e-Shift4 projector lineup.

NVidia Shield TV Gen.2 added Amazon Prime Video. And Andrew Jones unveiled his high-end ELAC Adante speakers. Plus, we mention some things that were conspicuously absent.

Josh C. took our advice to buy a cylinder subwoofer, and he loves it. Nathan D. let us know the Oppo UDP-203 Beta Firmware Update resolves HDCP 2.2 issues. And Ted M. had the same Audyssey settings memory glitch as Bill.

Russel K. wants to know if a split, dual infinite baffle subwoofer is the right solution for his loft. Nathan D. asks about some of the new HDR standards and marketing that were seen at CES 2017. And Ted M. wants to know for sure if he bought “too much sub”, so we point him to Cross-Spectrum Labs and Room EQ Wizard for measurement equipment. We also suggest Fusion Collection Seating or Palliser Seating for theater recliners, talk a bit about room correction, and suggest a Dayton Distribution Amplifier and 8-inch in-ceiling speakers to fill a large space with even sound.

Ed A. noticed a hum and an indicator light that never turns off on his SVS sub. We suggest some settings changes. We also recommend the Yamaha YSP-5600 Atmos and DTS:X Sound Projector, but think he might prefer a new AV Receiver. Eric C. could probably use some Auralex Diffusion Products to combat his slap echo, while we confirm the rest of his setup. Lars M. finds out which speaker configuration is compatible with all Immersive Audio formats, including Auro-3D. And Infinite Gary has three Revel speakers, and he wants to expand to Atmos. We suggest the Revel Concerta2 M16 for his Surrounds, and the Klipsch RP-140SA Dolby Atmos-enabled Add-on Modules as the best upward-firing choice. We mention Dolby Atmos Speaker Setup Guidelines, suggest some Atmos AV Receivers, discuss upmixing, and say to get a Dolby Vision-capable Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

Nick B. learns more about object-based audio vs. channel-based signals, gets our thoughts on the THX Achromatic Audio Amplifier AHB2 from Benchmark, finds out what Tom would do to get Spotify in the kitchen, and shares a story about curved TVs. Karl R. bemoans the lack of 4K video content on iTunes. Jordan B. needs to read everything over at Soundproofing Company for his attic theater, and gets our suggestions for NHT SuperZero, Ascend Acoustics HTM-200SE, and Focal Bird Series wall-mountable speakers. And Steve W. gets Rob to narrow down his Center speaker choices to the Pioneer Elite SP-EC73 for use in his TV cabinet.


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AV Rant #520: No A in Audio

January 6th, 2017 1 comment

Our Listeners of the Week are: Herb, Randy, and Joshua for their donations; as well as, Alan C. for letting SpoonFlower know we recommended their printed fabrics, Jackson L. for letting Accessories4Less know his Denon AVR-X3300W purchase was AVRant’s suggestion, and Troy T. and J for letting Ascend Acoustics know their respective Sierra-2 and HTM-200SE speaker purchases were thanks to AVRant.

In the news (which we put together before CES 2017 began, so it’s already old): the Samsung M9500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player promises to make HDR TV settings automatically, although it lacks Dolby Vision support. And Emotiva BasX Speakers and new Emotiva Airmotiv speaker models expand their product lineup.

Josh Pollard from The Digital Media Zone has a few minor quibbles about his Vizio M-Series TV, but overall, he loves it. And Nathan D. found an explanation for Lee’s issue where Comcast is converting 1080i channels to 720p from last week, while John M. noticed the same thing and was given a signal amplifier that greatly improved his picture quality.

Jefferson G. bought an Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray player, which is plugged into his HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 Marantz Pre-Pro, which is then plugged into his 1080p projector. And that’s giving him HDCP errors. We discuss a work around. Robert G. wants to know if he can use an external amplifier strictly for his overhead Atmos speakers, or if he should follow the common advice of using the external amp to power his Fronts. And Travelling IT Guy moved his Denon Receiver for a Christmas party, and it started shutting down. You might be able to guess what we tell him to check.

Jeremy K. wants a pair of bookshelf speakers for around $100. We like the Pioneer Andrew Jones SP-BS22-LR, EMP Tek E3b, and Focal Little Bird. Zach R. was getting sibilance with some Dolby Digital Plus streams on his Pioneer SC-05 Receiver, but a cheap Onkyo had no such issues. We speculate why. Then we mention the Marantz SR6010 and Denon AVR-X4200W as less expensive 5.2.4 Receivers, and the Marantz SR6011 as the least expensive 7.2.4 model. And Bill R. has a Denon AVR-X6300H that is forgetting its settings. We make some suggestions. Bill also asks about how to describe a subwoofer’s exact placement, whether projectors can get burn-in, and why we get excited about lasers when JVC projectors still look the best. And lastly, he shares some pictures of his completed theater, and recommends Origin Acoustics for in-ceiling speakers.

Frederick V. owns a Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player and asks if he should upgrade to the Oppo UDP-203. Mark H. asks why we (really only Rob, to be fair) prefer CNET’s TV reviews, and why we sometimes disagree with Rtings conclusions. Alan C. asks about acoustically transparent fabric, insulation thickness and air gaps, the best design for acoustic panel frames, and what matters most when it comes to bass traps. Spencer P. asks for the best way to set up dual subwoofers using a miniDSP with Dirac Live. And J. asks for some clarification about aiming Atmos ceiling speakers and how a room correction program like Audyssey will affect off-axis response.


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AV Rant #519: Hi James (Sorry Austen)

December 30th, 2016 No comments

Happy Holidays! Tom is away, so Rob H. is joined by Lee Overstreet, and making his AV Rant debut, James Bujold from Rainy Lake Audio and Dynamic Technologies. Rob is a terrible host and somehow forgot to give Producer Austen all of his usual mentions! Honestly, we add one new face and Rob loses all competence. For shame. Sorry, Austen!

Our Listener of the Week is Vince H. who sprang for three Ascend Acoustics Sierra-2 speakers plus a Sierra Luna pre-order, as well as an Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray player and Marantz SR6011 from Accessories4Less. Vince let all of those companies know he heard about them on AV Rant.

We mourn the passing of Carrie Fisher (1956-2016). As per her wishes, let it be forever remembered that “Carrie Fisher drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.” May the Force be with you, Princess. Always.

In the news, Antoine gave us the heads up about the Emotiva RMC-1 7.3.6 Atmos Pre-Pro being shown at CES 2017. And Samsung can’t wait to use the name “QLED”, so much so that they’re rebranding SUHD and will have to come up with another name when genuine QLED displays eventually come to market.

In Comments, Kris P. says the new Vudu app on Xbox One already supports Atmos bitstream audio output for members of the Insider Preview program. Jim W. discovered the joys of a seamless timbre match with his new BIC America speakers. Lee is angry at Comcast downscaling lots of channels to 720p in his area. And Sean F. has nearly completed his home theater build, and he shares a few tips about riser height and IR control.

Justin B. measured a dip in his frequency response, so we discuss potential causes and fixes. He’s also considering new speakers, such as: Ascend Acoustics Sierra Horizon RAAL, or Legacy Audio Studio HD bookshelf and Silverscreen HD Center. He also asks about pressurizing his room and potentially using three subs and Andy C.’s Multi-Sub Optimizer software. Then he asks about 4K and HDR content on computers and upconverting existing 1080p content. Finally, Justin asks about Manual Pull-Down projection screens, Motorized Roll-Down screens, L-Brackets for wall mounting, and lastly, LeEco’s 85-inch uMax TV.

Jim W. wants to upgrade his projector for $500. The Wirecutter Best Cheap Projector pick is ok, but we suggest the Epson HC2030 instead. Jim also asks about Denon’s less expensive S-Series Receivers. Rick G. has a large great room and wants to upgrade his subwoofers, but his budget is limited. We suggest the HSU VTF-3 Mk5 HP, but for lower prices, the Outlaw Audio Ultra-X12 or SVS PB-1000 could suffice. And Adriano has a friend who wants a simple 2-speaker setup. We talk about ways to connect all his sources and compare powered monitors to stand-alone Bluetooth speakers.

We spend some time getting to know our guest co-host James, who shares some advice from the perspective of a professional installer. And Lee goes into a few details about his quest to convert all of his old analogue media to digital. He suggests visiting The Digital FAQ and the HDML-Cloner Box Pro from cloner-alliance.

Infinite Gary wonders if the lack of Ultra HD Blu-ray titles available from Netflix’ disc-by-mail service signals doom for the format. Jonathan F. wanted to point and laugh at the RokBlok record player, which sure does remind us of the 35+ year-old VW Soundwagon. And Timothy B. read Mark Henninger’s “Why Quantum Dot HDR TVs are Great for Gaming” article, and it made him question his OLED advocacy.

Brian A. clarified what his front wall will look like in his great room, which doesn’t change our in-wall speaker recommendations, but it does get us to suggest the GoldenEar SuperCinema 3D Array and KEF HTF8003 Speaker Bar as potential alternatives. We also dish out some hard facts about single subwoofer placement. Pete G. gets our list of excellent subwoofers under $1,000, which include: HSU VTF-3 Mk5 HP, HSU VTF-15H Mk2 (when it’s on sale), and Power Sound Audio 15V for huge output and size; SVS PC-2000 Cylinder for small footprint; HSU ULS-15 Mk2 and Power Sound Audio 15S for high output sealed; and SVS SB-2000 and Rythmik F12 for smallest size. James (our guest co-host) hit us up for a list of projector resources, including: Visual Apex, Projector People, HT Market, B&H Photo, Projector Central, and Projector Reviews. And Jack H. gets our thoughts on what really makes a difference when it comes to music sound quality, and why we think he should spend his money on good recordings, good speakers, and good setup while pretty much ignoring everything else.


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AV Rant #518: Dead to Tom

December 23rd, 2016 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are: Erik, Geoffrey, and Brian for their donations. And also Jefferson, who ordered an Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray player and told them he heard about them from AV Rant.

In the news, Amazon Prime Video is now available in over 200 countries. And Kris P. and Joel N. both sent word that Xbox One bitstream audio output is in beta and available right now to members of the Insider Preview Program.

Antoine informed us that no sales bonuses are paid to Best Buy employees, so that was an error on our part last week. Kris P. noted an updated Amazon Video App for Xbox One that adds 4K and HDR support, and he also implores everyone to use the Xbox User Voice Forum to vote for the features we’d like to see added. Jonathan F. gets a few more thoughts on his vaulted ceiling reflections. And Christian S. weighs in on image “burn-in” on various display technologies.

Timothy B. has Infinity Overture 2 Tower speakers, and he wants to know the best way to preserve the longevity of their built-in amplifiers. Josh C. gets our input on his choice of subwoofers for a small home theater that will hopefully be replaced by a larger theater in the future. We also discuss his speaker choices, and mention the forthcoming Ascend Acoustics Sierra Luna as the perfect match for other Ascend Sierra-Series speakers. And Jim B. is annoyed by the backlight in his Samsung KS8000 TV. It seems to have a mind of its own, but outside of using CNET’s recommended KS8000 settings or calling a THX Certified Video Calibrator or ISF Certified Video Calibrator, we don’t know how to fix his particular issue.

Travis D. wants to know if moving his speakers closer to the wall behind them will improve dialogue intelligibility. We say no, and we go over many other things that we think could help. James wants to play the content stored on his NAS using a Roku 4. We go over some Plex settings and offer the Personal Media Apps List for Roku devices. Colin H. wants whole house audio that can be used with two existing AV Receivers, and we think the Dayton Audio DAX66 Distribution System is the perfect solution. And John M. asks if brighter HDR projectors will result in more washed-out images in rooms with light-colored walls.

Nathan D. wonders if advertisers might use HDR to try and grab our attention with obscenely bright commercials. Steve H. needs Atmos speakers to match his Aperion Verus Grand fronts. We highly recommend RBH Sound A-600 in-ceiling speakers with RBH Rear Enclosures, or Focal Bird on-wall speakers, as well as constructing SPC Backer Boxes for any large openings in the walls or ceiling. And Nathan W. wants a device that can play content from a server with lossless audio. For that, we suggest the NVidia Shield TV, or a Raspberry Pi 3 with Kodi, or Plex Media Player on a Raspberry Pi.

Bari W. asks about phantom Center channels and adjusting dialogue intelligibility when anticipating poor room acoustics. Sam P. doesn’t want to upgrade his HDMI 1.4 Pre-Pro, which means his 4K sources either need two HDMI outputs, or he’ll likely need an HD Fury Integral. And Erik S. wants a very small, but still great subwoofer in a white finish. We favor the JL Audio E110, although if it’s more about footprint than height, the Axiom Audio EP500 v4 is also an option.

Infinite Gary used subtitles to discover he wasn’t hearing every single detail with his volume dial well below Reference Volume. We suggest using some mild dynamic range compression. Bill R. wasn’t impressed with Audyssey MultEQ XT32 right away, but some adjustments helped, and he wants to know what target curve we use, why, and when the Audyssey App will finally be available. And Yuri has a wide open room, so he gets our thoughts on speaker choices, whether to use subwoofers, and what to look for in a subwoofer when full pressurization isn’t the goal.

Jeremy P. started his own speaker company, Porter Edwards. He wants to use his house as a showroom, so we discuss equipment layout and how we would set up three different listening spaces. Terry G. wants to know if an Ultra Low Profile Projector Mount will work with his setup or cause any heat issues. And Andrew N. needs a replacement projector lamp. We suggest Projector Lamp Genie or My Projector Lamps.


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AV Rant #517: Worst Buy

December 16th, 2016 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Andrew, Joshua, and Mark for their donations, as well as: Terry G., for telling Accessories4Less that his Marantz SR6011 purchase was because of our recommendation; Bob, for tweeting EMP Tek that we recommended their Impression Series speakers; David F., for letting MountDirect.com know we sent him their way; and Byron S., who mentioned AV Rant in his review of the SVS Ultra Bookshelf speakers.

In the news, John M. gave us a heads up about Sony launching OLED TVs in 2017. Emotiva Airmotiv Series Subwoofers were added to their lineup not even a week after their BasX Series. HDMI LLC made a new HDMI 2.0b spec official, which adds HLG. And Nathan D., Infinite Gary, and Heath B. all pointed out that the Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player is now available.

Jeff G. dropped us a comment saying he’s sad to see his Denon AVR-X4000 Receiver go, but his new AVR-X4300H and 7.2.4 setup sounds awesome!

Ted M. asks about some of our favorite movies of 2016, and he discovered that hearing a whole extra octave of deep bass revealed some unevenness from seat to seat, so he wonders if there’s a fix. Mark O. asks about LG’s affordable HDR LCD TVs vs. Vizio, and we suggest it’s worth holding out for the Vizio M-Series. And Mike F. has a large, open theater area and doesn’t want to bother his family while they’re sleeping, so he asks about nearfield subwoofer placement and eventual dual subwoofer options and positions.

Troy T. wasn’t satisfied with his bass after running Audyssey MultEQ and wants to know why it doesn’t offer greater control. Infinite Gary asks about the current top performing $10,000 projectors, so we discuss the JVC DLA-X950R, Epson LS10500, and Sony VPL-VW365ES. We also talk about sealed vs. ported Center speakers. And Jack R. wants us to explain what we think about Paradigm speakers in general, and how they compare to the sound of other speakers.

David F. wants to know more about tilting a projector, which leads to a discussion about keystoning and keystone correction. He also asks about DIY absorption panel placement. Heath B. reached out to GiK Acoustics for room advice, and we end up disagreeing with what they said regarding subwoofer placement. And Jonathan F. wants a sure-fire way to improve the slap echoes caused by his vaulted ceiling, so we suggest flattening it with either a drop tile ceiling or Auralex Sustain Diffusors.

John W. wants our recommendations for power protection. Our go-to brand is APC, so we mention their APC P8V Surge Protector, APC Back-UPS Battery Backup, APC H-Type Power Conditioner, and APC J25B and J35B AV Battery Backup units. Sam P. was warned away from buying an LG OLED TV and told to buy a Sony LCD instead by a Best Buy “expert”. We weigh in on the reasons given. And Brian “brain” A. has a new plan for his great room after talking with his builder and vendor. We recommend KEF in-wall speakers, GoldenEar on-wall speakers, SnapAV speakers, and a cylinder sub for his consideration.


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