AV Rant #578: Occam’s Couch

February 16th, 2018 No comments

Special Request: We need 1,000 subscribers to our AV Rant Podccast YouTube channel in order to remain in the YouTube Partnership Program under their new rules that take effect Feb. 20, and we’re so close! Please consider helping us get over that threshold. Subscribing is completely free, so we’d greatly appreciate it. Thank you!

Our Listeners of the Week are Karl and James for their donations, and our 53 Patreon Patrons, as well as Anthony R. for letting Accessories4Less know he heard about them from us when he bought his Denon AVR-X3300W, Chris H. for telling SVS he bought an SB12-NSD because of our recommendation, Karl for letting Charlie Jones from SurgeX know he bought an SX-1115 power conditioner after enjoying our interview, and Bruno for helping us keep our We Watch Movies Podcast intros going. Also, a huge thank you to everyone who has subscribed to our AV Rant Podcast YouTube channel recently!

In the news, Sony unveiled pricing for their A8F OLED and X900F LCD TVs, and we’re disappointed. However, Sony also announced new HT-Z9F and HT-X9000F SoundBars that decode Atmos and DTS:X at lower price points than other Atmos SoundBars. And if you want to make your own movie server, check the Make MKV Forums Ultra HD section as there have been lots of developments.

Justin B. recommends the RBH HP-1B Bluetooth Headphones for AptX and good sound quality at an affordable price. Nathan W. corrected us about how the beta Oppo firmware handles HDR to SDR conversion, pointing out that you can retain Deep Color while having more tone mapping options than before. And Chris A. and Brandon both informed us that Yamaha and Denon/Marantz offer AV Receivers that can switch HDMI inputs without powering on while using the HDMI standby pass-through feature.

0:30:58 Jeb B. gets our list of AV Receivers under $1,000 that can power a 5.1.4 setup, as well as confirmation that he’ll need a separate amp for Zone 2.

0:36:54 Justin B. gets our speculation on why his Harmony Keyboard and Harmony Smart Control Remote are acting up.

0:42:28 Ted M. tried all of our suggestions for improving the imaging of his on-wall speakers at his primary seat, so we give our absolute last ditch ideas, but mostly try to persuade him to go with what he already knows gives him the results he’s looking for.

0:50:08 Charleston L. asks about his Denon AVR-X4300H always automatically applying upmixing, so we go over his options for manually setting his desired listening modes.

0:54:43 Infinite Gary is curious about the Revel Performa Beryllium M126 Be Concept speakers, and the new Elac Adante AS-61 speakers with their “interport-coupled cavity” passive radiator system, and he wants to know which ones we’d choose and why.

1:03:12 Cesar R. gets our thoughts on where he should position his seating, what speaker configuration he should use, what screen size he should get and how far away to mount it, as well as our recommendations for 12 or 14 gauge in-wall speaker wire from Monoprice, Parts-Express or Amazon.

1:11:26 Luke K. wants to know which older Receiver models supported Front Wide speakers and are still available for under $1,000.

1:15:52 Mike F. is using a Vizio SoundBar in his bedroom, and he’d like dynamic range compression, but he’s tried all the available settings, so we discuss ideas for other products he might use.

1:22:37 Josh L. has an 85-inch TV he can mount above his fireplace, but he wants to be able to occasionally move the TV farther away from the heat.

1:28:17 Brandon N. wants more Atmos content, but that probably means 4K. So he also wants a new TV and a projection setup. We discuss his flat panel options, his projection screen options, including Elite Screen Spectrum AcousticPro UHD and Saker Tension AcousticPro UHD, and which we think he should buy first.

1:43:48 Nick B. gets our thoughts on Brent Butterworth’s Monoprice 9723 budget subwoofer pick for The Wirecutter along with some other thoughts about dual subs, more expensive subs, and what we think might surprise us in a blind listening test.

1:53:37 Chris H. wants a new, $200, compact sub for his bedroom that can still play fairly low, and we think the BIC F12 would be a good choice.


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AV Rant #577: You’ve Been Duded Rick

February 9th, 2018 No comments

Special Request: Please consider subscribing to our AV Rant Podcast YouTube Channel. We are close to reaching the 1,000 subscribers needed to remain in the YouTube Partnership Program taking effect Feb. 20. It’s free to subscribe, so we’d really appreciate your help. Thank you!

Our Listeners of the Week are Christopher for his donation, and our 54 Patreon Patrons, including Niels, as well as Jeb B. for telling Accessories4Less that it was “all our fault” that he bought a Denon AVR-X4300H Receiver and four Focal Little Bird speakers from them.

In the news, via Chris, RBH sent out word that the next generation of the RBH Impression Series speakers should be unveiled by the end of the month. Steve from Next Gen Home Theater alerted us that LG re-released the Dolby Vision firmware update for their UP970 Ultra HD Blu-ray player. And Kris let us know that Onkyo released a Dolby Vision firmware update from some of their older Receiver models, but it has a glitch involving the HDMI output settings.

Dan opted to mount his Bose Center speaker directly below his TV that pulls down in front of his fireplace. Mike M. decided to use a Monoprice Fiber Optic HDMI Cable, and confirmed with SVS that it’s ok to recess their sealed subs within a wall. And Byron received his Silver Ticket projection screen and is absolutely thrilled with the results.

0:18:52 Dave B. wants to know more about refurbished products.

0:23:12 Karl R. wants to talk about projectors: the value, comparing their performance to flat panels, the importance of the screen, and why we don’t encourage people to switch to a projection setup more often.

0:37:08 Dan P. asks about switching sources when using the HDMI standby pass-through feature on his AV Receiver, leading us to recommend the Sewell SwitchDeck HDMI switch for automatic HDMI switching.

0:40:58 Josh S. would like to know the specifics about what the Xbox One does wrong when it comes to audio output.

0:49:02 Rob M. has Bluetooth headphones, but they don’t have AptX, plus he would like to have Dolby Headphone or DTS Headphone:X processing. We suggest just using a wire, using an Avantree Bluetooth transmitter without worrying about AptX, getting an Avantree AptX transmitter and receiver set if he really wants AptX, using his Receiver’s “Virtual” listening mode in place of Dolby Headphone processing, or getting Astro A50 Wireless headphones if he really wants it all.

0:58:54 Alex upgraded his video and now he wants to upgrade his audio. We like his choice of a Denon AVR-X3300W Receiver, but think he should opt for 5.1.2 instead of 7.1 in his setup. We highly recommend he add GiK Acoustics or Acoustimac DIY acoustic panels, suggest HSU horn-loaded or Focal Bird Series speakers, and mention SVS PB-1000 or HSU VTF-2 MK5 subwoofers to hit his budget.

1:15:17 Niels B. ran into an issue with his LG OLED TV’s HDMI Ultra HD Deep Color setting. If all sources go through his AV Receiver to a single HDMI input, some of his 1080p SDR sources have problems if Deep Color is on, but he loses HDR from his 4K sources if Deep Color is off. One solution is to use an HD Fury AVR Key to separate the audio and video or any problem source, allowing Niels to use a different HDMI input just for that source.

1:24:00 Chris A. has older Paradigm Atom speakers that all started buzzing. We suspect their foam woofer surrounds have degraded. He already has an impressive list of replacement candidates, but we add Focal Bird, RBH Impression, and RSL speakers as options.

1:27:33 Ryan T. is disappointed the Dolby Surround Upmixer cannot use Front Wide speakers, so he asks if we think he should forego Front Wides, or nix his Surround Back speakers so that DTS Neural:X upmixer will keep Front Wide speakers active.

1:31:04 Tom W. wants an affordable AV Receiver, so he asks if Atmos really needs four overhead speakers, or if 5.2.2 is good enough. We recommend the Marantz SR6011 so he can have 5.2.4, and potentially expand to 7.2.4 later.

1:37:32 Andrew N. is getting a large volume difference when using stereo listening mode vs. any upmixing mode, so we explain using his Denon’s 2-channel level adjust feature.

1:39:13 Nick B. gets our speculation on when we think it will be an optimal time to buy an HDR-capable projector.

1:45:19 Jay W. needs a new subwoofer for his open-concept family room. Out of his list of candidates, we like the HSU ULS-15 MK2, but we also highly recommend he consider an SVS PC12-Plus cylinder.

1:50:12 Nathan W. gets our thoughts on using third party software to create custom tone mapping curves for JVC projectors, as well as using Oppo’s newest beta HDR to SDR conversion options instead of the strip metadata feature.


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AV Rant #576: Retirement is not Death

February 2nd, 2018 No comments

Special Request: Please consider subscribing to AV Rant Podcast on YouTube so that we can remain in the YouTube Partnership Program when they enact their new rules starting Feb. 20. A HUGE thank you for the influx of subscriptions! We’re close to the necessary 1,000 subscriptions, so we’re really hoping we can reach that threshold. Thanks, everyone!

Our Listeners of the Week are our 53 Patreon Patrons, including Patrick P., and also Heath B. for letting Soundproofing Company know he heard about them from us, Robert G. for talking about us in person with SVS President & CEO Gary Yacoubian, and Justin L. for tweeting with SVS to let them know his SB-4000 subwoofer purchase was an AVRant recommendation.

In the news, via Steve the Geek on Twitter, the first Denon AVR-X8500H owners have discovered the Dolby Surround Upmixer still cannot use Front Wide speakers, despite what was misprinted in the manual. The Apple TV OS 11.3 Beta firmware gets Dolby Vision working on Sony X1 Extreme TVs, and Oppo says they’re working on a Sony Dolby Vision fix. And Nintendo Labo cardboard peripherals are either a fun new toy, or the ultimate, easily destroyed add-on.

Dan has decided to try some alternatives to the expensive Revel C10 Center speaker we suggested for his TV mounted above his fireplace. And Patrick went with our open-back Sennheiser HD559 suggestion, and he added the Avantree Clipper Pro Bluetooth adapter to make them wireless.

Josh C. gets our thoughts on high efficiency speakers and whether they inherently improve dynamics and tactile sensation. Vince H. asks if Front Wide speakers need to be aimed at the primary listening position. And Chris T. gives us a choice between two Samsung TVs, where we’d opt for the MU6100 Series out of the two, but we’d choose the TCL 55P605, or the Vizio M55-E0 over either Samsung option. And we also address Chris’ questions about 7.1.6 Atmos Receivers.

Roy B. needs a new disc player, so we recommend the Sony UBP-X800 if he wants a universal disc player, or a Sony S3700 or S6700 if he just needs the basics. Ted M. tried our suggestion to experiment with a makeshift, temporary baffle wall, but the results were inconclusive, so we have a few last ditch ideas for him to try before he does anything drastic. And Infinite Gary gets our input on using a cassette adapter for his old car stereo, as well as our thoughts on how the OLED Light settings option ought to be adjusted.

Mike G. needs some help troubleshooting why his NVidia Shield TV is his only source device that refused to pass through his Yamaha AV Receiver to his Samsung 4K TV. NevadaDealers on Twitter gets our recommendations for HT Design Seating from HT Market, Fusion Collection Seating, Continental Seating, and Elite Home Theater Seating. And Earle B. wants to know the best way to connect two XLR stereo sources to his single pair of XLR inputs, so we recommend simply using RCA for one of the sources, but offer the suggestion of a pair of Sescom Passive XLR Switches if he’s only willing to use XLR.

Karl R. wants to know when we think the HDMI 2.1 hardware update will be available for the Denon AVR-X8500H Receiver. We also go over the HDR settings for JVC projectors, as well as the output options for Oppo’s Ultra HD Blu-ray players. And we discuss dynamic metadata for projectors, the likelihood of huge, rollable flat panels replacing projection setups, the best audio output settings for the Apple TV 4K, and what we think about 70mm film presentations. And Mike M. wants to retain Dolby Vision and Atmos in his Main Zone while playing the same source on a less capable TV in Zone 2, so we talk about the HD Fury Linker, using an inexpensive Receiver like the Yamaha RX-V383, and using Monoprice Fiber Optic HDMI Cables, or Monoprice DynamicView Active HDMI Cables for his long HDMI run.


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AV Rant #575: Pedantic About Subs

January 27th, 2018 No comments

SPECIAL REQUEST: Please consider subscribing to our YouTube channel so that we can continue to post our videos under YouTube’s new Partnership Program. We’re required to have 1,000 subscribers by Feb. 20 in order to keep our channel and uploads unchanged. It’s completely free to subscribe, so we’d really appreciate your help. Thank you!

Our Listeners of the Week are James and Luke for their donations, along with our 51 Patreon Patrons, including Rob M. and Josh C., as well as Ryan H. for telling SVS he decided on dual PB16-Ultra subwoofers rather than buying a second Klipsch sub because of us, Robert E. for letting SVS know we started him down his multiple subwoofer journey, Jason S. for letting Sound Proofing Company know we sent him their way, and Steve the Geek from NextGenHomeTheater.com for mentioning us in his KEF Q-Series speaker review.

Daisy is ok, everybody. But we’re still giving her nights off. And Rob got an LG OLED65B7P thanks to TVOutlet.ca offering discounts on refurbished TVs in Canada.

In the news, Monoprice Monolith Amplifiers with XLR inputs will be available at the end of January. Sony released their Dolby Vision firmware update for their X1 Extreme TVs, but it doesn’t work with any external sources, and further firmware updates for Dolby Vision sources will be required. And SVS announced their Prime Wireless Speakers and SoundBase.

Travis D. tried playing frequency sweeps from AudioCheck.net, and he found his Receiver’s crossover is functioning as we described. Bari W. tore down the soffit that was covering a pipe on his basement ceiling and installed a false wall at the front of his room. Derek F. shared optimal video and audio settings for Comcast cable boxes. Benjamin B. suggested replacing a Behringer iNuke amplifier cooling fan with a quieter PC case fan rather than replacing the whole amplifier. David F. received his three pairs of RBH A-600 in-ceiling speakers and backer boxes, but ran into an snag installing them. Dave M. shared a Slow Mo Guys video demonstrating “sample and hold” displays vs. CRT. And AJ says last week’s image of 24 speakers is NOT a reasonable number of speakers…according to his wife.

Josh S. gets our thoughts on having a separate video calibration for each source device. Ian E.’s friend wants a 50-60-inch TV for under $600 that’s as future proof as possible, so we suggest either a TCL 55P605 or a Vizio M-Series display. Ian also asks about a strange, constant noise coming from his USB computer speakers that we think might be a USB cable issue, so we suggest a replacement USB cable with ferrite cores. And we suspect some odd “pumping” of his Epson 8350’s light levels might either be due to lamp age, or some heating issues that might be helped by cleaning the air filter.

Byron S. gets our recommendation for a Silver Ticket projection screen along with one of the new $1,500 4K DLP projectors, such as the BenQ HT2550, or paying a bit more for the Epson HC 4000. Rob M. wants a new Receiver with a phono input to drive a 2.1 Living Room setup, so we suggest the Onkyo TX-NR575, Yamaha RX-A760, Marantz SR6011, or a Denon AVR-X3300W paired with an Emotiva XPS-1 phono pre-amp. Steve T. gets our thoughts on why his dual subwoofers sound fine on their own, but have a dip in their frequency response after running and applying Audyssey SubEQ HT. And Ryan H. gets our suggestions for covering his room’s 42-inch entrance, covering his front wall and ceiling in fabric instead of just painting them black, and using Klipsch R-14SA on-ceiling speakers rather than in-ceiling speakers for Atmos.

Brandon G. wants a projector, but he has a lot of ambient light, so we talk about large flat panel options instead. Adam P. has high efficiency, horn-loaded speakers at ear level, but satellite speakers overhead, so we recommend trying an experiment first, and considering the Klipsch R-15M bookshelf speakers. And Nick B. wants us to speculate about large, rollable OLED TVs potentially replacing motorized projection setups.

Heath B. is concerned about a 65-foot subwoofer cable run, so we try to set his mind at ease. And Shane T. wants to know why we always refer to dual subwoofer setups as “5.2” or “7.2.4”, etc. when those are technically 5.1 or 7.1.4 setups that happen to use more than one subwoofer for the LFE channel.


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AV Rant #574: A Reasonable Number of Speakers

January 19th, 2018 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Earle for his donation, along with our 51 Patreon Patrons, as well as Jason H. for letting SVS know we pointed him their way, and Kerry for letting Accessories4Less know he heard about them from us when he bought his Marantz SR6011 AV Receiver.

In the news, Denon announced the $4,000 13.2-channel AVR-X8500H Receiver while Marantz announced the $4,500 13.2-channel AV8805 Pre-Pro. We combed through the Denon AVR-X8500H manual to find details on its multitude of setup options using its 13 built-in amps and 15 sets of binding posts and pre-outs. It might be helpful to download Dolby’s 9.1.6 Atmos test tones and reference the Dolby 9.1.6 speaker setup guide as 7.1.6 and 9.1.4 configurations are possible with these new 13.2-channel products.

Sony showed their 85-inch 8K “Full-Spec HDR” TV that’s capable of hitting 10,000 nit peaks. Sony announced their UBP-X700 Ultra HD Blu-ray player with Dolby Vision support. And Sony’s TV lineup for 2018 plays it safe with no major performance increases, but less expensive A8F OLED and FALD X900F LCD TVs. Lastly, TCL announced 55 and 65-inch 6-Series Roku TVs with Dolby Vision and more “Contrast Control Zones”.

Travis D. explained how he was testing his bass management and crossovers using sine wave test tones, so we suggested using sweeps from Audiocheck.net instead. Infinite Gary asks if 2018 OLED TVs are still glossy, explains how he filled his whole 2.35:1 screen while watching 4:3 content, gets our thoughts on how much beefed up video processing chips impact picture quality, and asks what he’d be gaining if he added Front Wide speakers to his setup. And Steve B. gets our recommendations to install Focal Little Bird or NHT SuperZero speakers as his Atmos overheads.

Grant M. wants to automatically play a list of movies with subtitles off of a hard drive, so we suggest using Plex on an NVidia Shield TV or Kodi on a Mi Box. Jack T. gets our thoughts on adding two more in-ceiling speakers to the four he already has in order to expand to 5.2.4 Atmos. And Gabriel J. gets our help identifying some used speakers he bought as the Paradigm Titan v1 and Paradigm LCR-150 v1.

Jonathan F. wants to know why perforated cinema screens black more sound and create a steeper high frequency roll-off than the screens used for home theater. Manuel T. needs to mount his Surround speakers up high, so we think either the SVS Prime Elevation or Focal Bird speakers would work well for him. And Jason B. built a DIY subwoofer with an external amplifier, but he wasn’t happy with the cooling fan noise, so we suggest the Dayton SA230 or a BASH 300S Plate Amplifier since we know Jason could build a beautiful case to house a plate amp.

Charleston L. gets our input on wiring two pairs of speakers in series vs. parallel. Dan uses a fireplace TV mount to lower his TV in front of the mantle for viewing, but that makes it difficult to position his Center speaker, so we suggest using a SoundBar Bracket and perhaps the slim Revel C10 Center speaker so that the TV and Center speaker can move together as one. And Dave gets some settings advice when adding a subwoofer to his Martin Logan Motion Vision SoundBar, and he stumps us when he asks for an inexpensive, rack-mountable HDMI 2.0 switch, which leads us to suggest simply using a shelf along with a Sewell SwitchDeck or checking with SnapAV to see if they offer a solution.

Ken M. wants to know why flagship Receivers still top out at two subwoofer outputs instead of four. Stephen M. wants to know whether the Sony A8F or LG C8 OLED will do a better job of upscaling 576i content in Australia. And Johnny D. needs a new Receiver that he hopes will last him 10 years, so we suggest either spending as little as possible on a Denon AVR-X1300W or splurging a bit on a Denon AVR-X3300W.

Robert G. wants to run Room EQ Wizard test tones through his Atmos speakers with Audyssey active so that he can measure what Audyssey is doing in those positions, but we don’t know of an ideal way to do it. Ryan T. gets confirmation on his speaker choices, some positioning advice for Front Wide speakers, and a refresher on how to use three Receivers to matrix Top Middles from a setup with Top Fronts and Top Rears. Karl R. read the AVS Forum report that functional HDMI 2.1 chips were shown at CES, which leads us to talk about Denon’s HDMI 2.1 upgrade plans for their new flagship Receiver. And Kerry gets our recommendations for Sewell Strike and GLS Locking banana plugs.


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