Building the Ultimate Theater

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Clint Walker, Nov 12, 2003.

  1. Clint Walker

    Clint Walker Stunt Coordinator

    Oct 9, 2002
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    Hi Marion, I would love to get the number of the ISF Tech you used. My buddy is at his witts end with this thing. He bought it two years ago or so and paid handsomely for it--so he'll be interested in a solution for certain.

    I also agree in going with a non-perf screen. With a perf-screen you loose on both ends--you don't get 100% out of the sound or 100% from the screen. The trick here is finding a center channel with excellent off-axis response.

    There sure seems to be a lot of talk here about the SV subs...I'll have to call one in to hear what all the fuss is about!

    As far as the "Rainbow" affect is concerned, none of the higher-end models that I'm aware of suffer from this anomolie. Likewise, it can be caused for a number of reasons not related to the projector itself. I believe the only way to stay with the times is to go with a 3-chip DLP--but I may have to sell my Rover to afford one!
  2. Michael Laurino

    Michael Laurino Auditioning

    Apr 2, 2003
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    Hey Clint,

    I see the recommendations flying in. I want to take issue with some of the comments about theater seating. I have done a great deal of research on this you know. I was surprised to see the one about Berkline!! Lazyboy?? What is going on in this world? Like the many products mentioned here...I haven't seen one recommendation for those wonderful Realistic Loudspeakers from Radio Shack!! Are you kidding me? Common guys, Berkline, LazyBoy, Lane, Ashley, BarcaLounger...Radio Shack, same thing. Rolex...Timex, both watches right? Chevy makes two Vettes, Corvette, Chevette...both cars right...come on!!!! What is under the skin of all those cheap seats? seats. If you are as serious about your investment for your theater gear...use your head the same way and buy long lasting, comfortable, quality seating from an expert...PERIOD. Ever hear, "You get what you pay for"... Check out CinemaTech, PremiereHTS, First Impressions...the experts, life time guarantees, etc. Happy hunting!!
  3. marion.r

    marion.r Extra

    Oct 1, 2003
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    The g90 expert (ISF) I have used is Roger Galvin. He lives in Florida, but frequently flies around the US working on g90's. Since it is his business, I am sure he would not mind me sharing his numbers on this forum. His office number is 954-434-2356. His he is frequently on the 954-646-7000. Someone told me he has converged many (if not most) of the g90's around the US. This may be an exaggeration, but my personal experience is that his work is superb.

    I had a perfed screen...UltraMat 150. He took the time to explain to me the downside of the perf...and my annoyance with the perfed screen grew from there. I finally had to switch...with much consternation...after I had already bought one expensive Stewart screen. I turned around and bought the second...the StudioTec 130. The screen does make a big difference, and I would highly recommend talking to Stewart about your specific needs, as screens do vary dependent on projectors.

    I have 2 g90' in my bedroom and the second in a theater under construction. Roger will fly here and converge the second when I am finished with the other components.

    In my opinion, video is solved for the next seveal years, until DLP (three chip or other) or some other system catches up. If you like DLP, and many people do, I am sure it will work well.

    As for speakers, I have done a lot of research on high end. Roger and other installers recommend Genelec. They like other speakers also...but it seems Genelec has a good reputation. Somehow, I personally cannot get past the "two way" in wall concept. Genelec has the reputation that they will help with the design of your system to maximize quality sound. HT installers like this feature.

    I have listened to an incredibly good Vandersteen 5A presentation with SACD that was very clean, crisp and delightful. Obviously, the acoustics were handled correctly, subs were around the room, and dedicated amps were in place. Phase alignment was audible. I think the 5A's are great. My concerns about Vandersteen are center channel and surrounds not meeting the same specs as the 5A's. If it were just stereo music, I think this would be my choice for the money.

    I own B & W Nautilus 800's (Signature Black Tigereye). They are very classy and have excellent sound. I drive them with a BAT VK 6200 and BAT VK51SE. Great speakers, great amp and preamp. I could easily recommend this system as one of the best I have ever heard.

    As for off axis, and creation of a wide and dimensional sound stage, I believe ATC probably can do this well. The center channel is really a center. Their C6 center is large...46+ inches wide, 15 inches tall, and 20+ deep...150 lbs. or so. This along with the 150's for the front and 50's or 100's in the rear, with their sub (C6) makes a lot of sense to me. The only reason I suggest their sub, is that it matches their other speakers well. One ATC review suggested the C7 system was the "best in the world". To me, it is a bit expensive, but the same effects can be had for less money by forgoing the "hi-tech" look of the C7 series, for the rosewood or black C6.

    These are the words of Billy Woodman, founder of ATC...

    "You can happily mix-and-match models within the ATC range with no loss of sound stage or performance. This is because all of the loudspeakers incorporate the same soft dome midrange technology and use the same high frequency driver. In particular, the SCM50, SCM100, SCM150, SCM200, SCM300 and the C6C centre channel all have exactly the same midrange and high frequency drive units. This ensures the same neutral sonic character, broad dispersion characteristic, and huge dynamic range right through this range of products. If you mix-and-match the loudspeakers in a multi-channel system the only difference will be the low frequency balance, every other characteristic will be exactly the same. For the products that interest you, the SCM50ASL has a -6dB cut-off @ 38Hz, the SCM100ASL has a -6dB cut-off @ 32Hz and the SCM150ASL has a -6dB cut-off @ 25Hz. They all crossover electronically to the 3" soft dome midrange @ 380Hz.

    For domestic purposes, and most professional, the built-in Ampack is more than adequate and will provide huge dynamic range. For instance, the SCM150ASL's with the C6C centre channel will produce a continuous level, all 3 driven, in excess of 112dB @ 2M. The Ampack delivers 200W to the bass, 100W to the mid and 50W to the tweeter. A total of 350W. To equal this using a passive loudspeaker would require an amplifier of 700W. Apart from which, by actively amplifying a loudspeaker we can not only guarantee a flat and uniform Magnitude response but also a correct minimum phase response. The will ensure a broad and stable sound field. Apart from which, by a having a separate amplifier for each loudspeaker driver the intermodulation distortion is reduced in the order of 20dB when compared to a single amplifier and a passive loudspeaker.

    The materials used, and the construction techniques developed at ATC to manufacture our unique range of drive units, the heart of all our systems, ensures the lowest levels of colouration in the industry."

    In thinking about this, it eliminates the need for individual amps, and overall the cost of the system using great speakers is essentially the same as sending an amplified signal...with the caveate that cables are a lot less expensive. The reason I suggested the Lexicon MC12B is because it can easily handle the balanced signals needed by powered speakers, and it is relatively easy to install and set up.

    As for subs...I own two SVS subs. I think they are great. They are quick, responsive, and do what subs do best...reproduce the LFE's you are looking for.

    Tom V, of SVS had this to say, when I asked him how the SVS sub would sound with B & W Nautilus 800's...(my bedroom system)...

    "The SVs will work excellent with the BWs, but to really optimize the system you’ll need to experiment a bit to find the optimal subwoofer location and be sure to calibrate the system with a SPL meter(and a good setup disc like AVIA or Video Essentials). Tweaking the phase control of the subs could give you subtle improvements too, but this is usually room and speaker placement dependent. Also, you’ll have to try having the BWs set to SMALL and then set to LARGE. Try each method with a variety of source material and see which configuration works best. In my experiences, setting all speakers to SMALL and letting a well placed(and calibrated)subwoofer handle ALL the bass tends to work best…but every one has different preferences so it is always best to experiment for yourself..[​IMG]

    Please let me know if you have any other questions Marion,

    Tom V.

    SVS is a very responsive company, and very customer friendly. Depending on speakers you use, I am sure Tom V. would be delighted to let you know what SVS sub would work best in your circumstance.

    I don't know if an SVS sub will function with the speed necessary to work with the ATC's, but I know my bedroom shakes when a DTS (or THX) movie runs. Subwoofers are a guy thing, and there are freqently discussion forums that describe how wives and subs don't mix very well. Hopefully, you have resolved this issue before you considered the HT in the first place.

    Don't forget to consider exhausting the heat from equipment.

    Remote control is another topic all together. I use the RTI T2 which allows for IR, RF, and RS 232 commands. It interfaces with lighting and shades as well as equipment. Programming is not difficult if you can get the command libraries. RTI Corp. personnel are, too, very helpful. If you like hard buttons as well as touch screen, with maximum versitility, the T2 is the way to go. Crestron and Pronto programmers will probably disagree. However, when you need tech support, Kevin, at RTI, in their tech department is very helpful.

    At the end of the day, you might have to sell your Rover anyway.

    Clint, please forgive the length of this post. I hope it is helpful.
  4. Clint Walker

    Clint Walker Stunt Coordinator

    Oct 9, 2002
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    [​IMG] Wow! I don't know about you all, but this is getting to be pretty exciting to keep reading the responses to this thread.

    I agree with Stan. Theater seating should be treated like a mattress. You're going to spend and lot of time on it, so make the investment in quality.

    Marion, you are right on par with my tastes in high performance home theater. You have obviously spent a great deal of time researching your products before the purchase/installation--more than I can say for the majority of "custom" clients--who typically just go with what the installer suggests.

    We are going to call you ISF tech and get this G90 calibrated. When it's good its very, very good.

    I'll be on the horn with ATC as well.

    Just a little tip on where we're going with this guys. We plan to start covering (reviewing) higher-end gear in HDTV ETC. Magazine here as we will print 6 issues in 2004. We feel that the majority of HD owners are "early adopters" and therefore more savvy as it regards home theater equipment. Generally more technical reviews that what we currently print in DVD ETC., which is geared toward the masses. -I'll keep you posted.
  5. johnbr

    johnbr Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 30, 1997
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    I would look at Classe avpre ssp60 amp there cav500 and one pair of there mono amps.Speakers Von Schweikert Vr7 and lcr50
    Vr 310 for the side's and vr1 for the back.Sub svs P4+ with k2 amp.Tv Marantz new 3chip dlp projector dvd Linn 1.1 Room done in Isc isowall system.ButtKicker2 3 preroll 2v 1h.
  6. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

    Jun 11, 1999
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    Hi Clint!

    Any idea of a rough equipment budget? That will allow us to respond with "reasonable" suggestions within that constraint.

    If I had the money I would probably look at these products:

    Projector: Sony HS20 Widescreen LCD (new). Don't spend a lot on an FP for now as we are now moving into the realm of more affordable, true 1080p within a couple years with much greater pixel density (less possibility of visible pixel grid structures). The Sony seems like a great bang for the buck (around $2,800 online) and includes HDMI and DVI-D/HDCP ports so you have a choice of digital connections.

    Screen: I'd fire off some correspondence to Stewart Filmscreen. Don Stewart would probably be the best person to give you advise on this. Consider masking as an option.

    Pre-amp: Lexicon MC-8b or MC-12b with the latest circuit board and software upgrades. My next suggestion would be a Parasound Halo C-2. Look at the ability to upgrade parts and features... a make or break in my book (when all else fails, Lexicon does have buy-back upgrade options too). If any of these suggestions are out of your price range then the upgraded Anthem AVM-20 V.2 is hard to beat in the midrange processor category. All of these suggestions have low noise balanced outputs.

    Amp(s): Bryston, ATI, or something similar. Be sure it's fully balanced from input to output stage. For example, Sherbourn has XLR inputs, but the circuit topology is not balanced. This is a tough category as the amp and pre-amp have to have audio synergy. Mix and match to your tastes.

    Speakers: Again, a very subjective area. Speakers will voice slightly different depending on what pre-amp and amp combo you go with, and what type of room they will reside in. Be sure your retailer will allow you to take some floor models home to audition. That said, I recommend looking at B&W, JM/Focal Labs, PSB, Revel, Tannoy, Mirage, Energy, and the like. Internet speakers can seem like a great way to get a price break, until you realize you can't audition them without paying to ship them back if they don't work out (talk about a penalty to your wallet)! I HIGHLY recommend going with completely matching speakers all the way around (if you can build your room to accommodate that). That goes doubly for the center speaker: it should be 100% identical to the main left and right speakers. One good reason an acoustically transparent perforated screen should be strongly considered. You may or may not be able to afford or design a room that handles fully matched back surrounds.

    Surge protection & filtration: Non MOV-based products must be considered. MOV's are cheap and will degrade over time (Panamax and Monster use MOV's). A worn-out surge protector will give you practically no protection whatsoever if you get a direct lightning strike (when you need it most). Be sure to protect coaxial and telephone lines coming and going from your theater equipment. Also, be sure the product does not restrict power flow to your equipment. If you use 20 AMP Romex and breakers, check to make sure your protection device handles 20 AMP lines. Use high grade wall recepticles too. Products from Equi-Tech, Richard Gray's (mainly for video equipment), Furman Sound, SMART, Brickwall, PS Audio, etc. are ones to consider.

    Seating: Be sure your seat back is not higher than ear level. You do not want to block or muffle sound coming from your side and back surround speakers when the chair (especially a recliner) is in "movie watching" position. This is a common mistake by both seat designers and consumers, and one that must be avoided. Hopefully, while shopping around you set aside blocks of time to sit and relax in the chair or sofa for a couple of hours. The true test of any seat is the ability for it to allow you to sit comfortably with good support for long stretches at a time without your back aching, legs getting numb, and/or you nodding off (!!). The buck stops at your choice of seating. This will effect the entire room design: riser height, spacing, leg room considerations, aisle room, sight lines, seating distances, etc.

    The Room: Set aside enough of your budget for an a/v and acoustic professional (like Dennis Erskine) to lay out detailed plans for your theater, even if you will be doing most of the construction work yourself. The next step, after the rough frame and drywall, and wiring is set is getting the room acoustically adjusted by the same person or another audio specialist. Fine tuning your room with a variety of products (like from RPG, Owens-Corning, etc.) is very important before covering your walls with fabric, home made paneling, etc. I know many DIY'ers just use the basic dead front, live back approach without acoustic room analysis, but really getting down and dirty with your room's specific weaknesses and strengths is the best way to ensure spectacular audio results.

    Hope this helps! Good luck.

  7. Gary Thomas

    Gary Thomas Second Unit

    Jan 17, 1999
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    Three elements we added to our recent basement remodel (based on suggestions by Dennis Erskine) are a front stage, side columns & hidden components. These features give our basement the exact "theater" feeling we wanted.

    Our stage is 13' wide & 4' deep with a 1' arc in front.

    The side columns enclose di-pole speakers behind GOM fabric. The side and rear speakers have "in-wall" rated 12ga. speaker wire run in the ceiling and walls.

    The components are in an unfinished part of our basement. We have a 5 disc DVD player for convenience & use a "dinky link" IR receiver wired to a connecting block, then to blink IR emitters attached to the components.

    We are currently using a Pioneer Elite 610 for video, but pre-wired for a future front projector during the construction.

    Another cool element is a Lutron remote controlled dimmer. It controls track lighting and recessed rope lighting located in a tray ceiling.

    We have our system plugged in to a dedicated 20 amp circuit. The heating system was designed to be as quiet as possible, with 4-5 90 degree turns in all of the ducts. The doors in the room are exterior heavy weight doors.

    My last suggestion is to plan everything out to the last detail! Consider lighting, wall colors, access to snacks & bathroom, etc.

    Don't forget the popcorn machine!

    Have soon as the project is over you'll want to start over again!
  8. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man

    Jun 30, 1997
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    Kansas City, MO
    Real Name:

    Another guy to give a call to is our own Gregg Loewen with Lion AV for your friends' G90.

    Also, give Tom or Ron an email at SV Subwoofers and let them know what you are planning on. They are great to work with and make a fantastic line of subs.


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