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My New "AT" Screen (1 Viewer)

John Dirk

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I've been working on this for awhile now. Though I am completely in love with my Legacy Focus SE's, I have had to accept a smaller usable screen area due to their size and the size of my room. I finally decided to do something about it. My first plan was to build a faux wall as is the typical solution but that plan did not pass WAF so I had to get creative.

Next I considered a motorized, retractable screen. A little research into those evidenced two options with a pretty huge price difference between them. There are the more affordable fiber-backed types but I heard too many reports of them developing wrinkles and curves over time. The more expensive option are the tab-tensioned models. These are supposed to hold up much better but cost several times as much. Since, at this point in my HT journey, I wasn't prepared to spend $4000.00 on a screen I had to get even more creative.

Here is what I came up with. The screen simply hangs from the ceiling, secured by 2 pairs of "L" brackets which I made sure were supported by joists. Since the larger drivers and Center speaker are unobstructed, dialogue is completely intelligible and the screen does not shake with bass-heavy content. When I need access to my equipment or speakers I can crawl under or easily remove the screen as needed. I was prepared to purchase an actual AT fixed frame screen but my initial tests with this configuration do not suggest I actually need to. The sound quality is not seriously compromised as far as my ears can tell. I haven't done any measurements because they wouldn't make a difference. In the end it's my ears and perception that matter.

AT Screen 1.jpg
AT Screen 2.jpg
 
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John Dirk

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Very nice! What screen material did you use?

Going to a DIY AT screen 9 years ago made the biggest improvement in my modest setup.
Thanks! The screen is an Elite screens Aeon model I've had for years. I think I paid around $700.00 for it in 2016. If I had it to do over again I'd probably opt for one with a border. If/when I replace this one I'll definitely do that.
 

DaveF

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I don’t think I follow. You’ve got speakers behind an acoustically “opaque” screen? Seems like that would sound not good.

What’s different from before?
 

Josh Steinberg

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I temporarily had to do the same thing with the center behind a not transparent screen and I found that as long as there was a little bit of room between the speaker and the back of the screen, maybe a foot, and if I turned up the volume on the center by 2-3db, that for all intents and purposes I really couldn’t tell the difference between that and when it has been aimed directly at me with no obstruction. I’d imagine that’s not always the case depending on screen material, screen and speaker placement and room acoustics, but sometimes you have to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good and there’s usually a little wiggle room to be found between “technically correct” and “can’t tell that it’s wrong unless you’re looking for it.”
 

John Dirk

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I don’t think I follow. You’ve got speakers behind an acoustically “opaque” screen? Seems like that would sound not good.

What’s different from before?
My fault. I should have included a "before" shot. Here are both for easy comparison. My original plan included the purchase of a true AT screen but after I had everything in place I used the current screen for initial testing and was surprised to find no significant loss of intelligibility, even in 2 channel mode. I don't mind spending money but I do need to see practical value when I do. I can always buy the AT screen at a later date but I'm starting to think I may not need to.

Before:
Previous Screen Setup.JPG



After:

Current Screen Setup.jpg
 

Mark-P

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Glad it works for you, but personally I wouldn’t dream of obstructing tweeters or midrange drivers behind a screen that’s not acoustically transparent.
 

John Dirk

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Glad it works for you, but personally I wouldn’t dream of obstructing tweeters or midrange drivers behind a screen that’s not acoustically transparent.
Yea, I hear you. As previously stated, my initial plan was to replace the screen with a true AT variant. I put the original screen back in place just to check things out and was very surprised by what I heard. I expected severe degradation of high and mid frequencies but did not experience it, at least as far as my ears could discern. I even did back-to-back comparisons with 2 channel music, first with the screen in place and then without. If there was any degradation it was comparably minimal.

I debated whether or not to even post the project here because I anticipated these types of responses. I'm generally a data and measurements guy but when it comes to sound I trust my ears over measurements, which is why I haven't bothered with them. Had I done so I'm sure there would have been some fall off in mid and high frequency response.

Also, should I decide to, replacing the screen is as simple as ordering, assembling and hanging the new one. I had already spec'd it out.
 

DFurr

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I debated whether or not to even post the project here because I anticipated these types of responses. I'm generally a data and measurements guy but when it comes to sound I trust my ears over measurements, which is why I haven't bothered with them. Had I done so I'm sure there would have been some fall off in mid and high frequency response.
I hear ya John. I paid good money to have my system EQ'd but let my ear tell me how it really sounded. I set all speakers with my Radio Shack SPL from commercial theatre specs and left it alone. I'm very happy how it sounds. My two subs run at 105db and that might be a bit loud for most people but it's how I like it that really matters.
 

John Dirk

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Well, since measurements were always part of my original plan I went ahead and completed them. The results were about as expected but the actual sonic perception remains another story, to my ears anyway. Trying to make sense of it, I did a little research. Since the screen blocks the tweeters and mids, you would expect degradation in that range, which is generally in the 2Khz and above realm, with most dialogue falling well below this. The majority of musical instruments should also be contained within this range.

I ran corresponding sweeps with and without the screen for ranges of 200hz - 8Khz and then 8khz - 20Khz. My Focus SE's crossover to the bass and mid drivers at 120Hz and 2.8Khz respectively. What I noticed from the measurements was pronounced SPL loss with the screen in place but somewhat similar overall response patterns nonetheless. Since my room is fairly small [1832 cu ft] and I have pretty capable speakers, I believe I am able to get acceptable output just by cranking it up a small amount.

I think it's important to bear in mind, however, this test was between my current screen vs no screen at all, not an actual AT screen. I'm not about to go through the trouble of trying to return a projection screen should the post-installation measurements or sonic perception prove less than impressive, which was part of my reluctance in ordering one.

That said, I will be ordering the AT screen @DaveF identified as I didn't buy these speakers just to turn around and cripple them. Thanks for the tip, Dave! The screen you found is much less than the ones I had been looking at. No idea why this one never came up in any of my searches. Sort of makes it a no-brainer. If you're in a good mood, my birthday was earlier this month and I would accept the cost of the screen as a late gift! :lol:

Here are the sweeps. As @JohnRice might say, "bring it on!" :cool:

8K_20Khz With Screen.png
8K_20Khz Without Screen.png
200_8Khz With Screen.png
200_8Khz Without Screen.png
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Yeah, given the cost of your (still) pretty new, very enviable speakers (and that amp on top), I wouldn't wanna spare the change on a proper AT screen... Probably gives the other Dave a heart attack or something, if you stick w/ this rigged setup... ;):lol:

_Man_
 

DaveF

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I’ve read good things about ST screens as a value brand, but haven’t see one in real life yet. I keep them in mind in case I feel I need to change screens when I one day far in the future finally get a 4K projector. :)

I hope you like it!
 

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