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Theater upgrade time!
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ecrabb
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PostLink    Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 10:53 pm    Post subject: Theater upgrade time! Reply with quote


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OK, so I've alluded to the fact that I'd like to do some mods to my room. I thought I'd start a thread to sort of track the decisions and dig in to the how/why.

My room has gone mostly unchanged for the last five years or so. Several equipment upgrades, but the room was mostly left alone. As some of you know, I went digital last summer with the purchase of a JVC DLA-RS45.

Screen
Having been in a few home theaters with scope screens now, I'm of the opinion that scope material should be projected the largest. That's the way the movie theater does it, and it makes a lot of sense. The comedy or animated film shouldn't be projected bigger than an epic adventure or action film like Skyfall or Iron Man.

So, I want scope. Badly. It's the way a home theater should be. One of the things I really liked about the JVC was the motorized lens zoom and shift with memory, which enables screen size/aspect ratio change without expensive expansion lenses that cost as much or more than the projector itself. Pushing a button and have the image enlarge to fill a scope screen is an absolutely awesome experience. Without a lens, it comes at the expense of some light loss, but it's still awesome.

Requirement 1: Bigger scope screen.

Audio
The other thing some of you may have heard me yapping about is the desire to get a bigger, more dynamic sound. Since I built my theater in '07/08, I've been using the same M&K 750THX speakers. They are decent speakers, made in the US in the late-90's, dual 5.25" mid/bass drivers and silk domes. Decent speakers for nice living-room/media-room type applications, but as I've upgraded other parts of my system with preamp/processor, separate prosound amps, and big DIY subs, the main speakers are now a very limiting part of my system.

Requirement 2: Bigger, more dynamic sound.

What to Do?
Obvious answer is to build a stage and false wall, buy JTR Captivators or Seaton Catalyst 12Cs (two of my favorites) and call it a day. Unfortunately, I have two problems: A) My room is too small for a stage and false wall, and B) my room and bank accounts are too small for Seatons or JTR's. Even something like Cliff's used Klipsch KLF-30's would get me where I want to be sound-wise, but I just don't have the room. Besides, I wanted perfectly-matched LCR's.

My screen wall is just 13-feet wide x 7'-10" high. The current screen is 96x54 110 diag, ~1.3-gain Wilsonart DW. Here's about what the room looks like currently, save for the fact that the subs are much larger now:



It's a little hard to see. Here's an illustration:



Those little M&K's look absolutely puny these days!

So, that's how things are today. Next up... What I'm kicking around.

SC


Last edited by ecrabb on Sat Nov 02, 2013 10:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ecrabb
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PostLink    Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, here's the speakers I'm looking at building:

http://www.diysoundgroup.com/waveguide-speaker-kits/fusion-series-kits/fusion8-mtm-kit.html

They are very efficient, extremely dynamic, and supposedly sound excellent. What I'm hearing is that they sound like speakers that cost five times the price.



So, here's those speakers built as-is and set in place of my current speakers on larger stands:




That doesn't get me where I want to be screen wise though, so I'm looking at two other options:

9.5-foot wide scope screen




10-foot wide scope screen





To go scope, I'll need to make very large baffles, but very shallow cabinets, and they'll need to recess into the wall cavity. Besides being able to go scope, I can nearly eliminate boundary effect, and clean up my screen wall, lock dialog into the screen, and have a more uniform sound field for all the seats. With the shorter screen, I also get better site lines for the back row, and of course the scope image is larger then the 1.78 image - as it should be. Wink

So, that's it for now. I need to run numbers on viewing angles and brightness, I need to talk to Seymour about frame options, and I'm waiting to hear back from DIY Sound Group what the overall depth of the compression driver and waveguide is, so I know how deep my speaker cabinets will need to be.

That's it for now. I'll put some numbers together and update. For now, feel free to weigh in, ask questions, etc. This is very early in the design stage. Probably won't start building until after the first of the year.

Cheers,
SC
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Spanky Ham



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PostLink    Posted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 4:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As long as you go with the 4k material, everything else doesn't matter. Smile

I have been out of the DIY game for awhile, but I remember the Dayton RS TMWW speakers over at htguide being better than my PSB stratus golds. IIRC they cost the owner around $400 for the pair to build. Not sure if they would fit your space, but that might be an option.
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ecrabb
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PostLink    Posted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know what annoys the crap out of me? Guys that start build threads and spend inordinate amounts of time planning, discussing, and tracking build, but then let the links to hundreds of pictures from their build go dead. Thanks for nothing!

I can't find any specs on that design, like cabinet volume. There are a hundred threads, but they're all old - and most are huge. I don't have anything against that design, but I'm just really intrigued with the compression driver and waveguide concept.

After going to the meet earlier this year, hearing JTR captivators playing nice and clean to well over 120dB, then realizing it was only an AVR powering them, I'm just enthralled with the insane sensitivity extraordinary dynamic capability. Not that I'll ever listen that loud, but when I do listen at 100dB, there's plenty of dynamic headroom left over that just isn't there with a silk dome.

One of my buddies is a serial builder, and he built a set of Statements. I've heard them with music in my house, and in his HT. As impressive as they were, the JTR's just mopped the floor with them for pure dynamic tactile feel. You want to throw in the AC/DC Blu-ray and have it feel like you're actually there? Give me compression drivers. I'd probably do something like the RS TMWW's or Statements for a two-channel room, but for HT, I want big, dynamic sound. I can't explain it - it's just what I'm after after hearing big, powerful speakers driven by lots of power.

If they weren't so big and expensive, I'd build these... Even as DIY, they're more than I want to spend...
http://www.hometheatershack.com/forums/diy-speakers/43282-new-3-way-build-ae-woofers-b-c-mid-tweet.html

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Spanky Ham



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PostLink    Posted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't speak to the build thread. The design is six or seven years old now.

I understand what you are saying about compression. I think someone else here did a diy compression driver speaker that supposedly was pretty good. Seaton mentioned wanting to a diy design. Keith Yates and I were talking him out of it. I actually regret talking him out of it. I think he could do well with a diy design. Maybe you could email him and see if he has any ideas.
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CIR Engineering



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PostLink    Posted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ecrabb wrote:

They are very efficient, extremely dynamic, and supposedly sound excellent. What I'm hearing is that they sound like speakers that cost five times the price.

I don't have anything helpful to add yet, but I sure love doing a new build or lots of upgrades like you're doing. Have fun Smile

But as I as I'm sure you know, the statement regarding costing 5x as much... blah blah blah... is the usual industry hype. Every review on speakers I read or promo I see always says that such and such speakers produce sound that equals speakers so many times the price. If every speaker produces sound as well as a speaker that costs 5x the price, which speaker are the sh*tty ones being compared to?

That's not to say you are making a bad choice. When it comes to speakers just buy the ones that sound the best to you that are as much as you can budget. I'm sure you know Wink It seems like you know what you want.

craigr

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ecrabb
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PostLink    Posted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Craig... The comment about sound like 5x as much wasn't referring to marketing hype... I was referring to the overall cost-effectiveness of DIY, the idea being that you can take $200 worth of drivers and crossover and build a speaker of similar sound and capabilities that sells at retail for $1000 (and up). That's essentially what I'm doing. I can't justify blowing $3k-plus on a new set of front mains. I can easily justify spending $750 and building something. Will my grand worth of DIY sound like a $7,500 set of Wisdoms or even JTR's or Seatons? No, but I'll have fun building them, I'll end up with something way better than I have now, I'll be able to buy a pontoon for the family next summer, and I'll still have money left over in the bank. Wink

In principle, I agree very much with the concept of DIY because I've seen (well, heard, actually) it play out many times. Granted, it's not all roses: You put a lot of time and energy into researching and building, there are many potential pitfalls, there are the aesthetic concerns since most of us aren't master carpenters, and of course there are no guarantees like with retail speakers, i.e. you don't like it, you don't just take it back and get something else. Depending on tools, skill level, time for projects, and other factors, it's definitely not for everybody.

But, by eliminating as many variables as possible by using a proven design, putting the speakers behind a screen wall (or working really hard at nailing the enclosure), a guy can get tremendous bang-for-the-buck. That's what I'm after. Not because I think DIY is best, but because I have champagne taste and beer budget. Wink

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garyfritz



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PostLink    Posted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Didn't look like you needed to be a master carpenter. That Fusion8 page had a link to a cabinet kit pre-cut out of Baltic birch for only $25 ea. Sounds like a steal to me...
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ecrabb
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PostLink    Posted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

garyfritz wrote:
Didn't look like you needed to be a master carpenter. That Fusion8 page had a link to a cabinet kit pre-cut out of Baltic birch for only $25 ea. Sounds like a steal to me...

Yes, that's totally true of the diysoundgroup kits with flat-pack cabinets, but not necessarily DIY in general. Again, total bargain. You can also get built crossovers for around the same price - maybe cheaper.

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ecrabb
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PostLink    Posted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I exchanged emails with Eric H at diysoundgroup, and he reminded me that the crossovers in my chosen speaker design included baffle step compensation, which would affect the sound with my much-larger baffles. So, now I either need to pay the designer to modify the crossovers to back out the baffle step compensation, or look at some different designs. I'm going to do a little more reading.

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jask



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PostLink    Posted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 1:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ecrabb wrote:
I'll have fun building them, I'll end up with something way better than I have now, I'll be able to buy a pontoon for the family next summer, and I'll still have money left over in the bank. Wink


SC


How about a DIY pontoon Steve? have a fab shop do the major components and build it your way.

or Al Gores way:
http://www.treehugger.com/solar-technology/the-loon-solar-powered-diy-pontoon-boat.html
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Spanky Ham



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PostLink    Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ecrabb wrote:
I exchanged emails with Eric H at diysoundgroup, and he reminded me that the crossovers in my chosen speaker design included baffle step compensation, which would affect the sound with my much-larger baffles. So, now I either need to pay the designer to modify the crossovers to back out the baffle step compensation, or look at some different designs. I'm going to do a little more reading.

SC


I don't understand the larger baffles. Were/are you planning on changing the cabinet?

Yes, I revived this thread because you got me thinking about the diysoundgroup's lineup. I have now spent more time than I want to think about looking at these speakers. I may throw my toe in the water with a Karma 10.
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ecrabb
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PostLink    Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spanky Ham wrote:
I don't understand the larger baffles. Were/are you planning on changing the cabinet?

Yes, significantly. If you go back and read a couple of the intro posts, you'll see I'm short on space, so I was going to try to recess the speakers into the wall with a very shallow cabinet design. to get the same volume with the shallow depth, the cabinets would significantly wider than the original, and much, much taller than the original.

Spanky Ham wrote:
Yes, I revived this thread because you got me thinking about the diysoundgroup's lineup. I have now spent more time than I want to think about looking at these speakers. I may throw my toe in the water with a Karma 10.

Do it! I've heard nothing but good things. If for some reason you end up not liking them, there's so much interest over at AVS and in the enthusiast/Parts Express/builder communities, you could sell and get most or even all your money back.

Personally, my plans have totally changed. It'll be awhile until I do anything, but I think I'll probably end up with Fusion-12 Tempests for LCR's, and Fusion-8 Alchemy's for surrounds.

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Spanky Ham



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PostLink    Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, now I see. I was under the impression that it is best to toe in these speakers quite a bit. That would have compromised your depth as well. I wonder if the crossover designer would be interested in modding the design if you bought a mic and sent him the data. I am saying that in general, as I believe John Krutke has alluded to doing this with anyone who makes one of his designs.

Having said that, I understand that you are considering something completely different per our conversation at Axpona. I guess I will get an update in two months at Cedia.

As for the speakers, yeah I will probably pull the trigger in the next couple of weeks and grab one of the cheaper ones. I thought about the Cinema 88, but 21 inches wide is pretty damn wide.
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greg_mitch



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PostLink    Posted: Mon Dec 22, 2014 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So when will the Utah build thread be started?
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ecrabb
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PostLink    Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2014 5:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

greg_mitch wrote:
So when will the Utah build thread be started?


When I get a job!!!

Shocked Very Happy

Seriously, though... Soon I hope. January. Finalize design in Feb-Mar and start construction in April. I hope.

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HogPilot



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PostLink    Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2014 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You seem set on the DIY route for new speakers, but I'm going to throw these in for your consideration they're not too far off of your stated budget (not sure if they'd fit though):

http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/SRM1/srm1.html

I've heard them rather extensively in a buddy's HT, and they sound just like they measure - neutral and very accurate. Not to mention they can get plenty loud for HT use. Oh, yeah, and these guys actually provide proper measurements for their speakers.

Having spent a lot of time with a scope setup, I do have one suggestion for your speaker placement. With your current position, on 16:9 material the sound from the L and R speakers will be coming from outside of the image; if you place them so they're within the bounds of the 16:9 image, this won't be a problem and you'll still get proper stereo imaging with 'scope material (I never found the soundstage to be too narrow on my 137" wide scope AT screen). Plus, you don't want to push your speakers too close to the walls as the reflections can cause issues with the audio. This will also have the added benefit of allowing you to add non-AT masking (such as masking panels) and not having worry about muddying the sound at all.

Either way I think you'll be really happy with your scope setup - I think it the ultra-wide image makes it feel like a "real" theater. Plus, if you do add masking later on, opening the masks from the 16:9 to 2.39:1 position as a movie starts always gets a good reaction from guests.

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ecrabb wrote:
Curt Palme wrote:
Interesting, Mac isn't returning my emails. Go figure.

He's mad at us for making Hog a moderator. He took his ball and went home.

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greg_mitch



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PostLink    Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2014 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ecrabb wrote:
greg_mitch wrote:
So when will the Utah build thread be started?


When I get a job!!!

Shocked Very Happy

Seriously, though... Soon I hope. January. Finalize design in Feb-Mar and start construction in April. I hope.

SC


Wait a minute...maybe I didn't get the whole story and don't mean to pry...but you moved to Utah without a job?!

That sounds like a good schedule really. You will need to get it done before the weather turns nice and you get distracted by the beautiful scenery!

I can vouch for the DIY identical LCR mains. I can also vouch for a waveguide/compression driver setup. The details I hear now are ridiculous. I was using an AV-123 RSC-200 (Bigfoot) which was highly regarded over at AVS at the time, and these blow that away IMO.

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ecrabb
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PostLink    Posted: Wed Dec 24, 2014 1:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HogPilot wrote:
You seem set on the DIY route for new speakers, but I'm going to throw these in for your consideration they're not too far off of your stated budget (not sure if they'd fit though):

http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/SRM1/srm1.html

I've heard them rather extensively in a buddy's HT, and they sound just like they measure - neutral and very accurate. Not to mention they can get plenty loud for HT use. Oh, yeah, and these guys actually provide proper measurements for their speakers.


The small monitors with SEAS soft domes, 5.25 mid-bass drivers, and super-low sensitivity in those Ascends are precisely what I'm trying to get away from, Hog. They're 86.5dB sensitive... My old M&K's were 89db sensitive, so I'll have to drive them with nearly twice as much power as I did with the M&K's to make the same SPL. I have no doubt they're extremely accurate, and for listening to jazz, strings, vocals, etc. in a hifi system in a listening room, I'm sure they're beautiful driven with good separates power. But, what I've learned over the last few years is that the sound I'm really chasing comes from big speakers. Physically large. You just can't make reference levels in a decent-sized fully-treated room with direct-radiating silk-dome tweeters. Or, rather you can, but the tweeters will heat and saturate and the speakers will sound strained even though you have plenty of amp headroom. Here's what a wrote in another a thread a few weeks ago about the sound I'm chasing at this point:

http://www.curtpalme.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=425848#425848

ecrabb wrote:
Fast forward a few years and now I've been to some HT meets, some shows, etc. and listened to some big speakers like Seaton's Catalysts, Jeff's JTR Noesis, some big line arrays, and more. A couple of meets, some blind listening, and I realize what I'm really after at this point. Big. Giant. Main. Speakers. The capper was one night at a buddy's big audio meet in Iowa. All the listening tests were concluded, everybody was drinking beer, geeking out on equipment, and they were just watching movie clips with Jeff's Noesis 212HT's. I'd already heard lots of music, and lots of different genres, and I know I already like the sound of the compression drivers. They were just so sensitive, so clear, so accurate. But, back to the after-hours craziness. They'd cued up Open Range on DVD. It didn't even exist on Blu-ray yet, or nobody had it. Anyway, there's a big shootout scene and the gunshots are apparently recorded really, really, well. I know this because they actually sounded like gunshots. Not just that they were clean and clear, but as in they were painfully loud and we should have had earplugs in as if we'd been actually firing weapons inside the house. They weren't harsh, or distorted... No, they were crystal clear. They were just LOUD. I believe peaks were in excess of 120dB. It was totally irresponsible for them to even be running them that hot, but I didn't care because I got a taste of what compression drivers could do in terms of maximum output. Then I asked what was powering them... Figured it was a big, expensive amp. Nope. It was a Denon AVR. On it's internal amps. Not cheap Denon AVR... It was a good one, but it was an AVR! Must. Have. Compression drivers.


The super-clean effortless sound of a large speaker with compression drivers when making even reference levels plus is truly something to behold if you've never heard it. So, that's what I'm after at this point.

HogPilot wrote:
Having spent a lot of time with a scope setup, I do have one suggestion for your speaker placement. With your current position, on 16:9 material the sound from the L and R speakers will be coming from outside of the image; if you place them so they're within the bounds of the 16:9 image, this won't be a problem and you'll still get proper stereo imaging with 'scope material (I never found the soundstage to be too narrow on my 137" wide scope AT screen). Plus, you don't want to push your speakers too close to the walls as the reflections can cause issues with the audio. This will also have the added benefit of allowing you to add non-AT masking (such as masking panels) and not having worry about muddying the sound at all.

Totally agree with your assessment here. See next post. I should have updated this thread as my situation has changed from when I started this thread. New house in a new state, so a completely blank slate.

HogPilot wrote:
Either way I think you'll be really happy with your scope setup - I think it the ultra-wide image makes it feel like a "real" theater. Plus, if you do add masking later on, opening the masks from the 16:9 to 2.39:1 position as a movie starts always gets a good reaction from guests.

Totally agree. Can't wait to go scope. LOVE scope. LOVE AT. Scope and AT together with automated masking perfectly recreates the cinema experience, and IMHO is HT nirvana.

Thanks, Hog!

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ecrabb
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PostLink    Posted: Wed Dec 24, 2014 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

greg_mitch wrote:
Wait a minute...maybe I didn't get the whole story and don't mean to pry...but you moved to Utah without a job?!

I don't want to go into detail here, but I had a job when we moved, was led to believe it was solid, but I was wrong. It actually happened very quickly, but the reality is we'd decided to go regardless. We'd saved, put ourselves in a good position, and we really wanted to go. It's OK because my wife has a good job - that was part of the reason for the move. Just working on replacing my income now.

greg_mitch wrote:
That sounds like a good schedule really. You will need to get it done before the weather turns nice and you get distracted by the beautiful scenery!

Thanks. Yes, it is most definitely beautiful here. We're LOVING it. It feels like we're on vacation, only we live here. Very Happy

greg_mitch wrote:
I can vouch for the DIY identical LCR mains. I can also vouch for a waveguide/compression driver setup. The details I hear now are ridiculous. I was using an AV-123 RSC-200 (Bigfoot) which was highly regarded over at AVS at the time, and these blow that away IMO.

THAT is what I'm after. Tiny, minute details... Breath... A finger on a fretboard. The "sound" of feeling like you're there.

So, like I said to Hog in my last post... New state, new house, blank slate of a basement, and I've just started roughing out the design. Start a new thread, or just start here?

Cheers!

SC
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