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Saturday
Nov062010

Ara's Media Room

Here is a quick video of Ara's Media Room.

Reader Comments (10)

Thanks for putting this video up. I always enjoy getting to see the tech you guys talk about being used. It's such a neat and clean set up. Have you ever thought of putting up some kind of curtain on a ceiling track by the stairwell to control the light even further?

November 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIyaz

Hi,
Love your podcast and thanks for this video on your projector/screen.
They are very nice. So is the room. I'm a bit surprised you did not mention your speakers at all.
I wonder if you did want some sort of light control for the stairwell if a ceiling mounted rail similar to what hospitals use to screen the patients from each other would work great. They are designed/built to curve and the curtains are easily moved on the rail system.
Must be awesome to watch a BD movie on a 100" screen ! ! !
Thanks for sharing,
Mike

November 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Hi Mike,

That was a major oversight. I have Aperion Audio Intimus 4s.

Ara

November 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterHT Guys

Hi Ara,

It was interesting to see that you have the same speaker placement issue that I have in my home. Your right front speaker is tucked in the corner with a love seat protruding in front of it along the right wall. Does this have an adverse affect on the overall sound in your room? The biggest problem I have is with my subwoofer which is also tucked into the right front corner of the room. No amount of equalization or room correction (with a stand-alone Audyssey sound equalizer) helps. Any suggestion on getting better bass?

November 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Hey, Ara. Thank you for posting this video. If you're open to them, I have a few suggestions for some inexpensive improvements that you could make to your theater setup:

1) I did not see any decoupling device beneath your subwoofer. I cannot stress enough to everyone how much of an improvement decoupling your subwoofer makes to the sound both inside and outside your theater room! Inside the room, you get "tighter, cleaner" bass due to eliminating much of the room resonance and the distortion that is added due to the surfaces of the room moving in sympathy with the vibrations of your subwoofer's cabinet. The subwoofer's sound is also improved by reducing secondary resonance, which is where the movement of the room's surfaces interferes with the direct output of the subwoofer.

Outside the theater, decoupling greatly reduces the structure-borne transmission of bass. Ever notice how you can often hear bass in other rooms of the house, even when you cannot hear the midrange and treble? That is because the bass easily travels through the physical structure of your house, not just through the air. It's the same principle that allows you to hear a train coming if you put your ear to the track, even though you cannot hear the train when you are standing up and just listening to the sound travelling through the air.

In a nut shell, stop shaking the structure of your house and you will reduce the bass that is heard in other rooms of the house while improving the quality of the bass you hear within your theater! My favorite decoupling device by far is the Auralex GRAMMA isolation riser. There are three sizes: a 15" x 15" platform that Auralex calls the "SubDude", a 15" x 23" platform called the GRAMMA, and a 19" x 30" platform called the Great GRAMMA. Amazon sells them all, although you can often find even lower prices at SweetWater.com (an authorized Auralex Online dealer). You can also see a video review of the SubDude over at Audioholics.com : http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/acoustics/auralex-subdude-hd-video

Again, I cannot stress enough how important it is to decouple your subwoofer. No matter what room, no matter what construction, vibrations are transmitted from your subwoofer into the floor. And the floor is attached to the walls, which are attached to the ceiling and every surface is attached to the rest of your house! Stop the structure-borne transmission of bass and eliminate the distortion and secondary resonance that comes with it! For $50, I promise, there is no bigger improvement that you can make to your subwoofer's performance!

2) Speaking of decoupling, it's also important for your speakers. With your speakers, there is less of a concern with stopping their structure-borne transmission of sound from reaching other rooms in the house, but there are the same issues of distortion and secondary resonances within your theater room. Decoupling your speakers is all about improving the sound you hear within your theater.

For ages, people have used "spikes" to effectively couple their speakers to the floor. This is the complete opposite of what you should be doing! I'll bet your speaker stands have spikes on the bottom. This is fine for stability, but it is a rotten choice where sound quality is concerned. Once again, we are creating a situation where the physical vibrations of the speaker cabinets are being transmitted directly into the floor. Many speakers or speaker stands attempt to overcome this structure-borne transmission of sound with sheer mass - hence incredibly heavy towers or stands filled with lead-shot or sand. The idea there is to make the speakers inert with sheer mass.

The problem with trying to overcome sound transmission with sheer mass is that, while it is true that it takes more energy to move a heavier mass, if and when that mass does move, sound is transmitted exceptionally effectively! In the case of a resonant frequency, it doesn't take a lot of energy regardless, because the mass itself moves in a way that reinforces the sound.

The much more effective method of stopping structure-borne sound transmission is decoupling. All you're doing is using a "shock absorber" to prevent one solid object from transmitting vibrations into another. The old methods of sound-proofing were all about adding mass. Hence, you had things like lead or mass-loaded vinyl barriers; heavier, denser wall-board; or just plain old, huge, thick cement walls! The "new school" of soundproofing is all about decoupling using "visco-elastic" polymers, which move and bend and squish, effectively turning those vibrations into heat and dissipating their energy.

So heavy stands with spikes into the floor is the "old school". And it is less effective than the decoupling "new school" way of eliminating vibrations and resonance. A really easy and inexpensive way to improve the sound from your speakers is to decouple them from the surface on which they are sitting. You can do this with a decoupling pad, such as Auralex MoPads. But the problem here is that you might worry about your speakers slipping off of the stands since there is nothing holding them in place!

A great solution for that are Bright Star Audio's "IsoNodes" : http://www.brightstaraudio.com/isonode.htm

The IsoNodes are squishy, sticky, rubber hemispheres. They do a great job of decoupling your speakers. But because they are sticky, they also work well to hold your speakers in place. For speakers, like Ara's front L/R speakers that are on stands, the IsoNodes are a great, easy and inexpensive way to decouple the speakers from the stands, while still keeping them stable, safe and in-place.

3) To add to point #2, Ara's center speaker is really not in an optimal placement! Bring that center speaker forward so that it is even or - better yet - has its front baffle just a little bit infront of the front lip of your equipment stand. Right now, with the center speaker pushed back like that, you are getting huge reflection issues off the top of the equipment stand. It is effectively like putting your center speaker directly on a hard floor! Bring that center speaker forward, and also decouple it using those IsoNodes that I mentioned, or, since there's no real worry of knocking the center speaker off of its stand, use Auralex MoPad decoupling pads. If you use the IsoNodes, you can use the larger size in front and the smaller size in back in order to angle the center speaker upwards a little bit to better aim it towards your ear height ;)

4) I did not see a battery backup uninterruptible power supply. IMO, it is absolutely vital to have a UPS battery backup for any front projector. In the event of a power outage, it is vital that your projector's lamp be able to properly cool. You'll notice that even after you shut off your projector, the fan keeps going for a minute or two to properly cool the lamp. If the power goes out, the fan shuts off instantly! This shortens the life of your projector's lamp. And in some extreme cases, your lamp could even die or explode due to a sudden lack of cooling.

A UPS battery backup is also vital for your DVR and any other device with a spinning hard drive IMO. Again, safety for the device is a concern, but with a DVR, having battery backup means that you do not lose recordings that are in progress! I've had this happen to me a couple of times - where the power cuts out while my DVR is recording something. I've been extremely grateful to have my UPS battery backup in these cases!

APC is the company I trust most for UPS battery backup power solutions. They are widely available. I use the J15 unit, which is designed for home theater with a full power conditioning and voltage regulation suite built-in to go along with rock-solid surge protection and a long-life battery. It is an excellent unit. There are the S-Type units if you want to go even higher end. But if you just want basic battery backup protection for your projector's lamp and DVR, you can spend way less for one of APC's Back-UPS ES units.

5) Others have already made suggestions for more light control, so I'll simply second that. One thing though: with your home automation system, using remote-control, motorized curtains is a real possibility and could really add to the "cool" factor of your theater! Just imagine hitting one button and a macro turns off the lights, turns on the projector AND moves the curtains into position to block out as much ambient light as possible!

:D

So, to sum up: UPS battery backup is vital for your projector's bulb; decoupling is vital for your subwoofer; moving your center speaker forward so that its baffle is in front or at least even with the front edge of your equipment stand is vital (and free! ), and decoupling your front 3 speakers is an easy and inexpensive way to improve your sound.

After having spent as much as you have on the projector, screen and clean installation, I hope, Ara, that you will look upon the $50 Auralex GRAMMA, the $14 IsoNodes and an $80 UPS battery backup as "no brainers" ! To me, these are not "tweaks". These are vital components that are of the utmost importance in gleaning the best performance from your equipment. They're like the knob on your gear shift; certainly not expensive, and you can still use the bulk of your equipment without it. But would you really think your gear shift is complete without a knob?

Hope this helps!

November 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRob H.

Painting the projector wall the same maroon as the side walls would help a lot as would darkening the ceiling color. Doesn't have to be extremely dark. I bet you could easily hang a long drape across the stair well which would fold out of the way when not in use. These would make a big difference pretty inexpensively.

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterrmf

Hey Ara,
nice media setup. Love the speakers :).
I notice that you don't have any acoustic treatments in your room?. love your shows!

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Hi Ara,

Thank you for sharing this. Everything I know about HD TV and Home Theathers I learned from your podcast. I REALLY enjoyed this "real world" room. When I tried to learn about HDTV/Home Theaters from magazines, the pictures were ridiculously out-of-reach from anything I was going to build. This is a lot more down to earth and very helpul!

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

Hey , i love the setup and you guys gave me the theater bug and i have been moving up little by little as i can afford it so its been great to finally see what you guys have at home . thanks for everything you do.

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJOHN BERRYHILL

Thankyou for the "revealing",I have been listening to you two going on about the new kit and finally listened to the podcast saying it been posted (I am a bit behind with other things). I second a lot of comments already said about its simple goodness.

I noticed you used an uplight, suprisingly, I had purchased two from IKEA (ages back) for placement on each side of the couch. They are of an strikingly similar design. The globe wattage size I need is really low so I had left them in the box.

More recently we acquired a Panasonic Plasma (thanks in no small part to your show) and as we have halogen downlights (on dimmer) I find they put a lot of light onto the screen so these lights may finally get a run. I think I might put them either side of the TV cabinet rather than the couch though. All in all it will look very cozy so long as I can keep the kids (smaller than yours) from putting a ball through it.

Keep going with these snippets!

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGary M (AUS not USA)

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