Scope theater redesign - please help with two key decisions - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 60 Old 03-25-2011, 07:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey guys,

Great forum. It has been very helpful.

I'm redesigning my theater to go 2.35:1 and need help on two key decisions.

My room is a multipurpose room and I don't have complete light control during the day (when it gets a fair amount of use). My usage is about 60% movies, 40% DirecTV HD & PS3. I'll be going with the JVC X3 / Panamorph combo for projector & lens. The screen size will be about 120" diagonal (roughly 46" tall). The seating is about 13' from the screen.

Here are the things I need help with:

Speaker placement options (Triad in-wall):
1) Behind an AT screen
2) Below the screen
3) Below the screen with presence speakers in the ceiling used with dialogue lift feature on my Yamaha receiver to center the sound stage

Screen options - masking or not:
1) Stewart vertical masking system with Firehawk G3 material
2) SI Black Diamond II 1.4 material with no masking


My installer is recommending the AT screen from Stewart and the masking system. I know this would be great, but it is much more expensive than the other options.

What do you guys think?

Thanks in advance for your help.
Mark
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post #2 of 60 Old 03-25-2011, 12:00 PM
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You have to realize that masking makes a HUGE difference to the apparent image quality on the screen. I would not accept any other masking scheme than horizontal masking, which is how they do it in the theaters. IMO 16:9 left and right side masking that rolls down from the top looks klugy. Best of all is a 4-way masking system. The Carada systems seem to be highly recommended by people on this forum.
You mention the high cost of masking. If it comes down to a choice of being able to afford an anamorphic lens or a masking system (such as the Carada) but not both, I would definately go with the masking system as it will boost the appparent PQ more than an A-lens. Once you have experienced masking, there is no going back to grey bars.
Just my opinion.
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post #3 of 60 Old 03-25-2011, 12:47 PM
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AT screen with speakers behind.. no question. Go with a lower cost but great performing AT if necessary like a seymore.
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post #4 of 60 Old 03-25-2011, 05:20 PM
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I vote for AT with L/R speakers beside, not behind the screen. IMO, optimum angles between speakers and between screen edges do not allow LR behind the screen unless you have too large a screen or compromise by having too narrow an angle between mains.

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post #5 of 60 Old 03-26-2011, 02:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigus View Post

I vote for AT with L/R speakers beside, not behind the screen.

I would have to disagree. The whole point to using an AT screen is to get the BEST picture to sound match you can. With the speakers out side the screen, you get sound outside the picture and this only gets worse when watching smaller ARs like 1.78:1 and 1.33:1.

As for the narrow angles, that will be dependent on the distance you sit from the screen. I have recently rediscovered my front row (2x the image height) and how great it is to sit that close. My L and R speakers are also just inside the 1.78:1 area and the stage is wide at this distance, so quite for music only sources as well as film sound.

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post #6 of 60 Old 03-26-2011, 06:46 AM
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I agree Mark. I've been sitting 2x height since I had my scope set up installed four years ago now. It is a great immersive experience. So many films use localized sounds like someone at the door to the left in Momento while dialog is occuring in the center of the screen perfectly localized to the actor's face. This kind of audio experience is just not possible using speakers clear out to the sides.

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post #7 of 60 Old 03-26-2011, 03:44 PM
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I would agree with a larger screen such that speakers are behind if you are personally comfortable with that width scope screen. The bigger the better until it gets distracting or until you can't find a projector to light it.

But I can't agree with such narrow angle between speakers. You are simply doing a disservice to your audio. As a guy who makes and sells anmorphic lenses, I can completely understand that video and having things 'match' the video is of utmost importance to you. That's understandable. Bit you accept a compromised audio solution by doing so.

And I don't for a second buy that the speakers have to be behind the screen to match what is on the screen. Afterall what I've suggested is a difference of just a couple of degrees from screen edge to speaker location. ie, speaker essentially right beside the screen. And match what, exactly? Sounds on the screen? Sounds just off the screen? Are you telling me that a sound produced from an object 22 deg left of center on screen will be mixed to pan to exactly 22 deg left of center? Can you show me the dolby or thx or whoever specs that say all movies are mixed this way and that therefore is only one correct ratio between screen size and L/R mains? In fact those organizations list a range of speaker positions and screen sizes. You can't ensure the kind standardized match it would require for your argument to stand with a range of positions and sizes. Exactly where behind the screen are your speakers supposed to be? Five deg from edges? Ten? From 2.35:1 or 1.78:1? Do you have to move your speakers for each format to remain behind the screen, or accept way too narrow and compromised spacing that doesn't match 2.35:1, or is the whole premise of CIH fundamentally flawed?

Obviously it is not. Place your speakers where they work the best sonically, which is very near 60 deg, especially if you ever listen to music, and size the scree as large as you are comfortable with. If the screen covers the mains, great. If they are just outside the screen edges, they will 'match' the image as well as any other nearly infinite combination of position and screen size and aspect ratio that you could face. Don't compromise sonics because a lens guy says to or because theaters (that have seating positions all over the board andany well outside the recommended and prederrable angles) do.

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post #8 of 60 Old 03-26-2011, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigus View Post

I would agree with a larger screen such that speakers are behind if you are personally comfortable with that width scope screen. The bigger the better until it gets distracting or until you can't find a projector to light it.

My screen is just 8 feet wide. My cinema room is a 1/10th down scale of a real cinema. And it works extremely well.

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But I can't agree with such narrow angle between speakers. You are simply doing a disservice to your audio. As a guy who makes and sells anmorphic lenses, I can completely understand that video and having things 'match' the video is of utmost importance to you. That's understandable. Bit you accept a compromised audio solution by doing so.

What does making and selling anamorphic lenses have to do with speaker locations? If the speaker locations are incorrect, having the best anamorphic lens won't help your audio.

Speakers behind a screen provide sound cues to match the visuals on screen. If your speakers are too wide, this simply does not happen because you see the source of the sound at one point and hear its sound cue at another. The eyes and ears take in two the two sensory inputs for the brain to process and there is a conflict. Your brain tells you something is wrong.

Have you ever visited a real dubbing stage? They have their speakers just inside the 1.85:1 area. They do this because real cinemas have the L and R speakers in the same place. So when listening to a soundtrack, you ideally want to hear the sounds coming from the same position the sound mixers heard (and mixed to) if you want to accurately reproduce the event.

Because my room is a scaled down version of that, it made perfect sense to place the speakers at the same positions. Also because my screen is wall to wall, I would not want the speakers any further apart anyway.

The ITR-U was formulated to provide a uniform world wide standard for multi channel audio mixing like SACD and DVD-A. However when sound accompanies a picture, the ITU-R's 60 degrees is not the best set up. 45 degrees is actually better and why both THX and Dolby show this on their sites.

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And I don't for a second buy that the speakers have to be behind the screen to match what is on the screen.

And that suggests that you simply have not heard this for yourself. I know many with solid screens (speakers either under or over the screen) that have moved their speakers in and have made the same claims - that sound cues better match the visuals. Many members have posted their views on this after some serious listening.

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Afterall what I've suggested is a difference of just a couple of degrees from screen edge to speaker location. ie, speaker essentially right beside the screen. And match what, exactly? Sounds on the screen? Sounds just off the screen? Are you telling me that a sound produced from an object 22 deg left of center on screen will be mixed to pan to exactly 22 deg left of center?

You seem to be forgetting about the smaller ARs that Constant Image Height systems support. Sound needs to match ALL aspect rations, not just Scope.

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Can you show me the dolby or thx or whoever specs that say all movies are mixed this way and that therefore is only one correct ratio between screen size and L/R mains? In fact those organizations list a range of speaker positions and screen sizes. You can't ensure the kind standardized match it would require for your argument to stand with a range of positions and sizes. Exactly where behind the screen are your speakers supposed to be? Five deg from edges? Ten? From 2.35:1 or 1.78:1? Do you have to move your speakers for each format to remain behind the screen, or accept way too narrow and compromised spacing that doesn't match 2.35:1, or is the whole premise of CIH fundamentally flawed?

THX BAFFLE WALL
THX CINEMA ROOM IN PLAN

The whole reason those "diagrams" exist is because there are many that have NO CLUE what so ever. This is my 21st year of combining sound with video, and over that time I have seen some dreadful interpretations of what the room layout should look like.

CIH is not flawed anymore so than CIW or CIA. In the end, there will be some compromise at some point when using just three speakers to describe what should be an endless plain.

Quote:


Obviously it is not. Place your speakers where they work the best sonically, which is very near 60 deg, especially if you ever listen to music, and size the scree as large as you are comfortable with. If the screen covers the mains, great. If they are just outside the screen edges, they will 'match' the image as well as any other nearly infinite combination of position and screen size and aspect ratio that you could face. Don't compromise sonics because a lens guy says to or because theaters (that have seating positions all over the board andany well outside the recommended and prederrable angles) do.

What makes 60 degrees "optimal" anyway? Sure it does provide a good wide stage, however so does 50 degrees and 70 degrees is even wider so that surely would be better still. 60 degrees works for music only because there is no image to provide a point of reference as to where the sound cues actually came. I'll use an example from Jurassic Park. After the power has been restored, the phone rings and the sound cue (and the visual) clearly indicate that the event (the phone call) occurred on the left hand side of the screen. Now if your speakers are wider than they should be (just inside the 1.85:1 area), you see the phone on the left and you hear the ring from somewhere else. Very distracting and not very convincing. This is simple example because there is no other major sound cues happening at the time. There are many others I like to use as an example, however I simply do not have the time right now. Though I do suggest a close listen to FINDING NEMO where Dori and Marlin first meet. Note the pan used on Dori's voice from centre to right. This only works if:
A the speakers are correctly positioned and
B the calibration is correct - ie no running the centre channel hot.

I met a sound mixer in the 1990's who did live sound mixing for a bands. He once told me a very interesting point. He said that when the sound system is perfectly balanced, no-one complains. However when it is not, people comment even when they lack the words to describe the upset it has caused them.

I've brought people that I would consider "audiophiles" into my room to experience my system. I've not had ANY complaints about the sound system. I have had many compliments about how seamless the sound to picture match was though. The truth is, when the system is set up correctly, it goes unnoticed.

Home Theatre, Home Cinema, call it what you will is about recreating the real cinema experience in the home. Unless you are prepared to mimic the speaker placements of a real cinema, you will never hear the sound track (the art itself) the same as it was intended to be heard or the way it was mixed.

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post #9 of 60 Old 03-26-2011, 07:47 PM
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Following your last statement, I'm fine with that. I happen to think large venue cinemas are a compromise when attempting to provide an experience to a large number of people within the confines of reality and budget. I prefer not to limit myself to what I believe is thus a non-optimal "reference." I used more surround channels than you could find in a real cinema for a decade before they began thinking of moving in that direction. I would never limit my low frequency extension to what you experience in a real cinema, not even a good one. I wouldn't recommend real theater seats as the optimal solution for a home. I could never deal with the flicker of real film in my home. I wouldn't do a lot of things real theaters do because I don't have to seat a hundred people and I can thus afford to move the side walls a couple of feet wider than the screen to avoid compromised speaker locations especially when listening to something other than movies.

I realize that movies are mixed for the speaker setup you describe, but for every exams of an onscreen sound being panned perfectly to match with this narrow speaker location, we all could find a dozen that do not match. The reality is that while a dubbing stage may have that standardized configuration, the end results are all over the place.

Given this reality, I don't find this design requirement to be important. And frankly, I don't think scaling down a large venue compromised in design because it had to be large to fit a small venue is a wise approach at all. Simply put, we can do better in homes when such constraints are not present.

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post #10 of 60 Old 03-26-2011, 09:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of your feedback. I've decided to go the AT route with the speakers behind the screen. Will be splurging for the masking as well. Next step is to have my installer make the final measurements for speaker placement. I'll share your thoughts with him on that topic.

I was thinking that surely this would be the last screen I would ever need to buy (it will be my fourth). Then today, I met the regional sales rep for Stewart and he showed me a custom 20' Directors Choice curved setup he just did for another customer (~$100K just for the screen). Guess I'm gonna need a bigger house

Hope to get this all finished in about a month. I'll post pictures when its done.

Thanks again.
Mark
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post #11 of 60 Old 03-27-2011, 01:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigus View Post

I happen to think large venue cinemas are a compromise when attempting to provide an experience to a large number of people within the confines of reality and budget.

There are bad cinemas and good cinemas. I take note of the good and bad ones and only go back to the good ones.

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I prefer not to limit myself to what I believe is thus a non-optimal "reference."

See above and when I designed my room, it was based on around a 36 viewing angle.

Quote:
I used more surround channels than you could find in a real cinema for a decade before they began thinking of moving in that direction. I would never limit my low frequency extension to what you experience in a real cinema, not even a good one. I wouldn't recommend real theater seats as the optimal solution for a home. I could never deal with the flicker of real film in my home. I wouldn't do a lot of things real theaters do because I don't have to seat a hundred people and I can thus afford to move the side walls a couple of feet wider than the screen to avoid compromised speaker locations especially when listening to something other than movies.

And in the end of the day it all comes down to what you listen to most. For me, almost 100% is film sound, so I've optimized my room for that.

Quote:
I realize that movies are mixed for the speaker setup you describe, but for every exams of an onscreen sound being panned perfectly to match with this narrow speaker location, we all could find a dozen that do not match. The reality is that while a dubbing stage may have that standardized configuration, the end results are all over the place.

There are good soundtracks and not so good ones. And the sound mixers themselves are responsible for a great mix, not just the studio. If you compare SW 2 and 3, you will hear a massive difference, yet both were mixed on the same stage.

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Given this reality, I don't find this design requirement to be important. And frankly, I don't think scaling down a large venue compromised in design because it had to be large to fit a small venue is a wise approach at all. Simply put, we can do better in homes when such constraints are not present.

Again it comes back to what type of program you like to listen to. The difference between film sound and 2CH music is that there are no real standards in place for 2CH. The only standard seems to be that wider is generally better. Film sound does have standards and to hear a film soundtrack as close as possible (regardless of budget) will require specific speaker locations to be used. This is in part why the Home THX audio system was created. It addressed many of the issues when lost in translation when bringing film sound from the cinema into the home.

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post #12 of 60 Old 03-27-2011, 06:22 AM
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CAVX has it right. The speaker location setup he describes for dubbing stages is also the standard for cinema installations as well.

A properly set up system with the speakers at or just inside the 1.85 screen width, does not preclude the soundstage from extending beyond the position of the left and right speakers. I have heard many instances of sound effects mixed to position them outside the respective speaker's position in both commercial theaters and my HT. Of course this also requires careful adherence to speaker phasing and positioning.

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post #13 of 60 Old 03-27-2011, 07:19 AM
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In my HT, I have found that the best position for the front speakers is just outside the edge of the 2.35 screen. If I place the speakers at the edge of the 16:9 screen I find that the musical scores seem far less spacial, and I much prefer spacial sounding music to exact locationing of sound effects. I think it all comes down to personal preferences and there is no single correct configuration, despite what the experts would like you to believe.
I have never had any complaints about my HT sound either.
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post #14 of 60 Old 03-27-2011, 07:28 AM
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If one has 3 matched LCRs, what is the recommended height/placement of a speaker behind a AT screen? Tweeters at 42" ear level or centering the speaker in the mid portion of the screen raising the speaker to a higher level. If you have a large tower on the floor it seems like the mid portion of the speaker is blocked by the bottom frame of the AT screen. My second row seats are on riser with the same height of the stage but my first row in down 10" making it feel like it is in a pit. Martin
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post #15 of 60 Old 03-27-2011, 07:56 AM
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I've noticed this before but think it worth asking; both the THX images show the speaker placement just inside the edges of the 2.35 screen, not just inside the edges of where the 16:9 portion of the screen would be.

Any ideas why that is? I've always assumed that the best place to put the speakers is where they place them in the dubbing stage (said to be inside the 16:9 image) and angled for the seating position, so should mean that all audio cues accurately match the video as per the master.

Any thoughts?

Gary

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post #16 of 60 Old 03-27-2011, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by taffman View Post
In my HT, I have found that the best position for the front speakers is just outside the edge of the 2.35 screen. If I place the speakers at the edge of the 16:9 screen I find that the musical scores seem far less spacial, and I much prefer spacial sounding music to exact locationing of sound effects. I think it all comes down to personal preferences and there is no single correct configuration, despite what the experts would like you to believe.
I have never had any complaints about my HT sound either.
Again I based my system set up on my experiences in a real stage environment. Since going active for the LCRs, I can shut them off and it is interesting just how much score is played through the surrounds. I would say that this is done to spacialize the mix, compensating for the fact that LCRs are physically closer. because this is done at the mixing stage, it works on my system.

I've heard a real cinema that had the L and R at the edges of the Scope screen. At the time, they had just added SDDS 8CH, so they used the existing L and R as their LC RC and added two more speakers outside of that. This now meant that the 5 screen channel speakers were NOT symmetrically spaced. For 8CH it was awesome, however the system didn't play as well for standard 6CH program.

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If one has 3 matched LCRs, what is the recommended height/placement of a speaker behind a AT screen? Tweeters at 42" ear level or centering the speaker in the mid portion of the screen raising the speaker to a higher level. If you have a large tower on the floor it seems like the mid portion of the speaker is blocked by the bottom frame of the AT screen. My second row seats are on riser with the same height of the stage but my first row in down 10" making it feel like it is in a pit. Martin
Generally, the AT screen is much taller than the speakers. If you using towers, you could raise the speakers and invert them to get the tweeter closer to the desired height.

Cinema practice suggests the HF drivers (the Horns) should be 5/8th of the screen height from the bottom of the screen. THX suggest centering the speakers vertically for HT. In my case, I have placed the top of the LCRs at the vertical centre of the screen.

From my front row, the height is perfect. From the back row (elevated 300mm), I wouldn't mind the speakers being slightly higher. If I was to re-do the baffle wall, I would probably raise them to be vertically centered and apply tilt if required.

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Originally Posted by Gary Lightfoot View Post
I've noticed this before but think it worth asking; both the THX images show the speaker placement just inside the edges of the 2.35 screen, not just inside the edges of where the 16:9 portion of the screen would be.

Any ideas why that is? I've always assumed that the best place to put the speakers is where they place them in the dubbing stage (said to be inside the 16:9 image) and angled for the seating position, so should mean that all audio cues accurately match the video as per the master.

Any thoughts?

Gary
Having had my AT system in place since 2007, there is no way I would make another and move those speakers wider. As I mentioned, I might be tempted to raise the height of the LCRs.

The diagram in the 2nd link could be a CIA system or a CIH system. Apparently THX do certify CIA systems now if they conform the to correct H and V site lines.

Part of the idea for WHY the L and R speakers are just inside the side masking is to do with the fact that the masks would not have the SAME acoustically transparent properties as the screen material, so the best way to get around that is to not have the masks cover the speakers. Given the speaker layout has been in place for many years, it would also make sense to work off that standard for new installations.
LL

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post #17 of 60 Old 03-27-2011, 04:07 PM
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If your speakers are not oriented such that the vertical axis is centered is at ear level, you will introduce lobing and combing artifacts that result in serious frequency response errors at the listening position. If you mount speakers significantly higher and angle down, the problem will be exacerbated for rear rows, especially if on a platform. Solutions might include speakers with large vertical axis such as line arrays (which introduce other problems) or use a largish room where front row is at ear height and the angle off axis for rear rows is this smaller. This results in speaker axis around the 1/3 height or so for many rooms. Of course, mounting speakers at sceen midline might "match" on screen visuals better (though humans are much less adept at distuinguishing vertical location compared with lateralization, so this is absolutely a non issue), so again one must decide if that is worth the comprised audio perfoance.

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post #18 of 60 Old 03-27-2011, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CAVX View Post
Speakers behind a screen provide sound cues to match the visuals on screen. If your speakers are too wide, this simply does not happen because you see the source of the sound at one point and hear its sound cue at another. The eyes and ears take in two the two sensory inputs for the brain to process and there is a conflict. Your brain tells you something is wrong.
Luckily for movies, humans do not weigh sight and sound cues equally in determining source localization. Panned dialog is not the norm, and we are fine with that. We're also fine when the off-screen sound comes from the hard left speaker. We feel that sounds fly over our heads even though there's no speakers there.

I've seen programs where the left/right channels were reversed, and no one complains (but me)! We humans are a forgiving lot. And once involved in the story, our ability to suspend disbelief forgives a multitude of sins, like 24 fps judder or sound/image misalignment. Absolute physical accuracy is not absolutely necessary to present movies accurately.
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post #19 of 60 Old 03-27-2011, 07:34 PM
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Absolute physical accuracy is not absolutely necessary to present movies accurately.

Probably not. However that should not be an excuse for not setting equipment in a room to give the best performance it can where possible.

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post #20 of 60 Old 03-27-2011, 10:10 PM
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Probably not. However that should not be an excuse for not setting equipment in a room to give the best performance it can where possible.

Agreed. However, "best" is an opinion, subject to personal preferences.
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post #21 of 60 Old 03-27-2011, 10:11 PM
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I suppose the issue here is just what defines 'best performance.'. We are all allowed to have various opinions on that, and trying to match the cinema standard certainly is hard to fault logically. I simply haven't experienced a degree of standardization in movie mixes regardless of the existence of a standardized mixing environment for me to pursue that avenue at the expense of what I perceive to be better performing alternative locations. Especially given that I love to listen to music in multichannel, which perhaps gets to the old question of whether a room can be great for both.

I still think it can. Given that slightly wider placement may have only a questionally perceivable audio/video incongruity on a fraction of titles out there, but a potentially larger impact to me on all titles both movie and music in total envelopment of the soundstage and creation of a believable auditory illusion, I'll take the small sacrifice for large returns and still feel the room is better for both than the 'standardized' layout.

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post #22 of 60 Old 03-27-2011, 10:14 PM
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Roger beat me to it. Perhaps I would benefit from learning to be as concise.

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post #23 of 60 Old 03-28-2011, 01:06 AM
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Agreed. However, "best" is an opinion, subject to personal preferences.

Gotta love the grey areas. Ever wonder why some experts refer to HT as "the end of the food chain"?

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post #24 of 60 Old 03-28-2011, 03:11 AM
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Luckily for movies, humans do not weigh sight and sound cues equally in determining source localization.

As Floyd said, "The ventriloquist effect is a wonderful thing."

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post #25 of 60 Old 03-28-2011, 04:42 AM
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Dennis, what is your take on this? A or B? I say A because it best caters for all ARs not just Scope.
LL

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post #26 of 60 Old 03-28-2011, 05:45 AM
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Dennis, what is your take on this? A or B? I say A because it best caters for all ARs not just Scope.

Just to raise a third option I've been considering.... How about putting the speakers at the inside of the 2.35 screen edge that would be covered by masking. If one has a receiver that has multiple stored settings for room correction (I'll be using an Anthem MRX with labelled "movie" and "music" settings), you could account for the attenuation of AT masking material. I'll have a 2.3x setting and an all others setting. In my room, for example, this would get me to around 50-55 degrees separation between L and R channels.
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post #27 of 60 Old 03-28-2011, 06:04 AM
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Do you need correction for the masking material such as that used by Stewart ? That stuff is really thin fabric.

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post #28 of 60 Old 03-28-2011, 07:57 AM
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Most often you don't need correction for masking other than perhaps a tiny level setting bump (of 0.5db or so) if you have that granularity of control. Some masking materials are essentially the same as the AT fabric screen, some are thinner (more like grille cloth), some are much worse and not suitable for masking an AT screen (velvet etc.). So it depends on the fabric, but I can't even see the need for actual EQ differences, just perhaps minor level differences.

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post #29 of 60 Old 03-28-2011, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by uscmatt99 View Post

Just to raise a third option I've been considering.... How about putting the speakers at the inside of the 2.35 screen edge that would be covered by masking.

That would be more acceptable to me than having the speakers outside of the screen.

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post #30 of 60 Old 03-28-2011, 04:46 PM
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And I'd certainly be happier with 50-55 deg than 40-45 deg. I suppose that's where personal priorities and preferences take over; it is up to each user or designer to choose a placement within the range of positions available that best optimizes for the chosen criteria.

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