Home Theater Build - Need Validation on Possible Layouts - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 55 Old 05-08-2013, 10:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi all,
I've been researching and running numbers for some time now, and believe I am at a point for review. I'd like to ask for validation / input from the community on the options listed below based on my room size / screen dimensions. Based on the room size, I believe I realistically have 2 options, both detailed below. Both options assume 2 rows of seating with different configurations, and each with their pros/ cons.

I'd like some feedback on a) which would be the best alternative and b) will the layout function decently as shown please. The pictures can be clicked on for larger views.

In general:
  • Dedicated Home Theatre Room
  • Usage would be primarily my wife and I (no kids), and we entertain rarely
  • I am 6'1", wife is 5'4"
  • Distance from Screen to the rear of the room is 17'6"
  • Screen is an Elite M120HSR-Pro (120” diag, and 104" viewable width)
  • Optimal viewing distance is 13' to 17' from screen (based on 1.5 and 2.0 * screen viewable width)

Overhead View


Screen Calculator
LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

Option 1: First Row Recliners, Second Row Loveseat


Pros:
  • Best 'compromise' viewing distance for both rows (12'6" First Row, 17' Second Row)
  • 'Prime' seating is in the First row with no chance of obstruction to screen view


Option 2: First Row Loveseat, Second Row Recliners


Pros:
  • Elevates recliners (prime seating) in second row slightly for more in-line viewing of screen?
  • Allows potential of recliners in both rows (not overly important to me)
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post #2 of 55 Old 05-08-2013, 11:03 AM
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Hey Doc - and welcome to the madness. It looks like you've done some pretty good planning overall, but there are a couple things I would change here.

The first thing I noticed was that the screen was too high for me. Get it as low as you can stand - you'll be happier later. In order to get it lower and maintain sightlines for the second row, you'll want a taller riser. With 9' ceilings to start with, you can tolerate a foot or more of riser height.

Second, no critical listener will be happy with the sound in the second row. You don't have a whole lot of length to move things in (normally, my recommendation is to move the rear row off the wall), so here's the options, IMO. Put the seat you want where you want it and let the second row have what's left. Anything else you do, given your stated expected use, doesn't make sense to me. You could ditch the second row altogether, but that shouldn't be necessary, unless you really want your prime seat in a spot that doesn't leave room. (Note that if you hired a competent pro to design and build your space, the design would start with creating a usable front soundstage and surround soundfield, then choosing image pieces that work with those seating distances. In that way, you've come at this the way most of us do, but what the pros think of as backwards.)

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post #3 of 55 Old 05-08-2013, 11:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply, it's not surprising that I came at this bass ackwards smile.gif

Good points, especially on the screen height. Some additional information that I didn't initially include to prevent 'clutter' but may prevent me from adjusting the screen height. That height was intentional for 2 reasons:

  1. The front of the room will also have a home PC with multiple LCDs. It's this reason the PJ screen is 1 ft 'off' the rear wall and is designed to 'hide' those LCDs from view. The home PC will also be the source for the PJ.
  2. At that height I can still have the center channel speaker at a decent height and unobstructed to the listeners (currently at 32" off the floor). Otherwise I'd need a screen that allows sound to more readily pass through (an AT type?) and hadn't intended to use that type of screen

An option I do have is to put a raised platform for both rows (say a 10" for the First row, and a 16" for the Second. This would mean a) the center channel would now be even lower compared to the listener(s) and b) the rear speakers would have to sit higher than the left / right / surrounds to clear the second row seating. Would that alternative of better visibility be of that much value to offset the impacts to the audio layout?
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post #4 of 55 Old 05-08-2013, 02:50 PM
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Since you mentioned that the theater is primarily for you and your wife, your front row should be as ideal as you can make it. The second row is simply overflow.... and as Fred said, that row isn't going to be for critical listening/viewing anyway.... With the way you intend on using the space, I would not compromise the front row at all.

For your screen height, I agree in bringing that down as well, it looks too high. Can you make a sketch of give a few more details on your thoughts with the LCD panels? Are you using a drop down, and the panels are behind the screen? I'm not quite clear on what you are planning up front...

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post #5 of 55 Old 05-08-2013, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Sure. Here are some renderings I have that may help:

PJ Screen Area - Overhead
LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

PJ Screen Area - Front view with screen
LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

PJ Screen Area - Front view without screen
LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

Anything else let me know, thanks!
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post #6 of 55 Old 05-09-2013, 02:20 AM
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If it is a dedicated space, why have the desk at the front of the room and go with the expense of a retractable screen? I also don't like the fact that there is a hard and reflective surface immediately underneath the screen and center channel.

What is your ceiling height? If you have the height I would recommend going for a 12" riser for the rear chairs with the front row on the floor, especially for those reclining in the second row with any larger folks in the front row. You could also stagger seats (3 in the 2nd row and 2 in the front row) to help with sight line issues.

I'd dump the desk, move the PC to the back of the room with just one LCD monitor and lower the screen as proposed to get 15 degree site lines in the front row for starters.

What speakers / sub are you considering? What projector are you looking at?

One last note - if you are sticking with a retractable screen, you want to make sure that no HVAC ducts, especially supply lines, are anywhere near the screen otherwise it will act as a giant sail and sway back-and-forth with the air movement.


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post #7 of 55 Old 05-09-2013, 06:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Some good points, see thoughts below:
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMcG View Post

If it is a dedicated space, why have the desk at the front of the room and go with the expense of a retractable screen? I also don't like the fact that there is a hard and reflective surface immediately underneath the screen and center channel.
Fair question. To 'drive the PJ I was going to use my gaming rig (PC) which I also play video games on. So in the truest sense you're right that it's not 100% dedicated I guess, it was an attempt to leverage both into that space given the HT needed it to run anyway. True statement on the desk being a reflective surface, was a compromise placing it in the front of the room in an attempt to provide enough room for 2 rows of seating...
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Originally Posted by TMcG View Post

What is your ceiling height? If you have the height I would recommend going for a 12" riser for the rear chairs with the front row on the floor, especially for those reclining in the second row with any larger folks in the front row. You could also stagger seats (3 in the 2nd row and 2 in the front row) to help with sight line issues.
Ceiling height is 9' so I do have some space. Jacking up the rear seats 12" would require adjusting the rear speakers higher than the other speakers in the system, unsure if that is a cause for concern.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMcG View Post

What speakers / sub are you considering? What projector are you looking at?
Speakers are reusing my Bose setup I have currently into a 7.1 configuration. PJ is a BENQ W1070.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMcG View Post

One last note - if you are sticking with a retractable screen, you want to make sure that no HVAC ducts, especially supply lines, are anywhere near the screen otherwise it will act as a giant sail and sway back-and-forth with the air movement.
Excellent point and one I overlooked, there currently is a duct in that area I need to reconsider then....


With the above feedback I'm debating a rework of the room.... Initial ideas are:
1) Remove the second row seating completely. The few times that guests come to use temporary chairs / bean bags in the space instead
2) Orient the 'Prime' seating into the optimal space in the room for sound / viewing
3) Move the PC and screens to the back of the room (there would be space now, without the second row seating)
4) Swap the retractable screen for a fixed one
5) Lower that screen for easier viewing

I'll take a look further into that.... I was just hoping to make it all work but that space may simply be too small....
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post #8 of 55 Old 05-09-2013, 07:02 AM
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Agree with your rework plan as a starting point. Only other item I would add for immediate consideration is getting your front three speaker on the same front-to-back plane. Right now you have the left and right speakers pulled forward and attached to the side wall. Why introduce timing issues when the correct speaker set-up is so easy to achieve?

Regarding the HVAC, you can buy special diffusers that will deflect the air supply in the direction you want....just make sure to get one that doesn't create air turbulence and therefore noise.


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post #9 of 55 Old 05-09-2013, 07:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMcG View Post

Right now you have the left and right speakers pulled forward and attached to the side wall. Why introduce timing issues when the correct speaker set-up is so easy to achieve?

This was intentional based on what I had read, and it was actually to help with the timing issues - so I'm a bit confused now. From understanding, R/L speakers need to be the same physical distance to the listener as the center channel. Assuming a single 'focus' point at the listener location, that is effectively an arc drawn through the L to center to R speakers 'anchored' at that focus point. That would require the L/R speakers to be inset on the side walls to maintain the same physical distance. That was my understanding?
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post #10 of 55 Old 05-09-2013, 07:42 AM
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Does your BOSE setup use a regular receiver with an Acoustimass setup or a BOSE receiver unit (Lifestyle)? If the former, you should integrate a true subwoofer that goes well below 50 Hz and also utilizes an an 80 Hz LPF. The BOSE bass module plays all the way up to ~200 Hz since the satellites roll off around 280 Hz; therefore it's critical that if you use those speakers that the bass module is located up front near the screen. In fact you can watch (listen to) a whole movie just through the bass module, although I wouldn't recommend it.


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post #11 of 55 Old 05-09-2013, 07:57 AM
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You can fix timing / phase through the processor, but obviously not speaker placement. If you look at any high-end professional theater all three front speakers are on the same plane behind the screen. Many times the outside speakers are toed-in toward the listening position if you have a large, non-AT screen, but that's only to give a large sweet spot at the seating area and control issues associated with first reflections off the side wall if the speakers were not toed in and simply pointing forward.


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post #12 of 55 Old 05-09-2013, 10:45 AM - Thread Starter
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dkjest / TMcG - Both excellent points. But let me defer that for now as I had planned to a) 'rework' my layout per the above and b) post a separate thread validating my electronics layout as a last step in the design process.

I'm going to try to get that 'alternate' layout done by tonight and posted for additional thoughts....
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post #13 of 55 Old 05-09-2013, 07:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Allright, take 2. Here's what I've done:

Updates
1) Only one row of seating
2) Fixed screen on the front wall, larger dimension than previous
3) PC Home theater area moved to the rear, minimized in size but still required within the room

Assumptions
  • Optimal viewing distance is 14' to 18'8" given larger screen (1.5 and 2 * the screen width)
  • Eye height from the floor non-reclined is 45", reclined is 42"
  • Given eye height (reclined) the optimal screen location is 1'9" off the floor (rule of thirds, see picture)

Questions
  • How is this layout overall? Fairly optimal?
  • My expected viewing distance of 14' reclined is right on the border of the recommended minimum, any potential issues with that? (if there is I will have to reduce the screen size)
  • Any other recommendations / questions?

Overhead


Side


PJ Screen calculator
LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01
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post #14 of 55 Old 05-09-2013, 08:48 PM
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I have no complaints here. Just to pick a nit, I'll say you may want to leave yourself the possibility of moving your seating position.

The traditional rule of thumb is that the best sound can be had 38% down the length of the room. (A little light reading) As with all rules of thumb, this is only a starting point. Since it seems like you will have the option to shift seating some, I'd recommend that you leave that option open, at least until you have listened a few hours in the seat. 38% from the rear wall is about 11.5 feet from the screen, which is a couple feet closer than you had planned. The good news there is that smaller pictures tend to have better contrast, and if you can stand waiting until you try it out (always a sound recommendation), you can save on screen as well (by buying smaller potentially, as well as not having to return or mask down)


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post #15 of 55 Old 05-10-2013, 04:34 AM
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Ever consider putting a computer desk behind the seating and act as a second row? The three lcd setup could be on a motorized lift to drop into the desk.

Your side surrounds should be at the ends of the primary viewing row, not buried in the rear side corners.

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post #16 of 55 Old 05-10-2013, 05:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HopefulFred View Post

The traditional rule of thumb is that the best sound can be had 38% down the length of the room.

Hmmm.... I need to ask a potential very rookie question then, as I may have been thinking about this all wrong....

I've always assumed that if I could make the screen bigger, that was better. But what the above seems to be saying is that (and maybe this is what you were saying in Post #2) that there is a an intersection for a given sized room for the optimal sound and for the optimal viewing location. And even if that means making the screen smaller and moving the seat closer to compensate, that still effectively provides a similar viewing quality / experience of a larger screen but at a further distance? And given that the PJ will 'max' out at its supported resolution its quite possible that being closer will provide a better contrast than that same resolution on a larger screen?

Am I on the right track with that thinking? Because if that is the case then moving the 'prime' seating to the 11.5ft range will leave a good deal of space in the rear of my room for the HT PC / secondary seating. Can you confirm?
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post #17 of 55 Old 05-10-2013, 05:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post

Ever consider putting a computer desk behind the seating and act as a second row? The three lcd setup could be on a motorized lift to drop into the desk.

Your side surrounds should be at the ends of the primary viewing row, not buried in the rear side corners.

I had not, but if HopefulFred or others can confirm my thoughts in the prior post then I would certainly have room to do just that (and I like the idea about the desk!). Once I have their thoughts I could mock up another layout that would include that kind of approach.

As for the speaker positions, I'll most likely post that in its own thread in the proper forum after I confirm the general room layout and furniture positions.

Thanks again for the help!
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post #18 of 55 Old 05-10-2013, 06:12 PM
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might want to check your personal messages drandersoninc....
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post #19 of 55 Old 05-10-2013, 06:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post

might want to check your personal messages drandersoninc....

Thanks, I had earlier today and was looking further into the Seymourav AT screen (like mentioned here) but haven't learned enough yet to ask any intelligent questions smile.gif I am working on it and hopefully will shortly.

I did however miss your statement "Screen size with one seating row isn't such a big deal. You can pull the seating forward and have the viewing angle match a larger screen with longer seating distance". That would seem to reinforce what HopefulFred was saying say I am trying to rework the layout as we speak as a result of that. Will post back up when I do.

Thanks again
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post #20 of 55 Old 05-10-2013, 06:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drandersoninc View Post

Am I on the right track with that thinking?
Yes, you're on the right track. Some will contend from their own experience that the perception of size persists, even in the dark, and that sitting closer to a smaller screen is not equivalent to sitting farther from a larger screen. I have no reason to argue with that, but I feel that if the viewing experience is very good the room will fade away and the field of view of the screen is what dominates the entire perceptual experience. If that's true, it is all about angles - not inches. (There are other aspects of home theater design that do rely on real distances, not ratios or angles, but we haven't come across any of those in your scenario yet - optimization for multiple seats and distances from acoustically transparent screens are two that come to mind.)

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post #21 of 55 Old 05-10-2013, 07:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HopefulFred View Post

...optimization for multiple seats and distances from acoustically transparent screens are two that come to mind.)

Based on Tedds thoughts I am looking at / considering AT screens ATM. Reading this it seems like there is concern about being too close to AT screens of a given material ans seeing the perforations, is that what you were referring to? As of right now I am looking at the Seymourav AT screens, is there a concern about 11'6" standoff from that kind of screen with a 91" diagonal (my initial calcs on optimal screen size for that seating position)?
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post #22 of 55 Old 05-10-2013, 07:28 PM
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Seeing the perf/weave is the concern I'm talking about, but for the more popular high-quality screens, like Seymour CenterStage XD or Screen Excellence Enlightor 4K, 11.5 ft is generally far enough to be a non-issue. Most people don't report seeing the weave on XD unless within 10 feet, some as far as 11, from what I've seen reported. Often, even among those who say they see the weave at 11 feet, they only see it in exceptionally bright images and don't mind the compromise. YMMV


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post #23 of 55 Old 05-10-2013, 07:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Can I get a second set of eyes on these screen calcs? Now that I have the optimal viewing distance I am trying to back into the screen size and it seems like I'm getting 2 answers...

My first attempt was the basic rule of thumb that the minimum viewing distance was 1.5* the screen width and the max was 2* the screen width. I split that to a factor of 1.75 and used the 11'6" viewing distance and backed into a 79" screen width.

But when I plugged it into the calculator seen here, a 79" width flags that seating distance as an issue (image #1). When I play with the width and try a 90" one everything goes in the 'green' and seems to be ok (image #2). What am I missing?

I was trying to get the first row in the sweet spot and hoping the second PC HT row would be close or inside the max range. Any thoughts are appreciated

79" width
LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

90" width
LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01
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post #24 of 55 Old 05-10-2013, 08:18 PM
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It's past my bedtime so I can't really crunch your numbers, but two things: First, make sure that rule of thumb you started with is for your screen aspect ratio. Compare to the recommendations I posted earlier: that screen is 2.39, not the 1.78 you've proposed. Second, you've got to be the arbiter of close vs too close for yourself, ultimately. The boiler plate response is wait to buy the screen and hang the projector until after your set everything else up and can try it out projecting onto a sheet or similar. Think about where you like to sit at the commercial cinema and go from there.

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post #25 of 55 Old 05-10-2013, 08:21 PM
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I wrestled with many screen-size calculators when laying out my room and in the end, found them all to be a complete waste of time. It really comes down to personal preference and I found the decision was quite easy once I was able to visit another home theater to see what I was comfortable with. If you don't know anyone with a home theater, visit your local Best Buy or specialty theater store to see if they have a projection setup. Bring a tape measure to see what size screen they have and what the seating distances are and go from there.

With an 11'-6" viewing distance, you are going to want something bigger than 79" or 90" wide.

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post #26 of 55 Old 05-11-2013, 03:27 AM
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Two big advantages of an AT screen is you can go bigger in a narrow room, and not end up with your left and right main speakers buried in the corners,
and the center channel doesn't get pushed down low. You also simplify the look of the front of the room, by not having the speakers on display.

You also gain the advantage of being able to use three identical speakers, for am improved front soundstage.

The cons of an AT screen are it is essentially a 1.0 gain screen, but a narrow room limits the size of a screen anyways. You also give up some room depth
to the AT space. (If you are using in wall speakers, I'd position a woven AT screen 6" off the front wall.)

I would be aiming for a bare minimum of 54x96" for your screen.
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post #27 of 55 Old 05-11-2013, 04:23 AM
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I opened that link to Real Traps and immediately got a headache. Every single time I try to read up on acoustics my eyes just glaze over smile.gif

And I was an Econ major so it's not like I can't do the math - just really dry material...

and I love when people use excel for home theater - that gets me excited wink.gif


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post #28 of 55 Old 05-11-2013, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by drandersoninc View Post

Based on Tedds thoughts I am looking at / considering AT screens ATM. Reading this it seems like there is concern about being too close to AT screens of a given material ans seeing the perforations, is that what you were referring to? As of right now I am looking at the Seymourav AT screens, is there a concern about 11'6" standoff from that kind of screen with a 91" diagonal (my initial calcs on optimal screen size for that seating position)?

Having the speakers too close behind the screen is ONLY a concern for Stewart Filmscreen's micropertoration AT technology. All the rest are more like AT grill cloth.

And FWIW I've seen folks on this Forum say their seating distance is as close as 9ft. with the XD material and they can't see any holes in the weave. I just received my XD screen but haven't installed it yet. Yes, Fred....I've been holding out a bit on my thread, but not intentionally! tongue.gif


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post #29 of 55 Old 05-11-2013, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by JRock3x8 View Post

I opened that link to Real Traps and immediately got a headache. Every single time I try to read up on acoustics my eyes just glaze over smile.gif

+1.....BIG TIME!!!


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post #30 of 55 Old 05-11-2013, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by TMcG View Post

Having the speakers too close behind the screen is ONLY a concern for Stewart Filmscreen's micropertoration AT technology. All the rest are more like AT grill cloth.

And FWIW I've seen folks on this Forum say their seating distance is as close as 9ft. with the XD material and they can't see any holes in the weave. I just received my XD screen but haven't installed it yet. Yes, Fred....I've been holding out a bit on my thread, but not intentionally! tongue.gif

This clearly wasn't the case on the 2010 HT Cruise AT screen seminar where it was clearly demonstrated by Tony Grimani, that a speaker will timbre shift at less then six inches behind a woven screen.
The effect is gone at 6". That seminar was a by product of a large two article by Widescreen Review. The effect is easily heard by running full range pink noise off a calibration disk, and holding a sample
of your speaker cloth over a speaker.
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