Firehawk vs. StudioTek 130 and room reflections? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 169 Old 12-15-2006, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
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In preparation for the RS1 I am considering changing my 106" diag Firehawk to the same size StudioTek 130. My main reasoning is that I can likely get a better picture with brighter whites off the StudioTek and no longer need the gray FH screen to help with the black levels.

However I'm wondering how the switch will affect the way light is reflected around my room. The last thing I want to do is wind up lowering my ANSI CR. I'm a bit paranoid in this regard because I've always heard that the Firehawk is very good about helping control room reflections...

Currently I have my room reflections tamed quite well. I'm finishing up a project of adding velvet to the ceiling over the screen and have added a throw rug to the carpet. Together this has resulted in an increase in ANSI CR from my temporary Sharp 10K from about 130:1 to 180:1.

Can someone please explain how the StudioTek is different than the Firehawk WRT the way it reflects light? Am I at risk for lowering my ANSI CR by switching to the StudioTek? For reference my pj is ceiling mounted with a throw of 15 feet.

Also do you think there would be enough of an improvement with the RS1 on the StudioTek vs my Firehawk to justify the investment in the new screen?

Lastly, has anyone compared the newest Firehawk 3 screen with the original Firehawk I have? I assume that is not worth upgrading to should I decide the FH is best for my room.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 169 Old 12-15-2006, 02:08 PM
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I cant be of to much help, but I saw the proto RS1 at Cedia on the ST130 and it was perfect to my untrained eye. I was so impressed with this combo that I am going to buy a ST130 for my RS1 and will sell my Severtsen HC grey screen in the next week or two. It was just amazing to me how much better everything looked on a white screen, IF you have a good deadicated room of course.

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post #3 of 169 Old 12-15-2006, 03:46 PM
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The StudioTek 130 (Ultramatte 130) has a slightly higher gain than the FireHawk. Thus, it should do a slightly better job of controlling room reflections. BTW, I'm using the StudioTek now with the Sharp 20K and I'm very pleased with the performance. I noticed a substantial improvement over the DaLite Matte White I had been using.

Glad to hear you got your room treatment successfully installed!

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post #4 of 169 Old 12-15-2006, 03:48 PM
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I might not be of much technical help either but I can tell you what I have seen -- Sony Pearly and meridian MF-1 (aka JVC HD-10K + Phelps + other goodies) on both the ORIGINAL FireHawk and the StudioTek 130...Results are as follows:

-- Completely dark room; the StudioTek is better; that said, not by much.

-- SOme ambient light (i.e. similar to what I use when watching football); the FireHawk was better, and better my a more noticeable margin than above.

As I have a dual purpose room which even when completely darl reflects light off NOT dark walls I will sticking with the FireHawk...just one man's opinion.

Hope this helps.

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post #5 of 169 Old 12-15-2006, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomHuffman View Post

The StudioTek 130 (Ultramatte 130) has a slightly higher gain than the FireHawk. Thus, it should do a slightly better job of controlling room reflections.

The net gain of the Firehawk is lower because of the "dark" coating. The intinsic gain of the base material is higher than 130. With the combination of the dark coat and the higher intrinsic gain the Firehawk is substantially better than 130 for light control.
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post #6 of 169 Old 12-15-2006, 05:47 PM
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I agree with Joel. I went to a show in CO a year or so ago with John & Brad of Integrity Home Theater. They had the ST130, a GHRS, and the FH along witha Mirage. 135" in all 4 IIRC. We examined all of them with several projectors. I came to a similar conclusion. The ST130 was nice if the room was absolutely black, and essentially no reflections. The GH (which wasn't really very gray at all) had a great picture with the bright PJ's we were using, agin in a 100% dark room, and it came with a about a 180deg viewing cone being negative gain. But with ANY ambient, both the ST130 and GH washed a lot, the FH performed better hands down if there was any ambient, even a little. The ST130 clearly did the worst in handling stray light from any source. It would be nice in a bat cave, but otherwise, I'd pick a FH, or a GHRS. The Mirage was an excellent (little better still with a lot of ambient) than the FH, but at about 4x the cost IIRC it wasn't worth it to me. You might ask those guys, they are or were an authorized AVS dealer, too. www.integrityhometheater.com
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post #7 of 169 Old 12-15-2006, 06:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips. I have no outside lights and would d say my light reflections control is above average. In fact using the Contrast Calculator I've determined my room reflectivity level to be about 0.004 (down from 0.008 prior to treating the ceiling and floor). However it is certainly not a bat cave by any means. So based on what I'm reading here it sounds like it may be best to stick with the FH.

What characteristics of the Firehawk make it particularly good at rejecting the reflections? How do its angles of light reflection differ from that of the FH? As a side note, I am only concerned about seating in the middle so a greater viewing angle does not buy me anything.

Has any one had a chance to compare the new FH 3 to the original FH? Wondering if there is any difference or performance to be gained there. Doubtful, but thought I'd ask.
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post #8 of 169 Old 12-15-2006, 07:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovingdvd View Post

Has any one had a chance to compare the new FH 3 to the original FH? Wondering if there is any difference or performance to be gained there. Doubtful, but thought I'd ask.


As I understand it, the new firehawk formula works better with 1080p projectors giving a higher resolution image than the previous formula.

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post #9 of 169 Old 12-15-2006, 08:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad/Viper-Fan View Post

As I understand it, the new firehawk formula works better with 1080p projectors giving a higher resolution image than the previous formula.

Yea, I know that's their marketing angle on it. I'm just wondering if anyone's done an A/B and there's really a noticeable difference. I figure if I was buying it from scratch I'd certainly want their newer version, but compared to the old version I'm thinking it wouldn't be worth upgrading.
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post #10 of 169 Old 12-15-2006, 08:24 PM
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The ST130 has also been revised with 1080p projectors in mind just to let you know.

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post #11 of 169 Old 12-15-2006, 09:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottsol View Post

The net gain of the Firehawk is lower because of the "dark" coating. The intinsic gain of the base material is higher than 130. With the combination of the dark coat and the higher intrinsic gain the Firehawk is substantially better than 130 for light control.

Sorry, I have no idea what you mean by "intrinsic" gain as opposed to "net" gain. Presumably gain is a measurable phenomenon associated with reflectivity and viewing cone. If it is NOT measurable then how could it have any effect on perceived performance? If it IS measurable, then what does some "intrinsic" property add to the mix?

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post #12 of 169 Old 12-15-2006, 09:21 PM
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This is issue of white screen vs gray is one I've been contemplating for awhile now. GetGray and Joel seem to agree with Mark Robinson of Stewart Filmscreen. If your room isn't a jet black hole then the gray screen is superior. The following is a partial quote from Mark when I posed a similar question:

"The trade off is at the top of the dynamic range. It is possible to overhaul the gray tint of a screen with projected light power and get a calibrated white field. People argue this to death. It is done. A sample pasted on a whiter wall is not indicative of the performance of the screen, since cross reflection from the base material is still washing everything out. And granted you must have a more powerful projector to light a Grayhawk RS, than what is needed for a given foot Lambert performace level with a white screen. But if proper set-up is followed, an accurate picture is obtainable with either.

Firehawk is pretty good at rendering a believable white and providing blacks where other fabrics just cannot. It not as textbook white field accurate, but it makes projectors with reduced black level performance look much better, and salvages many rooms which otherwise wash out to unacceptable degrees. Images are believable and that is why people create Home Theatres.

Naturally it would be wonderful if all viewing environments were black floored, had black ceilings and walls, and so forth. It would also be nice if digital engines could actually render a black field where IRE=0 was pitch black, few to none can. Gray screens help with both of these issues."

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Since I don't want a jet black hole for a family/theater room maybe Firehawk is best for me also.

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post #13 of 169 Old 12-15-2006, 09:32 PM
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Everyone has an opinion on this obviously, but I cant wait to move away from my grey screen. Blacks look better on a grey screen, but colors and whites are dulled out to some degree depending on the screen. The FH is the best I have personally seen as far as a grey screen with the least dulling of whites and colors, but it still has this affect compared to a white screen. You dont get something for nothing. You do get better blacks, but at the expense of duller whites and colors to some degree depending on screen brand.

The downside with a white screen is you need complete light control including dark surfaces to get the most out of it, and if you cant do this, then the grey is the better choice. However if you do have great light control, including dark walls, ceiling, etc...White is the better choice IMO. I have a cave of a room and realize now, especially moving to the new JVC which has excellent black levels that a grey screen is not the prefered screen in a situation like this. I look forward to proper whites and colors that pop the way they should.

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post #14 of 169 Old 12-15-2006, 09:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toe View Post

Everyone has an opinion on this obviously, but I cant wait to move away from my grey screen. Blacks look better on a grey screen, but colors and whites are dulled out to some degree depending on the screen. The FH is the best I have personally seen as far as a grey screen with the least dulling of whites and colors, but it still has this affect compared to a white screen. You dont get something for nothing. You do get better blacks, but at the expense of duller whites and colors to some degree depending on screen brand.

The downside with a white screen is you need complete light control including dark surfaces to get the most out of it, and if you cant do this, then the grey is the better choice. However if you do have great light control, including dark walls, ceiling, etc...White is the better choice IMO. I have a cave of a room and realize now, especially moving to the new JVC which has excellent black levels that a grey screen is not the prefered screen in a situation like this. I look forward to proper whites and colors that pop the way they should.


I agree, in your situation a white screen is the way to go. I also agree the Firehawk is the best gray screen.
For myself, I just couldn't live with a black room.

Brad
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post #15 of 169 Old 12-15-2006, 09:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad/Viper-Fan View Post

I agree, in your situation a white screen is the way to go. I also agree the Firehawk is the best gray screen.
For myself, I just couldn't live with a black room.


I totally understand that It would definately be nice at times to have a bit of light in the room if desired, and to come out of the cave so to speak.

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post #16 of 169 Old 12-16-2006, 12:46 AM
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Hi LovingDVD,

I have my C3X in a WHITE walled lounge and I mean white!!. The reflections have a significant effect on black levels and this was true even when I owned the now lowely single ship HT300 when used with the Stewart 130. You do not get brilliant whites from the Firehawk but the blacks are to die for and not compromised by room reflection.

In your situation with the new Dila, I would go for the Stewart 130 as the reflections do not seem too much of a problem, light output needs to be maximised and the blacks seem pretty much taken care of in the new JVC model. Good luck and I look forward to reading how it all comes together in Feb or whenever.

Regards,

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post #17 of 169 Old 12-16-2006, 05:45 AM
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If a speaker colored sound the way the FH colors video audiophiles would be outraged. I would only consider the FH if the majority of my viewing was in ambient light conditions where it delivers a superior picture. It is no small sacrifice in image quality in a dark room when you compare the 130 to the FH. The obvious and very significant differences are in comparing the whites and the vibrancy and purity of the colors. Equally disturbing is the amount of detail that get crushed in your darks.
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post #18 of 169 Old 12-16-2006, 10:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomHuffman View Post

Sorry, I have no idea what you mean by "intrinsic" gain as opposed to "net" gain. Presumably gain is a measurable phenomenon associated with reflectivity and viewing cone. If it is NOT measurable then how could it have any effect on perceived performance? If it IS measurable, then what does some "intrinsic" property add to the mix?

The Firehawk uses a high gain coating on top of a grey negative gain material resulting in a lowish net gain but in other respects the characteristics of a high gain screen.
Stewart themselves notes that the Firehawk acts like a high gain screen in terms of hot spotting and suggest that projectors be used at they're furthest possible distance for this reason.
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post #19 of 169 Old 12-16-2006, 10:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leckian View Post

The obvious and very significant differences are in comparing the whites and the vibrancy and purity of the colors. Equally disturbing is the amount of detail that get crushed in your darks.


Yes, these are the reasons I prefer a white screen myself, but I don't want a black room, hence my "issue of white vs gray".
I guess the question is how dark does the room (walls etc.) have to be to prefer the white screen to a gray screen?

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post #20 of 169 Old 12-16-2006, 11:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leckian View Post

If a speaker colored sound the way the FH colors video audiophiles would be outraged. I would only consider the FH if the majority of my viewing was in ambient light conditions where it delivers a superior picture. It is no small sacrifice in image quality in a dark room when you compare the 130 to the FH. The obvious and very significant differences are in comparing the whites and the vibrancy and purity of the colors. Equally disturbing is the amount of detail that get crushed in your darks.

If you don't want a "colored picture" you need to have a ST130 and BLACK walls, ceiling, floor, clothes etc. For example red walls will make your picture go a bit reddish. Everything is a compromize... Firehawk is better in white rooms, ST 130 (or similar) is the way to go if you have a batcave. And offcourse you need to recalibrate your PJ for the different screens. Compared to ST130 the Firehwak goes blueish, if I remember correct HighPower goes red and so on...

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post #21 of 169 Old 12-16-2006, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shovven View Post

If you don't want a "colored picture" you need to have a ST130 and BLACK walls, ceiling, floor, clothes etc. For example red walls will make your picture go a bit reddish. Everything is a compromize... Firehawk is better in white rooms, ST 130 (or similar) is the way to go if you have a batcave. And offcourse you need to recalibrate your PJ for the different screens. Compared to ST130 the Firehwak goes blueish, if I remember correct HighPower goes red and so on...

Shovven

A typical home theater projector once calibrated properly is about 400 lumens, sometimes less. Off wall reflections will be modest, even in a room with white walls. You can't get back the image loss the FH imposes.
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post #22 of 169 Old 12-16-2006, 03:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leckian View Post

A typical home theater projector once calibrated properly is about 400 lumens, sometimes less. Off wall reflections will be modest, even in a room with white walls. You can't get back the image loss the FH imposes.

I really disagree!!! @400 lumen even 270 lumen an image will be washed out or be colorized with a white screen in a white room. I've had them all.. DaLite matte white, High Power, GrayWolf, StudioTek, FireHawk in "not dedicated cinema rooms", and the only ones that really work with regards of rejecting secondary reflectations are the FireHawk and GrayWolf (But thats a really bad screen for other reasons) As long as you "hit the light" you'll end up with reflections from your ceiling, wall etc... only time a white screen works in a white room is when your PJ projects a really dark/black image, then you don't have any reflectations... in other scenes you'll lose image contrast, image depth!

I agree with you that the FireHawk isn't a perfect screen specially in regards of hotspot, colorshift etc BUT in some areas like the ones I've described above I think FireHawk is Superior.

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post #23 of 169 Old 12-16-2006, 06:35 PM
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To my eyes, I have yet to see ANY grey screen that looks as good as the ST130, even with small amounts of light in the room. Yes, that means I may have to make some adjustments to the room, but to me it's worth doing.

One of these days I want to play with different gamma curve shapes to see if I can make a grey screen look better, but for now I'm sticking with white.

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post #24 of 169 Old 12-16-2006, 07:06 PM
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Isn't a big part of the equation the PJ itself. I currently have the original FH. My room is all dark burgundy with a dark brown carpet with total light control. I have a VP11-S1 and I am contemplating getting the Studioteck. The PJ needs no help with blacks. A sample of the Studioteck would not really give me the real "feel" of what is going on. So I think the only way to go is to pull the trigger.I can always sell one of them.
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post #25 of 169 Old 12-16-2006, 11:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wm View Post

To my eyes, I have yet to see ANY grey screen that looks as good as the ST130, even with small amounts of light in the room. Yes, that means I may have to make some adjustments to the room, but to me it's worth doing.

One of these days I want to play with different gamma curve shapes to see if I can make a grey screen look better, but for now I'm sticking with white.

William

William, just for reference what color are your walls, ceiling, floor etc. if I may ask?

Brad
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post #26 of 169 Old 12-17-2006, 11:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the feedback. There seems to be some conflicting reports here as to whether the ST130 would be an improvement in my room over the FH.

My room has velvet treatment on the ceiling and a dark rug on the floor. Although this has cut the amount of reflections in my room by 50% there is still some reflections. Don't get me wrong - I've controlled most of the reflections within reason - any further treatments would require going "overboard".

So in a room that was not a bat cave, but considerable reflection control and no outside ambient / sun light whatsoever, do you think the ST 130 would be a step up or I may actually lessen my ANSI CR in the process?
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post #27 of 169 Old 12-17-2006, 12:18 PM
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lovingdvd,
See if you can get samples from Stewart (check my thread here).
I've come to the conclusion, here are the steps to follow:
1) Modify the room to as dark as possible.
2) Depending upon #1 and your projector, you might be able to go with the 130 - that seems to be the videophile's choice
3) If ANSI contrast is still an issue, the 2nd choice would be the FH.

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post #28 of 169 Old 12-17-2006, 12:20 PM
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I just went from FireHawk G1 to ST130 G3.

I have white walls and ceiling, but dark blue floor carpet. The FH owns on superior black and stray light. In ALL other areas the ST130 is an upgrade.

Important thing about FireHawk is to have it close to the ground and not have the picture start at your eye height. Otherwise you have just 30 degrees up to half gain, instead of 30+30 vertically.

For me the biggest issue with the FH was the narrow viewing cone which made the image look dark/low gain. I did not have it optimally mounted height wise and that killed it in my setup.
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post #29 of 169 Old 12-17-2006, 01:41 PM
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Wouldn't this discussion be better placed in the Screens thread?
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post #30 of 169 Old 12-17-2006, 01:57 PM
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Quote:
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Wouldn't this discussion be better placed in the Screens thread?

I have a similar post in both sections - got the responses I wanted here, not in the Screen thread.

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