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post #1 of 54 Old 10-04-2013, 01:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Unlike video demos, which need only a blacked-out area, audio demos at CEDIA are tough to pull off because of the acoustic requirements. Nevertheless, several companies presented impressive demos of their audio equipment.

 

Magico's new QSub-18 features dual-opposed 18" drivers. Photo by Mark Henninger

 

Display Development provided a projector for a mostly audio demo in a room adjoining its main booth. The audio system used Magico speakers, featuring two of the company's new QSub-18 subwoofers ($36,000 each) with dual-opposing 18-inch drivers and 2000 watts of amplification per driver as well as the new SC5 center-channel speaker ($16,800), S5s ($29,400/pair) for the front left and right, and the new S1.5s ($TBD) for the surrounds in a 5.1 configuration. The source was an Oppo Blu-ray player, the surround processor was a Datasat RS20i ($19,000), and the amps were from Constellation Audio, including three Centaur Mono amps ($27,000 each) for the three front channels and a Centaur Stereo amp ($27,000) for the surround channels. All cabling was provided by WireWorld.

 

The Magico SC5 center-channel speaker brought Katherine McPhee's voice and Chris Botti's trumpet to life. Photo by Mark Henninger

 

Let's see, that's around a quarter-million dollars for the audio system, so it had better sound good! Fortunately, it did—phenomenal, in fact, at least on the Chris Botti concert clip featuring vocalist Katherine McPhee singing "I've Got You Under My Skin." Her voice sounded rich and natural, while Botti's trumpet sparkled, the upright bass sounded like it was in the room with us, and the bass trombone growled quite convincingly—and having majored in that instrument in college, I know what it's supposed to sound like.

 

However, it was a different story when they switched over to Iron Man 3, which sounded quite harsh as Tony Stark's house is attacked by helicopters firing missiles. That clip was also way too loud, as were many audio demos at the show. Sadly, I didn't have my good SPL meter with me, and the mic in my iPhone can't handle those levels, so I don't know the exact levels that were being achieved. Nor do I know if the harshness was due to the volume—in which case, there was a problem with the system—or if it was inherent in the source signal.

 

Pro Audio Technology placed three SCR-2115SM speakers behind a Stewart Microperf X2 screen, below which were two huge LFC-24SM subwoofers. Photo by Mark Henninger

 

Another tremendously loud demo was presented by Pro Audio Technology with two of its new LFC-24SM subwoofers that include a 24-inch driver in a huge ported enclosure. The front LCR channels were reproduced by three SCR-2115SMs located behind a 10-foot-wide, 2.35:1 Stewart Microperf X2 screen. The side surrounds in the 7.1 configuration were two SCR-12AIs, and the rear surrounds were two SCRS-26IMs. All speakers (including the subs) were powered by the company's new DMA-1508 and various PMA class-D multichannel amps with a total power of just under 10,000 watts. Also, the amps provide an extensive suite of DSP functions to optimize the sound for the room and compensate for speakers behind acoustically transparent screens. Pro Audio Technology does not quote retail prices for its products, but the entire speaker/amp package was in the $95,000 range. The projector was a Runco LS-12d being fed by a Kaleidescape server system.

 

Concert footage of Michael Buble sounded sublime—the rendition of his voice and the orchestra behind him was totally natural, super-clean, and distortion free. Plus, it was at a reasonable level. Not so Michael Jackson's "Thriller"—company founder Paul Hales measured an average level of 110 dBC during that clip! It was so loud, the screen was vibrating, which was pretty distracting visually. I must admit I was impressed with the clarity and lack of distortion at that level for the few seconds I had my fingers out of my ears.

 

The screen in the Wisdom Audio demo room dwarfed VP of sales Jon Herron and me. Photo by Mark Henninger

 

My favorite audio demo was by Wisdom Audio, which had set up a giant theater in one of the Colorado Convention Center's large conference rooms away from the main show floor in what was called the High-Performance Audio area. The company built a standalone wall to hold a 250-inch-wide, 2.4:1 Seymour-Screen Excellence Enlightor 4K woven screen, behind which were placed three pairs of stacked LS3i line arrays ($30,000 each) to reproduce the front LCR channels.

 

In this shot, you can see two L75 line-array speakers, an STS RTL subwoofer, and some RPG BAD acoustic panels. Photo by Mark Henninger

 

Six L75 line arrays ($9300 each) were placed around the room for the surround channels, and six STS RTL subwoofers ($11,000 each) brought up the bass. The electronics included two Wisdom SC-1 crossovers with room correction ($6500 each), a Datasat RS20i surround processor, Lab.Gruppen FP10000Q power amps for the front LCR and subs, and Wisdom SA-3 amps ($6000 each) for the surrounds. The video was provided by a Kaleidescape server and Runco LS-12HBd projector, and RPG Bass Absorber Diffuser (BAD) panels were placed around the room to tame the less-than-ideal acoustics.

 

The Wisdom Audio demo utilized a 150-amp circuit. Photo by Mark Henninger

 

The total cost of equipment in that room was around $500,000, and the total amplifier power was greater than 60 kilowatts! In fact, Wisdom had to access the convention center's 150-amp service to power the whole shebang.

 

And it was a serious shebang! The demo included clips from WALL-E, Skyfall, and concert footage from Peter Gabriel and The Police, and I could find no fault in any of it. The entire audio spectrum was well-balanced, the bass was tighter and more defined than any other demo I heard, and the rest of the frequency range was equally clear and clean. Yes, it was loud, especially the shootout and explosions near the end of Skyfall, but it was so clean that it didn't bother me as much. The Wisdom planar-magnetic line-array speakers provided a seamless surround soundfield that put us right in the middle of the action without blowing us out—and the concert clips were gorgeous.

 

The most interesting audio demo was by Datasat, which supplied the surround processor for at least four other booths at CEDIA. This company has been in the professional/commercial side of the audio industry for a long time, but it's now moving into the high-end residential/consumer arena with the RS20i surround processor ($19,000) and RA2400 ($12,000, 2x400W) and RA7300 ($14,000, 7x300W) power amps, all of which are available now.

 

The Datasat RP20i surround processor was used in at least four demos other than Datasat's. Photo by Mark Henninger

 

The RS20i utilizes eight SHARC DSP chips to implement Dirac Live room correction with 512-band EQ in addition to third-octave manual graphic EQ and three bands of manual parametric EQ for each of its 16 audio channels. With that many channels, the RP20i can accommodate system configurations up to 14.2 or 12.4. It can decode DTS-HD Master Audio and Neo:X, Dolby TrueHD, and PCM, and it will add Auro 3D capabilities early next year.

 

The demo was presented in 11.4 with Triad Gold Monitors for the front LCR, Gold MiniMonitors for the surrounds and height channels, and four Gold subwoofers. Video was provided by a Christie HD6K-M firing onto a 12-foot-wide, 2.35:1 Seymour-Screen Excellence Enlightor 4K woven screen. The first two clips—a DTS-supplied animated short and the initial cavern-exploration scene from Prometheus—had native 11.1 soundtracks, which were very effective in enveloping the audience in a 3D soundfield, and they were at a reasonable volume. The next two clips—the shootout at the end of Skyfall and a Datasat promotional short—were in 7.1 expanded to 11.1 by the processor. These were also fairly effective, but the Skyfall clip was very loud, and the bass distorted at the end. Otherwise, the sound quality was superb.

 

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post #2 of 54 Old 10-04-2013, 03:07 PM
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i'm sorry, but I find a quarter million for audio slightly offensive! how nice it must be to have more money than brains and be able to support these kind of companies...

for a quarter million i'd want the artist to perform live, and cook me dinner afterwards

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There are Numerous people on this forum who have systems far exceeding that level, then there are a number of installers who have designed, developed and installed systems way in excess of that. I have been to a home theatre where the owner had spent over $250,000 on Amplification alone. Do you find people who drive $250,000 Ferraris offensive, or people who own Boats or even watch collections that cost in excess of that figure offensive? You buy to your means and to your level of enthusiasm and understanding, some do purchase for mere levels of one-upmanship, but hey that's life.
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post #4 of 54 Old 10-04-2013, 04:35 PM
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Thanks for the article Scott. I really like the Datasat processor, I bet it sounds amazing. That's where your money should go processing and speakers.
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post #5 of 54 Old 10-04-2013, 06:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PMC-101 View Post

There are Numerous people on this forum who have systems far exceeding that level, then there are a number of installers who have designed, developed and installed systems way in excess of that. I have been to a home theatre where the owner had spent over $250,000 on Amplification alone. Do you find people who drive $250,000 Ferraris offensive, or people who own Boats or even watch collections that cost in excess of that figure offensive? You buy to your means and to your level of enthusiasm and understanding, some do purchase for mere levels of one-upmanship, but hey that's life.

I fell that when ppl spend $300,000 on a 40yr old car that could be custom built better for $100,000 offensive. I feel that producing less product than you are capable of to artificially reduce supply so you can charge more offensive.

i'm not offended that some lucky or hard working individuals that have money to burn. i'm offended that companies are able convince ppl that more expensive is better, period. I have listened to some extremely expensive(to the mortal man anyway) speakers in reference rooms and only half the time was I actually impressed. besides that, at this price range we're talking about the cost of these products being like >80% R&D. I mean there's no way that $36,000 sub costs even half that to make.

the law of diminishing returns has flattened out long before this level. in the big picture, it is kind of offensive to see somebody 'waste' hundreds of thousands of dollars for a 1-2% increase in performance and wonder how many others that money could have helped instead...

maybe i'm just in a philanthropic mood this evening, I love my toys too, but I always bargain shop when I can.

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post #6 of 54 Old 10-04-2013, 06:43 PM
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Thanks for the article Scott. I really like the Datasat processor, I bet it sounds amazing. That's where your money should go processing and speakers.
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Great stuff Scott! Love reading your reports. Audio is my favorite subject. l love the Datasat processor and would be my top choice for a processor. An Incredible piece of equipment.

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post #7 of 54 Old 10-04-2013, 07:40 PM
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Scott,

I have to say that the Wisdom Audio demo was the most impressive thing I heard at the show. The music clips were beautiful and the WallE clip had amazing channel panning and immersion - probably the best I've ever heard. The explosions in Skyfall were incredibly powerful.

Apparently they didn't play Tron when you were there? That clip was too loud. Actually Skyfall was too loud as well and I left the room with numb ears. But it was clean and huge in scope. I guess that's what a large room and all the headroom you could need will do for you. Very impressive.

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post #8 of 54 Old 10-04-2013, 09:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PMC-101 View Post

There are Numerous people on this forum who have systems far exceeding that level, then there are a number of installers who have designed, developed and installed systems way in excess of that. I have been to a home theatre where the owner had spent over $250,000 on Amplification alone. Do you find people who drive $250,000 Ferraris offensive, or people who own Boats or even watch collections that cost in excess of that figure offensive? You buy to your means and to your level of enthusiasm and understanding, some do purchase for mere levels of one-upmanship, but hey that's life.

A Ferrari is something there is no substitute for. However, as someone already implied, it's ridiculous to spend more on a speaker than it would cost to have the ACTUAL thing that the speaker is trying emulate in your living room! You could have a REAL live orchestra in your home for less than that! So a speaker is the equivalent of a fake Ferrari simulator or hologram, not the actual Ferrari.
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post #9 of 54 Old 10-04-2013, 11:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post

The first two clips—a DTS-supplied animated short and the initial cavern-exploration scene from Prometheus—had native 11.1 soundtracks, which were very effective in enveloping the audience in a 3D soundfield, and they were at a reasonable volume.
Were they using a specially remixed demo of Prometheus? The movie is native 7.1 (both theatrically and on Blu-ray).

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post #10 of 54 Old 10-05-2013, 02:41 AM
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Although our ears can only hear so good and our eyes can only see so well, you have to admit if we had unlimited access to money there would be more expensive gear in 99.9% of our homes, so let's get real about that. This said I"m happy with what I have, for now biggrin.gif
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post #11 of 54 Old 10-05-2013, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by sdurani View Post

Were they using a specially remixed demo of Prometheus? The movie is native 7.1 (both theatrically and on Blu-ray).

I wondered the same thing. When they first said they were going to play some special mixes for NEO:X, I figured they were going to use Dredd or Expendables 2 as they had a mix with that technology in mind.
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post #12 of 54 Old 10-05-2013, 08:31 AM
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I've been giving some serious thought to the Datasat RS20i...It's a hefty piece of equipment, but it's future upgradeability is exceptional and its street price is less than the $ most of us have spent on processors in the last 5-6 years. It's price at once is so hard to justify, but it does...everything!
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I've been giving some serious thought to the Datasat RS20i...It's a hefty piece of equipment, but it's future upgradeability is exceptional and its street price is less than the $ most of us have spent on processors in the last 5-6 years. It's price at once is so hard to justify, but it does...everything!



I couldn't justify the price myself plus I'm still I'm love with my new Marantz pre/pro, it just does so much so good I'm going to keep it around awhile. Don't get me wrong if I had the extra cash the Datasat would be THE one to get IMO. But I think there comes a point where the return on what we spend is greatly diminished. I think I'm at about that point in my setup, I'd have to take a big jump in price to hear a big difference. Not that my setup is as all that, it's just that from here on up I feel it's going to get expensive to hear any revelation in sound. If you buy the Dstat PM me because I want to know all about it biggrin.gif
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post #14 of 54 Old 10-05-2013, 09:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Were they using a specially remixed demo of Prometheus? The movie is native 7.1 (both theatrically and on Blu-ray).

At the demo, they claimed that the clip was in 11.1, and it sure sounded like it. I'll try to verify...you're right; if it was, in fact, native 11.1, it had to be a remix.


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post #15 of 54 Old 10-05-2013, 01:38 PM
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I think the Pro Audio Technology gear would have been awesome in a room setup like the Wisdom room. I would have loved to hear the Pro Audio Tech setup and the Wisdom room.

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post #16 of 54 Old 10-05-2013, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by comfynumb View Post

I couldn't justify the price myself plus I'm still I'm love with my new Marantz pre/pro, it just does so much so good I'm going to keep it around awhile. Don't get me wrong if I had the extra cash the Datasat would be THE one to get IMO. But I think there comes a point where the return on what we spend is greatly diminished. I think I'm at about that point in my setup, I'd have to take a big jump in price to hear a big difference. Not that my setup is as all that, it's just that from here on up I feel it's going to get expensive to hear any revelation in sound. If you buy the Dstat PM me because I want to know all about it biggrin.gif


Marantz is a great processor maker. I owned the 8801 for a while, but recently sold it. I'm lookin to really dive into a processor with with more MIPS power. Currently researching the Krell Foundation, Storm Audio (the processor that does Auro 3D) and this one. The only issues with the Datasat are 1) it's freaking expensive; 2) only a dealer can really set it up (I can't ID those rear-panel connectors); 3) did I mention It's freaking expensive? I mean, bare-bones Toyota Camry expensive.
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post #17 of 54 Old 10-05-2013, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrolicBeast View Post

Marantz is a great processor maker. I owned the 8801 for a while, but recently sold it. I'm lookin to really dive into a processor with with more MIPS power. Currently researching the Krell Foundation, Storm Audio (the processor that does Auro 3D) and this one. The only issues with the Datasat are 1) it's freaking expensive; 2) only a dealer can really set it up (I can't ID those rear-panel connectors); 3) did I mention It's freaking expensive? I mean, bare-bones Toyota Camry expensive.


Lol at the bare bones part!
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post #18 of 54 Old 10-05-2013, 05:16 PM
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It's price at once is so hard to justify, but it does...everything!
It licenses...everything (from other companies). For surround processing it has Neo:X and PLIIz, but so do many other receivers and pre-pros. It's due to get Auro3D, but so is StormAudio. For room correction it has Dirac, but Theta and Emotiva are due to get it also.

Because the surround processing and room correction aren't proprietary to Datasat, they can be licensed by other manufacturers. So while they might have the exclusive on Dirac for the moment, that will change as Dirac licenses to more manufacturers. Likewise, Auro3D is going to want to license to more manufacturers.

If I was going to drop that much money, I would definitely wait till CES (just 3 months away) to see what's coming over the horizon.

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post #19 of 54 Old 10-07-2013, 01:26 PM
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A Ferrari is something there is no substitute for. However, as someone already implied, it's ridiculous to spend more on a speaker than it would cost to have the ACTUAL thing that the speaker is trying emulate in your living room! You could have a REAL live orchestra in your home for less than that! So a speaker is the equivalent of a fake Ferrari simulator or hologram, not the actual Ferrari.

No, you couldn't. A real live orchestra sounds best in a concert hall, and the one near me was half a billion dollars to build. So no, you could not get the same feel of an orchestra in your home for that price. :-P However, for $60 bucks you could just buy a ticket and go to the actual orchestra. ^_^
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i'm sorry, but I find a quarter million for audio slightly offensive! how nice it must be to have more money than brains and be able to support these kind of companies...

for a quarter million i'd want the artist to perform live, and cook me dinner afterwards

250,000 on a really nice audio room honestly isn't that hard to spend. If you want just the room to sound good before even putting anything in it, there's no substitute for isolated slab of concrete, separate zone hvac, all the bells and whistles soundproofing, hiring an actual acoustician, a dedicated amp panel, etc. Then if you want to go all out with star ceilings, zone lighting, great motorized seating, enough spots for a dozen or so people, entry way lobby, etc. you've ran up the bill some more. Shoot, I bet I could spend $100,000 on my dream theater before I even picked out a speaker or projector. ^_^
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it all boils down to priorities.

I hate how people judge what someone else spends their money on because they personally dont find it worth while or cant afford it and automatically label them as "more money than brains"

Do people like that exist? SURE.

However, it seems like in the audio world people that are spending that most on a room and equipment seem to know more about what they are looking for and have dedicated rooms.

Now if you had someone that put something like Wilson Maxx 3 or higher priced model in a room the size of my office(shoe box) and it was tiled floor to ceiling, then yes, I would have more money than brains.

Seriously though, we all want to spend our money on different areas and things in our life. I live in a small house so I have smaller bills and lower mortgage so I can afford to travel....someone else would rather have a large house and a nice car....
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post #22 of 54 Old 10-07-2013, 03:08 PM
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Good rundown, can you change the text to a different color?

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post #23 of 54 Old 10-07-2013, 03:48 PM
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I wouldn't use the word offensive...if someone has the money or can finance it with a loan and that is what they want to do...I'm positive they could
care less about my opinion or thoughts.

I would really like to hear some of these $100k plus audio only systems to see if or how much better they sound. As a musician I'm extremely curious
to know if they really re-produce well recorded instruments worth the price of the system. The mix and or mastering system used for these recordings don't cost as much as these $250k audio systems.

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I have heard some systems that are pretty high up there in price. High priced Audio Research amps, I think they were Wilson Speakers, the room was treated, top of the line preamp, etc.

I will say, it really did sound very very good. However, I have also heard systems that cost significantly less that were also very very impressive. The question becomes the marginal rate of return and how much that extra bit of performance is worth to YOU.

My other hobby is building computers. A system with an i5 and GTX770 is a powerful combination and after the 770 the perfomance/dollar spent drastically decreases, but is that performance worth it in some games it is and games that will be coming out for the next couple years will still thrive on those higher performance cards at max settings while the 770 will start to struggle earlier on...some have multiple 770 cards to fight that...I would argue to just get a Titan or 690....
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post #25 of 54 Old 10-07-2013, 08:44 PM
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Thanks for the article Scott. I really like the Datasat processor, I bet it sounds amazing. That's where your money should go processing and speakers.

I used to think like that, then I realised it was actually the room where the money should be spent on. I wish back then I knew what I know now, thing would of been different.
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post #26 of 54 Old 10-07-2013, 09:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Franin View PostI used to think like that, then I realised it was actually the room where the money should be spent on. I wish back then I knew what I know now, thing would of been different.

Yes, yes yes but if you don't have the room then you buy toys :)

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post #27 of 54 Old 10-07-2013, 11:28 PM
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Yes, yes yes but if you don't have the room then you buy toys smile.gif

Can't argue with that smile.gif

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post #28 of 54 Old 10-07-2013, 11:52 PM
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I used to think like that, then I realised it was actually the room where the money should be spent on. I wish back then I knew what I know now, thing would of been different.



Money is better spent on treatments do you mean Franin?
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post #29 of 54 Old 10-08-2013, 03:06 AM
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Money is better spent on treatments do you mean Franin?

In my opinion, Yes! Don't get me wrong its nice to have the nice toys too but its amazing what a room that has been treated can actually make in the audio, especially HT. I can never forget the day when it was actually finished by the calibrator over here the difference was night and day.

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post #30 of 54 Old 10-08-2013, 03:50 AM
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In my opinion, Yes! Don't get me wrong its nice to have the nice toys too but its amazing what a room that has been treated can actually make in the audio, especially HT. I can never forget the day when it was actually finished by the calibrator over here the difference was night and day.



That's what everyone tells me smile.gif the only problem is my room is a strange setup. My speakers are unequal distances from my side walls and theirs a hallway right next to it. I just don't know enough about where to put treatments, I wish I knew someone they could come in here and look at my place. I'm going to see what I can find out online.
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