Keith Yates on the Ultimate Home Theater - Page 2 - AVS Forum
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post #31 of 51 Old 12-19-2013, 04:44 PM
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Was wondering at what volume levels where the demos in? Can those B&Ws handle true reference playback without any compression? Ive never demoed the Nataulis but I have demoed other very very high price B&Ws that would sound great until you pushed them too hard. Just curious.

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post #32 of 51 Old 12-19-2013, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Reddig View Post

Was wondering at what volume levels where the demos in? Can those B&Ws handle true reference playback without any compression? Ive never demoed the Nataulis but I have demoed other very very high price B&Ws that would sound great until you pushed them too hard. Just curious.


I though the same thing when I was reading the article.
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post #33 of 51 Old 12-20-2013, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by fierce_gt View Post

and this is why the hobby is both rewarding and extremely frustrating... no matter what there's always room for improvements, and somebody else always has a better theatre that you probably can't afford. haha.

DIY can go a long way, but unless the first step involves a ski mask and a bank somewhere, you will have to accept limitations.

then again, it wasn't that long ago that I dreamed of a projector but knew I'd never be able to afford the 6 figures it would cost to get one, and now I'm on my second projector/screen and I haven't even broke 5figures on the pair combined! by the time I can afford something like the system described above though, they'll likely have systems with multiple projectors and screens that wrap around 360* paired with 30 or more speakers, haha

Great observation on this great hobby of home theater. The advances in equipment and the giant strides in the cost/value equation has brought good sound quality and images to an audience much larger than ever imagined. A perfect example would be our admission of the cost we paid to be an early adopter of the DVD player. Will we ever be able to tell our wives how much we "really" paid?

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post #34 of 51 Old 12-22-2013, 02:21 AM
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Wonder what Keith would have said about my noisefloor, at best I can go as low as 35db in my room, and thats when NO ONE but me are home and I unplug my fridge hehe.

Most of the time it's closer 45-50db...
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post #35 of 51 Old 12-22-2013, 08:10 AM
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Very nice article.

The old saying comes to mind when reading about the equipment. " For every 3 percent above a certain level one has to double the budget". Even though it is certainly a Home theater enthusiast's dream to have the perfect room, I enjoy my HT without having to brake the bank.
My wife and I went to many different Movie Theaters here in Las Vegas over the years and with the exception of 1 or 2 that were recently renovated to some ultra standard, the picture (black levels) and sound were often not as good as at home.
All that been said, is it not a great hobby/passion to have?

cheers and Happy Holidays
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post #36 of 51 Old 12-22-2013, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by boguspomp View Post

Very nice article.

The old saying comes to mind when reading about the equipment. " For every 3 percent above a certain level one has to double the budget". Even though it is certainly a Home theater enthusiast's dream to have the perfect room, I enjoy my HT without having to brake the bank.
My wife and I went to many different Movie Theaters here in Las Vegas over the years and with the exception of 1 or 2 that were recently renovated to some ultra standard, the picture (black levels) and sound were often not as good as at home.
All that been said, is it not a great hobby/passion to have?

cheers and Happy Holidays

I personally have a psychological 'wallet filter' when seeing gear I cant afford. Simply put if I can't afford it = it sucks.
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post #37 of 51 Old 12-23-2013, 08:29 PM
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Well it might be a good thing you haven't ever set foot in my theater then imagic. wink.gif

Keith's system is nice for sure, and although I might not have a $50,000 TV nor a $1/4 million in electronics like he does;
I'm willing to bet that my system has better sound-quality and higher SPL than Keith's; take for example, a comparison of the subwoofer system:

Distortion produced by the JL drivers he uses ->


Distortion produced by the drivers I use ->

(Note: Pink is 115db, 5db steps)

My motto is-> I hate distortion, the less distortion the better. IMO and ITO of many others wink.gif


(Here's a photo of my side-speakers, rear-speakers, and a few subwoofers.)
I use B&W 800's too, as temporary "side" speakers, because they simply aren't good enough for me anymore, they do create some very elite sound and are amongst the best for those looking for a non-DIY solution though.

Most-Expensive, does not automatically equate to, Most-Ultimate / Best.
It's amazing what can be achieved by going a DIY route (at least for speakers and subwoofers it is.)

"If Bad Sound Were Fatal, Audio Would Be the Leading Cause of Death."


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post #38 of 51 Old 12-23-2013, 10:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boguspomp View Post

Very nice article.

The old saying comes to mind when reading about the equipment. " For every 3 percent above a certain level one has to double the budget". Even though it is certainly a Home theater enthusiast's dream to have the perfect room, I enjoy my HT without having to brake the bank.
My wife and I went to many different Movie Theaters here in Las Vegas over the years and with the exception of 1 or 2 that were recently renovated to some ultra standard, the picture (black levels) and sound were often not as good as at home.
All that been said, is it not a great hobby/passion to have?

cheers and Happy Holidays

That's an interesting perspective. Can't say I agree or disagree, but it's definitely interesting in the context of this thread.

Would doubling your budget and doubling your knowledge base of acoustics, measuring, etc..., yield a 6 percent gain?

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Well it might be a good thing you haven't ever set foot in my theater then imagic. wink.gif

Keith's system is nice for sure, and although I might not have a $50,000 TV nor a $1/4 million in electronics like he does;
I'm willing to bet that my system has better sound-quality and higher SPL than Keith's; take for example, a comparison of the subwoofer system:

Most-Expensive, does not automatically equate to, Most-Ultimate / Best.

Keith deals exclusively with Visa Infinite holders... So, at least it's an option if you want to step your game up to some real audio bliss Mr. Gosling.

 

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post #39 of 51 Old 12-24-2013, 02:14 AM
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Call it what it is... a nice theater wink.gif
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post #40 of 51 Old 12-24-2013, 03:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by els View Post

Great observation on this great hobby of home theater. The advances in equipment and the giant strides in the cost/value equation has brought good sound quality and images to an audience much larger than ever imagined. A perfect example would be our admission of the cost we paid to be an early adopter of the DVD player. Will we ever be able to tell our wives how much we "really" paid?

smile.gif

First DVD player =$1000 in 1999 not long before that my last VCR= $900. Same store! They saw me coming?

First BLU-RAY Player = $60. Older and Wiser? biggrin.gif
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post #41 of 51 Old 12-24-2013, 06:11 AM
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Cool article! That must have been a fun experience, Mark!


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post #42 of 51 Old 12-24-2013, 06:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Cool article! That must have been a fun experience, Mark!

I actually just got an email from Bob saying they tweaked the demo room even further. They are no different than the rest of us in that regard, I suspect. Measure, tweak, repeat, enjoy for a little while, then see what more can be done... repeat ad infinitum.
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post #43 of 51 Old 12-26-2013, 01:27 AM
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I can afford and want to do something like this.
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post #44 of 51 Old 12-26-2013, 08:33 AM
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+1 on interest in details about the ceiling in the demo room.

creative>energy

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post #45 of 51 Old 12-26-2013, 01:42 PM
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What would it take to win a contract to build a home theater-style screening room for George Lucas? Keith Yates shared the answer over a lunch hosted at Bob and Ron's World Wide Stereo in Ardmore, PA. According to Keith, the key to winning such contract is not the price—there are companies full of people dying to design that screening room for free.

When it comes to gear, Lucas is practically the godfather of home theater—after all, he created the THX brand. Therefore, to win the contract to design a home theater for Lucas, a designer must offer something beyond mere competence. What's needed is brilliance, and while Keith is too modest to apply the term to himself, that's the only conclusion I can come to after examining his approach to building home theaters. Obviously, a number of people in the film industry agree—as Keith notes, he sees his clients’ product in the Oscars each year.

So, what was Keith—who lives in California—doing in a Philly suburb? He was here because of his partnership with Bob Cole, the store’s owner. World Wide Stereo is not just a high-end audio store; it's a showroom that features a Keith Yates-designed home-theater demo room. It is also one of six pre-certified Imax Personal Home Theater installers in the USA, with an international clientele. A Personal Imax auditorium is one of the most expensive and elite AV products there is, and Keith told me that he has designed and built numerous theaters to similar specifications over the years—since before Imax came up with the idea of selling a branded personal theater, which was eight years ago.



It takes a rarified skill set to get this piece of paper.

The demo theater at Bob’s is not a private Imax, but it is a special experience. The video was as good as I've come to expect from a top-notch 1080p system, including a 130" Stewart FireHawk CineCurve screen and a SIM2 M.150 LED projector with an autoscope anamorphic-lens kit. But it's the sound quality that was truly exceptional. Make no mistake—achieving rarified levels of sound quality is Keith's obsession. For example, when testing for background noise, he uses a microphone that costs $11,000 to measure it because many of the theaters he designs are already so quiet, and that's the price of a mic sensitive enough to give an accurate reading in those conditions.



This screen features acoustically transparent motorized masking.

There is science to back up the need for that sort of sensory isolation. In the bluntest terms, you do not want outside sounds to take you out of the movie experience—one overheard toilet flush during a quiet, dramatic scene is enough to ruin the mood. However, achieving a low noise floor is about more than merely preventing distractions—it's about triggering fight-or-flight instincts. Keith has studied psychoacoustics, delving into the elements needed to achieve that loss of self-awareness, which makes immersive movie viewing so exciting. It's about goosebumps. It is about giving the creators of a movie or TV show the best blank canvas to convey their vision to the viewer—with sound, that canvas is silence.

Once the viewer is lost in a movie, they experience "suspension of disbelief," which is a psychological state where you lose yourself in the story. Passive observation yields to active physiological reactions, provoking real emotions. This, in turn, provides the viewer with an escape, which is the whole point of entertainment—to escape, to be somewhere else.

So, who wants a multi-million-dollar home theater, aside from George Lucas? Movie and music lovers with deep pockets, Hollywood executives, politicians, and heads of industry—you name it. Sometimes, the clients are completely anonymous.

It is worth mentioning that the cost of an Imax Private Theater—or any high-end home theater—includes construction of the space, which involves advanced building techniques meant to physically isolate the room. Often, the challenges encountered in building such a room require skills that regular contractors don’t possess—after all, we're talking about home theaters that cost more than most homes do.



Tower of McIntosh Power

Then there's the matter of the gear itself—in the demo room at World Wide Stereo, that means 1080p Blu-ray video and audio played through over $200,000 worth of equipment. The gear includes a Kaleidescape media-management system with an M500 player as the source, McIntosh amplification and sound processing, B&W speakers, and JL Audio subwoofers. The sound was profound, so I chatted with Keith and store owner Bob Cole about the choice of gear used in the sound system. I've heard a number of elite systems this year, but this one was uniquely great. What was the secret?

It turns out there is no secret—it takes hard work, attention to detail, and for the most rarified systems, lots of money to get the details right. Even the doors to the theater are self-sealing and cost a bundle, and the wall-mounted acoustic treatments are applied randomly—no patterns allowed. Tolerances are tight, and every detail is accounted for. Keith pays particular attention to acoustic reflections from ceilings. He explained that the human ear is not very good at discerning height cues, and he suggested that proper ceiling acoustic treatment is one of the most cost-effective upgrades for a home theater.



Keith barely touched his food; all the man does is talk and think about home theaters.

When I arrived for the lunch meeting, Keith was busy analyzing the demo room, dialing in some final tweaks to the sound system. Like any other dedicated AV enthusiast, it's hard to get him out of the theater when he’s calibrating. Bob told me that Keith can spend days adjusting the bass—such is the complexity of his measurement and analysis system. When you have a room that meets Keith’s stringent specs for background noise levels and sound absorption, proper calibration is crucial to getting the best results.



Keith, doing his thing

Of course, the highlight of my visit was the demo. The video presentation looked great, which was to be expected when pairing a $20,000 screen with a $30,000 projector. But it would've required a 4K private Imax screen for the impact of the visuals to match the sound quality I heard. I’m talking about an $80,000, audiophile-quality home-theater sound system in a dedicated room, calibrated for optimum performance. And it blew me away.

Of all the home-theater demos I've experienced in 2013, this was the only one in which the sound itself seemed truly holographic and transparent. The reward for all of Keith's effort was bass that had the ability to emulate exactly what was on the screen—a door slam versus an explosion versus the rumble of thunder. These and other sounds all have a different texture that cannot be communicated through the typical one-note booming bass often found in commercial movie theaters. From a horse-race scene in Seabiscuit to the crunching and rumbling sound of Decepticons destroying Chicago, the sounds were tangibly real—suspension of disbelief came naturally, the same way it does when I'm watching a great magic show.



Seabiscuit made for a good demo; the sound of hooves pounding the dirt was totally believable.

I’ve auditioned a number of rarified home-theater sound systems this past year—the Wisdom Audio demo at CEDIA comes to mind. Nevertheless, the best AV sound I've heard lately (or perhaps ever) was without a doubt what came out of the speakers in the Keith Yates-designed demo room at Bob's World Wide Stereo. It had such an impact on me, I went home and reconsidered every aspect of my own home theater and the balance of sound that I had grown happy with—and accustomed to.

Unlike George Lucas, I can’t afford what it takes to achieve the kind of sublime transparency I experienced in Bob's demo room, but it was definitely a worthwhile experience—now I know what's possible when carefully calibrated high-end audio gear is mated with a well-designed and constructed home-theater room. When it comes to high-end installations, Keith and Bob make quite a team. After all, they won the contract to build that screening room for George Lucas. I heard that George also uses B&W speakers behind his screen—three Nautilus towers, to be precise. How’s that for high-end? I bet that theater is even better-sounding than a private Imax. Just a hunch.



Imagine using three B&W Nautilus speakers as LCR mains.

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now that's some home theater.
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post #46 of 51 Old 12-27-2013, 09:46 AM
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The CT800 system was designed to drive a large screening room with multiple rows of seating to reference levels. In a true Reference CT800 system, every speaker is mated to a dedicated subwoofer and ran as full range using custom equalization. The aluminum tweeter they are using in the speakers were developed to withstand high power and high SPL. This is why they decided not to use their diamond tweeter in the CT series.
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post #47 of 51 Old 01-03-2014, 08:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Keith barely touched his food; all the man does is talk and think about home theaters.

Keith is a fountain of information. What a great opportunity for you.
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post #48 of 51 Old 04-08-2014, 09:13 PM
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It would be interesting to learn more about his calibration approach. The photos shows many microphones set up.
What were the choices on acoustic locations?
How many subs were used and where are they located?
How did he deal with the room nodes, peaks and nulls, was there any equalization, external or internal?
Which calibration software does he use?
Given that you were impressed with the details of his subs, did you get to see a RTA graph from a sweep? In the pro audio world many engineers don't go for a flat response and instead rely on different curves re frequency response.
Given his attention to detail. You said his .noise level was very low from an acoustic point of view what was his average decay time in the room? Could be an average,
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post #49 of 51 Old 04-11-2014, 07:02 AM
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Quote:
Keith Yates-designed home-theater demo room

Is this the World Wide Stereo in Ardmore or in Montgomeryville?

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post #50 of 51 Old 04-12-2014, 03:33 PM
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How much does he charge I heard $10,000 a day ! rolleyes.gif

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post #51 of 51 Old 05-07-2014, 08:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reneiortiz View Post

It would be interesting to learn more about his calibration approach. The photos shows many microphones set up.
What were the choices on acoustic locations?
How many subs were used and where are they located?
How did he deal with the room nodes, peaks and nulls, was there any equalization, external or internal?
Which calibration software does he use?
Given that you were impressed with the details of his subs, did you get to see a RTA graph from a sweep? In the pro audio world many engineers don't go for a flat response and instead rely on different curves re frequency response.
Given his attention to detail. You said his .noise level was very low from an acoustic point of view what was his average decay time in the room? Could be an average,

Hi, just saw this.
1.) Microphones and Software:
  • For spatial averaging, I use 8 Earthworks M30s feeding a Presonus Firestudio connected via FireWire to a laptop running AFMG EASERA software.
  • For general noise measurements (incl. World Wide's showroom theater shown) I use a Bruel&Kjaer 4189 connected to a matching 2260 sound level meter (SLM) and B&K software.
  • For ultra-low noise measurements I use a 4179 mic, 2660 preamp, WH3315 low-noise mod, WL1302 mod, and Nexus signal conditioner, all by Bruel&Kjaer.
  • For leak detection and sound power measurements I use the Bruel&Kjaer 3595 wand-type intensity probe connected to the 2260 SLM.
  • For single-mic spatial averaging I use an ACO Pacific 9200KIT (includes mic, power supply etc.) and SmaartLive software.
  • For fabric transondency and outdoor subwoofer testing I use Crown CM20 mics and a TEF hardware & software system.

2.) Subwoofer Locations:
Depending on budget and room shape, we'll use a Harman/Welti 4-corners layout or a layout determined by our fluid dynamics-based optimization service (offered as KYD "BassCAMP" or its twin, JBL Synthesis "FLO"). In this case we went with Harman/Welti.

3.) Freq Response/Equalization:
EQ settings and stored & executed by a BSS BLU series DSP.

4.) Noise:
It was not a purpose-built room (the right wall is a series of windows onto a busy street among other challenges) so modeling & optimizing noise to meet one of our 2 noise specs (NC5 and NC10) was not part of the program.

Hope that helps!

--Keith
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