Originally Posted by JapanDave
Nothing yet. I have cleaned out the back room ready for the second IB sub install. Roger is coming around tomorrow, so hopefully he likes it, but being that it is unfinished I guess I have an excuse.
Roger was there, and he liked it. Putting it mildly.
When we first fired up the system, I asked to play an old Dolby test disc "Explore Our World" just to get a reference for the setup. First it has the normal bandlimited noise stepped thru the 5 main channels. Then it has a filtered bass signal stepped thru 6 channels (adding the LFE). This one sniffs out bass management settings in 10 seconds, and indeed we found some issues with the setup. Rather than try to diagnose what happened with the custom setup, Dave switched to the processor's native setup, and all worked normally.
There was still a 3 dB discrepancy in the surround levels, and I initially thought that was the RS-20's theatrical heritage coming thru (cinema surrounds are calibrated 3 dB lower), but later that day we visited the setup menu again and it said it was in the "standard 7.1" mode. But the system has 5.1 speakers, so I wonder if the processor was splitting the surrounds at -3dB. Dave will find out when he changes it to a 5.1 speaker setup. Anyway, we calibrated it so it did not affect our listening.
The change in speaker bass management also resulted in somewhat overexuberant bass, so Dave pulled up his "Synthesis" target curve and I think we both immediately felt that was right on the money balance-wise.
Dave let me first play a CD I burned with several familiar music selections, and was happy to see we agree that louder is not always better. Playing at comfortable loudness, I was nonetheless immediately struck by the quality of the bass. Every note was heard as a separate event. No blurr or overhang, every note spoke with defined pitch, attack and integrated beautifully with the rest of the spectrum. The delicacy was a pleasant surprise, but whenever it called for either subterranean depth (the HVAC motors that were picked up in the Dido recording), or just a full measure of dynamics in Lyle Lovett, it was all there in full measure as easy as you please. No sweat, no strain.
Time for some movies. The famous WOTW "crawl out of the street" scene shook me in the seat, which was remarkable given the seats sit on a carpeted concrete floor that is not vibrating. This was when playing at -15 dB.
The "going down" crash scene in "Flight of the Phoenix" put me right inside that rickety aircraft. It was a jawdropping visceral experience. Just astoundingly good.
Now all this blubbering about the bass may lead you to think the rest of the sound was pretty normal. But no. The L/C/Rs are Quested HQ210
, and whatever may have been bothering Dave about the high frequencies of other speakers he's had was not in evidence with these. Detail galore right through the woven screen, smooth clean sound one can enjoy for hours without fatigue. The surrounds were just as impressive. I forget the details, but they seemed to be 5' tall line arrays with ribbon tweeters. There may be a second pair in the future, I believe.
Watching Star Trek, which also sounded great, I felt the video image was tending to crush into the black, so we dug out the Spears and Munsil disc and did some quick fiddling with the Oppo controls just to see what would happen -- so as to not mess the PJ's settings. Raising the brightness and reducing the contrast helped a lot, but I suspect there's a better way to refine the calibration of the laser-powered image than that. More importantly, the curved screen fills what I estimate is a full 60-deg viewing angle when showing 2.40 content (it's a CIH setup), which creates its own sense of involvement that complements the likewise involving sound.
How much of this astonishing total system performance can be attributed to any one thing? I think it is the superb blend of all the factors that makes this theater and the experiences it provides so special. The processor, amps, main speakers, subs, room design and construction, acoustic treatments, tuning/target curve, every element is there in full measure. As Salieri said: "Displace one note and there would be diminishment..."
Congratulations, Dave, on the amazing project. And my heartfelt thanks for your gracious hospitality in opening your home to a total stranger.