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Acoustically Transparent Screen or Standard Fixed Frame

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
I'm in the planning stage of my dedicated home theater and I'm contemplating a false wall with acoustically transparent screen so I can hide all my gear behind it, versus a standard fixed frame screen on the wall with center speaker below and mains to the left and right.

I'm wondering what others have found to be the "best" way to do it. I'm after a large 130"-140" 16:9 screen with horizontal masking.

Here's how I'm thinking:

Acoustic Screen Pros:
1.) Looks clean and very theater like
2.) voices and sounds come from the screen (and therefore the actors' mouths) as opposed to from below it/beside it.
3.) screen can be mounted lower so center of screen is at eye level.
4.) more WOW factor

Acoustic Screen Cons:
1.) Sound quality?
2.) Picture quality? (I've never seen one before. Do they effect sharpness? Contrast?)
3.) Expense (for false wall and extra construction/headache)
4.) Gain (all the acoustic screens I've found have a gain of 1.1 or less and for such a big screen I'd like around 1.3)

All the projectors I'm considering are very bright. I'm leaning toward the benq w7000 because I like DLP. I will also have black walls and ceiling and grey carpet and the windows will have full black out blinds.

The theater on avsforum that I LOVE is sowk's and his is false wall.

Anybody with experience with both types of screen (or one or the other) please chime in and help me decide!
post #2 of 34
I don't have a screen that large so I can't comment on the brightness factor but I do have center stage xd material which I love. How far are your seats planning to be from the screen? 10' or less and you can see the weave of the XD material in bright scenes, so there is that to consider. If the perfect screen material matters to you, than you could consider a more cabinet style front wall that would house your speakers and still give a nice clean look. It doesn't have to necessarily be a false wall vs visible speakers on the floor debate. That's a big screen you are shooting for, what's the width of your room?
post #3 of 34
Thread Starter 
The room is 15.7 ft wide and 25ft long with 8.5 ft ceilings. With a false wall the room with be about 22 ft long. First row of seating will be 1.25 screen widths back, or about 12.5 ft. I'm a little concerned about seeing the weave of the screen. Haven't ever seen a acoustic screen up close.
post #4 of 34
Cost is really the only con, but the pros far outweigh that. You only need screen gain if your projector falls short of light output. Sound quality can be corrected account for material placed in front of the screen on a perf screen. Weaves are cheaper but have several issues. The biggie has to do with comb filtering in the ear for speakers placed anywhere below a screen. This alone makes AT screens worth the price of admission.
post #5 of 34
Thread Starter 
Can you discuss what you mean by weave screens versus another AC material?
post #6 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by tallnick View Post

Can you discuss what you mean by weave screens versus another AC material?

There are several types of AT material being used, woven materials are fabric that are woven together and then there are perforated vinyl screens which have long been the norm. The vinyl ones perform better for video but poorer for audio and woven is vise versa. The center stage xd which has a better balance of the two, with a positive gain, ton of holes and very affordable. It's why most people here use it. There is also a new AT spandex material people are beginning to play with as well, I think the talk for that is in the DIY screen section though I haven't had a need to research that.
post #7 of 34
Thread Starter 
Thanks. Very helpful. I'm looking into the centre stage xd screens but from what I can tell I may not be able to get them here in NZ. Damn!
post #8 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by secondhander View Post

There are several types of AT material being used, woven materials are fabric that are woven together and then there are perforated vinyl screens which have long been the norm. The vinyl ones perform better for video but poorer for audio and woven is vise versa. The center stage xd which has a better balance of the two, with a positive gain, ton of holes and very affordable. It's why most people here use it. There is also a new AT spandex material people are beginning to play with as well, I think the talk for that is in the DIY screen section though I haven't had a need to research that.

WHOA! eek.gif In my opinion, woven material is inferior to micro perf screens in every respect except cost!! You will likely NEVER find a woven screen in a commercial theater. If you do, please let me know because I'll make sure to spend my money at another theater.

Please read this.

http://cinemaforte.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Why_Perforated_Filmscreens_and_Differences.pdf
post #9 of 34
Thread Starter 
If you wouldn't mind, can anyone give me their thought on this screen?

http://www.rapalloav.co.nz/projector-screens/fixed-frame-screens/133-16-9-fixed-frame-screen-black-velvet-frame.html

It is one of the few I can find here in NZ.
post #10 of 34
Counterpoint. I love my SMX woven screen. quite a few of the NoVA crowd have either SMX or SeymourAV screens and I haven't seen one switch to a Micro perf and it isn't for lack of funds.
post #11 of 34
My last screen was a Stewart MicroPerf UltraMatte 150, which I chose for the gain (the JVC RS1 is not that bright). Prior to that, in the 1990s, I had a Stewart StudioTek 130 with a Runco LD980 CRT projector.

I'm very familiar with the article SierraMikeBravo posted, but I would like to see a comparison of the Stewart products to the current woven materials available. I've always hated paying the price for the Stewarts, but I haven't seen a material I like better. And then there's the issue of gain -- I suppose that could be a non-issue with the brighter projectors available now.
post #12 of 34
The physics is explained in the article. Can't change the laws of physics. There is a reason why most, if not all, commercial theaters use perforated screens. We must step back and ask when we build a home theater, what are we emulating and why do commercial theaters use what they use, and do what they do? Much of that same reasoning can be applied to home theaters. That has nothing to do with "likes". It's about the science. Knowing the limitations, now you can make an informed decision, and thats when the "likes" can enter the equation. This way, you only have yourself to answer to if issues crop up. smile.gif
Edited by SierraMikeBravo - 11/9/12 at 10:43pm
post #13 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by tallnick View Post

It is one of the few I can find here in NZ.

G'day - check out these guys. Don't know what shipping is to NZ, but you wont find a better screen locally - their AT fabric is superb too
post #14 of 34
For an up-close comparison, here are a few samples I received during the course of my build. Obviously, a better comparison would be with a projected picture as well some acoustic readings, but this will at least show you that not all AT screens are the same.

From left to right: Elite AcousticPro-4K, SeymourAV Centerstage XD, Elite AcousticPro 1080P2

IMG_1145.jpg
post #15 of 34
Thread Starter 
And how did the picture quality compare between the screens?
post #16 of 34
Unfortunately, I never sampled them with a projected image so I can't offer any comparisons. I took a leap of faith and ordered the CenterStage XD based on the experiences of other forum members and the level of customer support (or lack of, in some cases) I was getting while doing my research.
post #17 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elill View Post

G'day - check out these guys. Don't know what shipping is to NZ, but you wont find a better screen locally - their AT fabric is superb too

Sorry who are "these guys" you're referring to?
post #18 of 34
Chris at Seymour AV was kind enough to send me a sample of the Center Stage XD when I asked. I was smoother than I expected. I took it into the office and held it against the screen I have in there. I did not perceive any loss of image quality. If anything, the image was brighter. The office screen was one of those pull down DA-Lite types. I cannot comment on any audio performance.
post #19 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by tallnick View Post

Sorry who are "these guys" you're referring to?

That'd be helpful wouldn't it......sorry linked didn't work http://www.ozts.com.au/
post #20 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elill View Post

That'd be helpful wouldn't it......sorry linked didn't work http://www.ozts.com.au/

Thanks. I didn't realise they had acoustic material. Their standard screens are amazing. . I've contacted them about a 140" acoustic screen to see what they say about shipping across the straight.
post #21 of 34
Shawn, finally manged to open the white paper and I note that the fabric tested back in 2006 doesn't resemble the fabrics that so many AVS forum members are happy with today in their theaters. I'd like to see the study updated. Back home I have another more recent study done and I will try to remember to dig it up.
post #22 of 34
The physics of the fibers used to make the weave still does not change. It's the way the light hits the fibers and the cross reflection associated with it due, in part, to the shape of the fibers. You cannot change that part. In addition, no weave is perfectly straight resulting in differences in reflected light. Further, since the strands are not straight nor perfectly cyclindrical, you'll have variances in reflected material adhereing to the fibers itself. If they don't apply the reflective material until after the screens are manufactured, then you could have overspray resulting in closed gaps of the weave affecting the transparency. Vinyl screens do not have any of these issues...except if the reflective material was not uniformly applied...but this can be seen upon receipt and inspection. In addition, I had a very good friend who did testing on a lot of material independently. There was one leading brand of weave screen who leaned and relied heavily on cyan to increase it's apparent light reflectivity since green comprises roughly 2/3 of the luminance equation. Won't mention which one it is, but it's one everyone has heard of. Bottom line is, a weave manufacturer may have to manipulate things to get it to work, which often adversly affects something else, or to increase its marketibility. You need to ask yourself why commercial theaters don't use weaves...nor IMAX. Why should we use them in home theaters then? Don't believe the hype or marketing. Prove it to yourself. Do the testing yourself. To quote a famous Jedi Knight, "Your eyes can deceive you. Don't trust them!"
post #23 of 34
So it is safe to say you don't like woven screens. Fine, my position is that if you are thinking about one for your theater you will probably like it and enjoy it immensely. If you have the extra money for a micro perf you should get a demo and judge for yourself.
post #24 of 34
It's not about likes. Not the issue. I look at things from a scientific perspective and what it takes to meet specified criteria. Nothing more. If weaves began to meet that criteria, then I would take a serious look at them. Now, when it comes to the wallet (where most folks make their decisions from generally speaking), there are some things worth investing in from the beginning, and some things that can wait till a later date, but if you can only afford a low budget screen, then go for it, but understand it does come with a few limitations. Part of my job when designing a theater, is to guide a client through the techinical aspects of equipment and room, let them know what the criteria is for each specified component, and let them make a more informed decision...whatever that decision may be. I would say, invest in the better screen, and go budget on something else that can easily be replaced at a later date. Just my two cents on the subject. I know it's not a popular stance, but it is what it is, and I would love to be able to change what is. smile.gif I am with you though BIG, it would be nice to see an updated study. Someone or some group could do that. All they need is equipment that would allow them to measure the info properly.
Edited by SierraMikeBravo - 11/11/12 at 4:27pm
post #25 of 34
A couple of mentions of the Seymour Centerstage but no mention of the Seymour Screen Excellence EN4k.

If you're comparing the "best of" screens, I would say the EN4k is the top of the Seymour line.

Of course, I'm talking my own book here.
post #26 of 34
I live My life based on what I like not what some machine says I should like.
post #27 of 34
I want the screen that makes the best picture -- after spending a ton of money to make the sound good, I also want to make the picture good.

It's not practical for me to compare vinyl microperf to woven material side-by-side, so I also would like to see someone do that with some sort of objective criteria.
post #28 of 34
If you need specialized coatings .... ambient light rejection, optimized for polarized images, or multilayer (such as Firehawk) for contrast improvement, you'll not get that from a weave screen.
post #29 of 34
I almost hate to step into this, but I will before I get another cup of coffee and think better of it.

I like hard data, too, and I read the paper linked above. My take is the only attribute that would seem to apply is the contrast ratio (from a video standpoint, anyway). I don't think the cross reflectance would be an issue in most of the theaters designed here, and even so, the argument could be made that if you're going with a cheaper screen, the cost of admission is black walls and ceiling. This now boils down to whether the newer woven screens have improved on their ability to reflect light back to the viewer through a tighter weave, better coatings, secret sauce, etc.

It doesn't seem like there is enough analytical data on the new screens to make a call there. I don't doubt that a perforated screen is brighter. It just makes sense for it to be. However, considering the cost of admission for a "good" woven screen. I think it may very well fall into the buy it now and upgrade later category. In this hobby, we don't think much about upgrading a several thousand dollar PJ. I think buying a $300, $400, or even $500 woven screen for now, and upgrading later to a perforated screen seems downright sane in comparison to upgrading a PJ.

Just my $0.02, and it's worth what you paid biggrin.gif
post #30 of 34
It is curious that that paper uses real branded microperf screens but compares them against some random "Woven AT fabric". What were the specs on this fabric? The Studio 130 perf is something like 1.15X gain. The Seymour AV screen is 1.2X gain. So, the ANSI white levels should be similar on these two screen surfaces.

This seemingly fundamental point is entirely glossed over, throwing all the subsequent conclusions into question.

I also wonder why they would put the black scrim for the woven screen in-between the screen and the speakers, rather than behind the speakers?
Edited by kromkamp - 11/12/12 at 12:13pm
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