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Sunfire Theater Grand Processors (thread to share advice,info,thoughts, etc)

post #1 of 1164
Thread Starter 
I have seen so many threads dedicated to the AnthemAVM20, and B&K Ref50, but not one thread dedicated to the Sunfire Theater Grand III. So I decided to start one. This is a place for owners, and soon to be owners to ask questions, share info, give advice, share their like's and dislike's etc.

What do you all think???
post #2 of 1164
Fine idea! I'll start with a little nugget. Will the firewire port (1394) be able to be used for input from DVD-Audio/SACD players in the future, now that a standard has been agreed upon? With the great software upgrdability of this pre-amp/pro I hope so!

Probably no one has any real info on this but I'm throwin' it out there!
post #3 of 1164
Thread Starter 

Welcome! It's great having you on board. From what I have heard, the 1394 firewire port will indeed be able to support digital Hi-Rez DVD-Audio/SACD.
post #4 of 1164
Thread Starter 
I'm curious about the holographic image processing, what do you all think of the way it sounds?
post #5 of 1164
The holographic imaging does create a slightly wider soundfield....but I tend to steer clear of DSP modes in the first place, so I rarely ever use it. It's a nice little feature, but I wouldn't exactly term it "incredible" or "wildly successful" like the Sunfire press releases do.

I like the auto switching feature of the TGIII, but I also rarely use it because it tends to switch signals when I don't want it to sometimes.

Overall though, I love my TGIII.....and I NEED to. The wife won't let me buy another processor for a LONG time.

post #6 of 1164
Originally posted by ohyeah32
I'm curious about the holographic image processing, what do you all think of the way it sounds?

Thanks for the welcome!

That's great news about the 1394 port, I do not have a universal player yet, I'm waiting to see what happens with that and make sure I get one that supports the digital out! Great!

As far as the Holographic mode - I agree with R8dr pretty much. I steer clear of DSP modes for most applications, especially stereo cd listening. I have tried it, and would probably use it if I thought it made big enough of a difference, it does not seem to. That and I understand the listening position tolerances are VERY small.

Here's one, not specific to the TGIII but I have found the NEO:6 mode great for regular TV. TV is hardly ever critical listening, and have traditionally stayed away from DSP modes for it too, but NEO:6 has impressed me. I don't watch a lot of TV, but when I do it's usually Law and Order or something similar that's dialog heavy. NEO:6 does a nice job of using my center channel.
post #7 of 1164
Good Idea! I too am a very satisfied TGIII owner. One question. I get some audio dropout on HD. I have a Sony HD200 and some say the unit is the problem, some say the Pre/pro is too picky. What is your experience?
post #8 of 1164
I am going to make the jump into separates soon, and the TGIII is on my list. What amps do you guys use?
post #9 of 1164
Thread Starter 
First off, thank you all for helping to get this thread off to a good start, let's keep those posts coming.

R8der and iamnotmad,

Thanks for your input regarding the Holographic imaging, and iamnotmad have you compared Pro Logic II and Neo:6? Did you prefer Neo:6 over Pro Logic II?


I wish I had an answer regarding the audio dropouts on HD. I haven't upraded to HD yet, but will be soon. I'm sure there's someone reading that can give you some help.


I'm using a Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature II for the main five channels, and will soon be using a Sonance Sonamp 5150 amp for the rear center surrounds and side axis speakers.

I have a TGIII on order, and it should hopefully be arriving today. I really did my research before I finally decided on this unit. If it did arrive, I will be posting my own thought's on the TGIII after using it over the weekend. Stay tuned.

post #10 of 1164
Originally posted by elbig
Good Idea! I too am a very satisfied TGIII owner. One question. I get some audio dropout on HD. I have a Sony HD200 and some say the unit is the problem, some say the Pre/pro is too picky. What is your experience?

I watch HD from two different sources going through the TGIII, and have never had a dropout problem that I could attribute to the Pre/Pro. I'd definitely be looking at your STB as the culprit here.

post #11 of 1164
Originally posted by richk05
I am going to make the jump into separates soon, and the TGIII is on my list. What amps do you guys use?

I'm using the Sunfire Cinema Grand Sig II for the main 5 channels, and a Sunfire Cinema Grand I for the rear surrounds and Zone 2 channel (outdoor speakers). Yeah, it's overkill....but this is my number one hobby so why the hell not!

Now if only I had speakers I didn't think would blow up if I turn it up too loud. Hell, I blew up two woofers about 2 years ago during Saving Private Ryan.....I'm due to blow up a couple more woofers soon.

post #12 of 1164
I use Sunfire Cinema Grand II for 5 channels. Bi-wired using both current and voltage outputs on the amp. Sounds great!

As far as Neo:6 Vs. DPLII, I have compared them, and I liked Neo:6 much better.
post #13 of 1164
Thread Starter 
Well, i'm a little bummed, my TGIII didn't come in today like I hoped it would . Oh well, maybe next week.
post #14 of 1164
Thread Starter 
post #15 of 1164
I have a couple questions - or confirmations rather. If a speaker is set to large, the crossover setting has absoutely no effect on the particular speaker - as in it gets a full range sent to it - regardless of any other settings. Is that correct?

Also if that's true, if you set your front mains to large, and are listening to a 2 channel source, nothing gets sent to the subwoofer even if "enhanced bass" is on, correct?

One other thing - I think there's a little bug in 3.0 - in that if you shut the on screen display off (I don't like the volume adjustment to show on screen) then when you turn the TGIII off then on the last word shows on screen "Grand". The only way to get it off is to go into the menu or hit the info button on the remote.

Something I'd lke to see in a future software upgrade would be independantly setable crossover for each channel, or at least the front 3.

Oh! one more thing - Anyone have a good email fro sunfire to send questions/suggestions?

Thanks everyone!
post #16 of 1164
I believe that even if you set your front L/R speakers to large, some info is still sent to your sub. I know on a particular CD of mine that it has way too much bass....to the point it drives my wife nuts. I remember playing that CD recently and having to turn off the sub during the first track...that is loaded with bass.

I'll test it out again tomorrow to be sure. The wife is asleep now and...well....talk about driving her nuts...

I've not seen the bug in 3.0, but then I rarely watch anything via the composite inputs, so I rarely see the onscreen display. Guess I'm glad they didn't make the onscreen display work with the component inputs.

I like your idea of independant crossovers for each channel....but I doubt they'd implement that since they likely feel the "large/small" option is good enough.

Still, it's worth mentioning to them. Sunfire does have e-mail but they prefer not to use it. They prefer to receive phone calls. If you want to ask questions or pursue other options for future software upgrades, simply call the number on their website and ask for Engineering. I've called and talked with them numerous times, and they are always willing to chat for as long as you like.

post #17 of 1164
I'm really enjoying my TGIII. The only issue I have had is the auto sensing seems sporadic. Sometimes it works great and sometimes it doesn't seem to work at all. Worse case, is that it switches on when you turn the sending unit (like a DVD player) off (vs on). Since my amps are tied to the unit (via 12 volt trigger) to turn on, this is a real pain. For some reason this seems to be worse with the last release of code. I've gotten to the point where I pretty much don't use it anymore. I really like the PLII for music and sat watching. The component switching is really cool and I'm glad it has two outputs. I have each feeding into my RPTV and have set them up (in the RPTV) with a slightly different brightness/contrast setting depending on what source I am watching. I'm thinking about switching to Balanced interconnects (I have a Sunfire amp). SJ
post #18 of 1164

I had so many problems with the auto-signal sensing feature that I don't use it anymore. It's too bad...it really is sweet when it works like you want it to.

A question.....on the component outputs....are both signals live at all times? I'm guessing yes, but I wanted to confirm.

post #19 of 1164
Thread Starter 

I haven't heard of anyone else having those issues, but i'm sure if there is, they will post it here. I'm sorry to hear that you aren't able to use the full auto function, as this is one of the neat features that sets this unit apart from the crowd. A while back you mentioned in another thread that when Sunfire first made the v3.0 software download available, they were having some problems with it. Because of this they removed the v3.0 download from their site temporarily. Did this problem start after you downloaded the 3.0 software? Was it the previous 3.0, or the current 3.0 that you downloaded? What has Sunfire said about this problem? My TGIII is supposed to be coming with a v3.0 CD. I'll let you know how the full auto mode work's after I do the update.


I also was curious if Sunfire has an e-mail, but after looking high and low on their website I found nothing. But I did come across an Email for Sunfire by accident. I was reading a review of the TGIII over at audiorevolution and found this Email address:


I think they have some more, i'll just have to keep my eyes peeled.

post #20 of 1164

They really don't like to respond to e-mail. One of the guys I have spoken with numerous times gave me his e-mail address, but he said he would really rather talk on the phone. I've always found them very receptive to phone calls.....but I've had a few e-mails that they never responded to. I'd really suggest everybody rely on the phone.

On the auto-signal sensing feature, it's been a problem for me regardless of what software version I was using. I think what's happening is if I leave my Sat receiver on but switch to DVD, the DVD hits a layer change or some other dead spot and the TGIII switches back to the Sat dish because it still has an active signal. I've simply found it much less annoying to do all my switching manually.

post #21 of 1164
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info regarding e-mailing Sunfire, though it's kinda strange how they don't really like receiving e-mails. Regarding the auto sensing mode, I guess I may not have a problem with that since my sat receiver's optical out turns off with the sat receiver.
post #22 of 1164
About the Sonic Holography....

To those of you who say you get a slightly wider sound stage, or you prefer to not use the DSP surround modes....

You're not getting it. By that I'm NOT saying you are clueless. I'm saying you are not receiving the effect of sonic holography.

When you get it, it's *not* subtle. It's an epiphany. And it's not a slightly wider sound stage. It's a 3 dimensional one that you can precisely locate the instruments, a sound stage that is front to back, not just wider.

If you *think* you are getting the illusion, you don't have it. You know it when you have it.

What's the problem with it? The problem is 0% of the people who say they have tried it will ever rearrange the position of their home theater speakers as is required to produce the effect. Activating the sonic holography mode you can hear a processing difference even if the speakers are set up wrong. Different processing, yes, from anywhere...but not 3D holography.

The speakers need to be away from the walls, 3-5 feet from the side walls, and 3-5 feet in front of the rear wall, at ear level. The distance from each speaker to the listening position has to be within 1/4 inch, and 1/8 is better. C'mon, you know you haven't done this, so spare me the skepticism. Speakers closer together work better than wider apart. The listener does not have to be centered to the same degree as the measurement above, but the distance from the listener to the speakers again...1/4 inch.

I do not have a Sunfire Theater Grand III. But sonic holography is the reason why it is on my short list of pre-pros. I do have a 15 year old Carver C1 stereo preamp with sonic holography.

Like most of you, I thought it was a gimmick when I first tried it. Switched it on a few times, thought I heard something different, nothing major. Only after reading the theory, the analogy to laser interferometry to produce 3D holographic visual images, the concept of coherent beams, constructive/destructive interference.

I built an entire live end/dead end sound room around the concept of canceling the near reflections from side walls, rear walls using fabric covered, rigid architectural fiberglass panels. You don't have to go to that trouble to achieve an impressive, satisfying effect. But you do have to carefully align, measure the speaker distance to the listener within 1/8-1/4 inch.

I had but (2) front stereo speakers. I'd demo the sonic holography, and people would start looking around, move their head from side to side, front to back, sit up, stand up, and usually end up asking where the other speakers were.

post #23 of 1164
I briefly chatted with someone at Sunfire about the auto sensing issue. However, I was calling about something else (the version upgrade). The guy I spoke with didn't think they were related. I have upgraded to the newest V3.0 of the software. Same issues. I'm going to wait for the next release and see if anything happens. The issue is that I'm NOT going to send the unit back if it is a problem. I already had to send my unit back to them for another issue (I had an early software release that bombed when I upgraded leaving me dead in the water. This is something they have fixed in the newer releases...). When the unit was back, I noticed on the work order that they replaced some auto sensing components. The unit worked pretty well until the last upgrade. Not having this feature is not that big of a deal for me as my remote/macros do everything anyway. But it would be nice if it worked as occasionally I like to just walk up to my equipment and manually turn on a component (like the DVD player, etc.) It would be great if the Sunfire would fire up and switch to the input, etc. I am only using digital and component connections. Not sure if this has something to do with it. I guess I could hook up a few analog/composite cables and see if it would help. Other than this issue, this unit works great. SJ
post #24 of 1164
Noticed today that Sunfire now has V3.05 available. I installed it and now auto sensing seems to be working again. At least for the 10 or so times that I just tried it! They also added the owners manual to the website. Don't know if anybody has had any upgrade issues. But for the last couple of times, I have had to apply the upgrade twice for it to take. The first time it just keeps flashing "SUCCESS PUSH POWER (or something)". After hitting the power button, it just keeps giving the message. Finally you have to unplug the unit to clear the message. The second time I tried updating, when I hit the POWER button, it indicates that it is updating and flashes the new version when complete. Oh well.....
post #25 of 1164
Thanks for the heads up on the new revision - I love that they are working to improve the product!
post #26 of 1164
Thanks to ohyeah32 for starting this thread - great idea!

I have had some problems with the auto sensing feature, but have managed to figure out how to work around them.

I find if I turn off the TGIII first before turning off the source component it works properly.

If I turn the source component off first and then turn off the TGIII, the TGIII seem to turn on when the source component is turned off. I'm currently running 3.0 - I'll check if 3.05 fixes this.

I also had to turn off the sat receiver for auto-sensing to work. It emits a signal even when off.

I have not had any issues with autio drop-outs using HD with an EchoStar receiver.
post #27 of 1164
I'm considring the TGP III. Do any of you owners use it with DirecTivo's or UTV-like devices? I'm wondering how the auto-sensing works with these devices, which like to power themselves on in order to record programs that they're configured to record. Would the auto-sense switch from, say, a DVD I'm watching to the Sat tuner when the UTV wakes up to record something? That would be annoying.

Couple more questions: does the Sunfire provide (optional) analog bass management for N.1 analog input? I don't think it does, but I'd like to confirm. Finally, how does the unit sound with (unprocessed) 2-channel CD audio, compared, say, to the B&K Ref 50?

post #28 of 1164
You can enable or disable auto sense for each individual source, so you could disable it for your TIVO device.

No DSP on the analogue 5.1 inputs.

I haven't heard the B&K Ref 50, so can't comment on sound comparisons. The TGIII does have a Direct option for analogue sources (works only if main speakers are set to large) that bypasses all DSP processing. I don't use this as I prefer the DACS in the TGIII to that in my source components.
post #29 of 1164
Thread Starter 
Dan Krieg,

Thank you also for sharing your input on this thread, and a thanks to everyone who have helped to keep this thread going.

post #30 of 1164
I'm leaning toward an Anthem AVM20. I have a Sunfire Cinema Grand II amp that I'm quite happy with, so I wanted to consider the TGIII before going for the Anthem.

Questions that I hope owners/those who demo'd the unit can clear up for me:
1. I will use in a dedicated theater/listening room. I have a 7.x setup (flexibility on the number of subs). I have three rows of seating and want/need a THX Ultra2-like processing to provide 7.1 channels from a 5.1 soundtrack. Does the TGIII have a mode that does this? If so, what are your impressions of its effect? I know that it has the "holographic" imaging, but does this work to take 5.1 to 7.1, or does it go all the way to 9.1? (I have no interest in adding two more side speakers to get 9.1). Also, does the holographic processing change the character/info of the front channels (my understanding is that Ultra2 only affects the rear channels)?

1.5 Related to the 7.x question is the implementation of the subs. I see that the TGIII has three sub outs. Do they all carry the same signal or can I, for example, send rear bass info to a rear sub only (sort of like what looks to be possible on the Halo's)?

2. I would like something that also gives excellent 2-channel or 5.1-channel (via SACD or DVD-A analog inputs) performance for music. Any anecdotes that owners or those who demo'd the units for this purpose wish to share?

Oh yeah -- thanks for starting this thread.
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