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How do you get that huge epic sound of a theater?

post #1 of 164
Thread Starter 
You know, I went to go see "Vantage Point" last night, I noticed how amazing and HUGE the sound was in the theater (not to be confused with loud). Which led me to wonder, I have heard some nice HT systems, but I have never heard one that really sounded like an actual movie theater does. How do you achieve that "grand epic" sound in your HT? It's a little hard to explain what I mean, but "epic" is the only word I can think of to describe it...
post #2 of 164
By spending $6 million?

Seriously though - big drivers and lots of 'em driven by unreal amounts of power?
post #3 of 164
You need a big fat sub

Seriously!
post #4 of 164
Use theater speakers or home speakers using theater drivers such as the Altec Model Nineteens I use. Many Altec and JBL fans use such speakers. By the way, such speakers are very sensitive and require very little amplifier power to fill home spaces.




Before I had the Nineteens I used Altec A7-500s, speakers meant for small to medium sized theaters. The A7 is a popular home speaker with fanatical hornys but the Nineteens are more civilized and use the same drivers.

post #5 of 164
A related question... what kind of speaker set up do most theaters utilize? 6 channel? 8 channel? 10 channel? And what's the typical configuration/layout? When I go to see a movie in a theater, I see 2 or maybe 3 speakers mounted on the left and right walls close to the ceiling aimed downwards.

Do movie theater sound systems follow the same configuration as home theater? E.g. 5.1, 6.1, ect..?

I really do find it amazing how movie theaters can make every whisper sound like a real whisper, and each explosion sound like a real explosion (in terms of clarity and magitude)... and the soundstage is huge!
post #6 of 164
room acoustics play a big role. Theaters are built from the ground up to sound the way they do.
post #7 of 164
Where's "TheBland" when you need him. He has a killer setup and I've learned a lot from his posts. However, Tom is right with him. It's horns. Most Movie theaters (well, the good ones for sure) use mostly horn speakers. They're not the greatest for music, but for h/t they're terrific and can provide the 'whisper' sound with the loud stuff and make both sound realistic.

There's also lots and lots of speakers in there (usually). Most are behind the screen, where you can't see them. The sound system in an Imax theatre is incredible.

But as Speqtre alluded to, you need a very large budget to acheive that. Also, it helps if you only have a dedicated h/t with all the room treatments, and not (like 95% of people) a mulitpurpose room that serves for music listening, video gaming, plain old t.v. watching, etc.

But go with the biggest horns you can fit comfortably in your room, and at least two big subs (like an eD A7-900 or the Epik Conquest) and you should get something pretty darn close to a movie theater.
post #8 of 164
My apologies for asking this, but I'm a newbie to home theater and I'm trying to educate myself. But what are "room acoustics" and "room treatments"? Are you referring to having special material embedded into room walls? Or something entirely different?

Also, how much power would I need to drive those kinds of speakers? (the ones with the huge horns)
post #9 of 164
Good horns such as Altecs reproduce the range from 100 to 10,000hz with hair-trigger dynamics, realistic tonality and very low distortion. The result is an ease to the sound, an utterly effortless effect that gives "big tone". They sound great with music too.

Such speakers need not be expensive, check ebay for prices on used Altec. I paid $900 for my Nineteens, a pretty good deal considering that they're the best all around one-box speakers I've heard at any price and that's with over 35 years with hi-fi as a hobby. My opinion of course but you get the point.
post #10 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by chandra.hp View Post


Also, how much power would I need to drive those kinds of speakers? (the ones with the huge horns)

10 watts or so is fine, they'll get louder with 5 watts than many normal speakers will with 200. Many hornys use such speakers with small tube amps, I drive one set of Altec-GPAs with a 12wpc 6BQ5 tube amp.


post #11 of 164
I think another important factor is simply the size of the room. Most home theaters are much much smaller than even you average cinema. Even if you put huge, powerful speakers in a small room, you'll still feel like you're in a small room. I think a lot of that movie theater "EPIC" feeling is simply how large the room/screen is.
post #12 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pibbo View Post

I think another important factor is simply the size of the room. Most home theaters are much much smaller than even you average cinema. Even if you put huge, powerful speakers in a small room, you'll still feel like you're in a small room. I think a lot of that movie theater "EPIC" feeling is simply how large the room/screen is.

And that gets us back to acoustics. Most small rooms are characterized by modes in the very audible bass range and these impose themselves on the reproduced sound more obviously than the lower frequency modes of large cinemas. Attention/correction of small room acoustics will go a long way towards getting the "big" sound.
post #13 of 164
Kal -

Can you breifly explain about how that would be done?

My room is going to be 15' Wide / 21' Long / 7-7.5' High.

I too want that big "epic" sound. I plan on using the Klipsch THX Ultra II system with Crown XLS402D amps.

Thanks.
post #14 of 164
I suggest you go to the 'official' room acoustics thread here on AVS and educate yourself. There are many other websites for this and one of the best lists of links is at www.rivesaudio.com
post #15 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Brennan View Post

10 watts or so is fine, they'll get louder with 5 watts than many normal speakers will with 200. Many hornys use such speakers with small tube amps, I drive one set of Altec-GPAs with a 12wpc 6BQ5 tube amp.



What the heck... you got to be kidding me! 5 watts????? I was always told that the bigger the speaker, the bigger the amp! Shoot... my 5 year old HTiB receiver would be overkill for these speakers!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kpt_Krunch View Post

They're not the greatest for music, but for h/t they're terrific and can provide the 'whisper' sound with the loud stuff and make both sound realistic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Brennan View Post

Good horns such as Altecs reproduce the range from 100 to 10,000hz with hair-trigger dynamics, realistic tonality and very low distortion. The result is an ease to the sound, an utterly effortless effect that gives "big tone". They sound great with music too.

Wait... now I'm confused. I thought the utter definition of sound quality was how close the sound production is to the real person/instrument! If these large horn loaded speakers are so accurate.... I don't understand how they cannot be the most ideal for music listening?
post #16 of 164
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pibbo View Post

I think another important factor is simply the size of the room. Most home theaters are much much smaller than even you average cinema. Even if you put huge, powerful speakers in a small room, you'll still feel like you're in a small room. I think a lot of that movie theater "EPIC" feeling is simply how large the room/screen is.

Hmm, lots of good information in this thread. What size room do you think would be required to achieve that epic sound? Obviously the actual size of the auditoriums in most theaters is way too big for a practical home theater, but could we at least come close or possibly equal the sound in our HT's with the right audio equipment and room treatments?

Also, as someone else asked earlier in this thread - I would love to know what speakers and amps are used in most theaters, and how they are configured? And why do most theaters have like 11 surround channels?
post #17 of 164
How was the movie, btw?

Even though the sound was "epic", you'd be surprised that most movie theaters do NOT measurably perform nearly as well as many HTs. Many theaters do NOT include a subwoofer. Most of the really nice stadium-seating style metroplexes' speakers only reach down to 35Hz or so (if that). It's the reference level SPL from several speakers in such a large auditorium that is seemingly so impressive.

Imagine if all the theater auditoriums in your local metroplex could reach down to 20Hz at reference level! There'd be a huge problem with sound isolation. They'd need the walls of a nuclear bomb shelter.
post #18 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by badassfajita View Post

You need a big fat sub

Nope. See my post, above.
post #19 of 164
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sivadselim View Post

How was the movie, btw?

Even though the sound was "epic", you'd be surprised that most movie theaters do NOT measurably perform nearly as well as many HTs. Many theaters do NOT include a subwoofer. Most of the really nice stadium-seating style metroplexes' speakers only reach down to 35Hz or so (if that). It's the reference level SPL from several speakers in such a large auditorium that is seemingly so impressive.

Imagine if all the theater auditoriums in your local metroplex could reach down to 20Hz at reference level! There'd be a huge problem with sound isolation. They'd need the walls of a nuclear bomb shelter.

Haha, very true! Yes, you hit the nail on the head - it must be the amount of speakers and the reference level SPL that gives such a "seemingly" impressive sound. The bass sounded nice, but nothing earth shattering. Nothing you really "felt" in your chest and in your feet. I have 3 modest subs in my HT and they obliterate what I heard at the theater. So you would say that with HT you could top full multiplexes huh? That's what I figured, HT is just SO much more customizable and the options are endless. You can also have MUCH better acoustics and room design in a dedicated HT room.

Oh and in regards to the movie itself, not bad at all. I actually enjoyed it, albeit a few plot holes, but what movie is air-tight anyway?
post #20 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by chandra.hp View Post

What the heck... you got to be kidding me! 5 watts????? I was always told that the bigger the speaker, the bigger the amp! Shoot... my 5 year old HTiB receiver would be overkill for these speakers!


Wait... now I'm confused. I thought the utter definition of sound quality was how close the sound production is to the real person/instrument! If these large horn loaded speakers are so accurate.... I don't understand how they cannot be the most ideal for music listening?

The problem with horns is that they can be too forward/bright for straight music only listening. For movie soundtracks it's not as bad because a lot of the sound track is subtle, and the brightness can add to scene as the music ramps up for a particular point in a movie.

However, since sound is so subjective, there are many people that love horns for music. I have not heard Tom's system so I cannot comment on it, I can only comment on the horn I've personally heard (not including movie theaters) and what I've heard turned me off for music. It's too forward in the upper register, too in your face, and basically I get fatigued very easily by them. But the OP is talking about theatre, not music per say (though music is involved), so IMO horns would be the way to go for him. Looks like you can get some really good quality ones at a good price too!
post #21 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by blake18 View Post

You know, I went to go see "Vantage Point" last night, and noticed how amazing and HUGE the sound was in the theater (not to be confused with loud). Which led me to wonder, I have heard some nice HT systems, but I have never heard one that really sounded like an actual movie theater does. How do you achieve that "grand epic" sound in your HT? It's a little hard to explain what I mean, but "epic" is the only word I can think of to describe it...

When each surround and mains:
l, r, c, sr, sl, sc consist of 8 drivers per box and each driver is 8 inches in diameter giving you a total of 48-- 8inch diameter drivers.

When you have at least four 12 inch diameter subwoofers and each one is in a twenty cubic foot box tuned at 14 hertz.

When you have at least an 12db or preferably 24 db electronic crossover and two separate amplifiers for subwoofer sections.

When you have this equipment in a concrete house and the closest neihbor is a basehead three blocks away.

Then maybe its what you are looking for.
post #22 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kpt_Krunch View Post

The problem with horns is that they can be too forward/bright for straight music only listening.....

However, since sound is so subjective, there are many people that love horns for music. I have not heard Tom's system so I cannot comment on it, I can only comment on the horn I've personally heard....


Well KK horns are like any other type of speaker in that some are voiced one way and some are voiced another. Yes, they can be too forward or bright but so can cone-dome speakers, tonality is more about execution than basic speaker type.

And like other speakers horns vary in quality; for instance the quality of the drivers used in Klipsch consumer products is far inferior to those used in "real" Altec, GPA, TAD and JBL products. Note that "real" Altec products are no longer made by the so called Altec company (which used to be Sparkomatic) but are made and sold by by Great Plains Audio (GPA), made here in The United States.

Regards
post #23 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Brennan View Post

Well KK horns are like any other type of speaker in that some are voiced one way and some are voiced another. Yes, they can be too forward or bright but so can cone-dome speakers, tonality is more about execution than basic speaker type.

And like other speakers horns vary in quality; for instance the quality of the drivers used in Klipsch consumer products is far inferior to those used in "real" Altec, GPA, TAD and JBL products. Note that "real" Altec products are no longer made by the so called Altec company (which used to be Sparkomatic) but are made and sold by by Great Plains Audio (GPA), made here in The United States.

Regards


Thanks for the info Tom - you bring up excellent points! My apoligies for painting all horns with the same brush. There are (obviously) differences as there are in domes and ribbons too.
post #24 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Burrows View Post

When each surround and mains:
l, r, c, sr, sl, sc consist of 8 drivers per box and each driver is 8 inches in diameter giving you a total of 48-- 8inch diameter drivers.

When you have at least four 12 inch diameter subwoofers and each one is in a twenty cubic foot box tuned at 14 hertz.

When you have at least an 12db or preferably 24 db electronic crossover and two separate amplifiers for subwoofer sections.

When you have this equipment in a concrete house and the closest neihbor is a basehead three blocks away.

Then maybe its what you are looking for.

i think it's also the "giant space" that a real theater has

you can't just duplicate that at home no matter what how much you spend on equipment
post #25 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by blake18 View Post

And why do most theaters have like 11 surround channels?

They don't actually have 11 channels. Many still just have 2 channels of surround. The speakers line the walls to diffuse the sound more, and provide for a better experience with people seated in different locations in the theater.
post #26 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Brennan View Post


And like other speakers horns vary in quality; for instance the quality of the drivers used in Klipsch consumer products is far inferior to those used in "real" Altec, GPA, TAD and JBL products. Note that "real" Altec products are no longer made by the so called Altec company (which used to be Sparkomatic) but are made and sold by by Great Plains Audio (GPA), made here in The United States.

Regards

So are there any speaker brands that can be purchased new that have horns liek you are discussing? For example you listed JBL, but I assume you did not mean all JBL speakers, but rather a specific type.
post #27 of 164
This is a good thread, because previously, some people on this forum claim that you can BEAT the sound of a nice theater with say, a $1500 setup. I'm always amazed how "grand" my local IMAX theaters sound. Sure I might be able to do better bass extension, but I now do think that the size of the theater and the natural acoustics of large venues have a lot to do with it.
post #28 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by zaniix View Post

So are there any speaker brands that can be purchased new that have horns liek you are discussing? For example you listed JBL, but I assume you did not mean all JBL speakers, but rather a specific type.


JBL makes a few high end home horn speakers and several theater speakers with horns. Were I in the market for speakers now I'd be seriously thinking about these pro JBL 3678s. Only about $1000 each, a good deal as the woofer alone sells for $320 each at Parts Express and the horn driver (sans horn) for $300. I've used the 2226 woofer and 2426 treble driver used in this system and they can sound superb in hi-fi use. This 3678 reminds me of the famous JBL 4430 studio monitor but with higher output; same treble driver and horn and crossover point as the 4430 but a higher output woofer.


http://www.performanceaudio.com/cgi/...oducts_id=1255




There are also a few makers of furniture cabinet horn speakers such as Bruce Edgar.
post #29 of 164
Quote:


natural acoustics

That right there is on of the most critical things in getting a "HOME" to sound like a "THEATER."

Sure, the type of speakers and placement come in to play, but not NEARLY as much as the constraints placed on them by the more typical rooms in the home that we try to use as a "theater."

People will frett endlessly over which receiver to buy, which speakers are going to sound "BEST" to them (and not even audition them first.... just post endless threads here asking....) and not do a nickles worth of research let alone spend a few hundred dollars on room treatments, and then complain that their room sounds like dog doo.

post #30 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by zaniix View Post

So are there any speaker brands that can be purchased new that have horns liek you are discussing? For example you listed JBL, but I assume you did not mean all JBL speakers, but rather a specific type.

Klipsch are all horns, though some models are better than others, and people typically have a love em or hate em opinion of the brand. They are incredibly sensitive and get to huge SPL's with less power needed. I believe JBL and Klipsch are the choice for 90% of the countries movie theaters.

Also, don't think just because they don't need a lot of power you can drive them with a HTiB receiver. First, they are typically incredibly detailed and will highlight any flaws in the source electronics, so you must make sure what ever power is sent to them, it is clean. Also, most speakers don't require a ton of power to play at moderate listening levels, it is the peaks that really require the power. A good amp will send a nice clean signal for regular dialouge, but also have a ton of headroom for the peaks you get during a high action scene, this is where an HTiB receiver would fall down. You really do need great amps to drive great speakers.
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