Nyal Mellor is an avid AVS Forum contributor. He owns Acoustic Frontiers
and holds some of home theater's highest certifications, such as HAA Level I & II, THX Video Level I & II, CEDIA EST I & II. Nyal designs, integrates and calibrates home theaters for people all around the country, including many AVS Forum Users
AVS users giving me advice on these forums, highly recommended Nyal. I spoke with several home theater companies and then Nyal. I was lucky enough to have Nyal take on my home theater project, which started right here on this thread almost a year ago. Nyal interviewed me to understand my aspirations and goals for a home theater. He ended up designing my theater, including the room layout, acoustic design, HVAC design, low voltage design, electrical design and lighting design. He also assisted me in project management and helped come up with solutions to unforeseen issues during the build. My theater would not be close to as good, without all his advice and assistance.
This past week, Nyal arrived and saw my theater in person for the first time. He told me the theater looked good in pictures, but it is significantly better in person. He was very complimentary on the aesthetics and quality of craftmanship. He went on to say it was one of the nicer theaters he’s experienced and that we did a great job. Even though Nyal is very knowledgeable, he is very humble, gracious and down-to-earth. It was great getting to know him more, personally. He was fun to talk with and I learned a lot watching him work. Nyal allowed me to watch him for two-full days, describing what he was doing and why. Talk about insightful and fun!
The first day, Nyal started on the projector. He spent a lot of time showing me how it should look and the adjustments we could make. I learned how important a good base greyscale is and what levels should look like with the color overlay. After being educated, I could clearly see the differences. It was a huge change and so much nicer to watch. The content now has much better color, is more life-like, smoother and way more pleasant to watch! My HDR is fantastic to watch now. I really appreciated Nyal going through so many different profiles to make sure it was the right one for me.
After video, Nyal started working on the bass array. Bass is my “thing”, so I paid close attention. The first step was to dial in the four subs to work together as closely as possible. Next, he started doing some EQ on the low frequencies. He had a tool, which showed what the room and subs were doing together. I could clearly see the room was well designed and the sub response was very good. It showed how important good room design and having suitable equipment are interrelated. Seeing is believing! There were minimal dips and peaks, which Nyal smoothed out with little effort. When it came to levels, I insisted he calibrate the subs hotter than normal. The funny thing is, Nyal kept turning down the gains and levels on my subs. It made me nervous at first. On the front of the sub amp there are 20 increments (10 dots with a space between each) for volume gain. Nyal ended up putting both sub channels on 5 of 20, or one-quarter of the maximum volume. LOL! I have SO much bass capability, it’s REDONKULOUS! No, I did not over-purchase. I got way better performance and headroom with my subs and paid less than most other subs on the market!
Once the subs were all dialed in, Nyal said my subs far exceeded his expectations and he was very impressed with how well they performed. He said my theater is stacked and far better than most when it comes to low frequencies. He commented I have a crazy amount of headroom. My subs are killing it and hardly moving! The subs sounded great before, but oh MAN did they rock significantly more after Nyal was done. The bass was WAY tighter, crisper and more musical. I didn’t think 18” subs could be that tight. Like, seriously wow! I made some good changes to the subs and delay before, but Nyal’s integration on the subs took it to a whole new level! I absolutely love how big of a change Nyal made with my bass!!
The next step was to start correlating my side and rear speakers. Unfortunately, the rears and four sides were on two different processors, so Nyal had to do a quick re-wire job. That was not part of the deal, but Nyal did it anyway. With everything wired up correctly, Nyal began correlation of the two sets of sides and one set of rear speakers. This involved mixing some of those channels together in a very particular way. Secret sauce!?
On the second day, Nyal started EQ calibration for the speakers. He took time with each of my 13 speakers (and 4 subs) to properly crossover, eliminate the minimal dips and peaks, adjust levels, delays and develop a good curve. This process is time-consuming with so many speakers, but fortunately the good room design had established a great base, where minimal changes were needed. I got to hear it in this intermediate stage. My midbass increased substantially and information in the upper regions came to life. It was fun to hear things I hadn’t heard before! It sounded so much better…but Nyal wasn’t done yet.
The next process was to do an integration of all the speakers/subs. Nyal worked with some fancy equipment and then his ears, dialing in all the changes he previously made to blend together. After that process, Nyal had me audition on content I was familiar with and asked for my feedback on what I was hearing; what changes I wanted for my own “house curve”. It was awesome to hear new things! Sound blended better significantly with even better dynamics. The best words I can describe it with are powerful, clean and smooth. A huge improvement in sound quality!
Once that profile was completed, Nyal started the same process to create additional profiles for the room. I ended up with a profile for my front row, a balanced profile for both rows and a music profile. When I decided to build the theater, I didn’t think I would listen to music a lot, so I didn’t focus on that. Nyal’s music calibration was nothing short of Amazing! Like WOW! I couldn’t believe my ears. I truly didn’t think the sound could be THAT much better. It was immediately apparent and I told him to leave it right there…don’t touch it! I will be absolutely listening to music a lot more. Even my wife was amazed at the difference and she isn’t that discerning of a listener. She actually listened to music for an hour the night Nyal left. That’s saying something!
After the three profiles were complete, Nyal went back and had me audition each. We made slight modifications to the balanced profile, then he went back to each audio and video mode he calibrated, to finalize settings. He taught me how to make adjustments for future profiles I may want to add, most importantly, how to do it correctly.
I always knew I wanted to complete the build process with a calibration, but it’s expensive. I could have easily been content to stop after my build and have a great sounding theater, but I am sure glad I didn’t. Many of the changes were so dramatic, it was worth the money to make any one of those changes, individually. What I ended up getting were massive changes in all areas important to me. Yes, massive. I absolutely love the changes and am very glad I stayed the course with professional calibration!
I want to make sure Nyal understands how important he has been to the success and enjoyment of my theater. While I have received help from many people, some more than others, Nyal stands at the top of that list. He is the biggest reason my theater is so incredible in every way. If you get the opportunity to follow your dream, like I did, do it the right way and have Nyal Mellor help you make your dream be the best it can be!