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Friday, July 22, 2011

The Theater

Well, here's the front end of my Home Theater(mostly absorptive barring the TV)

Zoomed in a bit:

Cleaned up some:

OK, some I'm getting some more insights as to what constitutes great home theater.  I've gone through massive quantities of reading(for a hobbiest), measuring, EQing, placing, and calibration.   My conclusion is this:  no matter what the acoustician tells you, acoustics treatments in any reasonable quantity for the regular guy doing this themselves on a budget will not get you to nirvana.  No matter what the room correction software guy tells you, it can only do so much and will not lead to nirvana.  You cannot EQ a cancellation.  A) it will never fix it, and B) you'll lose all headroom both amplifier and speaker.

My personal experience with this goes like this:
1) placement of speakers is the biggest challenge to get right.
The first time I measured my home theater(of which I was so proud of the sound) it looked like this:

I thought this sounded great!  Please no comments about me being an idiot.  I already know.
Bryan Pape (works for GIK) gave me a strategy for sorting out my biggest problems after I was frustrated with DIY treatments.  Some of you will know him from the forums and he is an excellent guy and seems he almost see's sound.  Never met a more helpful/knowledgeable person other than perhaps Dr. Earl Geddes(who seems to be a bit more polarizing on the forums).  None the less, he is damn honest even if his opinions are not popular.  Experimental data continues to support his statements.  Anyway, enough about that.  After listening to Brian I ended up getting this:
and the AVG:
Then smoothed:

I ended up bumping the bass up for my personal preference after that, but never graphed it.  All that with just placement just using Bryan's advice on how to place appropriately!  Can't believe he didn't just try to sell me treatments.  I can't give a better endorsement than that and I will buy treatments from him when the time comes just so his honesty won't be to his detriment.  Besides, they have intelligent products that are reasonably priced.  In any case, optimal placement for acoustics, just looked stupid.  Sounded great, but looked bad.

2) Treatment and EQ:  So I just bought an old model HK receiver model 3600.  Nice rig and it sounds great.  I hate to say it b/c it will make me sound like a subjective cook, but I think it sounds better than my defunct Onkyo TX-NR1007 ever did.  I thought so in the store as well, but I bought the Onkyo d/t all the DBTs that people couldn't tell a difference.

My first shot at using the EZ-EQ looked like this:

With EZ-EQ turned off it looked like this:

I moved the speakers just about six inches, and to eliminate the floor bounce issue, I used a couple 15" square open cell foam block I have hanging around placed on the floor midway between the speakers and the listening position.
The six position average looks like this:

Then I removed the foam and took the same measurements again:

Admittedly, the perceived sound didn't change much, the SBIR influence is not hard to see.  So I did another calibration w/o the foam to see what would happen(I also fiddled with the manual bass EQ to get a smoother more extended bass and added 1/6 octave smoothing):

Smoothed with foam:

How that compares do what Dr. Olive shows on his blog with Harman room correction related to preference: 

It looks pretty close to me and tells me that their room is wisely treated b/c w/o a good treatment scheme, I was unable to duplicate their results.

I would also agree that this is the best my HT has sounded, but no one method would have got me there.  You need to use all three and placement is the most important IMO.  Now I'm going to enjoy some movies and my iPod d/t the dock that came with the 3600.  It also has a great tuner.  Truth be told I couldn't be happier with this and I'm sort of glad the Onkyo suffered an early death.