Sunday, September 21, 2014

Upgrading the MFW-15

While the MFW-15 has been relatively problem free, I did have to replace the caps in on the amp board some time ago. After much deliberation about buying a replacement sub, I decided to give the Turbo Kit a shot. Should have the parts and be ready to put it all back together in a couple of weeks if all goes well.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

New Lamp ELPLP49

Like slowly raising the temperature on a frog in a pot of water, I didn't realize that the lamp on my Epson 6500UB was slowly growing dim. We were playing some Borderlands 2, and I switched from XY mode to Dynamic. Immediately, I saw just how dim the projected image had become. 

Searching the Web, I found lamps for a low as $70, but with reviews that they were junky knock-offs that could explode or catch fire. Not wanting to risk that, I keep digging until I found a coupon for 20% off and free overnight shipping at the Epson store. Picked up a filter as well while I was at it.

The lamp should arrive today, and I will be very curious to find out how much brighter it is. I have had the same lamp since the fall of 2008, so I did get my 4 yrs of use out of it. I don't really know how many hours is on it since the lamp counter was reset each time I did a firmware update and I didn't write down the numbers beforehand. If I get another 4 years out of this projector and lamp I will consider myself lucky and be ready for whatever 'new' technology comes along. Hopefully it will be something a little more useful than 3-D.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

New Carpet

The new carpet was completed after the flood. The guys did a fantastic job making sure all the seams were perfectly aligned. Should last for many, many years.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Flood

A bit of a setback, but a chance to move forward to something even better. Torrential rains fell last week and the theater was slightly flooded. Only carptet deep, but that means it has to be replaced. The search begins for something new to replace it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Paragon Butter Warmer

Below is a summary and some pictures/ video of the Paragon Butter warmer with both the old and new container.
I added enough water (2.5 cups) to the inside unit to make the container float. It does wobble when empty. I then added 1 cup of water to the container. No more floating, and plenty steady when pumping.

I then set the thermostat as high as it would go, and put a candy thermometer in the container water. The ambient temp was 70 F. After 4 minutes, the temperature reached 75 F (as low as my thermometer would go). I took readings every 5 minutes for 1 hour. The voltage was 122 VAC, and the unit drew 1.67 Amps (203.75 Watts) as measured by a Kill A Watt EZ P3 gauge.

5 min = 85 F
10 min = 110 F
15 min = 125 F
20 min = 150 F
25 min = 165 F
30 min = 175 F
35 min = 185 F
40 min = 190 F
45 min = 195 F
50 min = 200 F
60 min = 200 F

So far I like the new design, but all I have heated is water. Steam does escape around the outer ring, and the water in the heated section barely reaches a boil at 1 hour which seems reasonable.

The bottle and holder for the original design was begining to rust and the bottle had deformed (bulged) on the bottom and would no longer stand upright without holding.

The new design is much cleaner and easier to work with.

Below is a quick video of the container when inserted empty. In the second video 1 cup of liquid was added to the inner cup making the unit stable with no bobbing and very little movement when pumping. You can also freely rotate the pump in any direction since it is not attached to the container.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Another Update to the 6500UB

Just finished adding the new firmware 1.09 to the Epson 6500UB, along with an improvement to the Frame Interpolation module. The projector is much smoother with FI on LOW now, though I didn't notice any changes to Normal and High. I use LOW for normal TV viewing, and Normal or High for sports and animated dvd's. I still prefer the1080p24 4:4 pull-down for viewing film based material.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Updating the 6500

Finally, an improvement in the HDMI handshaking on the Epson 6500. This projector has been painfully slow when changing resolutions or sources. With firmware 1.08, the handshake time has been reduced to a more manageable time, though still not as speedy as my old AE700. At least not changes can be made to the menu items without having to wait 25 seconds or more for the picture to return.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Some Videos of the 6500

I captured some videos today of the 6500. The first shows the cold startup time. The 6500 had been off all night, the BD-35 was already started and on the main menu screen of Kill Bill 2. The video chain is as follows:
BD-35 --> DVDO Edge --> SR805 --> 6500

The power on occurs approxiamately 5 seconds after the start of the video.

The second video shows the time it takes to start playing "Iron Man" after the projector has been started.

The third video is High an Low lamp, and the auto iris function. The basic idea was to capture the fan noise and shutter noise. Unfortunately, the Pentax Optio A20 has a very poor microphone. The auto color balance of the camera is also quite poor in low lighting, so these videos do not represent the image quality of the 6500.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Epson 6500UB Arrives

The Epson 6500UB arrived this morning around 10 am. By 10:15 I had it mounted, and by 10:30 I was ready to test it out. So far, so good! No dead pixels, no convergence issues, no stuck focus ring, and no dust blobs. The image is stunning compared to my old Panasonic AE700. So far it has exceeded my expectations in everything but the Frame Interpolation feature is very 'freaky'. It is one of those things you just have to see to understand, as it is difficult to describe in words.

Not only does this projector throw an extremely sharp, and bright image, but it is also quiet in the "Theatre" modes. I am not sure how it compares to the Panasonic AE-3000, but it is only audible in very quiet scenes. In fact, I now can hear the Panasonic BD-35 fan which I didn't hear before. This projector shows every flaw in the source material, dust, scratches, noise, you name it.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Epson 6500UB is on the way

I got the phone call tonight from AVS, my projector is shipping tomorrow. I am hopeful that it gets here by Friday, but it is difficult to say with NYE holiday. A very good review was posted on Projector Reviews

This will complete the upgrades for the year, and I think I finally have everything in place. I have converted from HD DVD to Blu-Ray, from a 720p to 1080p projector, and upgraded my receiver. I think I can finally relax and not think about any more changes for now.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Onkyo TX-SR805

Decision time is over. I went with the Onkyo TX-SR-805. Should be here sometime next week. Until then, I am without sound...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

HK-635 and Panny V2600 GONE!

I am now without a receiver to power my theater. I recently sold both the Harman Kardon and Yamaha receivers. I thought it was time to move up to HDMI 1.3 and the new audio decoders (True-HD, DTS-MA) to use with my BD-35. Perhaps it is time to try another brand, like the Onkyo TX-SR805? It seems to do all the things I want, and without all the video processing that I do not need.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

On the Wait List

The decision is over, I went with the Epson 6500UB. I am on the wait list, and the first batch of these projectors should ship out next week. Whether or not I make the cut for the first shipment is still unknown. At best I could have the projector by Dec. 19th. More realistically, it will be mid-January. A lot depends on how many Epson is actually able to ship to the distributors, and how many people are ahead of me on the list.

In the meantime, I can practice taking measurements with HCFR software and the Spider 2 sensor on the old AE-700. The more I practice, the easier it will be to calibrate the Epson when it arrives. If rumors are correct, a similar projector is almost spot on right out of the box

Monday, December 08, 2008

DMP-BD35 Player

Well I finally took a swig of the blu-ray kool-aid, and so far it is not too bad. This weekend Costco was having an $80 off sale on their two BD players (BD-30 and BD-35). I stopped by 3 stores trying to locate the BD-35, but all they had was the BD-30 (which I did not want). At the last store, I had one of the employees look up the sku for the BD-35 and he came back with some interesting news. They did have several of these players, but they would not put them out until all the BD-30's were sold. It seems there was a note that indicated that the BD-35 were meant to be a replacement for the BD-30's so they were not bringing them out. That sort of frosted me, so I thanked the guy for his help and left. When I got home, I grabbed the Costco Connection magazine that had the ad, and headed by to the second store (which had 72 units). There I spoke to another employee, who was very knowledgeable about the BD-35. He knew where they were, but also gave me the same story about having to sell all the BD-30's before they could bring them out. I showed him the ad, and pointed out that the sale specifically mentioned the BD-35. I also explained to him that they had different sku numbers, and even a different price. After a little more small talk, I was able to convience him.

I had to wait 30 minutes or so for the forklift to make it to the far end of the store where the prized BD-35's were sitting in wait. When they were finally lowered, I snatched one up and headed home. I had also picked up a copy of Iron Man in BD to test it out (since they were $5 off). A neighbor and his friend stopped over to give the player its first showing. There was some issue getting the PCM channel working through my receiver, but after about 5 false starts, we finally had full audio. Something still seems a bit odd about that experience, but I didn't have time to figure out what component was at fault.  

The BD-35 is quite nice, from the time I have had to play with it.  It loads fast, has a very nice menu layout, and was easy to update the firmware over the internet (took about 10 minutes to load V 1.5).  It is hooked up through my DVDO Edge, so it is hard to judge the picture quality without bypassing this processor.  Everything seems to look good hooked up through Edge.

This definitely pushes me one step closer to purchasing the 1080p projector. Just need the first user reports to start rolling in on the 6500UB. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ceiling Mounting the AE-700

In preparation for the purchase of either an AE-3000 or 6500UB, I have been moving around my 4+ yo AE-700. This past weekend, I purchased a universal mount from Monoprice and moved the AE-700 from ~20 ft (back of room shelf mount) to ~10.5 ft ceiling mount. My screen is 106" High Contrast Cinema Vision (HCCV), a gray screen rated at 1.1 gain, so I am just a tad too close to fill the entire screen. (Oddly it seems to fill horizontally but is a sliver too narrow vertically). This is my first attempt at ceiling mounting and alignment, and I would rather learn on the old than on a brand new one. The learning curve has been steep, but I am finally getting the hang of it and better understand how everything works.

What I have noticed is that the picture is definitely much brighter and has an apparent increase in sharpness. So far I am liking this change in mounting location, and I had someone ask me last night if I had purchased a new projector since it looked so much better. (I know I was stretching it to have the old projector that far from the screen).

Bottom line is that I can wait just a little bit longer now before the upgrade, and I don't think I would ever go back to shelf mount. Hopefully it will be an easy swap out when the new projector gets here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What will it be: Panny 3000 or Epson 6500

The purchase of a new 1080p projector has been on hold all summer. The two main contenders are the Panasonic AE-3000 and the soon to be released Epson 6500U. The reviews of the 3000 are slowly rolling in, and they are mixed. They have made improvements in brightness and contrast, but it appears they haven't solved the dust blob issue. I have never had a dust blob on my SE-700, so I don't know if I have a cleaner environment, or if it is just luck of the draw.

The 3000 seems to have more user features, like the waveform monitor, zoom memory for 2:35 zooming, and color correction features. Some of these I would use, other features -not so much. If the Epson is quieter, less prone to dust blobs, and has a better brightness and contrast, I may be swayed to go that route. Predictions are that the Epson may be a few hundred more, but no street prices are available yet.

There is also the "Dark Knight" factor. I would like to have the projector installed and calibrated by the second week of December for the 'Dark Knight" movie night. The Epson looks like it will be delayed until around that time frame or longer. That might just be the thing that gets me to confirm the Panny purchase.

Until then, I keep reading and watching as all the information trickles in.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Goodbye 805

Well as much as I loved the Onkyo HD-805, it was no longer needed in the rack. I recently purchased a DVDO Edge video processor, and I have been using that for upconverting SD disks from my Oppo. The REON chip in the 805 did an excellent job, but I was running out of space and trying to make an effort to get rid of redundency. I also was not using the 805 as much as I thought I would, with barely 10 hours of use since I got it.

So what is next? I have been keeping my eye on the Panasonic AE-3000, and so far it looks like the projector for me. I will wait until the first user reports come out, and then purchase it around Christmas. It will make a nice gift to myself.

I was also quite impressed with the PS3 that a couple of my friends brought over last weekend. We watched "The Fall" on Blu-Ray, and it was a very enjoyable movie. Afterwards, we tried some of the games. As much as I hate Sony, this does seem to be a very nice system. Is it worth $399? That is the ultimate question, especially with cheaper standalone BD players coming out. Now if they dropped the price like MS did on the XB360, I might be more tempted.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The MFW-15 Arrives

After many months of pacing the floor, the MFW arrived last Friday. I wasted no time in dragging it down the stairs and ripping it out of the shipping box. I plugged it in, connected it to my system, and listened for the dreaded 60Hz hum. It was there, so I started to track down the source. Without the coax cable connected, the sub was nearly silent so I knew the source of the hum was either coming from the wall power or from the input. A cheater plug was added, and that had a small impact on the hum. As soon as I bypassed the BFD 1124, the hum went away. I had found the source. I added an RS 250-054 line filter to the output of the BFD and once again the hum was eliminated. Problem solved. With the ground loop isolator in place, I ran the Yamaha equalization routine and balance the sub with the rest of the speakers. All was good.

Now came the true test, how would it sound? I popped in my demo discs and ran through the clips one by one. With each clip, the smile grew wider. This is what was missing from my setup, the low end was extremely impressive. The clip of Darla tapping on the fish tank from "Nemo" made the whole room rumble! "Flight of the Phoenix" never sounded more realistic. Musical clips were also impressive, the sub was tight and deep at the same time.

I am very pleased with this sub and look forward to the next Theater Night to show off the new toy!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Deadening the Front Wall

I had a very enjoyable phone call with Bryan from GiK last week. After reviewing my theater layout he made some suggestions.

First, he recommended that the side surrounds be at least 38% of the total room length from the rear wall. With my room being about 20 ft long, that would mean that my rear seating should be around 7 ft from the back wall. Currently I am only at 4 ft. This would take some major adjustment to the seating to make this happen, but I will consider it.

Second, he suggested that all speakers should be set to SMALL, except the mains, with a cross-over of 80 Hz. By doing this, I could use the two Pro-Subs in the rear for the redirected bass and LFE. That may help balance the room once the MFW arrives as I was planning on putting that up front.

Third, he suggested that the front wall should be deadened. We discussed the need for some reflective area directly behind the bi-pole towers (7001's). The reasoning is to absorb any of the center sound that may be bouncing off the front row. This reflection can cause a muddy sound, especially during dialog.

After giving it some consideration, I decided to go half-way and add 2 inch cotton baffles behind the screen. This will absorb much of the reflected sound, but still give the towers some area to bounce. I spend last evening mounting the panels and moving the screen out from the wall by 2 inches. Tonight I will recalibrate the room and see if this was helpful or if it deadened the room too much. The front surface of the screen should allow some reflectance, and the insulation behind the screen will absorb most of the mid-high that passes through. This seemed like a fair compromise to me. A diffuser could be added behind the towers, but that is something for another day. The Tri-Traps should ship the end of this week, and arrive the following week. I plan on placing them in the corners of the rear wall.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Tri-Traps are Coming!

GiK is having a limited time 10% off sale on their Tri-Traps, making them even more affordable. I picked up a pair to try in the rear corners of my room. I may have to build my own for the front corners because of the limited space I have between the wall and screen.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Theater Layout

I finished the theater layout, just in time to change it all around again. I will be moving all the A/V equipment from the built-in shelving at the rear of the room to the area outside the theater. I am waiting on my 40 ft HDMI cable to get here from Monoprice before I move everything. The projector will stay on the back shelf, but all the other gear will be moved out of the room. When I get around to buying a new projector (after CEDIA), I will mount it on the ceiling behind the rear seating. I am very anxious to see what comes out of Panasonic AE3000? or Epson 1080UB+?

Still waiting anxiously on the MFW-15 sub, and it should be 'coming soon'! At least I have a serial number for it now, just need a shipping invoice and I will be all set!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Scored a pair of BPX's !!

Myer-Emco is having another warehouse sale, so I thought I would at least give them a call to see if they had the BPX surrounds. They don't normally carry them, but when they have their warehouse sale, sometimes the have items that were ordered but never picked up. It was my lucky day, and they had a brand new pair for $249 ea. Now I can finally finish my 7.1 surround system!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Onkyo DV-805 Arrives!

Well after my experience with the Toshiba XA2 and the fan noise, I decided to give the Onkyo clone a try. I really couldn't pass up the price of $106 shipped for a REON-VX upconverter. I really liked the picture of the XA2, and I am expecting the 805 to be just as good. The guts of these players are the same, but the Onkyo has a different case design and remote. This dvd player should last me a while longer until the Blu-ray players and discs are finalized and become more reasonably priced. I do like HiDef discs, but I refuse to pay $35 for them, nor will I pay $500 for a half finished 1.1 profile player.

Until then, I will be happily upconverting SD discs that I can get at the corner grocery for 99 cents!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Swapping out the HK 635

I picked up a second hand Yamaha RX-V2600 and swapped out my HK 635. I couldn't pass up the sale price. My Hk635 doesn't have HDMI inputs, so in order to use the new sound formats (True HD, DTS-HD, etc. ) I was using the 5.1 analog outputs. The Yammy does have HDMI 1.1, so I can now send the multichannel PCM straight to the receiver when using the HD DVD player. This should hold me over for a few more months until I replace it with a receiver that has HDMI 1.3.

One advantage to the Yammy is that it is THX 2 certified and has the surround options for THX cinema. I have only had a chance to play a couple of movies, and so far I can not tell that much of a difference in the two receivers.

Another difference is that the Yammy has the ability to be configured as a bi-amp for the front speakers. My Def Tech towers could be wired for bi-amping if I decided to go that route. It is something to consider when I am bored one afternoon.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The New Toys for Calibration

I ordered an MFW-15 Sub from AV123 on May 7. Not sure when it will be delivered, as they are backorder because of their popularity right now. This will allow me to have a dedicated LFE channel instead of using the SuperCubes built into the DefTech 7001's. The DT's will then be free to handle the main fronts on their own.

In preparation for the arrival of the MFW-15 sub, I started reading and learning more about tools for sub calibration. After doing some research at a couple of the forums, I downloaded Room Equalization Wizard software and purchased an external CreativeLabs Live24 USB soundcard for my old laptop. I tinkered around with the software long enough to know I really liked it and decided to take the next step and purchase a Behringer SSP 1124P Equalizer (BFD) and M-Audio USB to Midi dongle last night.

I got everything set up last night and started taking measurements and downloading filters to the BFD through the Midi device. Amazing what you learn from looking at the graphs and playing with the filter combinations.

I think I have it figured out well enough that when the MFW-15 arrives I will be able to tune it in. Right now I am just playing around with the front tower subs to get a feel for how everything works. This is going to be a very valuable tool in positioning the sub and knocking down some of the room modes.

From what I have gathered so far, there are 3 room frequencies that will be problematic. The first occurs down around 28 Hz. This is a huge bump in the graph of almost 15 dB. The next two occurs further up and are more on the magnitude of 6-7 dB. Definitely need to get the corner bass traps in place to tame things down and smooth out the response.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Visiting other Theaters

I had the fortune of visiting my second home theater in the area. I was able to gather some good information on how I would like to continue to improve my theater. From the two visits, there are 3 things that I would like to work on this year, in no particular order

1) Build a stage in front of my screen
2) Enclose the speakers and build a shadow box for the screen
3) Add decorative panels or chair railing to the side wall

The first item shouldn't be too difficult, it will just take time and a few trips to Home Depot.
The second item is going to be more difficult as I need to figure out how much of an area I want to close off with the framing and black fabric. Because I use bipolar speakers, they need more room to 'breath'. Ideally I would like to somehow incorporate the speaker enclosures into a screen shadow box. It is going to take a lot of fabric, some very straight framing, and some trial and error to make it work. The third item will probably take the longest, as I haven't really finalized the look. If I can get two of the three done this year, I would be satisfied.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Germ-inator 2

Christian, a good friend of mine from Germany, sent me a very special gift today -- T2 in HD . He had watched 300 in HD with me the last time he was in the USA. As it is only available for import, I was very happy to get it. This is one of my all time favorite action flicks, and I can't wait to check it out tonight in the theater. This version is the Ultimate HD-Edition from Kinowelt. The SPoT will be rocking and rumbling tonight!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


I am sort of in limbo land these days trying to decide on whether to upgrade my projector or receiver. My AE700 has been a good projector, but so many advances have been made in the newer models that I would rather upgrade than buy a new lamp for it. It seems that the projectors that fall into my price range all have 'issues'.

The Panny 2000 seems to be suffering from dust blobs. The Epson 1080UB is having QC problems with convergence. I am concerned that the Sony VW40 will not be bright enough or have the throw distance that I need for shelf mounting at the rear of the room. So I wait....

I would also like to replace my HK635 with a receiver that handles HDMI inputs. This is something that can wait a while longer until I buy a BD player. It all seems to be an endless spiral of upgrades.

At least I still love my Def Tech speaker system! Of course I would like to replace the BPX surrounds with a new pair of BPVX speakers....

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Star Trek TOS on HD

I have some free evenings this week, and a backlog of Netflix movies, so I finally got around to watching some of them. Last night I watched one of the Star Trek discs. As a big fan of this series as a kid I was very pleased with what CBS has produced for HD DVD. Not only have they cleaned up the video and CGI, but the PiP was awesome! I turned on the Starfleet control option which automatically put additional information on the screen at appropriate spots. The commentary was very educational and fun. I really hope to pick up this box set if there is a fire sale on HD DVD discs.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Death of HD DVD

A very sad day indeed. Warner Bros decided they would no longer back HD DVD as of May -08, essentially killing the format. Since this is my favorite studio, it means that HD DVD is no longer of use to me. I will be returning my XA2 and use the A1 for playback of my HD DVD discs and my Oppo 971 for SD. I guess on the bright side of things I will save money by renting HD DVD and buying SD media.

In my opinion this is a setback to HDM, as the Blu ray spec's are not completed, and the MSRP on the media and players are well above what I am willing to pay. Perhaps in the coming year the the Blu crew will get their act together, put out a 2.0 player, drop the price of their media, and start putting bonus material on the discs. I will not be putting a gaming machine (PS3) in my rack!

Now let's bow our heads for a moment of silence......

New Fan Arrives

I received the new Adda fan and replaced the original Delta fan that was inside the XA2. The replacement was not as easy, nor was the reduction in noise as dramatic as I had hoped. I was unable to locate a 2-pin connector that was the right size, and the mounting holes were larger in diameter than the original fan. To resolve the connector issue, I cut the connector and a short length of wire from an old ATI video card and spliced it onto the fan leads. Fairly simple and straightforward with the right tools. I used #6 nuts and bolts to fasten the new fan to the chassis and placed a grommet between the back of the fan and the player chassis. I then powered up the player and noticed that the whine of the old fan was gone, but there was still too much air movement noise. I am going to try a few other methods of mounting the fan to see if I can further reduce the noise.

My initial thoughts are that the punched grid in the rear of the chassis is too small and that is leading to backpressure on the fan. Adding the grommet may also have increased the back pressure, so I am going to try flush mounting it. A better solution would be to replace the 50mm fan with a 60 mm fan, cut a larger exhaust port in the rear of the chassis and add a wire grid. I do not plan on doing this until the warranty has expired.

A couple pictures of the new fan and exhaust port:

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Resolving the Fan Noise

I removed the cover of the XA2 to find out what parts were making all the noise. I assumed it was the fan, but I also wanted to check the power supply to make sure it was not humming. When I removed the fan, the XA2 became almost completely quiet. The drive only makes a whisper, so if I can find a better fan, that should resolve the noise issue. I added some pictures of the insides of the XA2 with the fan removed.

The original fan is a Delta DSBO512LD.

The Toshiba part number description from the service manual is : FAN1 P000477470 FAN DC, DSB0512LD-6T10. The fan that I ordered as a replacement was an ADDA AD5012LX-D70. The spec's are very similar, so now it is a matter of waiting for the replacement to arrive, terminate it with a 2-pin connector, and check the noise levels. I measured the current fan at 55 dB using a RS digital sound meter positioned 1 inch above the center of the player with the microphone pointing towards the rear wall of the rack.

The spec's on the replacement fan:

Noise: 23.6 dB
Airflow: 10.8 CFM
Housing Material: Glass Reinforced TP
Power Rating: 0.96 W
Speed: 3600 RPM
Supply Voltage: 12 VDC
Termination Style: Wire
Product Category: DC Fans
Bearing Type: Hypro
Current Type: DC
Frame Dimensions (mm): 50 mm x 15 mm

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The XA2 Arrives!

After much anticipation, I have finally replaced the RCA HD-DVD player with the Toshiba XA2. The last few movie nights using the RCA player have been tarnished with disc lockups and skipping. This is unacceptable, so out it goes!
The XA2 is a well build player, but I am a bit annoyed by the louder than expected fan noise.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Transformer Party

Friday night's presentation of "Transformer" was a full house. The setup finally came together within the last hour. I had to make a quick dash to pick up my sub from Myer-Emco and get the room calibrated. I finally got around to adding a Buttkicker to the front row as well so there wouldn't be a fight over the rear row seating. I wasn't sure I would get it installed in time. I had a mounting plate drilled at work during the day, and got it installed right after work. From the sounds coming from the front row audience, it seemed to be working properly even though I didn't have a chance to test it before the show. It is not the proper way to install the kickers, because the couch is not on a platform. Luckily I have a table in front of the couch that people can put their feet on to isolate them from the floor when sitting upright. It works, but not as well as having a full platform. Of course if you lay on the couch it is not an issue, but does restrict the seating capacity to one or two.

The bass was tight and the dialog clear, the bass traps in back helped keep things from getting muddy or boomy even during the loudest of scenes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Countdown to the Transformer Party

Almost everything is completed. Now I am waiting on my LFE sub to get here from the repair center at Meyer-Emco. It has taken 3 months for this repair, but it should be here on Friday. That will be cutting it close as I am having a group of friends over for a Transformer party. The sub will go under the stairs to the left of the 7001's. I will only have an hour to calibrate everything again, and that won't leave much time to check everything out. I will just have to wing it and hope for the best.

I was lucky enough to find a Circuit City store that was running the BOGO special, so I picked up "Transformers" and "Flags of Our Fathers". I couldn't resist previewing, and I must say that the soundtrack on "Transformers" had my teeth rattling at several points in the movie. This will replace "War of the Worlds" as my demo disc for the buttkickers.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New Paint

Over the last few weeks I have been busy repainting the Theatre. I decided to go with a darker burgundy to better match the leather seating. This also lowered the light level as the paint is much darker than before. I selected an 'egg shell' finish this time rather than "flat". While flat did look less shiny, it was also too easy to scuff. Just touching it ruined the finish.

As part of the repainting, I took down the black velvet material on the ceiling near the screen and painted it black. The rest of the ceiling was painted 18% gray. I also removed the side curtains to open up the space under the stairs.

The last few things left to do are to repaint the trim, close in the back of the stair to prevent light leakage, and add some crown molding over the top of the screen. I am also added fiberglass panels to the back wall and covered it with black velvet material. I doubled up the panels so they were 4 inches thick and left a 6 inch gap behind them. I also draped burgundy material over the DVD collection to make it a little neater.

I also moved the HD DVD player inside the cabinets. I didn't like the fan noise it produced when playing CD's. It is not so noticeable when watching a movie, as the projector fan drowns it out. It is dead quiet now when listening to music. It has me considering building a hush box for the projector and moving all the equipment inside the cabinets. My only concern is how to remove the heat that would be generated by the receiver. I will save this idea for the dead of winter when I have more time.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Some new pictures of the Speakers

Some new Speakers, though they are hard to see in the dark theater. The Fronts are now Definitive Technology 7001's BiPolar towers, and the center is a Definitive Technology CLR-3000.

Some new pictures of the rack

The rack has now changed, but some of the same equipment remains. The projector is still currently the Panasonic E-700, the buttkicker amp is still pounding butts, a new Belkin PF-60 line conditioner was added. The Oppo was replaced with the RCA HDV-5000 HD-DVD player, and the HK-635 remains the workhorse of the rack.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A new toy

All that work I did re-arranging the center and sub...only to end up buying a CLR-3000 center the very next week! I love this center, it blends perfectly with my towers and has the clarity of strength that a good center channel needs. It did set me back a few beans, but it was worth it.

I moved the ProSub 200TL to the rear of the room and used it to supplement the low frequencies in the surround channels. I should be getting my matching sub back from the shop in a few weeks. Once that is installed, each surround will have its own low frequency sub, rather than sharing one.

The theater is alive now with teeth jarring bass all the way around the room. From the 10" SuperCubes in the two 7001 towers, to the matching10" sub in the center, to the 12" ProSub in the rear. If that doesn't shake your bones, the buttkicker will!

Now we wait for "300" to be released at the end of the month for the next big show. It should be quite a treat.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Twiddling and Tweeking

I did some rearranging, and moved the ProSub between the 7001's and connected the center speaker wire to the input and the C-25 to the output. I set the cross-over to 150Hz, the max that the ProSub would allow. I then connected the LFE pre-out to the pair of 7001's (along with the L/R speaker wires).

I re-ran my EzSet equalization on my HK 635, and as expected it now identified the center as LARGE rather than small (as it had with the C-25 previously alone). It also identified the 7001's as the sub channel. All the distances and cross-overs looked correct and when running the test tones I got a very good balance when measured with a RS sound meter.

I then checked out the speaker balances using the DVE HD disc and the 6-Channel output of the receiver. Everything was fine except for the sub. It was the same low 8-10dB that I have come to expect from using the analog outs on the HD player. I went back in and boosted the sub the required amount, and ran the all the tests again. I was very pleased with the results and was able to keep within 1 dB around the room.

The real test was playing the True-HD audio of the Matrix and finding out how it sounded. It was quite an improvement from my original un-powered center configuration. So after many, many hours of twiddling, I finally have a better understanding of what a sub enabled center channel can sound like. The towers seemed to handle the LFE without a problem, so I don't miss having the ProSub doing that function.

So I think I will stick with this configuration for a while and see if it grows on me. I can already appreciate the improvement in clarity of the dialog. Someday I do hope to have a matching set of speaker rather than what I have today, but I will just have to be patient and work with what I have.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More on Combo's

Well it has been a while since I added info to the blog. In that time, I have grown to like the Combo discs. They come in handy when playing them on SD players. As long as the price is right, and there are no glitches in playback, then I don't mind the purchase. I have had a few glitches with the Combo discs from Universal, but firmware updates have resolved them. Currently we are running firmware version 2.2 on the HD DVD player and it seems to be working well.

Most of my viewings are now through Netflix, although I will be purchasing "300" as soon as it comes out.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

As much as I hate Combo's...

I am really not a fan of the HD Combo discs. HD Combo discs contain the HD version of a movie on one side, and the SD version on another. While the idea sounds great, in practice the cost of these discs is not. If they priced the Combo's at the same price as the regular disc's, or a couple bucks more, I would not be complaining. Unfortunately most Combo's are priced at $35, and the regular HD's are $25 or less.

Anyhow, I did finally break down a buy a couple of them, although it goes against my better judgment. I picked up "The Departed", "Jet Li: Fearless", and "Lucky # Slevin". The first two were Combo's, the last a regular HD. The only reason I did this was because there was a sale for buy 3 get $20 off. While it wasn't much of a deal, it was enough to entice me to pick them up.

Friday, December 15, 2006

HD DVD Titles

This is a listing of our currently owned HD DVD's:
Batman Begins
Chronicles of Riddick
Mission Impossible I II & III
Pitch Black
Training Day
V for Vendetta

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Updated the HD-DVD player

I updated the RCA HDV5000 player a couple weeks ago to the latest software version. This eliminanted some skipping issues I was having on scratched disc, AND added support for Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround. This was an extremely nice free feature, and it has added an even greater depth to the soundfield. Troy HD is coming out next week with the TrueHD soundtrack, and I look forward to checking it.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Audio Overhaul and HD-DVD

Well it has been a long time since we posted but there is big news at the SPOT. Last week we added an RCA HDV5000 HD-DVD player. The picture is fantastic! It also upconverts so well that I don't use the Oppo anymore. There are only two problems. First, it now means that I will be spending money on HD-DVD's because the SD versions just don't cut it anymore. We also joined NetFlix so that we could review the HD versions before we buy them.

Secondly, now that the video is so awesome it was time to upgrade the audio. The Infinity SM120's had served me well for 10 years, but it was time to upgrade. As luck would have it, Definitive Tech was having a warehouse sale this week. I was able to pick up a pair of BP70001SC front speakers and BPX surrounds for half the MSRP. It was too good to pass up and worth every penny. The fronts are in place and the room has been equalized, but the surrounds have not been mounted yet. I will do that next week. I still need to pick up a new center, probably the CLR2500, but that will have to wait for another day.

Last night we watched Chronicles of Riddick and Pitch Black in HD. I enjoy both of these films very much, with PB being my favorite of the two. Tonight will be our first showing with the new equipment to a couple of friends from Baltimore.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A customized Intro

I finally broke down and purchased a customized intro clip for the theater. I am quite impressed with it. I was also able to hack my Oppo firmware and change the startup screen with a screen capture from the CeRT intro disc.

A picture of the new startup screen is shown below.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Time to play Catch-Up

It has been a long time since we updated this blog, but here is a quick rundown on what we have been up to. We are in the process of adding bass traps and equalizing the G-Spot. Luokui is also busy working on his recording studio. We have watched a few movies during the construction phase.

King Kong: Really enjoyed this movie. The picture was crisp and the sound was awesome. It was about an hour too long though, and should have had some of the scenes deleted. The face of Kong was very well done, but the dinosaur scenes should have stayed in Jurassic Park IV.

Crash: We had a group of about 5 friends over to watch this "Oscar Winner". We all agreed, too contrived, and gave it a thumbs down. What were they thinking when they picked this movie? It would be a waste as a rental, and even more so as a buy. In short, it crashed.

We have watched a few others, but the titles escape me. I guess they weren't much to write about!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

New Harman Kardon Remote

After many long weeks of waiting, my Harman Kardon TC-30 arrived. This remote (OEM from Logitech) has the electronics of the Harmony 880 in the shell of the 520. All my devices are now controlled from one remote, rather than six! One chair was usually reserved to hold all the remotes, now that is no longer an issue. So far everything works great, and I am happy with the purchase.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Last night's feature was Serenity. We had two couples over for dinner. The weather was so warm, we decided to have grilled pork loin and fettucini with shrimp cream sauce. Even after this hearty meal, we managed to polish off 2 kettles of popcorn. After the movie, we broke out the propane tank and had creme brulee and creme puffs for dessert.

The movie kept everyone's attention. A fight broke out over who would get to borrow our Firefly series, so we knew they liked the movie. We won't mention the argument over whether or not Jayne was a Baldwin boy or not. Even though Adam is a Baldwin, he is not related to Alec, Stephen, Daniel, William, or Joseph.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Last night we presented "Underworld" to 3 friends of our coven. The movie was a Superbit version, and although dark it was extremely crisp and clear. The soundtrack is DTS and gives the amp a decent workout with sporadic explosions and excessive gunfire. The movie was enjoyed by both Vampyre and Lycan alike, though I still prefer Blade 3 and Van Helsing. Plenty of action to sink your teeth into and keep the sleep deprived zombies awake.

This was our first showing after completing some work on the underside of the platform. We had re-seated the buttkickers and added more insulation between the joists. I also readjusted the input levels to the kicker amp through the dvd sub out. I did not hear the annoying "rattle"in the platform that we have been experiencing, but I did not sit on the platform seating.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Not so "Fantastic Four"

Last night we had a mixed group of friends over for authentic homemade pizza and movie. The pizza's were delicious, especially the artichoke, anchovies, mushroom and pepperoni ones (others may have differing opinions).

The movie did have some decent sound effects, but the story didn't seem to go anywhere. Even for a short movie, it took forever for some resemblance of a storyline to develop. By then it was too late, and the movie was over. Oh well, we still had fun channel surfing after the movie ended.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Battlestar Galatica 1 & 2.0

We finished the last of the BG season 2.0 discs a few nights ago, in preparation for the continuation of Season 2 on Comcast. We had watched the first two seasons on dvd. Much to our disappointment, watching this series on the Sci-fi channel is hard on the eyes. We were spoiled by the no-commercial 16:9 DD presentation on dvd. The SD, 4:3 presentation on Comcast is like watching the series through a small dirty window. As anxious as we are to continue watching the series, we may decide to wait for the discs again. Sad, but why can't they broadcast these shows in HD!

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Creature comforts rocks

Watched creature comforts again last night, while it wasn't on the big screen, it was funny as ever, and brought cheer into everyone's life.

"do you like lions with your steaks?"

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Island

We watched "The Island" over the weekend. It reminded me so much of Logan's Run, to the point that it was almost predictable. There were a few good action scenes, but for the most part I would have to give this a thumbs down.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Krieg der Welten

Tonight we watched "Krieg der Welten" with my friend Christian. He is the distributor for our products in Germany. We started the evening with a selection of beers; bud select, Old Dominion Winter Ale, Pete's Wicked Red Ale, and Amstel Light. After some goat cheese, apples, brie, and crackers, we sat down to some mutton stew and dill noodles that my roommate prepared. Our stomachs full, we headed down to the theater to relax in the soft leather recliners. This was his first experience with ButtKickers, and I think from his comments he liked them very much. We ended the night with discussion of motorcycles. In the end, a good time was had by all.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The DVD Movie List

Recently Updated after Santa's arrival

10 Minute Solution
28 Days Later
A Knight's Tale – Superbit
Aeon Flux, The Complete Animated Collection
Air Force One – Superbit
Aladdin – Special Edition
Avia, Guide to Home Theater
Bad Boys – Superbit
Bad Boys II – Superbit
Batman Begins
Battlestar Galatica- Seasons 1 & 2
Big Fish
Black Hawk Down – Superbit
Bourne Identity, The
Bourne Supremacy, The
Brokeback Mountain
Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The
Cast Away
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Chicken Little
Chicken Run
Chronicles of Riddick, The
Cinderella Man
Cliffhanger – Superbit
Conan – The Complete Quest
Constant Gardner, The
Creature Comforts
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Das Boot – Superbit
Dawn of the Dead – The Unrated Director's Cut
Day After Tomorrow, The
Dead Man
Demo Disc #2
Desperado – Superbit
Deuce Bigalow
Donnie Darko – The Director's Cut
Dragon Inn
El Mariachi
Fifth Element, The – Ultimate Edition
Fight Club
Finding Nemo
Firefly – The Complete Series
Forrest Gump – Special Collector's Edition
Frank Herbert's Dune – Special Edition DVD; Director's Cut
Gattaca – Superbit
Gone with the Wind - Collector's Edition
Greatest Raid, The
Guns of Navarone, The -Superbit
Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
Heavy Metal – Superbit
History of Violence
Hook – Superbit
Hotel Rwanda
House of Flying Daggers
HQZ Benchmark DVD – Version 1.4 NTSC
Incredibles, The
Independence Day
Indiana Jones – The Complete DVD Movie Collection
Iron Monkey
Jurassic Park – Collector's Edition
Kill Bill Vol. 1
Kill Bill Vol. 2
King Arthur
Kingdom of Heaven
Kitchen Stories
Kung Fu Hustle
Lawrence of Arabia – Superbit
Life Aquatic, The
Little Big Man
Living Sea, The
Lord of the Rings, The – The Fellowship of the Ring; Theatrical Release
Lord of the Rings, The – The Return of the King; Theatrical Release
Lord of the Rings, The – Two Towers; Extended Version
Lord of War
Lost in Space
Mad Max - Australian Edition
Mask of Zorro, The – Superbit
Master and Commander – The Far Side of the World
Matchstick Men
Men in Black – Superbit
Men in Black II – Superbit
Million Dollar Baby
Missing, The – Superbit
Motorcycle Diaries, The
Moulin Rouge
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Nutty Professor II – TheK lumps; Collector's Edition
Once Upon a Time in Mexico – Superbit
Over the Hedge
Patriot, The – Superbit
Pirates of the Caribbean
Pitch Black
Polar Express
Producers, The
R.E.M. This Film is On
Rain Man
Requiem For a Dream
Repo Man
Reservoir Dogs- Ten Years Special Edition
Resident Evil – Superbit
Roughnecks- Starship Troopers Chronicles-The complete campaign
Royal Tenenbaums, The
Saving Private Ryan
Seventh Seal, The – The Criterion Collection
Shakespeare in Love
Shrek 2
Sin City
Sling Blade
Snatch – Superbit
Spiderman – Superbit
Spiderman 2 – Superbit
Stargate – Ultimate Edition; Extended Cut
Starship Troopers 2, Hero of the Federation
Stealth Exclusive Sneak Preview, The
Suspect Zero
Team America, World Police
Terminator 2, Judgment Day
Top Gun
Transporter, The – Special Delivery Edition
Transporter 2
U-571 – Collector's Edition
Underworld – Superbit
Usual Suspects, The
Van Helsing
Vertical Limit – Superbit
Wallace and Gromit - Shorts
Wallace and Gromit- The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
War of the Worlds
XXX – Superbit

WotW with our friends in Middleburg/Arlington

WotW is now my favorite movie to show off the sound system (Chronicles of Riddick previously). I was happy to have eliminated some 'rattling' that plagued the first showing of this movie last week, and none was noticed this time around. I am not sure what was causing it, but happy that whatever we did fixed the issue, and the sound was tight and crisp. This movie definitely tests all components in the audio stream. Any misadjustments, and it sticks out like a sore thumb. Since the first showing, I had upgraded the 635 firmware and recalibrated the EQ. We had also added more sound insulation to the platform.

While others may complain of the lack of sharpness in the picture, I like the effect it gives. It makes the picture more 'eerie'. Chinese Take-out from P.F. Changs was provided by our company and it was extremely tasty. (Wonton soup, lettuce wraps, fried dumplings and calamari for appetizers. Peking Duck, Mongolian Beef, Sweet &Sour chicken, Spicy chicken, and BBQ ribs for the main courses). The lemon cookies were a nice finishing touch. This was the first time that we didn't fire up the popcorn machine, so you know the food was plentiful.

This was the first time that our guest had watched a movie at the recently completed G-SPoT, and from the enthusiasm and request for the next showing, I would venture to guess that they thoroughly enjoyed it.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Tonight's movie

So we watched "War of the Worlds" tonight. A little soft in the picture, but spot on sound. Wonderfully suspensful movie, even the second time around. Recommend it fully. I never can figure out why the guy can still use the video camera in the first part of the movie after the lightening strikes though. What kind of camera does he have?

And the company was good. Made lemon refrigerator cookies to finish off the Chinese food we ate. The food was a little Americanized, but pretty good. That's all I have say about tonight, maybe BakPakVa has something more to add.

Equipment Pics

Gold Medal Retro-4 Popcorn Machine (Above)

Panasonic AE-700 Projector
AccurianHST 6000 HDTuner
ButtKicker Amp
Oppo H971 DVD player
Harmon Kardon AVR635