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Spec a "dream" home theatre (within a budget)

tvrgeek

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My dream HT would have to start with the construction of a room. Electronics barely matter in comparison.
The trick is designing a room that can be a living room or rec room when not in use as a theater. I use my guest room now and that would be a good option if it was large enough.

Then when it came to the electronics, a large Sony OLD, screen. Probably an Anthem processor, many amp choices. Panasonic Ultra BD, I still think my own subs work fine but they are easy.

I would probably pick mid-range Matrin Logans for the fronts. All the surround stuff probably nothing more than Polk in-wall/ceiling. As I mentioned before, I am not positive I would run a center. I would have to listen to see. I probably do not try for some of the insane volumes some try for and that is likely the difference. I don't need a voice to be louder than, well a voice.

When my HT was my living room and before the super large screens, my TV was on cables that dropped behind the furniture, raising to cover a window. I used a garage door opener in the attic on a parallel cable arrangement that was behind the curtains. Only about 6 inches of cable was visible above the curtain valence on one side. So, living room not dominated by HT. Only the R+L visible and very nice for music. We listen to music and watch movies, with no need to brag about some fancy HT room.

I think if the HT was a useful room, one might want provision for "just a TV" to catch the news on. Maybe like a 32 inch using the new in-screen speakers.
 

rdenney

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As it happens, I was helping a friend with a similar(ish) budget, but with a different approach in mind. So, I'm not offering this as a better alternative, but rather just for other readers of this thread who want something more conventional.

L-R speakers: Revel Concerta F36, $2200
C speaker: Revel C25, $825
S speakers (4, for a 7.2 setup): Revel S16, $2000
Subs: SVS SB2000 (two of them), $1800
AVR: Denon AVR-X6700H, $3100
Amplifier (LCR plus spare): Buckeye NC502MP 4-channel, $1049
Amplifier (surround, if desired): Buckeye NC252MP 4-channel, $849

That adds up to $11,823. I would then add the DAC and streamer for music if that's the preferred source, or other source components. But the DAC and streamer rewards one little for spending more, so there's no reason not to buy at the endpoint.

Yes, it's a waste to by an AVR with a big amp in it, and then amplify separately, but the integration within the AVR may reduce system complexity enough to be worth it. My friend needs a remote--he has Parkinson's and doesn't want to be tethered to a computer to operate the system.

I think you'd have to spend a lot more money to do noticeably better, if indeed you could actually detect the improvement in a controlled test.

Obviously, the Genelec powered speakers are superbly regarded based on measured and experienced performance. But the one thing I don't like about the OP's long-term plan is the notion of replacing expensive stuff. My strategy has always been to buy at the end point, or get something cheap and cheerful for that spot in the system until you can. Working my way up the Genelec line seems an expensive way to go, long-term. I agree with starting with a 2.1 system, but do so with the L-R speakers you intend to use long-term. Don't think of adding half of a pair later--models and specifications change at inopportune moments. Make sure each step moves you forward. I don't know enough about the Genelec lines to know if you are doing that. But I think it's inexpensive enough these days to buy at the endpoint for DACs and streamers, as I mentioned earlier, and then focus on speakers and room for later upgrades.

Rick "bogarding on the thread to do a little out-loud thinking of his own" Denney
 

tvrgeek

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rd,
I might suggest a tweak to your list as an option one of the Outlaw, Monoprice, etc 3 channel amps. Surrounds take nothing and the Denon would do just fine.
IMHO, "big amp" AVRs aren't anyway, so get the amp with the quality and features you want, amp the center 3 and use whatever is left in the AVR.
I picked Anthem because I like ARC better than Audessy.

Remotes are the BIG problem. We could do pretty well with a Harmony, but screwed now. I have my Sony doing pretty well, but then it started being flakey to the STB. No idea why. SofaBaton is close. I was told, later in the year URC will come out with a newer user programed remote.
I did a lot of research just to finds out the STB is IR only so not state informed and for $3000 you basically get a way to automatically open your pool cover and change the "mood lighting" but can't turn your cable on and off.
 

rdenney

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I might suggest a tweak to your list as an option one of the Outlaw, Monoprice, etc 3 channel amps. Surrounds take nothing and the Denon would do just fine.
IMHO, "big amp" AVRs aren't anyway, so get the amp with the quality and features you want, amp the center 3 and use whatever is left in the AVR.
I picked Anthem because I like ARC better than Audessy.

Remotes are the BIG problem. We could do pretty well with a Harmony, but screwed now. I have my Sony doing pretty well, but then it started being flakey to the STB. No idea why. SofaBaton is close. I was told, later in the year URC will come out with a newer user programed remote.
I did a lot of research just to finds out the STB is IR only so not state informed and for $3000 you basically get a way to automatically open your pool cover and change the "mood lighting" but can't turn your cable on and off.
I use a (very) old Harmony remote on my TV/HT system that my wife and I use. It has to be simple enough for my wife. That system includes a pile o'stuff--we don't have sufficient Internet service in our exurban area to stream audio reliably, let alone video. Yamaha AVR (and I use its internal amps which are fine for that system), old cheapish Boston Acoustics 10" sub, pair of Linn Index Plus for L-R, no center, pair of Polk Rti 15's (?) for surrounds, totaling 4.1. LG VCR/DVD recorder; Samsung Bluray player; Samsung over-the-air digital TV tuner; DirecTV receiver; Apple TV box (only use it for throwing ipad stuff onto the big TV; ancient Maxent plasma display. Only the AVR was made after dinosaurs roamed the earth. The Harmony remote operates all of these, with programmed "activities"--TV over satellite, TV over antenna, VCR/DVD, Bluray, AppleTV. The Redhead can turn off everything and press another activity button. Everything important stays on the Harmony remote. I live in dread when that device finally fails. Of course, it's limited to IR controls, but it can be programmed one signal at a time for unrecognized devices, if necessary. I had used one of the cheapie ATSC tuners for the antenna feed, but it failed to turn on after a power glitch, and I bought the old Samsung tuner off ebay. Took me ten minutes to attach the Harmony remote to my laptop and reprogram that activity.

If she can't make the system work even when I'm traveling, it goes ill with me. :facepalm:

As to using an Outlaw versus a Buckeye, well, okay. Lateral at best, but I really think the Buckeye is even cleaner. And the Anthem versus Denon is pretty even in a lot of ways--I do with the preferred feature set. I have no opinion of Audessy versus ARC--I used the Yamaha routine which most here hate and it was acceptable for me for that purpose. (My Yamaha AVR was 10% the price of the Denon or Anthem, bought used on ebay.)

Rick "thinking WAF means a lot more than just what looks good" Denney
 

FrantzM

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As it happens, I was helping a friend with a similar(ish) budget, but with a different approach in mind. So, I'm not offering this as a better alternative, but rather just for other readers of this thread who want something more conventional.

L-R speakers: Revel Concerta F36, $2200
C speaker: Revel C25, $825
S speakers (4, for a 7.2 setup): Revel S16, $2000
Subs: SVS SB2000 (two of them), $1800
AVR: Denon AVR-X6700H, $3100
Amplifier (LCR plus spare): Buckeye NC502MP 4-channel, $1049
Amplifier (surround, if desired): Buckeye NC252MP 4-channel, $849

That adds up to $11,823. I would then add the DAC and streamer for music if that's the preferred source, or other source components. But the DAC and streamer rewards one little for spending more, so there's no reason not to buy at the endpoint.

Yes, it's a waste to by an AVR with a big amp in it, and then amplify separately, but the integration within the AVR may reduce system complexity enough to be worth it. My friend needs a remote--he has Parkinson's and doesn't want to be tethered to a computer to operate the system.

I think you'd have to spend a lot more money to do noticeably better, if indeed you could actually detect the improvement in a controlled test.

Obviously, the Genelec powered speakers are superbly regarded based on measured and experienced performance. But the one thing I don't like about the OP's long-term plan is the notion of replacing expensive stuff. My strategy has always been to buy at the end point, or get something cheap and cheerful for that spot in the system until you can. Working my way up the Genelec line seems an expensive way to go, long-term. I agree with starting with a 2.1 system, but do so with the L-R speakers you intend to use long-term. Don't think of adding half of a pair later--models and specifications change at inopportune moments. Make sure each step moves you forward. I don't know enough about the Genelec lines to know if you are doing that. But I think it's inexpensive enough these days to buy at the endpoint for DACs and streamers, as I mentioned earlier, and then focus on speakers and room for later upgrades.

Rick "bogarding on the thread to do a little out-loud thinking of his own" Denney
Rick "You have me thinking hard" Denney

This is a wonderful system that would please many. I would have gladly remove the amps and swing for the X-3700H and be a happy camper in a room as small as mine.. ( 5 x 3.3 x 2.8 meters) ... Total, then, would be around $7500.oo
It does strike me that often the audiophile gets in a paralysis trying to get the best system HevaH :) and spending years finding it... when a bit of thinking and an open mind can provide so much in the here and now. Great system!
 
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voodooless

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Who needs a remote when you have a smartphone? Haven’t used one in years.
 

rdenney

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Rick "You have me thinking hard" Denney

This is a wonderful system that would pleased many. I would have gladly remove the amps and swing for the X-3700H and be a happy camper in a room as small as mine.. ( 5 x 3.3 x 2.8 meters) ... Total, then, would be around $7500.oo
It does strike me that often the audiophile gets in a paralysis trying to get the best system HevaH :) and spending years finding it... when a bit of thinking and an open mind can provide so much in the here and now. Great system!
Yes, the 3700 was the model my friend was actually looking at. He is quite experienced listening to live orchestral music and will be a bit more picky about amps, so I'd add, in his case, external amplification for the fronts at least. He wants to be able to play stereo music loudly--we demoed a system that used B&W 80somethingDsomething (expensive stand speakers that the sales guy was gushing about) driven by a very large and impressive McIntosh amp. We played Endless Enigma from my ripped MFSL "audiophile" CD with the volume at very high levels--well over 100 dB SPL--and my friend loved it. (Having just tested my Buckeye NC502MP into Revel F12's, I think I could do better than those B&W's, but that's another discussion...)

His current system is a Naim Audio amp and preamp, plus a Rega CD player and a Linn Axis turntable and Linn speakers, for a system that is clean and tight but not really huge like he wants.

Rick "no path forward for that underpowered Naim amp" Denney
 
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LukeD

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Obviously, the Genelec powered speakers are superbly regarded based on measured and experienced performance. But the one thing I don't like about the OP's long-term plan is the notion of replacing expensive stuff. My strategy has always been to buy at the end point, or get something cheap and cheerful for that spot in the system until you can. Working my way up the Genelec line seems an expensive way to go, long-term. I agree with starting with a 2.1 system, but do so with the L-R speakers you intend to use long-term. Don't think of adding half of a pair later--models and specifications change at inopportune moments. Make sure each step moves you forward. I don't know enough about the Genelec lines to know if you are doing that. But I think it's inexpensive enough these days to buy at the endpoint for DACs and streamers, as I mentioned earlier, and then focus on speakers and room for later upgrades.

Fair comment and I see you point. Perhaps it wasn't clear in my overly long OP :) that, with the exception of my current speakers, every speaker that follows is ultimately used in the final system. What's initially the L/R (8330's) become the surrounds when I step up to 8331's. I had reasoned that if I decide the 8330's are enough, then I haven't "over-spent"...

As for models/specs changing, my impression is that Genelec don't change their specifications very often and when they do, they differentiate the model with another letter ie. 8040B vs 8040A. For eg. I thought that an 8040B purchase new now is built to the same specs as an 8040B 5-years ago. But perhaps I'm wrong?
 
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LukeD

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It's electric with a remote control, so you can lower/raise it sitting on the couch. If you want you can for instance hang a painting behind it that will be visible during the day when the screen is not in use. ;)
Nice! Seems like a great set up. Glad to know that what I hoped existed actually does haha
 
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LukeD

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Oh boy, there is a lot to unpack here. Let's see:
Haha, yeah, you should see my spreadsheets and "wiring" diagrams...
- Forget running everything from the Pi. It's missing most of the multichannel decoding goodness an AVR has and will only lead to tears. Just get a decent AVR and use that as your centrepiece. An AVP is another possibility, but they would blow your yearly allowance ;)
Perhaps a dump question - what's the difference between an AVR and AVP? Does the receiver only have a pre-amp while the processor also includes an integrated power-amp? As far as I know OSMC on the Pi can currently decode all formats except the object based ones. If the speakers are all time-aligned and corrected (using GLM) does an AVR offer that much extra goodness aside from Atmos/DTS:X decoding? (Which, given, is my ultimate goal. I'm trying to understand what you mean exactly by "multichannel decoding goodness")
- What would be the point of the Mutec MC-3+? If you want AES on your pi, just get a cheap HAT. The Mutec is a total waste of money
Fair comment. Can't remember why I fixated on the Mutec and not the AES HAT. Might have been that I read someone raving about it and got a bit audio-fooled haha. Given I've already got a Digione HAT, shouldn't be too hard to convert it to AES.
- Get more subs. One sub is sub-optimal (see what I did there ;) )
Why is one sub-optimal?
- As for room correction, you can use GLM, but could also rely on the AVR/AVP. For multichannel the second option is probably better because it fully integrates with all the fancy processing options available.
What other processing do you mean?
- If you don't use GLM, possibly the analogue Genelecs might be good enough for you?
Yep, I think this is the key decision point. Delivering Atmos digitally to Genelecs isn't currently possible except for high end AVR's. If I'm not going to deliver content digitally, why pay for the extra for the GLM capable digital-input Genelecs? I don't have a good answer... haha
- Genelec 8331 is a small speaker made for near-field listening. It will not have a lot of maximum output down low. So see how loud you normally listen and if that would suit you?
Fair comment. I do need to measure what SPL I listen at with my current system. As for near-field/far-field, I'm UK based and as sad as it is to say, its unlikely I'll ever be able to afford a big house (at least big/spacious by American/Australian standards...) Thus, small room, near-field likely won't be much of an issue. This is also a reason why I wanted to start with 8330's as L/R, if they prove too small, I can step up to 8341/51's for L/C/R instead of 8331's as planned, obviously for more ££££.
- Allocate some budget for room treatment as well. Next to room correction, that will have the biggest impact on the sound.
Definitely. Separate budget though. I can't reasonably think about room treatment until I have a proper room to kit out. In the meantime, I can dream about the kit ;)
I would start the investment with an AVR/AVP with the current Genelecs. Next, add a sub (doesn't need to be Genelec, 2k for a 10" sub is crazy), then look at a centre and surrounds, and finally do something with the height channels. Or move the 8040's to the back and get better fronts.

Thanks for your useful comments.
 

AudioSQ

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I don't necessarily agree. I had a 65" LG OLED before and bought an ultra short throw 4K laser projector with an electric ALR screen as an experiment. 3-4 months later i realized that i hadn't turned on the TV even once since i got the projector, so i then decided to sell the OLED.

Daylight performance of UST/ALR is just fine for casual viewing, and at night it obviously is even better.

Total cost for 4k projector + electric screen was just around $3.5k, which is probably the same or less than what a large OLED costs.
Different strokes for different folks. I painted my wall with a fancy paint combo to help with ambient light and brightness. I shoot about a 130" image with the projector. My tv is just a cheap 4k 55" tv.

I use the projector maybe 3 hours a month. Part of that is because I have to move the TV to use the projector, but really I just prefer the brighter image, like open window, and don't like sitting in the dark. Using the projector makes things feel a little more special, like going to the movies though.
 

eric-c

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As mentioned earlier - start with the room. Ensure that it is properly sound proofed from outside sounds which is no easy task. This makes a tremendous difference in the listening experience having done it. You will need dedicated space for this. If you want to get more picky, you can build the room to dimensions to determine which room nodes you "want" based on seating positions. Lastly, consider an acoustically transparent screen and use three identical speakers behind the screen and not these "centre" speakers that have inherent design limitations.
 

rdenney

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Who needs a remote when you have a smartphone? Haven’t used one in years.
If you have Parkinson's (or even just essential tremor, as sometimes afflicts me), tactile physical buttons become important.

Rick "would like to watch TV even when the Internet is down--that's the reason for the satellite dish and the big-ass antenna" Denney
 

litemotiv

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What screen are you using?

I'm using a Vividstorm floor rising screen. At the time (about 1.5 - 2 years ago) there were only one or two brands offering electric ALR screens, but i suspect there may be more options to choose from now. The Vividstorm works very well though!
 

FrantzM

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Hi


The Digital to Analog and vice versa conversions are solved problems in Audio. Let's call these devices, " virtually transparent" and those components (ADC and DAC) cost pennies... As an example, the Apple dongle for about $10, is virtually indistinguable from DAC costing ten times more, including ASR favorites ... it pains me to say it but... The DSP process in a good AVR is virtually transparent. "Virtually " as in : most people , perhaps all, people are incapable of hearing their deficiencies, if any. An AVR is an Audio Video Receiver, it has a preamp, a processor and several amplifiers.. many have a FM Tuner (!).
The thing is that, past a certain position in a company lineup, some AVR have also line outputs for each channel they decode; it is however analog in all AVR, repeating without fear: ALL. For exemple in Denon, the 3700 has line output for each channel it decodes, I don't believe the 2700 below it or the 1700 have that. The 3700 also have 7 channel of amplifications. You can use a mixture of line level output and amplifiers. I use 2 amplifiers in my Denon AVR-X3400 (earlier model) for Atmos and the 5 others, line level output to my active JBL monitors. There are also two line (preamp) levelouput for 2 subwoofer; I use one of these two.
An AVP is almost the same but they remove the amplifiers and they cost more for, in my opinion little gain if none, in performance. Thus the audiophile is obligated to use external amplifiers. Some of these AVP have a few options not available in the AVR , within the same brand . Some companies produce AVP with a lot of options and... a lot of issues.. I believe Monoprice has an AVP, the HT-1 which belong in the category. It has a lot of options and ....a lot of issues.. Those AVP usually cost above $3000. All those AVP also called Pre/Pro 9for Preamplifier/Processorr) have line oupus... These are analog but in some instances these are balanced or pseudo-balanced...
If you want an AVP that output digital, then you must be ready to pay above $12,000. The Trinnov, Storm and Datasat, (do they still exist?) are in this price realm and they seem to perform extraordinarily well. The Trinnov is one my dream component but ... $16 K is not something I am , now willing to spend for one component.

These past years, i have become very AVR-centric. An AVR, a Denon AVR, say from the 3700 and up, is a formidable piece of audio engineering. It can anchors admirably an audio a video system with aplomb and superb results.

A few more things:
There are things to which we are less sensitive than we woudl like to admit. A-to-D and D-to_A conversions issues are some of those issues. The DAC in a good AVR, say a Denon X-3700 are virtually transparent. IOW it will sound the same to most people as the better desk DACs reviewed by ASR. I will be honest and tell you that I will easily buy the better Topping A-90 for my headphones system but ... not because it sounds better. Simply because it is better from a technical and measurements viewpoint.. Can't hear the differences. Vanity? Hell yeah!

Another thing to consider is Audyssey. It is a Digital Room Correction system. Maddening and half-baked but if care and time to understand its quirks and limitations are taken, then it provides the goods .. lot of these. It’s Dynamic EQ is IMO, a must-have if you don’t listen loud , most of the time.
As for Genelec, they’re good but one shouldn’t limit oneself to the coaxial models. They have other models that are very good and less expensive. To make the matter more complicated, it is not just Genelec, there are JBL, Neumann, Revel and other that deserve serious consideration. I, personally think JBL?Harman to present, if you search a breadth of products that is unmatched.

You seem to be computer literate, learning how to use REW shouldn’t be an issue for you. a measurement mike + REW are powerful tools for system setup. I would call them necessary.

And please, add two subs to the system, to your budget. Subs should be mandatory :): No system is complete without, at least a pair of subwoofers, not one. A pair, at least.

So get a Denon AVR. The 3700 has been tested here and found to be one of the best. It does every single audio format known to man. Reliably. Get the Genelec of your choice, I would suggest models with at least a 6.5 inches woofer, a pair of Rythmik or SVS or HSU subwoofers, a miniDSP 2x4 HD, a miniDSP Umik1. Download the free and powerful REW. Work on this system for a few months, asking questions here and be happy for a long time.

I have much to say about OLED versus Front projector. I’ll be short though: The better OLED )say LG G and C) are superior to any front projector. It is not subtle. I have both. They, OLED, are getting bigger too 77, 85 and even a 97 inches have been announced. If you seat about 3 meter from the screen a 83 inches may be all you need.

Peace
 
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voodooless

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Perhaps a dump question - what's the difference between an AVR and AVP? Does the receiver only have a pre-amp while the processor also includes an integrated power-amp?
Yup, that's it. Strange enough, leaving the amps out will add a price premium ;) With the latest AVR's having the ability to switch off amp channels, performance is actually very comparable on line level to the AVP's.
As far as I know OSMC on the Pi can currently decode all formats except the object based ones. If the speakers are all time-aligned and corrected (using GLM) does an AVR offer that much extra goodness aside from Atmos/DTS:X decoding? (Which, given, is my ultimate goal. I'm trying to understand what you mean exactly by "multichannel decoding goodness")
To me, it all seems like a kind of hacky solution. You'll need to jump through all kinds of hoops to get Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus to work on OSMC, with no guarantee that it will keep working in the long run. Also, you're totally bound to the pi as a source. You cannot use anything else. Next, you'll need to decide if Atmos is important to you. Generally speaking, it will give a much better surround experience and most of the new streaming stuff supports it. Then you'll also need a multichannel interface with Linux support to get the audio out. There are a few good options for that. An AVR/AVP is just simpler to use. It handles all the processing and tuning at one place and you can connect whatever you like.
Given I've already got a Digione HAT, shouldn't be too hard to convert it to AES.
In many cases, an RCA to XLR cable will already work out of the box, unless the length is too long.
Why is one sub-optimal?
Because the room is dominant with these frequencies, that means it will make throughs and peaks in the response. The throughs you cannot fix with EQ, so the solution is to distribute multiple subs around the room so that the throughs and peaks are distributed over he response, resulting in a smoother response.
What other processing do you mean?
Mostly Atmos and other processing options the Pi does not have, as well as room correction (in case you don't go the GLM route)
If I'm not going to deliver content digitally, why pay for the extra for the GLM capable digital-input Genelecs? I don't have a good answer... haha
Because they are better speakers in general, but except for the ones, not by a huge margin.
Fair comment. I do need to measure what SPL I listen at with my current system. As for near-field/far-field, I'm UK based and as sad as it is to say, its unlikely I'll ever be able to afford a big house (at least big/spacious by American/Australian standards...) Thus, small room, near-field likely won't be much of an issue. This is also a reason why I wanted to start with 8330's as L/R, if they prove too small, I can step up to 8341/51's for L/C/R instead of 8331's as planned, obviously for more ££££.
What about 8050's? They do need an update though, but they are much more SPL capable than 8331 or your 8030's. And you can get them second hand as well.
 

voodooless

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8331-MAX.jpg

Max SPL of the 8331 for reference. It’s really not very good below 500 Hz.
 

VMAKELI159

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I'm using a Vividstorm floor rising screen. At the time (about 1.5 - 2 years ago) there were only one or two brands offering electric ALR screens, but i suspect there may be more options to choose from now. The Vividstorm works very well though!
Hello friend
I'm also interested in vividstorm projection screens. Their screens are best known for being electrically portable and suppressing ambient light. How do you feel about using them?
 
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