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Thread: Home Cinema & HiFi

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    Lightbulb Home Cinema & HiFi

    Based on the movies thread, I thought why not make a thread dedicated to the equipment used to consume this media. Discuss technology, show off personal rigs, or just boast your future dreams that might or might not ever come true.

    Common terms & Explanation:

    OLED - TV set where each pixel acts as a separate light source, allowing any part of the image to turn completely black. Allowing unprecedented control of contrast, hailed as the ultimate current display technology.

    MicroLED - Future technology. Same control of blacks as OLED, but with addition of extreme brightness, expanded color volume and no risk of burn-in.

    4K: A resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. Pretty much standard for all UHD BluRays and new productions on Netflix etc.

    HDR: High dynamic range. Refers to an image signal with greater bit depth, luminance (steps from 1 to 4000 nits, instead of 1 to 100), providing much higher color volume. Biggest revolution in image quality in decades.

    Dolby Atmos: Object based audio. Sound moves around you in a 3-dimensional space. Introduced height channels. You will be able to hear a helicopter move across the room, as it happens in real time in the movie scene.

    My Own Setup:

    I am currently in a very exciting process of making my first Dolby Atmos enabled home cinema. I will be running a 4.1.2 setup, which translates to having two front speakers & two rear speakers (4), one subwoofer (1) and two height speakers (2). They will be run by a great value Dolby Atmos receiver, the Sony DN-1080, capable of 7.1.2 channels.

    TV: LG C8 OLED - 55 inches

    This is the second OLED TV I've owned, and the 2018 flagship model by LG. I upgraded from the 2017 predecessor model. LG manufactures all current OLED TVs on the market, and sells display panels to Sony, Philips, Panasonic and other brands, who add their own processing and designs. Because they create the panels, they usually have the most affordable models available. I picked the LG C8 thus, because it was affordable (1200$ for 55 inch model), and also carries the highest brightness of all OLED brands. Brightness has traditionally been the achilles heel of this technology, but with the LG C8, it is only surpassed in this area by a very few top end LCD TV models from Samsung and Sony primarily. But those are LCD TVs, and quite inferior compared to OLED TV in every other area. Quite simply I love it because of its infinite inky dark contrast, extremely detailed and sharp images, and superb vibrant colors and viewing angle. It is hands down the best TV purchase you can make right now in terms of value.

    Front speakers: Bowers & Wilkins 685 S1

    The TV and receiver are the only two items I've purchased new. This is due to the technology advancing at neck breaking speeds, with new inputs and functionality added constantly. Speakers, on the other hand, are very similar then and now. I only buy speakers second-hand, with older iterations of current popular quality line ups. I have a personal preference and bias towards Bowers & Wilkins, because I find their speakers to be extremely engaging, with a warm sound that is just superbly entertaining for movies and music alike. The 685 S1 from 2008 have very nice treble and mids, while you can leave the deep bass to a decent subwoofer instead. To be honest, I reckon that the main improvement the last decade up till the current B&W 606 (2018), is that the latter have some improved bass extension. Once you add a subwoofer into the mix, people will pick based on a preference, rather than on an objective score of which speaker is better. The B&W 606 retails for 800 dollars brand new, while you can get the 685 S1 used at around 140 dollars. For that price, they seriously kick ass.

    Rear speakers: Bowers & Wilkins 601 S3

    An even greater example of how little age matters in terms of speaker quality. These speakers are from 2002, and the predecessors of the B&W 685 S1. When attempting to swap the front and rear speakers, I must admit I could barely notice a difference. They both sounded absolutely great. In the end, I anecdotally decided to use the newest speakers as fronts, and these speakers as a very nice set of rears. I put them on stands so that the tweeter (silver orb) was aligned with my ears. Price for these awesome speakers? Bought second hand for 110 dollars. And let me assure you, these will outperform Samsungs' most expensive soundbar (1700 dollars), not just by a stone toss, but by a long ran mile. Totally different league of sound. They are that great.

    Height speakers: Bowers & Wilkins 686 S1

    Now this is where things start to get real fun. Ideally, with height channels used in a Dolby Atmos setup, you would literally saw a circular hole in your ceiling, and install a ceiling speaker. But that requires a bit too much work for me personally, especially because you have to install cables across the roof as well. Instead, I opted for the next best thing. I chose a regular speaker of the same generation as my front speakers, albeit quite a bit smaller. I picked the smaller version, as its my purpose to wall mount the speakers as close to the ceiling as possible, angling them 30 degrees downwards. You won't get the exact same precision and "literally there" experience as true ceiling speakers, but the effect is phenomenal nonetheless. I can't wait to launch my first Dolby Atmos produced movie. I reckon it will be Captain Marvel, as Marvel blockbuster movies always carry a pure awesome sound track. With Captain Marvel's flying abilities, I reckon a lot of the scenes will have height channel audio to full extent.

    Subwoofer: SVS PB10-NSD

    Now these things are huge, and likewise so, a hugely important part of your audio setup. A subwoofer adds quite a few layers of depth to your audio. By getting a great quality unit, from brands like SVS or XTZ, you will even get a physical layer with the vibrations also being felt on your body. Now, a subwoofer is not meant to just shake up a room during explosions. Its much more important role is to infinitely improve the mid range bass that the front speakers have such a hard time dealing with. The B&W 685 S1 technically can go down to 42Hz frequency, while the SVS PB10-NSD extends all the way down to 19Hz. However, the PB10-NSD when setup correctly, will handle all frequencies from 80Hz and below. This is called a crossover, when a speaker is assigned a frequency range, which it is much more capable at. Not only does it provide a way more full bodied sound at these frequencies, but it also alleviates the pressure on the rest of the speakers and the receiver, as the subwoofer has its own active amplifier integrated. This way your other speakers will be able to focus and play even better on the main and higher frequencies, which they are made for. Due to the great importance of a subwoofer, this is by far the most expensive buy, at roughly 200 dollars. The newest successor bought brand new, the PB-1000, will in comparison set you back about 500 dollars. And again, you are not gaining a whole lot except a cleaner finish and some micro-adjustments.

    What's missing?
    Ideally speaking, you should also have a center speaker in a home cinema. It plays also quite a role, as it is placed directly in the center of your screen, just below it, and takes care of all the dialogue in movies. It allows your front speakers to work more on audio effects happening at the sides, in front of you, and gives a better stereo separation. In my case, I have to place the TV on a table stand, instead of wall mounting it. This means I can't put a center channel there, without it obstructing the screen itself. To compensate for this, I have my front speakers slightly more narrowly placed, so that they can dual task with both dialogue and front side effects. But at the expense of stereo separation unfortunately.

    Although that's commonly the case. Unless you really have a specialized home theater room available to you, you sometimes have to make compromises. If I could wall mount the TV, I'd also much rather get the 65 inch version of the LG C8, as size matters a lot for movies. In a home theater room, you would also want to paint your surroundings with a light absorbing dark color (preferably black), and have noise traps such as thick carpets, noise absorbing foam etc. Regardless this will be an awesome setup of mine, with very limited expenses to boot. In total I spent a little below a 1000 dollars on all the audio equipment, and likewise could be spent on the LG OLED (seen at 948$ on a Google Express deal). Spending as much on sound as on the TV, elevates your home cinema experience by more than tenfold. It's totally worth it, and anyone who has experienced a proper home cinema, would agree.

    PS: I will have everything assembled hopefully in the middle of August, and will try to snap some pictures of the entire setup then.
    Last edited by Kazuha Vinland; 07-30-2019 at 08:30 PM.
    Tomorrow is like an empty canvas that extends endlessly, what should I sketch on it?

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