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Thread: A Compact Home Theater

  1. #1
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    A Compact Home Theater

    About a year ago I started work on converting an under utilized and fairly large bedroom into my next home theater. The goal was to have a room that would serve as my office and library during the day and become a reasonably high performance theater when the blackout curtains were drawn. Since I wanted to conceal as much of the gear as possible, I decided I should go with active speakers. I really liked the JBL 708P which offered the level of performance I wanted in a relatively compact package.

    I got to work drawing up plans. My idea from the start was to incorporate the speakers into bookcases and have a screen come down in front of them. The room is 13' 6" by 20'. Due to doors and windows, the only option was to place the screen on the long wall which meant the throw distance of my projector dictated I couldn't have bookcases any deeper than 12" on the screen wall. This was a problem. The shelves themselves would be 11" deep and the 708Ps are 11 1/2" deep before any cables are attached and no toe in is applied. I considered the 705Ps, but the performance hit was greater than I wanted to accept. (In an ideal world I would be going with M2s or Meyer Sound Acheron Designers, but they are both way too big to hide in a large bedroom!)

    Obviously the next step for me was to consider custom DIY designs... since I wanted to use a compression driver up top and preferably a 2" or larger driver at that, everything I came up with was also too large. During this time I installed some Meyer Sound Ultra-X20s for a project at work. Before installing them I brought a pair home to test and was quite favorably impressed. These speakers are extremely compact for their capabilities and the imaging is extremely good. The speakers are a D'Apolito design with a 2" compression driver sitting between a pair of purpose built 5" woofers. One of the design features is a rotatable horn which allows the speaker to be used either vertically or horizontally.

    After deciding to go with the Ultra-X20s, I needed to sort out my subwoofer situation. I had a Revel B112 I planned on using tucked under my desk in the room's corner, but I wanted to augment it primarily for smoothing out the bass response in the room. I added a pair of very unusual in-wall subs. Artison RCC-320 Mk2s. These subs are tiny, but pack a heck of a punch and are quite "musical" as well... (not one note bass). For the surrounds I decided to go with the shockingly tiny Meyer Sound MM-4XP. These speakers look like something Bose might have conjured up, but they are neutral, wide bandwidth, and will exceed Dolby or DTS reference levels in a room my size. They do compromise the upper bass in that they roll off below 135Hz, but for surround duty, I am willing to accept that.

    My surround processor of choice for most home theaters is to go with one of the Lyngdorf surround processors with Lyngdorf's Room Perfect room correction. Since I will never use more than 12 channels in this room, the MP40 was the logical choice. Amplification... the Meyers are all active and use an outboard DC power supply. The Revel B112 has a plate amp— fingers crossed it will last. The Artison subs do require a dedicated amp so I do have a 1U 1000watt amp in the rack, but that's it. With this setup I was able to tuck everything in a tiny rack in my closet and satisfy the hidden equipment requirement.


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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    What to do with those Ultra-X20s?

    Setting one up to be used as the center channel was a no brainer, but what about the left and right speaker? They could also be set horizontally on bookshelves, but then visually I have a lot of speakers in a row and also far less room for books... we have a lot of books! So, if I don't make the speakers disappear in the bookcase, what do I do with them? They are not exactly domestic use friendly. They are beautifully made from aluminum, but they are meant to be installed in a commercial space, not your home.

    I decided to create speaker stands that would mimic the look of audiophile speakers and add a little bling. I designed them around the horn, locating them at seated ear height. The center channel remains below the screen since even a Stewart Micro-Perf screen will interfere with image quality at 11' which is my seated viewing distance. My favorite "acoustically transparent" screens are the newer woven styles, but these do not roll up.

    After kicking around a number of ideas, I came up with these stands and this layout. The finish is a rubbed out dark metallic blue lacquer with machined and polished aluminum details. There are 4 M8 bolts holding the speakers in place. There are access holes in the rear to facilitate running the 5 conductor balanced audio and power cable up to the speakers and also to access the two lower bolts. The bases are 5/16" thick plate steel that was laser cut. Thanks Barry!


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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Speaker details...

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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    ...and a few more.

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    Senior Member srm51555's Avatar
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    To be honest, I'm kind of speechless on how good those stands turned out. Made me forget the original scope of the thread. Excellent work!

  6. #6
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srm51555 View Post
    To be honest, I'm kind of speechless on how good those stands turned out. Made me forget the original scope of the thread. Excellent work!
    Thanks!

    The best compliment to date was when my resident artistic coordinator said that she actually liked them.


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    Senior Member 1audiohack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget View Post
    …. The bases are 5/16" thick plate steel that was laser cut. Thanks Barry.
    You are super welcome.

    They turned out remarkable. Well done.

    I find those speakers very interesting. I hope not to derail but the offset of the woofers and the center to center spacing method is something I never would have conjured. Fascinating.

    It always makes me really ponder what I must not know when someone seems to break “the rules” and yet produces something the real professional market finds acceptable.

    Thanks for the grills off pics.

    My best.
    Barry.
    If we knew what the hell we were doing, we wouldn't call it research would we.

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    Senior Member DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    You made those stands?? Wow indeed, very nice.

  9. #9
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    You made those stands?? Wow indeed, very nice.
    Yes, but I used to have a business building prototypes and acquired many specialized skills along the way. That said, I hadn't done anything like this in over 15 years and boy was I rusty. I had to re-learn a few tricks and I no longer have a spray booth or some of the other niceties you have when it is your full-time gig. Thanks though... appreciated.


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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1audiohack View Post
    I find those speakers very interesting. I hope not to derail but the offset of the woofers and the center to center spacing method is something I never would have conjured. Fascinating.

    It always makes me really ponder what I must not know when someone seems to break “the rules” and yet produces something the real professional market finds acceptable.

    Thanks for the grills off pics.
    Yeah, I opened them up to reorient the horns when we installed some for a client's project and had the same thoughts. But thinking about it, I realized these speakers are actively bi-amped and have full DSP control with frequency, time, and phase correction. Meyer can clean up any undesired effects. The physical layout is designed to control their vertical and horizontal polar responses which are tightly controlled.

    The results are a stunning performer in a micro package (micro when you consider their output capabilities). I do massage their voicing with the Lyngdorf processor to bring them in alignment with my goals and taste, but there is nothing analog about this system so there is nothing to lose.


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    Senior Member 1audiohack's Avatar
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    Hello;

    If you would rather this go outside your nice thread here please edit me out and we’ll carry on elsewhere.

    I am not at all looking down my nose at these speakers. The fact that they work well opens up some DIY design possibilities that I may never have considered and this excites me.

    Can you tell if and how the back of the horn may be treated or what it looks like back where we can’t see?

    Thank you.
    Barry.
    If we knew what the hell we were doing, we wouldn't call it research would we.

  12. #12
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    No edits needed... I am equally intrigued.

    When I have a few minutes, I'll pop a grille off and shoot a couple of detailed photos.
    To your point about opening up new DIY options. I went this route (using an off the shelf speaker instead of a DIY design) because:

    A. Meyer Sound has an extensive engineering team with scientists and engineers on staff and can come up with crazy stuff like this where there is no way I could pull it off.

    B. I wanted the keep the performance bar as high as possible and maintain as minimal visual presence as possible in a room with few options.

    FWIW: I also considered the JBL CBT 70J-1. I have used them in a couple of my HT designs and they are surprisingly good too and at a lower price point, but they would have required 3 channels of serious amplification and the center channel would have been a problem.


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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1audiohack View Post
    Can you tell if and how the back of the horn may be treated or what it looks like back where we can’t see?
    Doesn't appear to be treated... and the back has ribs, but I assume they are to stiffen the casting. Not sure.


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    Senior Member 1audiohack's Avatar
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    Many thanks mister Widget.

    That leaves me much to ponder.

    Barry.
    If we knew what the hell we were doing, we wouldn't call it research would we.

  15. #15
    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    Very nice! Like those stands. That looks like a big screen! Neat subs how are they?? They look small and compact you really get 1st octave out of them??

    Rob
    "I could be arguing in my spare time"

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