Saturday, October 31, 2009

How to Choose the Right Sized Screen?

There are some amazing deals on front projectors with new models being released this fall. It is easy to think, why get a large flat screen TV when you can buy a front projector and have a 100” screen or larger. That is how I got into front projection years ago. But when you start to design a home theater, there are some things you need to consider. One of which is the right sized screen.

First of all, is the room you will be using light controlled? By light controlled, I mean can you close a door into the room and put up blinds and/or curtains to black out the room even during the day. Also, what do you watch mostly. If your room is not light controlled, or if you watch a lot of sports, you may want a projector that is very bright. You will also need to take into consideration where you will mount the screen, and where you will be mounting the projector. The larger the screen, the more light it will take to fill it. And the more ambient light, the brighter the projector will need to be still. But one of the biggest considerations is how far away from the screen you will be sitting.

One of the easiest mistakes to make is to get the largest screen you can. With a front projector, you may be able to project over 120” of image and if you are in a light controlled room your projector may be able to throw enough light to fill that size of a screen. But that could be a mistake. Have you ever sat in the front row at the movie theater? If so, how did you enjoy the movie? Did you enjoy it, or did you end up just getting a headache? To decide the size of the screen, I would make a trip to the theater to watch some movies. Try sitting up close, far away, and towards the middle. How close is too close, and how close it just right? Once you know how close the correct distance is to the screen, you will need to do some math. Most people, including myself has the optimum distance factor of 1.5 times. That means that whatever the width of the screen, the optimum viewing distance is 1.5 times that. I can put up to a 130” diagonally sized screen in my theater room, but from where I sit I should not go over 110” diagonally. So if the screen at the movie theater is 30 feet wide, and the perfect distance from the screen for you is 45 feet, 1.5 is also the ideal viewing distance for you.

Now you know one of the most important factors for your home theater. Once you know how far away from the screen you will be sitting, you will know how big of a screen to get. Now there is the question of the type of screen, such as pull-down, or fixed mount. There are also different screen material types, but the type of material to get will depend on the type of projector you get. And that is a different topic for later.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shure SE420 In Ear Monitors Review

Last year I did a review of headphones. One of those was the Shure SE310. The ante was upped one more with the SE420. The SE310 uses a single balanced armature driver, and they sounded great. But the SE420 uses two balanced armature drivers for a dedicated tweeter and woofer, and integrated crossover. Naturally when I was given the chance to check them out I jumped.

Going back to the May 2008 review, I compared the SE310’s to a pair of Sennheiser earbuds. Referencing back to the review, this is what I had to say about the SE310’s:

“I have used Sennheiser headphones for years due to their reputation of good sounding headphones and I am glad to see the quality has not changed. The $300 Shure’s are on a different level, and takes everything to a higher level. It is kind of like going from a good Dryer’s ice cream, to a shop that serves frozen custard – very smooth! At first I was struggling with the sound of the Shure’s. They sounded amazing, nice soundstage, excellent resolution, very clean sounding, but the sound was also something else that I couldn’t put my tongue on, until it came to me. They were so much smoother.”

So now the question is, how does the SE420’s sound compared to the SE310’s? I am the owner of a dedicated theater room. Not only do I like my movies, as an audiophile I also like good sounding music. For that reason the speakers I use are not just great for movies, but great for music as well. There have also been advances in MP3 player’s storage capacity, and lossless formats. With a large capacity player, you can take your CD’s with you in an uncompressed/lossless format. Now you just need some capable IEM’s.

Enter the ES420’s. The SE420’s did not take anything away from the SE310’s. The 420’s take the performance of the 310’s, and add to it for some phenomenal sound. I pulled out my iPod classic and started my listening. The iPod classic has plenty of space on it, so I can store my CD’s in lossless format. The 420’s made the most of it. I ran through a big chunk of my diverse collection for a bit of a warm-up, starting with some U2, Janet Jackson, acoustical Metallica, eventually getting to some of my favorites- Fresh Aire. It all sounded wonderfully. I heard the kind of sound I am used to hearing with my Fresh Aire….and then some.

But I wanted to focus on some new material. I found my Blue Smith album. Tommy Smith’s El Nino featured fresh sounding jazz, very clean and showed off the dynamics of the dual drivers of the SE420’s. It was very enjoyable. But then I was surprised. I went to the track Rain Dance. It was just a sax accompanied by a little percussion. But I was pleasantly surprised. The sound stage was huge! I loved the imaging. The resolution I heard from the instruments and the room acoustics was astonishing.

I ended up at some Junior Wells, “Why Are People Like That.” WOW! The piano sounded natural, the vocals were right on, and the percussion was clean. The sound stage was nice and big. But what really got me was the dynamics of the harmonica! WOW! I kept hitting repeat, and thinking…..why are people like that?! Junior if you’re reading, I’m a believer.

When I heard the 420’s have dual drivers, I could not help but think to myself if having dual drivers in IEM’s would really make a difference. To that my opinion is yes. If good sound is important to you and you are in the market for some good IEM’s, the Shure 420’s deserve to be on your short list. For more info and complete specs, check out Shure’s website at

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Panasonic PT-AE4000 Info

The rumor that the Panasonic PT-AE4000 will not be coming to the US appears to be just that- a rumor. According to the Panasonic global website, the US model# is referenced (at the bottom of the page). The specs are alson listed, and include a 100,000:1 contrast ratio. For more details, read on at:

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

1080P Front Projection Goes LED

H9080HD Redefines Home Theater Viewing Experience Through Performance and Features

ORLANDO, FL, June 17, 2009 – Vivitek Corporation, a leading manufacturer of environmentally innovative visual display and presentation products, introduces the H9080HD Home Cinema projector to the professional audio/video industry. The world’s first 1080p, LED home cinema projector delivers next-generation video processing performance for demanding home theater enthusiasts and professional installers.

The Vivitek H9080HD home cinema projector offers an amazing 100,000:1 contrast ratio and a brightness of 800 lumens. With full HD 1080p (1920x1080) resolution and advanced image processing technologies from Gennum, the H9080HD redefines the home theater viewing experience. As an LED-based projector, the H9080HD provides stunning image quality unmatched by traditional lamp-based projectors.

The LED light source is estimated to provide up to 20,000 hours of operation in normal viewing conditions, which equates to running a traditional projector 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for just over 2 years without changing a lamp. The Luminus PhlatLight™ RGB LED module replaces the traditional lamp and color wheel system, and in turn, increases picture quality, expands the color spectrum and maintains 1080p resolution.

“The H9080HD is the flagship product in Vivitek’s home theater line-up. Packed with features and all digital connections, it brings the magic of the movies to your home,” said Christopher Yang, Sr. Product Manager at Vivitek. “The H9080HD is a paradigm shifting, powerful and high-performance projector that creates unbelievable pictures and smooth playback from various video sources.”

With a built-in 1.3x zoom with manual lens shift (+/-120% vertical and +/-30% horizontal), the H9080HD projector allows installers to create the perfect image. Add in a Dynamic Iris to automatically adjust black levels, the H9080HD is a home theater dream projection system. It also comes with a wide variety of connectivity options including HDMI 1.3, RS-232c, Component, Composite, S-Video, VGA and BNC connections for the latest video sources.

The Vivitek H9080HD incorporates low-energy and low-power consumption features, including the lamp-free, LED light source. It is also mercury-free, with a dust- and filter-free, sealed engine design that eliminates constant filter disposal and cleaning. The non-motion interior of the projector allows for quiet and cool running, which makes it ideal in a home theater setting.
Availability/WarrantyThe Vivitek H9080HD will be available in July 2009 through authorized Vivitek dealers and distributors for MAP of $14,999. The projector carries a three (3)-year limited warranty on parts and labor.

About Vivitek CorporationVivitek manufactures an extensive line of visual display and presentation products including projectors and digital signage displays. The company’s line of digital projection and display devices incorporates the latest innovations and technologies to deliver superior products for it partners, customers and channels. Vivitek products are sold through authorized dealers, distributors, retailers and system integrators. Vivitek believes in the active responsibility in both its manufacturing and business processes and programs. For more information, please visit
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DLP® and BrilliantColor™ are registered marks of Texas InstrumentsVivitek® is a registered trademark of Vivitek Corporation

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