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Home Theater is Dead ? (Read 4816 times)
Steve Deckert
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Home Theater is Dead ?
11/14/16 at 01:15:45
 
So, as I'm scanning the forums this evening I notice the last post to this HT board was in March.  It's now November so the thought that flashed through my mind was "boy, home theater is really dead!" A bitter sweet feeling follows as I realize this audience takes sound quality seriously and home theater at the mid fi consumer level is a waste of time.

This is of course a good thing, as holographic two channel audiophile playback often beats 5.1 channel solid state home theater on 5 little cubes and a nasty subwoofer, right!

But then wait, this is a bad thing because it means that almost no one has figured out how to do both!  Doing both is a lot easier than you think. The same gear can be used, and the same room. The results can be equal with both, believe it or not.

Part of the problem is that people don't realize how good a two channel tube amp hooked up to a DVD or BLURAY player can sound with only two speakers on a movie. The first thing that happens when you experience it, is that you wonder why they invented center channels. Of course if you are sitting on the side wall the reason becomes more obvious.

In any case, you are amazed at how good it sounds and then as the movie progresses you begin to forget that there are only two speakers. In fact you begin to forget there are speakers at all.  The imaging (at least of good amps like Decware) is so good that you hear things off your right and left shoulder's as though there were rear channels.  

In simple two channel mode without a sub, the movie will sound so good you'll wonder why some of your CD's don't sound as good... but that's another topic for later.

Point is, it will sound good enough to fake out your guests who will just assume there are 5.1 speakers playing.  

IF any of the results of this inspire you to go further, you can add a tube center channel and then eventual tube rear channels and a good sub.

Now that you can purchase a 100 inch pull down screen for $50 and a projector for less than a good TV set, there is no reason why you couldn't project a movie directly between your hifi-speakers and then sit in the sweet spot and watch it without violating any room acoustic treatments you may have cared enough to install.

Back before projectors when people had 250 pound big screen rear projection TV sets, placing one of those between your loudspeakers would be certain sound stage suicide that was too large and too heavy to remove when listening to two channel music.  The giant heavy projection TV sets WERE the very reason for the polarization between hi-fi and Home Theater that started in the 1980's. This is why people came accept that you had to have two rooms, and two systems.  

So in summary, when I see this part of the forum with less activity, I know opportunity is being missed.

Some of the best sound I've heard in any of my systems have been experienced from DVD and BluRay leaving one to ponder why CD's don't sound as good and why the format wasn't revisited.  Perhaps the reason is because it's all in my imagination and perception, but more likely it's the difference in the audio production budget of a hit movie vs. a CD.

This winter, try watching a movie with a TV or projector screen situated between your speakers and whatever you use now as your DVD/BLURAY player hooked to your Decware or similar quality amp and watch a whole movie and report back to us.

I'll look forward to the results  :)


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hdrider
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Re: Home Theater is Dead ?
Reply #1 - 11/20/16 at 00:15:49
 
Right as usual Steve. Our Oppo for BluRay and streaming and Roku run direct into our Rachael>Omega's and we couldn't think  of having it any other way. Just finished watching the last 007 Bond movie. But…the TT>ZP3>Rachael is where major magic happens. Thank you Steve and Team Decware.
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Re: Home Theater is Dead ?
Reply #2 - 11/20/16 at 19:18:18
 
I agree with hd rider.
I always had a surround setup but now I am back to basics and I don't feel like I am missing anything at all. No longer have to worry about speakers sounding the same, and the center imaging is even better than my expensive , to me, surround set ups that I have had in the past.
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Jeff of Arabica
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Re: Home Theater is Dead ?
Reply #3 - 12/01/16 at 07:28:43
 
Well, I have been an "active" sponge for awhile but this post got me off my a** to post something.  So for that, thank you Steve!  Anyway, I have to say, Home Theater is NOT dead! While I assume most audiophiles aren't in position to "Geek Out" over a 5.1 or similar setup, that is because they do not have your Ultra pre-amp Mr. Deckert.  Of all the Decware equipment I have, this has by far been the most entertaining to fiddle with. Don't get me wrong, I do like me some tube rolling and cable swapping, but nothing in my line up is as damn flexible as this beauty of a pre.  

I will admit, I had my reservations prior to ditching my solid state setup and purchasing the Ultra to go all tube.  I was worried about the very thing that attracting me to this amp - the tinker-ability with the separate gain knobs and input switches (i.e. perceived complexity).  I didn't want to overcomplicate my HT setup to the point I would lose any desire to use it.  I can proudly say, that has not been the case.  At all.  It took me a while to fully understand the power of this pre-amp and what it can offer, but once I did, I can't imagine this not being at the heart of my entire system.  It feeds everything.  I had a really nice NAD HT amplifier and I miss it none!  And while a remote volume control is nice, I really find the requirement of physically turning dials to adjust volume to be no big deal at all.  That minor inconvenience is far outweighed by the beauty this tube-based HT system brings.  

As far as sound quality, I find myself getting lost in the sound in a similar way I get lost in the music when running 2Ch stereo.  It is different, but equally pleasing.  I am astonished by how good my HT experience sounds with the Ultra and the rest of my DW stuff.  

This all being said, I am sticking to my 5.1, true HT experience.  Having complete control of all channels separately is something I am unwilling to give up.  

Viva Home Theater!!  
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hdrider
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Re: Home Theater is Dead ?
Reply #4 - 12/01/16 at 21:25:24
 
Jeff - I would love to hear that system you have, I bet that it is amazing. When I was in the CI business a few years back we did a lot of Krell / Aerial Acoustics / Runco /Stewart systems and they looked and sounded great but I know there wasn't a tube to be found in them. Enjoy and happy listening, Chris.
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Jeff of Arabica
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Re: Home Theater is Dead ?
Reply #5 - 12/02/16 at 16:37:42
 
Chris,
Those are some legit SS manufacturers.  I have heard some incredible SS based HT systems over the years, but they usually came with a price tag well above my paygrade.  Have gotten used to the sound signature of my tube system, I became increasingly dissatisfied with my SS HT system.  Now, I have consistency in the sound coming from my movies and music which is really cool.  Plus, it is very easy with my Ultra to engage my subwoofer with my Monoliths at times when I want a little more density in the bass.  I almost feel like the line between the two (HT and Music) is very blurred and gray - which is nice  :)

Have you had any mod's done on your Oppo to improve the analog output?
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« Last Edit: 12/02/16 at 16:39:01 by Jeff of Arabica »  

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Re: Home Theater is Dead ?
Reply #6 - 12/03/16 at 16:34:34
 
Jeff- I have not done anything to the Oppo mod wise. As I was selling off all my old gear to prepare for the Decware system I sold my old Krell 32x  oversampling DAC and haven't replaced it with something a little more up to date. I should belly up and get Steve's modded Tascam unit but may settle for a Schitt Bit Frost. And yes, the HT systems that we were selling and installing were very very nice, don't get me wrong. I really must get a new cartridge for the table though. Love the records through the ZP3. Spent a magical night last evening with my bride asking for album after album. Have a great weekend and happy listening, Chris.
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Rachael, ZP3, ZMC 1, SE84CS, Oppo BDP-93, Sota Star TT w/ FR-64, Shinnon Red Moving coil, Omega 7XRS Mk 2 walnut, DeepOmega 8 sub, Morrow Audio PH3 and MA3 IC's, Stax Lambda Signature Pro & SRM-T1 tube amp, Gamma Electrostatic phones.
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Re: Home Theater is Dead ?
Reply #7 - 12/09/16 at 23:45:04
 
And I second that. Home theater is certainly not dead! Not if I have anything to say about it. LOL  :) I am in the process of building one myself. Of course it's a slow process because I am an audio buff on a budget but I will eventually be there. I own a Decware SE84 UFO right now and a pair of Omega Supercharged 3XRS's. Louis is in the process of building me high output dual RS5 driver for the fronts and I will be moving the other ones to the rear for surrounds. He is then going to build me a high output dual RS5 driver center. I then want to get a second SE84 UFO to run the center. But this is a process. The only thing I am lost on is a pre-amp. I want a good 5.1 channel pre-amp to tie this thing all together. I know that there is a Decware pre-amp but not really the direction I want to go and it's a little too expensive. But I will keep posting in this forum and keep home theater alive! Grin
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Jeff of Arabica
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Re: Home Theater is Dead ?
Reply #8 - 12/10/16 at 02:00:28
 
I am really intrigued by the Omega line after seeing Steve's recent post.  It seems they are well suited for Decware tube amps.  So, I assume based on your post that they are creating a custom setup for you geared toward 5.1?  If so, that is some incredible service!  

Right now my Monoliths are handling my Front R&L's.  For my center I chose the Legacy Silverscreen HD.  It is powered by a SE84UFO.  My fronts are connected to a Torii Jr. as they are pulling double duty as my 2-channel stereo. All connected to my Ultra.  

The reason my HT works so well is I had my Oppo 103 modified by Ric Shultz at Tweak Audio.  He did an analog output stage modification on all 5 of my HT channels.  I had Ric do several other key modifications all designed to improve both the digital and analog playback (video and audio).  Anyway, I direct connect each of the modified 5 channel outputs from the Oppo to my Ultra pre-amp. So, from the Oppo, it is all tube and glorious!

What are you looking for in terms of your 5.1 pre-amp, if you don't mind me asking?
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Re: Home Theater is Dead ?
Reply #9 - 01/06/17 at 14:38:40
 
Ok, this is interesting as hell.

There was alot to read and knowing my retention I probably missed it.

So, how do I go about setting up a 2.1 HT system.
I have an amp, but without volume control, just power.
I have some loudspeakers.
I have sub.

What else do I need?
And, how do I connect it?
And, do I need some kind of DAC or maybe passive preamp?

Thanks in advance....

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Re: Home Theater is Dead ?
Reply #10 - 01/06/17 at 17:54:44
 
One of many available solutions but perhaps the simplest to start out with in your case.

Recent Oppo Blue-Ray players have good internal 2-channel DAC's, Digital Volume Control and are very good Blu-ray players that can be set-up in the menu section to automatically down-convert all multi channel Audio to 2-channel. If your sub has speaker level connections then I recommend that connection method.

I had an elaborate multi-channel system before discovering Decware. I personally prefer an excellent 2 channel system for HT over complicated multi-channel. When I have company over to watch a movie they can't believe all the sound effects are coming from just two modestly sized front speakers.

All this assumes that you have full control over speaker placement and room layout. If you stuff two speakers in the corners, put a huge sofa between them don't expect great sound.

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Main System: Oppo BDP-105D, SE84UFO amp, Omega Super Alnico Monitors, Twin Custom SLAB 15's (Low Frequency Open Baffle).
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Re: Home Theater is Dead ?
Reply #11 - 01/06/17 at 18:17:18
 
I'm with you on the two channel opposed to surround thing DBC, I find the HR-1s to be awesome with great Blu-ray or DVD sound. I recently picked up a Cambridge Audio CXU universal player. It doesn't quite have the sound or picture that my Denon flagship does but for the price it's excellent--I bet it would match up well with that Val Alstine amp Matchstik!
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Jeff of Arabica
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Re: Home Theater is Dead ?
Reply #12 - 01/07/17 at 07:38:24
 
Matchstik,
For 2.1, I would have to agree with DBC that the Oppo is an excellent solution to get your HT sound out to your two loudspeakers and sub with a minimal investment.  It is a great player and would do a very good job.

However, I have invested in what I believe is the best audiophile HT system out there - at least in the minds of those who appreciate the sound quality/characteristics of tube audio.  While I don't disagree that a properly tuned 2.1 setup can sound great in a HT role, it is not the Holy Grail - and never can be.  I am confident in making this statement because I have had many iterations of HT setups over the years and never knew what I was missing until I made the decision, after reading Steve's white paper on tube-based HT systems, to purchase the Ultra pre-amp.  All of my amps are Decware.  My center is powered by a Rachael - bridged.  My rears are powered by a SE84UFO.  My fronts are fed by a Torii Jr.  What makes my setup so unique is the Ultra and the ability to fine tune each of these channels individually.  I could never have understood the importance of this capability until it was installed.  So basically, what we all have come to love and appreciate in our Decware gear for 2-channel, I appreciate on all 5 channels.  Imagine the same quality of sound coming out of your center and rears as your mains.  It is not an effect or perception of surround sound.  It is real surround sound and fully adjustable through the Ultra to compensate for poor sound engineering.  

That being said, I have invested a chunk to get to this point.  If I am listening, whether 2-channel or 5.1, I want the best.  Decware tube gear allows me to achieve both with equal quality, no compromises.  But, at the end of the day, you would have to value the 5.1 HT experience as much as your 2-cahnnel experience to justify creating an true audiophile HT setup similar to what I have.  Now that I have it, one would have to pry it from my cold dead fingers!
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DBC
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Re: Home Theater is Dead ?
Reply #13 - 01/07/17 at 16:39:43
 
To Jeff of Arabica,

To provide a little context to my original post concerning multi-channel vs. 2-channel HT. I would love to hear your all Decware HT rig and have no doubt this is the ultimate.

In my case I have limited funds to allocate to the Hobby. My old multi-channel system was all good Mid-Fi equipment costing perhaps 4 times what I have invested in my current Decware 2-channel system. Hands down my Decware rig does HT better than my old multi-channel system. I also appreciate the simplicity (fewer boxes, fewer cables, fewer speakers sucking up listening room real estate).

It wasn't my intention to suggest that 5.1 HT sounds BAD. If I had the funds and room for a full blown Decware HT multi-channel system I would go there for sure. My best advice to folks is simply that a really good Decware based 2-channel system can rival or best multi-channel systems costing much much more.

In my case I'm a Music Lover first and HT Fan second. As I went down the Decware path I achieved great 2-channel music and discovered great 2-channel HT more or less by accident.
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Main System: Oppo BDP-105D, SE84UFO amp, Omega Super Alnico Monitors, Twin Custom SLAB 15's (Low Frequency Open Baffle).
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Jeff of Arabica
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Re: Home Theater is Dead ?
Reply #14 - 01/07/17 at 17:14:47
 
For sure DBC.  There is no doubt in my mind that 2.1 can be incredible as well.  I certainly will never dismiss or refute that.  I am just giddy about my system and get excited sharing this possibility with others who want to step up their purpose-built HT system.  Aside from sound originating from various points in the room, I think what has impressed me the most is the control I get in not only volume adjustment from each individual channel, but also the type of sound I can mix in to various channels with the Ultra.  That is not a SQ benefit as much as it is an experiential benefit.  It's pretty cool and a product of Steve's genius with the design of the Ultra.  It is incredibly fun to tinker with.  

Priorities and budget is the driving force in all things audio and thank goodness, we don't have to spend a ton to get some amazing sound - Deware in general is a testament of that!  I agree with you wholeheartedly, that if I had a choice between a mid-fi SS 5.1 HT system or a Dedware 2.1, I would choose the Decware 2.1 every time!

If you are ever in SoCal, come on by!  Beers and audio are on me  :)
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« Last Edit: 01/07/17 at 17:16:00 by Jeff of Arabica »  

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Re: Home Theater is Dead ?
Reply #15 - 01/07/17 at 17:39:13
 
Jeff, with all that tube power the heat must be out of this world.  I can imagine how amazing it must sound but honestly, the maintenance of such of system must be out of this world.  When you want to watch a movie you have to turn on how many amps?  

How often do you watch movies?

I watch movies where I think a good HT treatment would be great about once a week and that's for only a single movie.  If movies are your thing and the maintenance of your system is not a big deal for you then power to you.  Go for it.  You only live once.

Wow.

My system won't be as complex as yours and probably won't sound even close to as good as yours but I think it will do justice for my once a week endeavor.  

Jeff, can you provide some pics?  I'd really love to see your setup especially after all the tubes are on and the lights are down and you have all that tube-glow glory.

Did you mention the loudspeakers you use?  

Once again, wow.
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Jeff of Arabica
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Re: Home Theater is Dead ?
Reply #16 - 01/07/17 at 18:44:38
 
Matchstik, it does get warm but not as alarming as you would think.  I don't need an active cooling and I have not had any issues with excessive heat in my cabinet.  I have all but one of my Decware HT amps in my Salamander Designs AV cabinet.  I removed the back panel and it has perforated metal on the sides and door panels so lots of passive air movement.  Heat has not been an issue.

As far as my viewing habits, I watch a couple movies a week and several TV series in HD.  I actually enjoy the system and reap its benefits on all content, including cable TV content.  Again, not necessarily due to SQ because "over the air" content is already behind the curve in terms of the signal quality, but because I can control output type and volume on each channel.

To be honest, I have had it setup less than a year so I can't really comment too much on maintenance.  I will say that it has not caused me any grief so far.  I keep some backup tubes on hand but aside from tube replacement, I can't imagine too much going wrong with it.  

As far as pics, sure!  I will say it is pretty bitchin looking at night.  I will try to take a few shots and post them here when I get a chance.  

My speaker situation is changing here shortly.  I am decommissioning my Monoliths by removing the DM946's from the companion bases and using them as my rear channel speakers.  I will be purchasing the new Omega Super Alnico High Output speakers (Not the model that will be offered here) for my mains.  My center channel is a Legacy Audio Silverscreen HD and my subwoofer is a Vienna Accoustics Subson which is sealed and very musical, but also works well for HT.  

All in all, it is a great system but probably one most here would consider an overkill.  I wavered for months thinking the same.  But the one thing that has surprised me most is that is improves my everyday television experience in general, not just movies, since I can balance it accordingly for poorly engineered content - which unfortunately is most.  And adjusting the knobs is not burdensome like I also thought it would be.  It is actually fun whereas I thought it would be a chore.
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Re: Home Theater is Dead ?
Reply #17 - 01/07/17 at 18:56:34
 
Jeff, I've looked at those New Omega Alincos.  I have the old Omega Alinco XRS speakers that are bottom ported, which I prefer to what these new ones are...back ported.  If you can, give us some impressions of their use for 2 channel playback when you get them.  Mark.
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« Last Edit: 01/07/17 at 18:57:23 by mark58 »  

"The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not moved with the concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, deceptions, and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night and his affections dark as Hell. Let no such man be trusted." William Shakespeare
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