My ISE 2015 Home Cinema feedback

Rob Sinden

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
I’ve just returned from the ISE show in Amsterdam where I spent most of the three days chatting with customers about their cinema projects on the Steinway Lyngdorf stand.

I’m very familiar with most home cinema systems so I don’t bother going to systems I’ve heard many times…. so this is just my feedback of the few systems I was interested in.

The Immersive Sound Experience looked the same as last year. A huge room with a big commercial projector, lots of Genelec speakers and Datasat electronics. Last year it sounded awful, this year it sounded terrific. This was definitely the best commercial cinema I have ever heard. The panning around the room and sense of space was terrific – partially no doubt because they had lots of great Auro content to choose from.

For the home user this demo was of little interest except to show off Auro. The front speakers were the size of a fridge freezer and the system had mediocre bass and lacked the focus you’d want in the home but as a commercial cinema system it was absolutely terrific.

1. Auro Immersive Cinema Experience - DataSat Genelec Barco.jpg


As usual the M&K dem was at an apartment in the centre of Amsterdam. M&K dems at show always sound terrific but they normally look pretty uninspiring with either a small TV for picture or the speakers being demonstrated in stereo. This was the first time they had a projection screen in a dark room with a system that many enthusiasts could aspire to.

The system sounded excellent, really full, open and warm. The film I was watching was Avatar and it really was better and more compelling than ever before.

It took a while for the penny to drop but what was really impressive was that this was a 5.1 Blu Ray being played back with an 11 channel Storm/Auro Receiver driving the whole thing.

I had been expecting a rack of power amps but this system shared a lot more in common with the systems we install with the extra efficiency of the M&K 300’s and a four subs creating a fab high end cinema from real world electronics.

I now have a lot of experimenting to do with Auro which I’ll feedback on the Forums as time permits….

2. M&K 300 Series Auro dem.jpg


Over the course of the show I met with many consumers doing their research for their own cinemas. The feedback was that Dolby’s own dem sounded lousy. B&W’s cinema was in a very expensive, purpose built listening booth and this sounded even worse than Dolby’s with a bright, tiring, top end and boomy, distracting bass.

Steinway Lyngdorf had a booth where the LS Concerts were playing in stereo. There is no other high fidelity speaker I know of that can give THX reference levels 60m away! My favourite description of these speakers is that they are “unnecessary”. We have already sold a few of these into UK home cinema / hifi systems where people just want the best. Apparently there are 5 homes in Qatar that are having a custom in wall version of these speakers behind screens that will be an immense 5m high – not 5m wide…….

The frustrating thing about this system is that you just want to turn it up which we couldn’t do until the last day when we let rip for 10 minutes. Being a line source speaker corrected with RoomPerfect, the system sounded virtually the same from the other side of the hall 40m. If you ever get the chance you really must take a listen to these speakers.

Steinway Lyngdorfs cinema dem was in the same big rattily room as always. A Sony 1100 projector was used on a 4m screen. The audio system was a 7.1.4 system played through 9.6.4 speakers.

The new P200 processor controlled 6 x LS Boundary Woofers, with in wall IW26 speakers for LCR’s and the rear pair. In wall IW16 were used for two pairs of side speakers and front and rear Atmos height speakers.

5. Steinway Lyngdorf P200.jpg


I’d never spent so much time with the IW26’s before but I have to say I think most people would prefer the sound of these to the smaller S15’s. They are even more powerful than the smaller speaker and have a more forgiving sound that is less tailored to the audiophile but would be preferable for some film lovers.

The Steinway Lyngdorf play list was:

1. Fanfare for the Common Man from the Tanglewood 75th Anniversary Blu Ray. This is a 5.1 recording that is my new reference point for testing a system. I believe the speed, transient response and evenness of bass on a Steinway system is exceptional and if you hear this track I’m sure you’ll agree. Other “high end” home cinemas cannot play this disc!

2. Open Range…..again. It sounded truly scary with mid bass you could feel in your chest while the pistol, rifle and shotgun all sounded distinctly different and completely life like.

3. Dolby Atmos mini trailers. A great dem of the extra detail and precision that you hear through the all-digital Steinway system, however the bass on the first disc was clipping – not what you expect from a dem disc.

4. Dolby Atmos mini trailer…as above

5. The Enrique Iglesias music track from the Atmos demo disc……now before you fall asleep this track really surprised me. I’ve heard it many times on other systems but the extra fidelity of the Steinway system was very obvious. As it starts there are voices calling from above and this is the first time these voices sound so life like and distinct.

The system sounded the same as a Steinway system always do. Superb, however it would have been even better if the great quality Auro content that was used elsewhere could have been played. The software sent to Steinway for use of the Auro codec was incorrect so hearing the best content, on the best system this is still a few months off.

I met up with clients from Canada, Cambridge, Rickmansworth and Pakistan which I hope will encourage exhibitors to invite the public in future and to make their stands a bit more “real world” and consumer friendly.

The couple who visited from Cambridge spent all three days at the show auditioning different cinema systems again and again. He reminds me a little of Nigel (he of the fab Steinway cinema in London many of you have visited) he is meticulous, incredibly thorough and very demanding – as you might expect from an eye surgeon.

Before he left he said “there is nothing that compares with the Steinway systems”.

If you are reading this and thinking… that’s great but I can’t afford a Steinway, please have a read about the Lyngdorf TDAi2170 integrated stereo amp. In Europe there is little argument that Steinway systems are the best money can buy. It isn’t simply a better speaker/amp/processor; it’s a complete formula that has been developed over 20 years for reproducing sound in a room.

Much of this technology is now available in the Lyngdorf TDAi2170. Because of this I believe you will not achieve better sound with your speakers in your room than with this amp. This isn’t the place for all the technical stuff, this will gradually come on the Lyngdorf thread, however if anyone wants to take the Pepsi challenge on this I’d be very happy to do a home trial.

This photo shows from top to bottom, the CD2, the TDAi2170 integrated amp with RoomPerfect and the soon to be released SDA2400 slave amp with signal sensing and digital in.

4. Lyngdorf CD2 TDAi2170 SDA2400.jpg


There will be more on this later but I can say that all Peter Lyngdorfs businesses are doing brilliantly so you can expect to see a lot more investment and a lot more new products from Lyngdorf shortly.

I had a lot of time with Peter and the engineers at the show and for an audio enthusiast like me; this was the biggest benefit of the event. I am a total convert to Atmos/Auro/DTS-X however presently the content for Atmos is far too slow in coming. The reason for this – I was told – is that they are stalling until they can release discs with 4k video and Atmos and then introduce them on the same day the films are released at the cinema.

So Atmos content may be very limited until the summer, but it’ll be worth the wait. I have also been a total convert to 4k projectors from the moment they were released. Obviously with 4k content imminent they are only going to look better and anyone who has bought an expensive projector that isn’t native 4k will be kicking themselves.

There were 3 projectors I saw at the show that may be of interest. The first was the ultra-short throw Sony 4k unit with laser lamp. As usual the Sony dem was rubbish. Two of these were used next to each other with edge blending for an ultra-wide image with lighting on the screen from overhead. This dem is of no relevance for home users.

I had a chat with a technical bod I know from Sony and from what I was told, there will be little discernible difference in picture quality with the laser technology. Very long lamp life and an “instant on” picture is nice but it won’t stop me recommending any of their existing range.

The second projector I saw was the Epson dual lamp laser projector. This was show in a totally blacked out room with native 4k content and so the picture should have been spectacular….. but it wasn’t. There was a bit of noise but detail wasn’t up to that of the Sony’s that I see every day from regular 1080p.

Lastly I saw a native 2.35:1 single chip 1080 projector from Barco. Black levels weren’t great and the colour wheel effect was really distracting. Not impressed.

…..so that’s my own personal impressions of the show, now for the advert.

I have never heard a home cinema system with the fidelity or the consistency of the Steinway Lyngdorf system. If you are interested in whether you can tell the difference or not, please come for a dem. You will hear the difference.

If you want to get as close to the sound of the Steinway system as possible, please get a home trial of the Lyngdorf TDA. I will happily do a home trial of this amp against any other amplification you have, regardless of price and I’m 100% confident you will hear the Lyngdorf is better.

I also think the M&K V Series subs are the perfect partner for the TDA, especially when used in pairs in either front corner of the room and used with high crossovers. Again, please ask around for existing user, contact me directly for a dem at Gecko and then we can arrange for a home trial….

Next year the ISE is due to run for 4 days and I'll be there again throughout...

Rob
 

soupdragon

Distinguished Member
Wow, that's a big post, thanks for all the info. Interesting about the wait on 3d audio, that's a little more clear now - roll on 4k discs with 3d audio :)

The Epson you refer to, is that the LS1000 projector?
 

sammy the squid

Distinguished Member
I am a total convert to Atmos/Auro/DTS-X however presently the content for Atmos is far too slow in coming. The reason for this – I was told – is that they are stalling until they can release discs with 4k video and Atmos and then introduce them on the same day the films are released at the cinema.

Hi Rob, thanks for your write up. This particular segment caught my eye...the suggestion that commercial releases would be released on Bluray at the same time. Do you think this is likely? Surely the picture houses would be in cahoots if the titles become available on blu at the same time?
 

Rob Sinden

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Hi Sammy. I dont know for certain, but the feedback I got was from two of the most senior technical people at Steinway who liases with Dolby etc. all the time so I would expect its true. It would help explain why there are so few Atmos discs available.

The Epson projector will retail around the £5k mark but I'm afraid I didnt get the model number.
 

sammy the squid

Distinguished Member
Hi Sammy. I dont know for certain, but the feedback I got was from two of the most senior technical people at Steinway who liases with Dolby etc. all the time so I would expect its true. It would help explain why there are so few Atmos discs available.

The Epson projector will retail around the £5k mark but I'm afraid I didnt get the model number.

Thanks Rob. You were on the ball last year (or the year before) with regards to domestic Atmos when there were no formal statements made by any of the major manufacturers, so your reports from ISE are always an interesting read :thumbsup:
 

Dans1210

Well-known Member
Rob, thanks for the post, did you get to hear the Quested demo room?
 

Rob Sinden

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
No, I didn’t hear the Quested room. I’d never heard the name until last week when a customer at the show mentioned that they were very prominent on a US Forum.

From what I’ve just Googled they look like a manufacturer of loudspeakers – is that correct?

If so then I don’t have much interest as we already have terrific speakers that I think are perfectly suited for 5.1 play back.

Putting a great speaker in a good room will only get you so far – we do it all the time with M&K and the results are great, but this approach cannot reproduce the quality and consistency of Steinway Lyngdorf’s complete system approach.
 

Dans1210

Well-known Member
No worries, yes they manufacture loudspeakers, they apparently were demoing their new cinema line with ribbon tweeters.
 

Rob Sinden

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
I'm sure they are great but the problem with any good speaker system is how it interacts with the room and this varies tremendously from room to room, far more than the relatively minor differences between one speaker and another. It’s most obvious in the bass but it affects all frequencies.

For example the B&W room at the ISE this year was supposed to have really boomy, over blown bass, while the whole system sounded bright and fatiguing to listen to. I’m not saying their speakers are bad, boomy or bright, however even though they built the exact same purpose built room as last year and it was tweaked by removing some room treatment and extra woofers placed mid-way down the side walls, it still sounded awful.

If this is what a major manufacturer can achieve with a huge budget, in a purpose built room and with lots of planning, what chance do most consumers have?

Steinway Lyngdorf systems have been designed with the exact placement of a unique speaker system to ensure the best possible timing. When RoomPerfect is run the end results is incredibly even sound in any room. I would, for example happily demonstrate one of their system to say a musician who was coming to audition a system, immediately after RoomPerfect had been run.

The other reason alternative systems can’t compete is that Steinway electronics are a complete all digital system. This means sound is reproduced with far less noise and distortion than any other combination of electronics.

See enclosed.
 

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MemX

Well-known Member
Thanks for the writeup :)

As it turned out I had another engagement this year so couldn't make it, but I would still be interested in going next year if we can get a forum crowd going, not that my wallet will be! :laugh:
 

Rob Sinden

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
I think its a great trip if you can get a little group together. I drove and the Chunnel is excellent. I'd book the Chunnel in advance and get 4 in a car. Drive the day before. Spend the night with a good meal. All day at the show and then a jolly that evening and a drive back the following day.

Let me know next year if you are interested.
 

Rob Sinden

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
I haven’t bothered with the Bristol Show for years but if you say it sounded great I’m sure you are right.

If they can’t get it sounding good at a show they have attended several years in a row in a room they have custom built for the best audio it does illustrate how inconsistent and hit and miss recreating good audio is with most systems.

From the feedback I had from people who auditioned their system at the ISE this year they would have been better not demonstrating anything at all!
 

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