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X3ELS conversion. My mini-review

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Building DIY' started by Gordon @ Convergent AV, Mar 30, 2003.

  1. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Well one of the perks of my job is that I get to see lots of hi-fi and home cinema dealers, lots of hi-fi and home cinema systems and sometimes home cinema’s owned by the dealers themselves! I wrote about Eric’s system when I went to see him last year and this time it’s X3ELS (Elliot)’s turn.

    I first met Elliot at the launch of a crt brand in London. He was there with a work colleague and I was wandering around listening in to conversations and chatting to folk about the stuff on show. Many of the dealers there seemed to think the picture quality on display was good but Elliot and his friend seemed to disagree. They weren’t impressed. Well, neither was I and I was glad someone else agreed!

    So about 6 months later Elliot contacted me as he was trying to source a good 9” CRT s/h for his own cinema. I happened to have just got a suitable device and the deal was struck. I drove down to Surrey and delivered the unit on one of my calibration trips. He showed me his garage, as it was then, and explained all about how he was going to build his dream cinema. It looked like a not insignificant undertaking and I left not knowing how long it would be till I had to come back to make the thing work. Turns out it was over 6 months I think.

    During that period I stuck my head in to check on things and it was obvious that he was not mucking about with this project. In fact, it was looking very serious indeed. The quality of design and workmanship I saw was fantastic and I was pretty sure it was going to end up being something pretty great.

    I really wanted to get down to see the Genelec guys doing the calibration of the speakers but in the end I had to be in Scotland on the only date they were going to be down. Once the audio had been sorted it was my turn. You might have noticed that Elliot has mentioned he is waiting on a Key Digital HD-Leeza (he was one of the first folk to order in UK..thanks!) As it seemed criminal to make him wait another 4 weeks to see his cinema I popped down this weekend to lend him a scaler to use until the big one turns up. After a morning and afternoon of tweaking we had a pretty great image on his PJ and we started to put it through its paces.

    There are some really special things about this cinema that I am glad to say have made me re-consider some of my more forthright views. For a start I have never considered acoustically transparent screens to be that great an idea. The systems I have viewed that have such screens have either had poor sound or have had an obvious degradation in picture quality because of the choice of this screen type. Elliot has a Stewart micro-perf screen. Behind this screen sit his three identical active Genelecs, built in to a custom panelled wall. The panels being covered in black velvet and the wall itself being rock solid. The velvet soaks up all the light going through the perfs and the holes themselves are so small that they are not visible at the seating position. In the past I have noticed the holes on other screens, quite easily. The real test has to be audio though and I should report that the audio sounds pretty smashing too.

    Everyone has discs they like to put on to show off a system or, in my case, to trip it up. Bits like the intro to Any Given Sunday where football players boot hits the ground and most sub-woofers immediately bottom out…..Or The Haunting…where most subwoofers bottom out or everything in the room vibrates and rattles. We played both of these on Elliots. There were no rattles, there were no farts or clunks from bass units under stress. There was just an amazing sound and feeling of bass pressure. My new demo disc of Blue Crush went on and it was the same. The crashing waves sounded CRUSHING as they broke. Elliot played a Linkin Park DVD-a disc with a track called MY DCMBR. What a laugh! The dynamics of the system really have to be heard to be believed. I was impressed.

    This system was designed as a cinema in a home. As such it could have suffered the problems that I have come to hear in most systems like this. Poor acoustics. Folk seem to either go mad with damping making the room completely dead, or they don’t do anything leaving it as slap echo heaven. Elliot’s cunning design with his velvet panelled ceiling and walls to 2/3rd length with painted plaster walls at last 1/3rd and the bookcase and rack on rear wall breaking up the surface really seem to make this a nice room to be in. It isn’t dead and it doesn’t echo.

    The air con is also the quietest I’ve ever heard in an air conditioned theatre. He has even done clever things like put the hatch to get in to loft space right beside a ceiling spot. This means that if you look at the ceiling the light from the spot makes the black hatch completely invisible. You need to get up and walk to front of the screen to see it’s there. When lights go out you can’t see anything..it’s dark!

    I’m not going to comment on the picture quality as it’s not the final article yet and it’s probably inappropriate seeing as it’s me that’s going to be setting it up.

    So there you are. Another forum member has done an exceptional job. It really is inspirational. I’d like to thank Elliot for his hospitality and for making me re-appraise acoustic screens (well, Stewart ones anyway!)

    Looking forward to coming down to install HD-Leeza next.
    For more comments on the audio in this room look for further posts about the DIY Digital incon shootout we did while I was down.

    Gordon
     
  2. ReTrO

    ReTrO
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    It sounds like a pretty amazing room.

    I just wish I had a house to put one in.

    :clap:
     
  3. X3ELS

    X3ELS
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    Thanks for the mini rebiew Gordon and all your time on Friday.

    I will be restocking the fridge for your next visit and can't wait to see the final image when i can run SDI through the HD Leeza. As it stands i am still blown away by the image being achieved from an S-Video feed :)

    And as for the audio, well i would challenge anyone to show me a sound that has bass so unbelievably tight and deep, i have never heard anything like my room produces, like Gordon says without any rattles or straining. In fact when you look at the drive untis on the speakers they are barely moving.

    Much of the end result is down to very careful planning and meticulous construction, take a look at the pictures where you will see how all the wood is jointed correctly rather than just screwed. There is no substitute for doing this correctly.

    Cheers Gordon

    And look forward to seeing you again soon.
     
  4. EvilMudge

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    Good stuff:smashin:

    If I get a round in at the Weatherspoons just down the road from PJs and bring some beer, can I come along too?:laugh:
     
  5. X3ELS

    X3ELS
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    No thanks

    I've spent too long building it for the Army to drop a bomb on it while your there.
     
  6. EvilMudge

    EvilMudge
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    Fine:(

    (Considers evil plan invloving damning up the river Wey just between the Whitehouse and Debenhams - apologies to anyone who doesn't know Guildford.:devil: )
     
  7. X3ELS

    X3ELS
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    Evil,

    Course you can have a look at somepoint, best to wait until May when the new scaler will be in. :)

    I would actually be quite pleased if you blocked off the Wey, its forever flooding my bloody shop :mad:

    Cheers

    Elliot
     
  8. Branxx

    Branxx
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    Gordon F,

    Thank you for a nice post. It may be too early but is there a pattern emerging. The two home theatres you decided to write about, both belonging to home entertainment professionals, are built using the active speakers directly descending from the professional audio market (Eric uses M&K and Elliot uses Genelec).

    It seams that people in the know have already discovered not only where the real quality is but also where the value for money is genuinely positive.

    Professional audio has other good pieces that can be successfully used at home: balanced interconnects, audio PCs, very affordable power amps, etc…

    I am still surprised that so many members are showing deep suspicion about the quality of pro audio gear, even more so considering that all music and movies that we are watching at home is made with such equipment.

    I am big supporter of HTPCs and from my own experience I know that a moderately configured HTPC can outperform significantly more expensive dedicated CD/DVD players. Again, this is possible by utilising pro-audio compute components.
     
  9. EvilMudge

    EvilMudge
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    Elliot,
    surely the dam would have to be somewhere behind the Odeon to stop Bridge street from flooding...

    Branxx,
    Pro-gear is almost certainly 'a' way forward, but it is not for everyone. However, active studio monitors suit me down to the ground, so that's where I'm headed.
     
  10. Branxx

    Branxx
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    Mark,

    There was a recent discussion about the merits of using active speakers. Strangely, not many members supported the idea.
     
  11. EvilMudge

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    see post number 6 for my views on the subject:D
     
  12. X3ELS

    X3ELS
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    Evil, No if you block it up by the white house that would be perfect :) The Odeon is too far along.

    The Genelec speakers are in fact pro speakers, they do 2 ranges with identical specs, the only difference is the ones classed as home cinema speakers have an RCA input as well as XLR.
     
  13. Steve Bate

    Steve Bate
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    Elliot I'd really like to see the results of such a visit as my PC echoes Branxx, that combined with the "magic cable" ;)

    Steve
     

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