Monday, October 26, 2015

The Home Cinema without ATMOS

Many months ago when ATMOS isn't that Hot yet, a customer came for audition in my Kuching Showroom. 

He's hooked onto my setup but I told him not to rush on getting the "electronic" first as I am still researching/testing out new processors. So we confirmed on the speakers (StarkeSound Elite) and Subwoofers (Rythmik). 

Many months had passed and I've tested Denon X7200 and Onkyo 5530 with StarkeSound A7 multi channels amp. The result isn't as great as expected. I was using ADA Rhapsody IV B prior to this and it was way better in terms of sonic & cinematic sounding. The Japs processors are just not right no matter what I've done. It can never match with what I've heard before on my ADA. 

It makes me realized that latest technology isn't always better. You maybe getting more channels & objects with an ATMOS processor and ended spending more but not getting better sound. 

Not until a decent ATMOS processor within budget surfaces, we will be better sticking with old school processor that can both get the work done & producing best sounding system of all time. 

The ATMOS Fever

Dolby ATMOS - the latest audio format for theatre was released last year and it has been the Hoo Haa for many enthusiasts. 

The market has evolved into a new edge where everybody is looking into THE ATMOS feature when buying their Theatre equipment. 

Like 3D, ATMOS is a new trend that changes the minds of many to go searching for new speakers, ATMOS capable upgrade to existing system and AVR or Pre-Amp that is capable of producing the extra so called audio objects in the atmosphere. 

As usual, speakers manufacturers come up with many upgrade options just to grab a piece of pie from the consumers; introducing front reflective speakers so that existing users can buy the extra speakers. 
Many will buy an ATMOS capable AVR and get these speakers so that they can enjoy the latest Audio "Trend". So when people see a 5.1.4 or 7.1.4, they will feel "WOW ATMOS". 

Little did anyone realized that with the emerging ATMOS AVR/PRE and with all these height speakers or reflectors; the crucial part still depends on how the correct setup is. 

Sadly, people are adding new speakers with ever confusing guidelines on the Internet and from their friends and dealers. How many actually got it correctly setup?

Yes you may get extra audio channels ( objects in ATMOS), but did you realize if these extra speakers are blending them well into your existing system? 

I've audited many ATMOS home theatres & even local cinemas and I am disappointment that I only came across a few good ones. Most setups to me are "ANNOYING" because the heights are just too distractive due to mismatch types. And unfortunately, most dealers do not know ATMOS heights are mixed in full range. 

It is not easy to get the ATMOS setup correctly given the following conditions:
1) Room Size / Dimension 
2) Seating layout 
3) Type of speakers & timbre matching
4) Type of walls & ceiling materials that affect the envolvement of sound stage. 
5) Proper EQ to phase match all speakers & Subwoofers, height speakers alignment, etc. 

IF you want extra channels, then ATMOS is a good excuse to let you spend the money. 

IF you want an ultimate cinematic experience, ATMOS is a great way to go if you are able to get all the above 5 points to work. 

IF you can't fulfill the 5 points, I say better to stick to your existing setup and improve it through upgrading of your existing gears. 

I have setup many home cinemas which sound much better without ATMOS than others who have setup ATMOS wrongly. 

Be a wise consumer! 

Monday, January 12, 2015

The first Dolby Atmos 7.4.4 setup in Malaysia

Those who had been to Dolby atmos cinema in Kuching would probably aware that the effect isn't as distinctive.  

I went for atmos movie at the local cinema and felt disappointed with the discrete atmos channels. Somehow, it's either bad calibration or low grade equipment or it could have been the movie mix (this is very unlikely because a friend concurred with my feeling).

I was busy towards the end of year 2014 with installations which I had promised myself that I wanted to get my atmos demo room ready for everyone. 

But I only managed to get all things set up few days ago. Calibration should take another week to ensure I don't miss out any details and requirement. 

Here's a sneak peak for those who can't join us. 

It's a 160" Acoustic transparent screen by Screen Innovation (Lunar Maestro white 1.1 4K)

Projector is Sony VW500ES 4K projection. 

Preamp is Onkyo5530 (Atmos Capable) and Dual Starke Sound A7 multi channel class A Amp (450@4ohms). 

4 Atmos speakers by Starke Sound IWH1Elite x 4 units. 

All cables from Van Den Hul for the most reliability and quality. 

Fully balanced connections. 

First impression for a pre-calibration audition is already having a better effect than the local cinema Atmos experience. 

I will ensure in a week's time, everything will be well calibrated with even better sounding. Please drop by for an audition. Call 0178089020 to schedule for an appointment. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

5 common mistakes in Home Theatre Setup

Hiring a interior designer or architect with no knowledge in home theatre knowledge is a bad move. Designing and building a theatre room is more than the look. It requires the knowledge in acoustic treatment, seat position, projection throw distance and size of a screen and many other factors. One can ended up with nicely design room with bad architecture that can cause inevitable problems such as rattling structure and unegonomic. 

Expensive Gear
Those who can afford high end product will stretch their financial limit to own the best and most expensive system money can buy. Have you seen high end system in someone's home but sounded nothing exciting? High end system requires proper calibration and in room treatment to ensure the environment is able to handle the high spl while maintains good clarity. Many high end system is meant for huge room application and while not careful, it's like driving an ultimate sports car in a village road. Matching system according to your environment and budget is crucial rather than burning money away. 

Post Removation Purchases
For many people, they will engage a home theatre dealer or installer after they have completed the renovation work. This is another bad move because unlike off the shelves HTiB (home theatre in a box), the pre-wiring work is very important. Always engage your home theatre specialist as soon as you home is in the renovation stage. You will save more on labour cost plus better planning during this stage. 

Structural Endorcement
Home theatre system installed by custom installer can produce reference sound which can give your Neighbour problem. Let the home theatre specialist wiring closely with your architect and interior designer at the construction stage and not after everything is completed. 

M&E Planning
Planning a home theatre room requires proper electrical wiring plan. This is to ensure your theatre room is well protected with power urge and lightning. Recently there are many cases with Satelite/cable TV causing problem with electrical appliances. Talk to us prior to designing your home. It will save you much hassle and money in long run. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Video Calibration in Kuching

Just had a two days video calibration in Kuching with Venki for all Sound Fusion's customers. 

Calibrated displays include 2 plasma, a LCD, 2 Sony HW40ES projectors, 1 Sony VW500ES 4K projector, 1 JVC RS48 and a HD25LV. 

Some of the pictures after calibration are here for preview. Look at how you can differentiate the depth and natural colors of these pictures. 

It has been a two exciting days of work but all customers are happy that their displays (LCD, Plasma and Projector) are well calibrated to reference and they are able to fully enjoy their movie picture quality. 

Video Calobration Sevice is exclusively for Sound Fusion's Customers and all protectors purchased from Sound Fusion will enjoy a special discount on all future calibratik services. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

2014 KLIAV (Kuala Lumpur International Audio Video Show)

I haven't been visiting KLIAV for almost 2 years. This trip down to KL is to check out the latest 2014 offering especially the 4K displays. 

Also a member of The ISF (imaging science foundry) certified video calibrator, displays are crucial in a theatre for me. Be it a LED, Plasma, OLED, projectors or laser projection, all has standards to follow. 

A big disappointment of all times is how consumers are being taught to buy the most expensive and sleekest looking display while neglecting the picture quality from the displayed images. 

Why we calibrate displays is the same as why audio is being calibrated. Movies directors hired graphic experts or animation designer during the movies picture editing but not many displays consumers have at home can reproduce the reference colors. Most displays are being calibrated to a very vibrant look to attract the eyes of unawared consumers. 

Above picture is a pre-calibration reading.
Below is a post calibrated result.  

We always see THX Certified or ISF Certified Display on most higher end TV or projectors. And many times, the buyers don't realize they need to hire video calibrators to calibrate the displays for them. All displays are manufactured to a factory stands and components used in the displays generate different imaging results which require video calibrators to future perform a full calibration of GAMMA (based on user's viewing environment and lighting condition) and CMS (color management system). 

A well calibrated display can reproduce reference pictures that can blow your viewing experience away where you get to see what director's intended color and definition of the movie's picture. 
Above is a calibrated picture that you can see the picture seems to pop out. Correct gamma and CMS will reproduce natural brightness and color saturation and skin tone. 
Natural colors can never cheat our eyes as we have been seeing colors in our daily lives. If you happened to notice the colors in your 4K UHD OLED that you paid RM50k isn't the same as what you normally see in the real world, please contact us NOW to ensure you get a proper calibration to that TV to fully enjoy the full potential of it!!

Contact Sound Fusion @ Kuching Malaysia at +60178089020 to schedule for a calibration appointment. We only perform 2 to 3 sessions annually and limited to 8 displays per session (2-4 hours per calibration work depending on the calibratable features in your displays). 

The HAA Theatre Experience

I have been traveling to many places for the past few years to broaden my hearing and viewing on the best audio visual setup. 

Every single detail in a "Great" personalized theater is crucial. The moment I stepped into the room or theater space, the entrance should be welcoming with properly designed acoustically treated door and as much as possible, a controlled ambient lighting. 

The construction materials and colors used in the ceiling and walls of the theater are the most important parts of the theater that will change how everything sounds and reflected. 

Be it a tiled, wooden laminated or carpeted floor, it will change the characteristic of how the subwoofer(s) and speakers response, also the ETC of the room. 

The lighting controls are important and so as the type of lights (Led, fiber optics, fluorescent, halogen) used and the grouping on the switches. The dimming control, the effect lighting, diffuse lighting to showcase your equipment prior to show time. 

Many owners has opted for brand names that paid high price for reviews & advertisement from popular magazines but they have neglected the most important part in home theater building; which is matching & calibration by an experienced calibrator. 

When I said experienced calibrator, I do not mean dealers who attended certification class by passing theories and never get their hands on any calibration ground work. 

There are better installers with DIY experience that they learn both from internet and trial an error during previous installation projects. 

There are less than 5000 HAA audio calibrator in the world and most of these HAA calibrators are experts in helping you building a dedicated reference home or small commercial cinemas. 

What HAA certified engineers do starts from the design phase of a room. 
Unlike THX home theatre professional who gives you guidelines of what a theatre should be designed, HAA engineers get down to the war zone to handle the situation and solve onsite' issues with calibration gear such as RTA, FFT, ETC and run spatial averaging to the room. 

We HAA engineers will do a pre-reading of the room and take individual reading from every speakers and subwoofers before we do our "stuff". 

Upon completion of a full HAA calibration, we provide a reports showing the pre and post reading so users can see what has been done. With reports in hand, HAA calibrators can do tweaking work to the user's personal preference while retaining the reference audio output. 

We, HAA calibrators will be visiting sites annually or upon request to verify the consistency of the results as some speakers or equipment could deteriorate over time. This is to ensure every HAA calibrated room will stay up to standard so that you can always be enjoying the best sound from the directors' mix. 

To experience a HAA theatre, please visit Sound Fusion @ Kuching Malaysia. You can also contact Sound Fusion at +60178089020 or email to locate HAA calibrated theatres near you. What's the use if an expensive setup is not being calibrated to reference!