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Published by SK Bukit Batu Limbang Sarawak, 2021-11-02 00:08:26

Sound & Vision - AugustSeptember 2021

Sound & Vision - AugustSeptember 2021


George Harrison’s Solo LP Gets an Atmos Update PSB’s T600 Tower Speaker



•Where Technology Becomes Entertainment™ AUGUST
INSTANT A/V: Roku's app-driven Streambar Pro soundbar





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BRX, Stereophile’s John Atkinson was conversation with acclaimed musician and
perhaps most impressed by the BRX’s ability engineer, David Chesky: “Chesky told me
to produce naturally detailed, lifelike, and that Periphery was recorded with a ribbon
immersive sound that belies the speakers’ microphone and a pair of omnis in a giant
room-friendly proportions. church. ‘Your room should open up to
infinity when you play this back,’ he
“Even placed farther out in the room than promised. With the GoldenEar BRXes
I suspect is optimal, the GoldenEar BRXes driven by the Parasound amplifiers, it did!”
sounded surprisingly full-bodied for a
relatively small loudspeaker.” BRX $1,598/pair


New Indulgences for the
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of HDMI cables have earned their dominant place in the than their previous models.
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contents features


Looking back on the recording of The A screen can be a near-equal partner with S&V drops in on the speaker maker’s
Beatles guitarist Harrison’s landmark a projector for achieving theater-quality NJ demonstration theater, a space
3-LP solo work in anticipation of its images. We list the key things you need to combining comfort with state-of-the-art
50th anniversary deluxe box set release. consider when projection screen-shopping. gear and acoustic treatments.

On the Cover Clockwise from top left: Roku Streambar Pro soundbar, PSB Speakers T600 Tower loudspeaker, Trinnov Audio Altitude16
surround sound processor, SVS 3000 Micro subwoofer, Stewart Filmscreen Harmony G2 AT Screen (photo: Jeff Freeman Photography).

[ [4 August September 2021

The LARGEST online library of home theater, home audio &
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contents test reports VOLUME 86 NUMBER 5


Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s
DARKSTAR UST 2 March 1970 magnum opus gets
EFINITY SCREEN the in-depth treatment via Rhino’s
5-disc 180-gram vinyl box set
52 TRINNOV accompanied by a 20-page book
and 24-bit/192kHz versions of all
AUDIO ALTITUDE16 tracks available as free digital
SURROUND SOUND downloads on the Neil Young
PROCESSOR Archives site.

56 SIMAUDIO departments

Ultimate A/V.
LOUDSPEAKER Time for TV. Wake up, lemmings!
Disc players: an endangered
64 SVS 3000 species? Buy, buy Blu-ray.
Backyard theater—go big!
[ [6 August September 2021
Quick Takes: Roku Streambar
Pro soundbar, Vizio V21d-J8



What is my stereo’s gender?


Concert and music doc service
Qwest TV steps outside the
streaming mainstream.


Looking back on two decades of
high-end home theater life with

24 Q&A

Adapting an existing speaker rig
for Atmos. High-res audio and
wireless streaming.


Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection;
Nobody; Nomadland; Judas and
the Black Messiah; Minari; My Fair
Lady; Donnie Darko Limited


Bob Marley & The Wailers:

On The Web Log on to and sign up for our free monthly enewsle er.
You’ll get exclusive tips, news, trends, and reviews from your favorite S&V writers.

Ultimate A/V

Customer AS I SIT DOWN TO write this And what of those cu ing- and acoustic design professionals
Service And editorial, summer has just fully edge products and companies? collaborate, check out our feature
Subscriptions kicked in and, a er more than a On page 22 of this issue, S&V’s on KEF’s THX Certified Music
year stuck at home, I’m striving to resident custom installation expert Lounge Theater installation on
soundandvision@email- get outside and do outdoor stuff as and Connected Life columnist page 38. much as possible. But by the time John Sciacca looks back at his
you’re reading this, September will long association with Kaleides- Even with all the advanced
Call (800) 666-3746 be approaching, and my a ention cape, a firm that has consistently connected home tech on display
(international calls: will be fixed on the CEDIA Expo pushed the video server envelope at CEDIA Expo, the show has long
386-447-6383) tradeshow, a showcase for home to make movie collections more been a venue for manufacturers
or write to: theater, automation, and multiple manageable, and the onscreen to launch traditional A/V gear like
other developments in connected experience of browsing one’s projectors, speakers, surround
Sound & Vision, home technology that’s scheduled library visually captivating. Our sound processors, and amplifiers.
P.O. Box 420235, to take place from September 1-3 Test Reports section features a With CEDIA Expo—and CES—
Palm Coast, FL in Indianapolis, Indiana. new woven projection screen having been skipped over last year
32142-0235 material from Stewart Film- due to the pandemic, I’ll be eager
CEDIA Expo 2021 is being screen designed for both true to drop in and personally experi-
Please include your pitched by the event’s organizers acoustic transparency and color ence some of the other innova-
full name, address, as a “reunion,” and with the 2020 accuracy—a tricky technical tive, high-performance products
and phone number show having been cancelled for combination to pull off—in sophis- reviewed in the Test Reports
on any inquiries. obvious reasons, that label will ticated installations that situate section of this issue—the Trinnov
certainly apply. As I walk the show the system’s speakers behind a Audio Altitude16 processor and
floor, I’m sure it will take time to screen, along with a 123-inch (!) SVS 3000 Micro subwoofer, for
adjust to the reality of being at model from EPV Screens designed instance. Bring on the demos! I’m
an event packed with people in a for media rooms that use an Ultra ready to have my eyes and ears
large, enclosed space. Fortunately, Short Throw projector. Want opened, my bones ra led, and my
I will be carrying the issue of Sound to learn more about projection horizons expanded.
& Vision you are now holding in screens and the science behind
your hands—one that celebrates the various screen types? Tech-
home theater and the cu ing- nical editor Thomas J. Norton’s
edge products and companies Guide to Projection Screens on
that make the highest-quality page 34 has you covered. Lastly,
home movie-viewing experience to get a sense of how a sophisti-
possible. I will consider it to be cated home theater room comes
my ticket for a return trip back to together when both interior design

THE MAKING OF ALL assembly of that session’s star- vinyl, CD, and a Blu-ray disc
THINGS MUST PASS studded core band, which with Dolby Atmos surround.
featured Eric Clapton, Ringo All Things Must Pass is widely
In this issue we welcome back Starr, Billy Preston, Klaus considered Harrison's finest
Beatles expert Matt Hurwitz, Voorman, Peter Frampton, solo work, and its 50th
who has dug deep into the Badfinger, and others. It also anniversary release is a box set
recording of guitarist George details the remixing process for we’ve been eagerly waiting on.
Harrison’s epic 1970 solo album the album’s 50th anniversary Check out page 26 for Matt's
All Things Must Pass. Matt’s release (shown at top right), extended story of the original
feature explores the with the music appearing on album’s production.—AG
circumstances that led to the

[ [8 August September 2021

Fathom® IWS August/September 2021 Volume 86/Number 5

In-Wall Subwoofer Systems EDITOR: Al Griffin

Available as single or dual SENIOR EDITOR, TECHNICAL EDITOR: Tom Norton
subwoofer systems, with EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Bob Ankosko
outboard DSP and amplification. CONTRIBUTING TECHNICAL EDITORS: Kris Deering, Barb Gonzalez,
Michael P. Hamilton, Howard Kneller, Daniel Kumin, Rob Sabin, John Sciacca,
© 2021 JL AUDIO, Inc. For more information on our complete Michael Trei, David Vaughn
line of subwoofers, please visit your local authorized dealer or CONTRIBUTORS: Michael Antonoff, Brandon A. DuHamel, Ma Hurwitz, Authorized JL Audio Dealers do not sell via Roger Kanno, Josef Krebs, Ken C. Pohlmann, Leslie Shapiro, Stewart Wolpin
the Internet. Subwoofers pictured with grilles removed. MUSIC EDITOR: Mike Me ler
MOVIES EDITOR: Chris Chiarella

CONSULTANT Jeremy Moyler Jon Iverson
Joel Silver,
Imaging Science

AVTech Media Americas Inc

General Manager Keith Pray
[email protected]

Advertising Manager Ed DiBenede o
edibenede [email protected]

Sales Coordinator Rosemarie Torcivia
[email protected]

Digital inquiries Keith Pray, [email protected]

Important Sound & Vision telephone numbers
US & Canada subscriptions (800) 264-9872,
[email protected]
Sound & Vision, box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235
Please include name, address, and phone number on any inquiries
International subscriptions (386) 447-6383
Al Griffin [email protected]
Sound & Vision website

For high-quality custom reprints and eprints, please contact Keith Pray at [email protected].

Any submissions or contributions from readers shall be subject to and governed by AVTech Media’s user
content submission terms and conditions, which are posted at h p://

Canada Post
Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Imex Global Solutions, P.O. box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2

Subscriber List
Occasionally our subscriber list is made available to reputable firms offering goods and services we
believe would be of interest to our readers. If you prefer to be excluded, please send your current address
label and a note requesting to be excluded from these promotions to AVTech Media Americas Inc.,
260 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10016 a n: privacy coordinator.

Printed in the USA. Copyright © 2021 by AVTech Media Americas Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Fully suspended, floating
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for powerful bass output
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Available to fit 2x4
or 2x6 stud bays.

Fathom® IWSv2 Subwoofers

Amazing, high-power subwoofer performance
that disappears into your wall.

Available as a single Thin-wall enclosure construction
subwoofer system with extensive internal bracing
(IWSv2-SYS-113), or as a dual maximizes internal volume.
subwoofer system
(IWSv2-SYS-213). Systems include an outboard
amplifier with DSP to control
and drive the subwoofer.
1000 W with single
subwoofer, or 2000 W with
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Amplifier includes
JL Audio’s DARO
Digital Automatic

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Purpose-engineered, long-
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subwoofer driver
Special suspension design
couples the grille opening to the
enclosure, creating a seal and
preventing wall rattling.
Huge bass through a discreet
grille opening, less than 18
inches square.

© 2021 JL Audio, Inc. For more information on our complete line of subwoofers, please visit your local authorized dealer or
Authorized JL Audio Dealers do not sell via the Internet. Subwoofers pictured with grilles removed.

letters involving ownership, licensing agreements,
and music copyright are probably at the top
Time for TV of the list, although I’m sure an entertain-
Greetings from Cleveland, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame city! I have been an audio and home ment lawyer could cite multiple other snafus
theater fan for a long time and a subscriber since back when the magazine was Stereo that might prevent a particular title from
Review! I also subscribed to Video and High Fidelity. A er reading your Track One column appearing on Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, etc.
about streaming and the Le erboxd app in the June/July issue, I was reminded of an app that And while that answer doesn’t solve the
I love called TV Time. It is so hard to keep track of what series you are in the middle of mystery of All That Jazz not being available
streaming, what service it is on, and which shows and movies you want to watch. This app to stream, it was clearly a good move for you
helps to sort out all of that. as a fan to pick up the Blu-ray, a disc that’s
still available in Criterion’s collection. Let
Here’s how TV Time works: You input all the shows you are currently watching and the that be a lesson for us all: Movies you love
ones you want to watch. Then, when you are ready to view something, the app will tell you should be added to your disc library, if only
which service it is on and provide a summary of the episode. So, basically, no hunting to ensure you’ll be able to re-watch in the
around. It also gives you a nice list with graphic tiles of shows you are watching. When you future should the video streaming overlords
finish a series up, you check it off and it goes into the “watched” category. The app also does withdraw them from circulation.
the same for movies and can find similar titles in the Discovery area, telling you what your
“match” percentage is. Yes, other streaming apps like Netflix do the same, but here you can Backyard Theater—Go Big!
browse the offerings on all services in one place, with the movies you want to view entered in As a Sound & Vision print subscriber, I tend
the “Haven’t Started” category. TV Time also sends out a notification to your phone when a to immediately devour your publication each
new episode of a show you are tracking drops. month front to back. It is a return to my first
tech-addiction: home theater. But some-
Bill Breg / Cleveland, OH thing nagged at me while consuming the
June/July 2021 issue. The feature “A Garden
Wake Up, Lemmings! developing a new line of players based on Oasis in the Heart of Pi sburgh” was
I totally agree with Lonne Lintner’s le er in Oppo’s well-regarded UDP-203 design (look interesting and well-wri en, with enough
the June/July issue (“The Quest for Audio out for a future review in Sound & Vision). detail to make the reader want to personally
Perfection”). The Compact Disc, a perfectly But while there’s no stopping streaming and experience the space.
good medium for music enjoyment, has its merciless conquest of the home
been practically abandoned due to a few entertainment space, physical media—and The “HUH?” factor came when I read
so-called “vinyl gurus” selling the message the machines required to play them—will about the decision to use a 55-inch TV. Why
that turntables (mostly priced obscenely stick around for years to come. Just look at would this otherwise thoughtfully assem-
high) can extract more musicality, presence, the vinyl LP/turntable revival, which is now bled project with quality gear get paired with
etc., from recorded music than the humble going stronger than ever! Even Compact a teenie picture? Was there not enough in
CD player. I’m sure these same gurus would Discs and casse es are making a bit of a the budget? Such a deluxe, designer se ing
not be able to appreciate any music unless comeback, with some artists—indie ones, BEGS for a large, projected image!
it’s played on vinyl. Wake up, lemmings! mainly—preferring to release physical Considering the thought that went into the
Re-tune your brain to start enjoying the media in those formats. If you do go all in on audio, all else here otherwise seems quite
simplicity and beauty of music without streaming, A/V quality isn’t nearly the same well-balanced and carefully worked out.
over-analyzing what you are hearing. issue as it was in the early days of online
movie viewing, with many services now The outdoor factor—weather expo-
K.T. Low / via email offering movies and TV shows in 4K/HDR sure—had to play into this. Is an appropri-
with Dolby Atmos sound. ately robust projector just not within reason?
Disc Players: Endangered Are there no such affordable projectors
Species? Buy, Buy Blu-ray available, either built for this purpose or,
In his April/May 2021 Q&A column, Al Griffin I’m hoping you can answer a question that’s when properly installed, able to minimize the
advises grabbing “an Ultra HD Blu-ray player been puzzling me. What is up with the lack effects of temperature and moisture?
while they are still being manufactured.” But of streaming availability for the 1979
if these players might no longer be made, Oscar-winning movie All That Jazz? I have In this post-pandemic world, many
what will take their place? Most movies on always loved this film with its outstanding people want to get back to cinemas. But for
streaming services don’t come with cast, visuals, direction, and music. When the some time now, we’ve been able to achieve
7.1-channel surround sound or HDR. Criterion Collection issued it on Blu-ray, I a cinematic experience at home with
immediately bought the disc. Yet, despite reasonable outlay. My own humble theater
Ronald V. Tancredi / Plainview, NY the many All That Jazz releases on disc contains a 10-foot-plus screen showing
formats over the years, I can’t find one gorgeous Epson-projected images plus
Al Griffin responds: To put it simply—and streaming service offering it. This situation fantastic surround sound. If I were looking
harshly—streaming and digital downloads seems very strange to me. Can you tell us for a cool Airbnb vacation spot with a theater
will likely replace disc playback. It’s a why the movie has been held up from system, this property’s small screen would
process that’s already well underway, streaming distribution? be a deal-killer. Hey, it’s 2021: widescreen,
although Ultra HD Blu-ray players continue BIG, and loud are where it’s at! I hope to see
to be offered by companies like Panasonic, Dan Douglas / Merri Island, FL a follow-up article detailing a similarly
Pioneer, and Sony. There is even a new equipped outdoor setup but done large
company, Reavon (, that There could be many reasons why a movie using projection. Otherwise, a fine issue
had previously been a distributor of Oppo isn’t available on streaming services. Issues all-around, and I enjoyed it very much
Ultra HD Blu-ray players in France, which is despite that bit of silliness.

Alex Johnston / East Tawas, Michigan

Projection at outdoor drive-in movie theaters
(yes, some continue to exist!) may be an

[ [12 August September 2021

established format, but there’s no equivalent was told that the 85t is not “optimized” for our wireless earbuds testing procedure even
we know of for domestic outdoor environ- MP3 players. But how is it possible that a though standalone digital audio players are
ments. Yes, you can buy pop-up screens device with a Bluetooth receiver will not a niche product category compared with the
and portable projectors that can be pulled connect to one with a Bluetooth transmi er? smartphones most listeners use to listen to
out for a summer backyard movie night, but music on the move.
permanent, year-round backyard projection I am displeased that Stewart did not
installations are not at all common. mention this in his article, as my plan for the Moving On Up
Weatherproof outdoor TVs such as the earbuds was to use them with a couple of Have you ever considered an article aimed
“teenie” one used in the Pi sburgh MP3 players I own. Playing MP3 files at readers who would like to move up from a
installation are a growing market segment, through a smartphone is not my cup of tea soundbar to separate components but don’t
however, and they are now available in because I cannot control track pause, want to spend a lot of money? My soundbar
screen sizes up to 75 inches from companies advance, rewind, or fast-forward like I can is okay, but I’m sure audio quality would
like Samsung, SunBrite, and others. Would a with my dedicated players (without improve significantly if I made an upgrade to
75-inch TV be a be er option for a private looking). Also, those MP3 players connect separates. I have tried to figure the situation
backyard bar like the one depicted in the “A quite nicely with my Sony WH-100XM4 and out myself, but technology is changing so
Garden Oasis” feature? Given S&V’s MDR-XB50BS Bluetooth headphones, as fast. Should I use wireless bookshelf
longtime advocacy for using the biggest well as with my JBL Flip 4 portable speakers connected to HDMI-ARC from my
possible screen, we’d have say yes. Maybe speaker. Bad oversight by Stewart. The TV, or would wired components work
you can leave a screen-related comment in Jabras are on their way back to the vendor. be er? Also, how would these components
an Airbnb review if you ever get around to respond to the TV remote, or has the
visiting Pi sburgh! John Rolin / via email industry already solved that problem?

The Wrong Buds Bluetooth incompatibilities aside, the Jabra Dennis DeVore / Grand Junction,
I was looking to buy wireless NC earbuds Elite 85t would not be the best option for use Colorado
and so read Stewart Wolpin’s “Face-Off: with a standalone MP3 player due to its high
True Wireless Noise-Canceling Earbuds” level of dependence on the company’s Switching from a basic soundbar to
feature in the June/July issue with great Sound+ smartphone app for general setup powered wireless bookshelf speakers such
anticipation. I ended up purchasing the and sound/ergonomics customization. A as the SVS Prime Wireless or KEF LS50
Jabra Elite 85t model that received a Top less app-centric wireless earbud option that Wireless II (reviewed in our June/July issue)
Pick award, but a er wasting quite a bit of also offers good audio performance (like the would provide a solid sound quality
my time, was very disappointed to learn it Master & Dynamic MW08 from the same upgrade, and so, of course, would an A/V
will not connect wirelessly with MP3 test) would have been a be er choice. But receiver driving a full surround system.
players. I called Jabra support for help and you do bring up a good point about HDMI-ARC—a connection option found in
Bluetooth compatibility with MP3 players. recent A/V receivers and on the KEF wireless
Going forward we will incorporate that into speakers mentioned above should in theory
allow you to control other devices in the
ENTER TO WIN system using your TV’s remote using the
CRUTCHFIELD’S CEC (Consumer Electronics Control)
protocol, but it’s been our experience that
GREAT GEAR GIVEAWAY CEC doesn’t work reliably with all combina-
tions of gear. So, in short, no—the industry
for your chance to win a $350 Crutchfield gift card hasn’t yet totally solved that problem.
Correction: Our review of the SVS SB-1000
and PB-1000 Pro subwoofers in the June/
July issue listed an incorrect phone number
for the company. SVS can be contacted at:

We welcome questions
and comments.

Email them to editor@soundandvi- Please note: Questions
about the features and functions of
products are best directed to the
manufacturer. Questions about what
product you should buy are best
directed to a dealer. All submissions
are considered the exclusive proper-
ty of Sound & Vision magazine and
AVTech Media Ltd. We reserve the
right to edit letters for brevity. Due to
the volume of mail that we receive, we
regret that we cannot respond to
every letter.

[ 13

wide quick take BY MICHAEL ANTONOFF AT A
angle GLANCE

Roku Streambar Pro Room-filling sound
Enhances dialogue
A Sound Streaming Solution
Built-in Roku
Soundbars are popular for a good reason. The speakers in a typical flat the Streambar Pro. Sound seemed streaming
panel TVs sound puny compared with the visual sway of increasingly larger, to mimic the direction of moving interface
higher-resolution displays. Also, since not every viewing room can accom- objects as a spaceship or asteroids
modate the separate components of a home theater, a narrow-footprint hurtled across the screen complete None worth noting
soundbar solves the problem of raising the impact of the audio and it does with rumble. When the movie’s
so with one cable. heroine, Rey, lost focus on a ring of RATING
rocks she was levitating, the rocks
Roku, a company known for remote to spell out this information, fell to the ground with a crunchy PERFORMANCE
its streaming media players and which is faster than clicking through spla er. Watching Mortal Kombat
the user interface found in some the onscreen keypad. and WW84 on HBO Max reminded FEATURES
smart TVs, has introduced the me what the movie theater multiplex
Streambar Pro ($180), a 4-speaker The asterisk bu on takes you to experience sounds like. Even when ERGONOMICS
array with 2.5-inch full-range the sound se ings, which you adjust watching The Kominsky Method on
drivers housed in a 32.2-inch-wide to your liking. I chose to boost the Netflix, subtle sounds like a coin VALUE
cabinet. It has built-in Wi-Fi and bass and level the volume to auto- being rubbed on a scratch-off ticket
supports 4K/HDR10 video from matically adjust for irregularly loud commanded my a ention. SPECS
its built-in apps (but not Dolby or so content like TV commercials. 2.5-inch full-range
Atmos). The Streambar Pro comes I also set Speech Clarity to Low and You can use the Roku screen
with a voice-enabled RF remote enabled Virtual Surround. interface to call up streaming driver (4)
with a headphone jack for private channels, adjust sound se ings, Power:
listening. (Earbuds are included.) It Roku additionally offers a wire- and play video and music from Not specified
has dedicated bu ons for Netflix, less subwoofer ($180) and a pair of a USB storage device using the Inputs:
Disney+, Apple TV+, and Hulu, plus wireless speakers ($150) that you Roku Media Player. The earphone HDMI-ARC,
ones labeled “1” and “2” you can plug in for power. These are both jack on the remote is convenient, optical digital;
assign to other favorite services. installed using setup options in the but the audio quality pales in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth,
soundbar’s audio menu. comparison with the soundbar.
Setup Similarly, Bluetooth enables you to USB
I placed the Streambar Pro on Performance play music from your phone. I used Dimensions:
the stand between the feet of my I first auditioned the Roku this workaround to accommodate 32.2 x 2.8 x 3.9
55-inch TV and connected the Streambar Pro solo before adding my subscription to YouTube Music inches (WxHxD)
included HDMI cable between the the optional sub and surrounds, (formerly Google Play Music) Weight: 5.5 lbs.
bar’s HDMI-ARC input and my TV’s and it opened my ears to what I’d because the app isn’t available on Price: $180
HDMI-ARC port. (An optical audio been missing when using my TV’s Roku. Bluetooth, unfortunately,
cable is supplied for use with older built-in speakers. Audio easily filled didn’t do the music justice. (Roku THE VERDICT
TVs lacking HDMI-ARC.) Next, I the room even at a relatively low suggested I instead use AirPlay, The Roku
followed the screen prompts to volume, dialogue was clearer, music which the Streambar Pro also
connect to Wi-Fi and set up a Roku richer, and sound effects popped. supports.) Streambar Pro
account. You can press and hold offers a consider-
the microphone bu on on the The first 12 minutes of Star Conclusion
Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which I was very impressed with the able sound
I streamed from Disney+, were performance of the Streambar upgrade over a
enough to sell me on the merits of Pro, which made dialogue clearer TV’s internal
(making captions less vital for me) speakers and
and music more robust. Its expan- comes with the
sive cinema-like sound makes
you forget you’re si ing at home company’s
instead of in a theater. While Roku’s comprehensive
optional wireless sub and surround streaming platform
speakers enhanced my experience
even further, the largest gain was built-in.
from the Streambar Pro itself. Once
you’ve heard it, there will be no
going back.

[ [14 August September 2021

wide quick take BY LESLIE SHAPIRO AT A
angle GLANCE

Vizio V21d-J8 Soundbar Great value
Sound Bargain dialogue clarity
Voice Assistant
Whoever complained that you get what you pay for never listened to Vizio’s sound and widened the sound-
V21d-J8. The company’s latest 2.1-channel soundbar is a $100 entry- stage, but also slightly reduced input
level model offering strikingly clear sound. Although the V21d-J8 lacks a dialogue intelligibility. It’s o en hard
dedicated subwoofer, it delivers a fair amount of upper-bass impact. For the to hear the voices on low-budget Lacks bass impact
price, it can’t be beat. movie soundtracks, but the V21d-J8 Complicated
performed consistently well with LED display
This budget bar is an all-in-one 2.1 system that uses two full-range drivers movie and TV dialogue. Narrow
and two 3-inch woofers. Vizio calls these “subwoofers,” but with a specified soundstage
range reaching down to 60Hz, I’m more comfortable calling them woofers. For music, I se led down to listen
to my friend Sailor Jane, featured RATING
Setup 3.5mm analog stereo, optical, and on Lovd Ones x Benjah’s “Warrior
The fabric-wrapped V21d-J8 has HDMI-ARC. The V21d-J8 also has a Poet.” The bass on this reggae PERFORMANCE
a pleasant, rounded shape and dedicated voice assistant input for track sounded punchy, although as
can sit on a flat surface or be wall- speakers with an AUX output (you more percussion joined it, low end FEATURES
mounted using slats located on can also connect via Bluetooth), impact was lacking. Benjah’s vocals
the bo om. Its full-range drivers which lets the soundbar function as sounded clean and accurate, and ERGONOMICS
are front-firing when the soundbar a Google or Alexa voice-assistant. the subtle background voices in
is placed on a flat surface with the the chorus were crisp and detailed. VALUE
woofers facing up; when positioned The V21d-J8 offers some Sailor Jane’s sultry vocals were
in wall-mount orientation, high-end sound modes that I didn’t expect warm and natural, again with excel- SPECS
clarity gets lost, so setup will have at this price point. DTS Virtual:X lent high-end detail. When I pushed
a sound-quality impact. A line of processing creates a pseudo- the volume, the bass quickly got LR Drivers:
LED indicators is used to signal the surround feel with overhead overblown, with audible distortion 1.89 x 3.54
soundbar’s functions—you’ll want imaging, while DTS TRuVolume and cabinet resonance. With the
to keep the manual nearby to help compresses dynamic range to audio processing modes disabled, Power:
decipher them. enhance dialogue and, even the stereo soundstage was narrow, Not specified
be er, reduce loud audio from but imaging was accurate.
There are basic controls on TV commercials. The Night Inputs:
the bar’s right side for power, Mode feature reduces bass and DTS Virtual:X also created a more Optical, HDMI-
input, Bluetooth connection, and is disabled when the bar gets spacious sound with music. “It’s
volume. All these are duplicated powered off and on again. Not Supposed to be That Way” with ARC, analog
on the included remote, which Nathaniel Ratcliff and Willie Nelson stereo minijack;
adds EQ, bass, and treble controls. Performance sounded clean and open, with no Bluetooth, USB,
EQ modes include Music, Movie, Any Bruce Willis movie is a fun treble coloration and both singers
Game and Dialogue. test for a soundbar. I cued up the hauntingly present. Turning up AUX Voice
low-budget Breach to see how the the beat with “Mirror” by Norway’s Assistant
Inputs are located on V21d-J8 would handle the action. Sigrid once again revealed this Dimensions:
V21d-J8’s bo om The deep bass rumble of the Herc soundbar’s only shortcoming: a 36 x 2.13 x 5.5
and include spaceship proved too much for the lack of deep bass, with Sigrid’s inches (WxHxD)
small woofers, but the V21d-J8 gave overly processed voice also Weight: 5.2 lbs.
dialogue a pleasant, very natural- sounding a li le harsh when the Price: $100
volume was pushed too high.
sounding boost. Turning on THE VERDICT
DTS Virtual:X created Conclusion
a more open I’ve reviewed many soundbars, With its strikingly
including some expensive models. clear dialogue
The V21d-J8 stood its ground delivery, Vizio’s
compared with these, offering V21d-J8 might
impressive dialogue clarity, but just be the best
limited bass. If money's no object. $100 soundbar
I'd upgrade to a bar with a dedi- you can buy.
cated sub and bigger drivers. But
if your budget maxes out at $100, I
would choose Vizio's V21d-J8.

[ [16 August September 2021

wide signals

What is My
Stereo’s Gender?


Readers will recall, distressingly, that I have tried their patience on
just about every topic that marginally relates to audio. LP grooves,
CD bumps, flat response, boomy bass, warm recordings, cold binary
bits—I have waxed philosophically on all of them. Which bring us to
today’s audio topic: gender.

When I first got involved in Digital Skills Through Educa- per month on over 500 million Trek sounded like a woman, as
with stereo, some of my main tion (The title refers to a now- devices in 21 languages and in does my car. Robby the Robot
concerns were: Does my removed Siri response that was 36 countries. The argument that (remember him?) in Lost in
receiver need a loudness seen as demeaning to women), Siri and its competitors have the Space was a guy, as was HAL
switch? What are the optimal it criticizes Apple, Google, power to shape cultural norms 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey,
mid-range crossover frequen- Amazon, and Microso for should not be dismissed. The and Deep Thought in The Hitch-
cies? What is the tracking placing a default female voice voice that an assistant uses, and hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
weight of my tonearm? Should I in their digital assistants. To how it interacts with humans, is
buy a conical or elliptical stylus? quote the report, “Because the a fundamental social issue and Or maybe an androgynous
Will my paper route pay for all speech of most voice assistants increasingly important as smart voice would be best, along
this? Now, my biggest question is female, it sends a signal that devices proliferate. In other with an androgynous name.
is, what is my stereo’s gender? women are obliging, docile, and words, the UN has a valid point. According to recent statis-
eager-to-please helpers, avail- tics compiled by the Social
My first piece of decent audio able at the touch of a bu on or We tend to bark commands Security Administration, which
gear was a hand-built (by me) with a blunt voice command like and queries at our smart apparently keeps track of these
Heathkit AA-21D amplifier. Solid ‘hey’ or ‘OK’. The assistant holds speakers, and arbitrarily things, the name “Charlie” is
state! Twenty-eight transis- no power of agency beyond defaulting to a female voice split exactly 50/50 between
tors! I had a lot of questions what the commander asks of could pose problems. Every males and females. I think
about my first amplifier, but it it. It honors commands and time you yell at a speaker, you Charlie is a good name.
wouldn’t have entered my mind responds to queries regardless might be unconsciously rein-
to ask about its gender. It wasn’t of their tone or hostility. In many forcing a hierarchy. Children, But wait a minute. Who am
sentient in any way. It wasn’t communities, this reinforces in particular, might develop a I to decide anything about
going to have progeny. It was commonly held gender biases bias that equates women with gender? Wouldn’t it be be er
completely dumb. It was only an that women are subservient and servility as they increasingly to let my speaker decide its
amplifier. tolerant of poor treatment.” encounter digital assistants gender for itself? One day
with female voices. The very soon it might be sufficiently
Today’s smart speakers are Apple, for one, has changed terminology “digital assistant” aware; it’s totally possible it
smart to the point of seeming its tune. The original Siri had puts the device in its place. could announce it’s throwing a
almost human. And as they only a female voice. A male gender-reveal party.
assume human qualities, they voice was subsequently added In any case, choosing your
naturally have assumed a but the female voice remained speaker’s gender requires Maybe I should dust off my
voice. And that voice assigns the default. As of iOS 14.5, Siri some thought. Risking a weird trusty Heathkit.
a gender to the speaker. Early no longer defaults to a female juxtaposition of terminology,
smart speakers used a female voice. When you set up a new we might say that analog gear THE AUTHOR
voice. At least according to Siri, you must choose between is definitively non-binary. But
one study at Indiana University a female- or male-sounding smart digital devices with Ken C. Pohlmann is an electrical
in 2017, both men and women voice. According to a statement voices assume genders. So, engineer specializing in audio
preferred a female voice, from Apple, “This is a continu- male or female? The Starship topics as a consultant and writer.
finding it welcoming, warm, and ation of Apple’s long-standing Enterprise’s computer on Star He is Professor Emeritus at the
nurturing. The United Nations commitment to diversity and University of Miami.
begs to differ. inclusion, and products and
services that are designed to
UNESCO, the United Nations be er reflect the diversity of the
Educational, Scientific and world we live in.”
Cultural Organization, issued
a report that is highly critical of For context, note that Siri
smart speakers. Titled, I’d Blush processes 25 billion requests
if I Could: Closing Gender Divides

[ [18 August September 2021





©2021 Klipsch Group, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Voxx International Corporation. Klipsch is a trademark of Klipsch Group, Inc., registered in the USA and other countries. Manufactured under license from Dolby Laboratories. Dolby, Dolby Atmos, and
the double-D symbol are registered trademarks of Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation.

wide stream on and iOS apps are available), dubbed RTBF Archives 1961 (as
angle but if you must go those routes, culled from French-speaking
please do yourself a favor and Belgium’s radio and TV coffers).
Qwest for Fire stream what you’re watching to Clicking on the Se ings wheel
your Ultra HDTV via Chromecast in the lower right corner, I
Qwest TV steps outside the streaming or AirPlay—otherwise, you’re chose the Audio Track as
mainstream to offer up a wider swath of missing out on the high-quality English @320 (why I would
multicultural live concert and documentary Qwest TV A/V experience. even consider @180?), and the
selections. Video Quality at 1920x1080,
For the most part, Qwest TV 4210kbps. (If you don’t specify
BY MIKE METTLER succeeds in fulfilling its global- an aspect ratio preference here,
leaning mission statement, the video defaults to auto.) This
Quincy Jones has always been a maverick. The multi-hyphenate something that’s easily discern- vintage 1:33.1 B&W RTBF clip
octogenarian producer/musician/conductor/director has been able the moment you land on was as clear as it could be, given
tireless in his decades-long quest to widen the listening base for the home page. The navigation its age. A V-neck-besweatered
multicultural music into as many ears and souls as he can possibly is smooth and fluid, with Guest Q (as he’s known somewhat
reach across the globe, genre biases be damned. At age 88, Jones Curators, What’s Hot, Live reverentially in some quarters)
continues to follow a mantra best encapsulated in a slightly modified Premieres, and other selections strides down a set of stairs to
song title from his late pop protégé Michael Jackson: don’t stop ’til taking over the featured banner conduct his top-shelf touring
you get enough listeners. And now, with his burgeoning streaming area below the main topline big band with much style and
service Qwest TV making continual A/V inroads, Jones is one step menu pulldowns and just above grace. Tenor saxophonists
closer to mass enlightenment. nine encircled genre catego- Jerome Richardson and Budd
ries. Scrolling down past those Johnson take center stage to
Qwest TV is the logical brand a month, or $49.99 annually. If genre markers gives you easy trade riffs on Jones’ own “The
extension of a pair of Jones’ you have Comcast Xfinity, you access to whatever personal Birth of a Band,” while the entire
other well-entrenched media can subscribe by saying “Qwest choices you’ve added to “My ensemble totally swings on
conglomerates, Qwest Records TV” into your handy-dandy X1 list,” with its “Resume watching” Ernie Wilkins’ “Everybody’s
and Qwest Broadcasting. Voice Remote. Non-Comcast cousin nestled directly below Blues.” It’s the very definition of
Launched in 2017, Qwest TV’s users can instead access the for those times you need to pick mid-20th century cool.
goal is to be known as the Qwest TV app on Android TVs right back up wherever your
“home for jazz, soul, funk, clas- or Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon viewing ADD le you hanging. From there, I went to the
sical, and music from around Fire TV streaming devices. You Documentaries menu and
the world.” In other words, while can also watch on a computer, Whatever selection you immediately found Chick Corea:
mainstream artists and their smartphone, or tablet (Android intend to watch includes The Musician, a 2011 doc that
more accessible ecosystems robust and informative critical includes clips of the late Corea
can be found quite easily on summaries of the proceedings, and Herbie Hancock cu ing
most major streaming plat- as well as encircled listings of heads during a Duets sequence
forms, Qwest TV strives to dig key featured performers, each and Corea later vamping on his
deeper in terms of taking a more of whom get their own individual Yamaha Motif XF8 keyboard
global approach to its own live at the legendary Blue Note. I
performance and documentary bios and “also featured in” then cast my net wider into less
offerings. (Currently, the service references upon further clicks. familiar territory by cueing up
boasts over 1,300 selections to As an inveterate archivist, I find Akua Naru - Live at Rudolstadt
back that claim, with many more this level of a ention to cross- Festival (Daisy Age hip-hop
additions on the way.) pollinated historical and credit vaults into an even-more-
detail to be stellar. modern free-form era) and
A seven-day free trial kicks Studio 17 - The Lost Reggae
off your Qwest TV journey Since I had a jones for, well, Tapes (a doc about a Chinese-
before you’re asked to lock into some of Quincy Jones’ own Jamaican recording studio in
a reasonable choice of $4.99 work, I went to the Concerts Kingston), to name but a few.
drop-down menu and cued
up a 24-minute selection Observing how Qwest TV
is streaming at a reasonable
price with a focused and ever-
expanding library that strives to
be outside the norm has been
refreshing. My final assess-
ment of Qwest TV and its head
honcho is simple: Q is Grade A.


Mike Mettler, a.k.a. The
SoundBard, is the music editor
of Sound & Vision.

[ [20 August September 2021

wide e Connected Life

Two Decades
With Kaleidescape

BY JOHN SCIACCA from Terminator, and “Running TV shows, and concerts, with
from the Boulder” from Raiders approximately 1,200 in 4K/HDR
The luxury video business is hard. Don’t believe me? Consider of the Lost Ark were pre-marked (including around 400 titles
companies like Pioneer, Hitachi, Fujitsu, Mitsubishi, Runco, Escient, and instantly accessible, giving that have never been released
and ReQuest. And those are just a few brands that have either exited users an easy way to demo their on Ultra HD Blu-ray disc). Freed
that market or no longer exist. home theater systems. from the capacity limitations of
the Blu-ray format, Kaleides-
One company that has consistently delivered the highest- Kaleidescape systems were, cape files can contain increased
quality home theater experience since its inception 20 years ago and continue to be, designed video and audio data over a
is Kaleidescape. From day one, the movie server pioneer pushed for the custom installation physical disc.
the technology envelope via its “Kaleidescape experience.” Nearly market, with support for most
every photo you’ll see of a luxury home theater system will feature home automation systems. Like The company’s latest
Kaleidescape’s iconic grid-like cover art display. If you experience a virtual projectionist, a Kaleid- developments include a new
a high-end A/V manufacturer’s theater demo at a tradeshow, the escape server can send “cues” 48 Terabyte Terra movie server,
source driving the system is likely to be a Kaleidescape. to a system to dim lights when support for Premium Video
the movie starts, raise them on Demand (movies currently
I have a unique relation- Guide Service to automatically during end credits, and trigger screening in theaters) and
ship with the company having grab high-res cover art and screen masking or projector rentals, with more than 8,000
covered it from almost the start. synopsis, rating, runtime, genre, anamorphic lens adapters. titles available. Unlike other
I’ve had my hands on nearly cast, and director info. No more platforms, Kaleidescape rentals
every Kaleidescape component pecking through hundreds of Something I vividly are delivered with full audio/
and am fortunate to have a DVD boxes to find a specific remember from my first review video quality.
system in my own theater. title—you could just sit back was talking with Kaleidescape
and instantly access every co-founder Cheena Srinivasan, One thing that makes the
The first time I heard about movie in your library! Browsing who shared that his company’s Kaleidescape systems so stable
Kaleidescape was at the your collection was easy and vision wasn’t to be a hardware and successful is the company’s
CEDIA Expo in 2003. Another fun, with an onscreen display maker, but an entertainment bespoke kOS operating system
integrator mentioned he was that could be shuffled and delivery platform. Before down- which runs on its own dedicated
starting to install Gigabit- sorted to show similar movies or loads or streaming were even a hardware, and is designed and
capable networking hardware other categories. And the movie thing, the goal was to deliver the optimized from the ground
to ensure Kaleidescape would just started when you pressed largest possible video files— up for a single purpose:
be supported in the future. (The play, jumping past the previews movies—to customers directly playing back movies. And
company’s products gained and FBI warning straight to the over the Internet. going forward, home theater
Gigabit Ethernet in 2005.) opening frame. enthusiasts can expect more
Kaleidescape realized this of the same from the company:
How do you make a splash Kaleidescape has remained vision in 2013 with the launch “Not only do we continue to
in an industry filled with black on the cu ing edge over the of its online movie store. Bit- optimize our industry leading
boxes? Make your box a shiny years by consistently innovating perfect high-definition movies playback system, to deliver
white one that can’t help but and improving its system could be downloaded directly the best quality content at the
stand out. Everything about through regular hardware and to a customer’s movie server, source possible today, we are
the first Kaleidescape system so ware updates. In 2010 the offering a way to experience developing future innovations
was different, and at a time company introduced its Disc them with the highest-quality to enhance the home cinema
when the digital music library Vault system to handle Blu-ray picture and sound. experience,” said Tayloe Stans-
concept was just emerging storage. The M-Class players bury, CEO, Kaleidescape.
(Apple announced iTunes in it introduced at that time also In 2015, the company
early 2001), the company was worked with existing movie launched its current-generation THE AUTHOR
on a similar trajectory by making servers, providing an easy lineup featuring the 4K/HDR-
DVD movie collections more upgrade path for owners. capable Strato player and For the past 20 years, John
manageable. 24-Terabyte Terra movie server. Sciacca has worked as a custom
In 2011, the Movie Guide It added 4K/HDR titles to the installer in South Carolina. In his
The first systems were team introduced bookmarking movie store in 2016, and now free time, he enjoys drinking
expensive (starting price: of scenes, offering a quick offers the most comprehensive craft beer and watching movies
$27,000), but they were also way to jump to iconic movie list of titles available—over on his 7.2.6 surround system.
just so damn cool. You’d stick moments. Classic scenes like 12,000 from more than 50
a DVD in the tray and it would “Quint Recalls the USS India- studios, including movies,
import the movie bit-for-bit and napolis” from Jaws, “I’ll Be Back”
use the company’s online Movie

[ [22 August September 2021



Adapting for


Q Way back when surround sound at home was the
new big thing, installing dipole surround speakers at
either side of the main listening position was recom-

mended.  Are dipoles still the optimal surround speaker

choice now that technology has transitioned to object-based audio

formats like Atmos? Assuming that no more speakers can be added

to a system due to space limitations or cost, can an existing 5.1

speaker system (with dipole or conventional in-ceiling surround

speakers) work effectively with the new sound formats? 


A The dipole along with reduced localization.
surround, a speaker (The surround channel was
design featuring additionally low-pass filtered to
achieve the la er goal.)
dual matched
Following the arrival of digital
sets of drivers facing front and 5.1 surround formats with also now apply to Atmos-ready positioned direct-radiating
discrete surround channel infor- systems, though there’s now the models. In-ceiling speakers that
back and wired out of phase, mation, Dolby started to recom- additional factor of overhead were originally installed for use
mend the use of direct-radiating effects speakers (which should as conventional surrounds can
dates back to the old Dolby Pro surround speakers instead of also be direct-radiating). also be repurposed for a 5.1.4
dipoles. Installation recom- hybrid Dolby Atmos-enabled/
Logic days when processors mendations also changed Can you adapt an existing overhead speaker setup (see
from high up on the sidewalls 5.1 speaker system for the above). In this configuration, the
extracted a mono rear surround directly in line with the viewing new immersive formats such surrounds get re-wired to serve
seat to behind the viewing area, as Atmos and DTS:X? Abso- as le and right top rear over-
channel from encoded angled inward and on the same lutely—but with a few modifica- head speakers, while Atmos-
horizontal plane as the front le / tions. First, you should follow enabled speaker modules can
soundtracks on analog formats right speakers. Those very same Dolby’s guidelines by losing any be added to the system’s main
Dolby speaker and setup rules side-mounted dipole surround le and right speakers to deliver
like VHS tape and Laserdisc. speakers in the system and the front overhead effects.
replacing them with properly
THX required the use of dipole

surrounds for THX-certified

speaker systems, with the main

claimed benefit being more

even distribution of the mono

rear effects channel in a typical

home viewing environment,

Q I am wondering how to best access high-res audio support for the more basic Bluetooth AptX version, so high-res
formats on music services. I have a Marantz SR7015 audio streamed from an iPad via Bluetooth is a non-starter.
receiver in my system and have tried streaming from
I should further point out that when you use the HEOS app to
Amazon Music HD to it over Bluetooth from my iPad play music on your Marantz, you are not streaming from the iPad,
but using the app to control the receiver’s built-in HEOS platform,
using the receiver’s HEOS app. The app shows resolutions from which streams it directly over a wired or Wi-Fi network connec-
tion. That’s why you see tracks played in up to 24/192 resolution
16-bit/44.1kHz all the way up to 24 bit/192kHz—something I when using Amazon Music HD, which has native integration
with the HEOS platform. As for your DragonFly question, yes, it is
didn’t think was possible with Bluetooth! Here’s my question: Will possible to get high-res Amazon Music HD playback by making a
hardwired connection between iPad and AVR using a USB DAC.
I get the same resolutions if I make a hardwired connection from That approach will be more complicated, however, since iOS
devices like the iPad require a Lightning-to-USB camera adaptor
iPad to AVR using an AudioQuest DragonFly Red USB DAC? to connect to an external USB DAC. In this scenario, you will have
two separate devices daisy chained between the iPad and AVR.
PAUL GIOVINO / VIA EMAIL Also, the maximum resolution supported by the DragonFly Red is
24-bit/96kHz, as opposed to the 24-bit/192kHz you can get when
A First off, you were right about the limitations of Blue- streaming Amazon Music HD via HEOS.
tooth when it comes to streaming lossless high-res
audio. Bluetooth tech transmits audio wirelessly

using lossy compression that discards data. Even the

latest and greatest Bluetooth version, AptX Adaptive, a format

that claims support for high-res audio, uses lossy compression.

Beyond this key limitation, Apple products don’t even provide

[ [24 August September 2021

Every Industry has its gold standard

TRINNOV Inc • 201 West Hight Street • East Hampton • CT 06424 • USA
Phone: +1 860 833 4400 / +1 310 572 1070
Email: [email protected]

THE MAKING OF ALL aged in a beautifully cra ed
THINGS MUST PASS wooden crate containing all
of the vinyl and CD/Blu-ray
A day-by-day account of the recording of album set released in November sets plus an All Things Must
George Harrison’s epic first solo album as that year. The album featured 17 Pass scrapbook curated by
it sees a 50th anniversary remix and deluxe new songs, along with a bonus Olivia Harrison (which also
edition release. disc of jams recorded mostly appears in other deluxe sets)
during the sessions, Apple Jam. with George’s lyrics, tape box
By Matt Hurwitz images, and more. The Uber
ATMP's 50th anniversary is set also includes a “Making of
EORGE HARRISON HAD A now being feted with a suite All Things Must Pass” volume,
stockpile—fantastic compo- of new special editions, which a set of replica garden gnomes
sitions overlooked by his include a brand-new remix from (as featured on the LP’s cover),
bandmates over the years, the original multitrack tapes by and a limited-edition lithograph
along with some wri en more Grammy-winning engineer Paul by bassist Klaus Voormann,
recently following The Beatles’ Hicks and executive-produced who played on the album. (For
official breakup. The band’s final by George’s son, Dhani details, visit www.georgehar-
album release, Let It Be, came on Harrison. The special editions
May 8, 1970. But by that time, George had already put feature everything from 2-CD to
the ball in motion to begin recording his first true solo 5-disc sets (as well as multiple- The Right Staff
album later that month: All Things Must Pass, a triple- disc vinyl pressings) containing The first step in the process
not only Hicks’s new remixes, for Harrison involved finding
but George’s demos (described appropriate players to accom-
below), ou akes, and a Blu-ray pany him on the new record-
disc with 5.1 surround and ings. The previous December,
Dolby Atmos mixes. There’s he had joined American R&B
even an “Uber Deluxe” set pack- rockers, Delaney & Bonnie
Bramle , who were touring
Europe with an all-star backing
band. The group included
Eric Clapton, drummer Jim
Gordon, bassist Carl Radle, and

[ [26 August September 2021

Hammond organ player Bobby played him his new songs on an and Ringo the first day and the Above: Nashville pedal steel
Whitlock, as well as sax player acoustic guitar. “I made sugges- second alone with his acoustic guitar legend Pete Drake came
Bobby Keys and horn player Jim tions about string arrangements guitar. (Both days’ demos are for a week’s work on the album
Price. (The first four, of course, for some songs,” he recalls. included in the deluxe editions around the second week of June.
would become Derek & The of the 50th anniversary set.) L-R: Drake, George, and Ringo
Dominoes the following year.) Harrison remained busy
with Apple Records artists up Room Setup (at Drake’s steel guitar), Billy
A er the tour wrapped up, until his own sessions began, Tracking for the album began Preston, and Peter Frampton.
Whitlock returned to England, producing new albums for the following day in earnest in
staying at Clapton’s Heartwood beloved background singer Studio 3, where most recording Below left: The “Uber Deluxe”
Edge estate. One a ernoon, Doris Troy and uber-talented would take place. Voormann 50th anniversary set comes with
he says, “George called and keyboardist Billy Preston. He played his 1963-4 Fender Preci-
said he wanted us to put a band would invite the la er to join as sion bass through an Ampeg the complete CD + Blu-ray set,
together, to be the core band for one of the core players on All B-15 amp. The guitarists, the complete deluxe set in vinyl,
his new album he was about to Things Must Pass. George mostly on a Fender two books—including one on the
record.” Stratocaster and Clapton on making of the album—a replica
Demos a Gibson Les Paul, played
Whitlock and Clapton George asked legendary through diminutive 5-wa figurine set of George with the
happened upon Jim Gordon producer Phil Spector to garden gnomes on the front
in London on a session and co-produce his new album at cover, and more.
invited him to play, rounding EMI’s Abbey Road Studios.
out the foursome with Radle, Engineering was handled by a Fender Champ amps, which
who came over from the States, Beatles veteran, Phil McDonald, Eric had discovered and fell in
all four staying at Heartwood. who had won a Grammy for love with. Says Badfinger’s Joey
Harrison eventually came and his work on Abbey Road. He Molland, “A er those sessions,
played the foursome his songs was assisted by 2nd engineer/ we all went out and bought
on an acoustic guitar. tape operator John Leckie, Champs. And that’s what we
who had joined the studio made our records with a er
The other part of the core just that February, doing what that.” George’s acoustic was a
band came in the form of all newbies did: starting and Harptone.
Ringo Starr and bassist Klaus stopping the tape machine and
Voormann, who would become marking song titles, the instru- Badfinger’s first Apple LP,
a common fixture on Harrison’s, ments on each track, and takes Magic Christian Music, had
Starr’s, and Lennon’s albums of of each song on a tape reel. just come out in early January,
the ’70s. Voormann had been Work on the album typically ran following on the heels of its
one of The Beatles’ friends from from mid-a ernoon to about 9 megahit single, “Come and Get
their early days in Hamburg, and or 10 a.m. the following day. It,” released the previous month.
he went on to design the cover They were already working on
of their 1966 LP, Revolver. On May 26 and May 27, their follow-up with Beatles road
Harrison went to Abbey Road manager Mal Evans when they
Arranger John Barham, who and cut simple demos in Studio received a call from Mal. “He
would also play a big part in 3 of all songs he intended said that George said, ‘It would
the album’s making, visited to record with Spector and be good to use the Badfinger
the Harrisons in April 1970 McDonald, recording with Klaus
at their Friar Park estate and,
without introduction, George

[ 27


A day-by-day account of the recording of George Harrison’s epic first solo LP

guys, bring ‘em. Ask them if play the song on guitar, but drummers, pianos, two electric Left: Original U.S. picture sleeve
they want to come down and then change a portion because guitars, acoustic guitars, and for the “My Sweet Lord/Isn’t It
play some acoustics for me,’” he feels, ‘Well, with a band, live horns. “It was incredibly
Molland recalls. “Phil Spector that doesn’t sound right. Let’s chaotic,” says Leckie. Recalls a Pity” single, released a week
was producing it, and they rather do a straight 4-beat or Molland, “It was an enormous before the album, on Nov. 23,
wanted a bunch of acoustics— something.’ And then we’d all amount of sound in your head-
he didn’t just want one.” adjust what we play to his new phones. It was super powerful. It 1970. Designed by sleeve
idea.” Spector really took no role was great.” designer Tom Wilkes,
The three were set up in a in the arrangements, leaving
small isolation booth behind the the ma er to George and the The wall of sound was in photo by Barry Feinstein.
other musicians. At the start of a musicians. full swing, and with only 8
new song, Harrison would come tracks available, Spector had Below: First day’s work: The tape
over with his own acoustic, Basic tracking for each song McDonald record, as was box from May 28, 1970, showing
and the three players would was very much in the Spector o en the case on the sessions,
come out, and George would “wall of sound” mode—the the first two songs recorded
teach them the song. “He’d full band tracking together, for ATMP. “Wah-Wah” was
just sit down and run through including horns and a scratch recorded in three takes, and the
the song with us, teach us the vocal from George (which, if he first five takes—all “false starts”
chords,” Molland says. There felt it was right, was occasion- (“FS”)—of “My Sweet Lord.”
was one specific instruction: ally kept). Any overdubs, at
“He wanted us to keep it simple. least for major parts, took place all guitars mixed to a pair of
He said, specifically, ‘If you right a er a master take was tracks—both electrics and the
can, and if you would, just play selected, with Whitlock and acoustics—on rare occasion
straight chords. Don’t do any Clapton adding background with reverb. The drums—even
jig-a-jinks.’” On many tracks, vocals (or together with George, with two drummers—were
Badfinger’s solid backing forms as the “George O’Hara-Smith mixed onto a single track, with
the core of the rhythm track. Singers,” as the credit reads), or reverb or other effects added
Harrison playing a guitar solo. later in the mix.
The keyboards included a
7-foot Steinway grand piano Thursday 5/28/70 Whitlock arrived late due to
and a Hammond L-100 organ. The first song to be recorded traffic and, upon arriving and
Horn players Keys and Price was the raucous, powerful finding the other keyboards
were set up in a room at the “Wah-Wah” (whose very first taken, hopped on the Wurlitzer
back of the studio, known as take can be heard as a bonus electric piano. “Everybody else
Room 43, which was Studio track on the 50th anniversary was playing on the downbeat,
3’s original control room. Says reissue), which featured the full so I played on the upbeat—that
Leckie, “They always played lineup in action: both bass- was the only thing le ,” he says
live with the rest of the band on ists (Klaus and Carl), both of his unique part, heard on the
basic tracking,” with only occa- right, complementing Clapton’s
sional overdubs. The studio’s wah-wah part. It is George
harmonium was also set up and heard on the le , playing the
recorded in Room 43. song’s signature riff on his

When it came time to start
a new song, George would
usually pick up his acoustic
guitar, with the guys gathered
around. “Everyone would take
notes in their minds or write the
chords down,” says Whitlock.
“But mostly, we just listened
and played along. Then it fell

It was up to the musicians
to develop parts and work out
the arrangement. “George
didn’t tell anybody what to play,”
Whitlock notes. “You’re dealing
with pros. When you have that
caliber of players, you just sing
a song, and they start playing.”
Notes Voormann, “He might

[ [28 August September 2021

Stratocaster. George on vocals and acoustic George’s for the rest of his life. Above: George at work on
“Wah-Wah” completed, the guitar. Drums are handled by Ringo the album in Abbey
and Jim, with Klaus and Carl Road’s Studios 3.
group next recorded a very Five takes of another song, both on bass, and Whitlock
different kind of song, and one “Isn’t It A Pity,” were begun that on the Hammond L-100, also Below: George with Nashville
which would become its first day, and it would become the adding a harmonium as an pedal steel guitar legend
single, “My Sweet Lord.” Of 16 last track of the album’s first overdub.
takes, just two were complete side. The bed of the recording Pete Drake, who came and
takes, the first 5 of which is formed by a combination of The Side 4 opener, “I Dig played on a number of tracks
featured only acoustic guitar, Badfinger’s rhythm acoustics Love,” was also tackled that during the first week in June.
harmonium, and piano, before and piano parts played by day. A few passes were made
the full band was introduced, Billy Preston and also by Gary with acoustic guitars, plus Eric next passes added Preston
with Take 16 becoming the Wright— the la er suggested on electric, Radle on bass, on the Wurlitzer, making the
master. Harrison can be heard by Klaus—who would remain a Whitlock on Hammond, and song, in its mix, essentially a
on his Harptone acoustic on the close friend and collaborator of Wright on grand piano, but the wonderful keyboard track. “I Dig
right in the mix, with Badfinger Love” features both drummers,
strumming in perfect unison receiving fast tape slap echo in
on the le . Both Ringo and Jim the mix of the master, Take 20.
Gordon are drumming, with Billy
Preston on piano. Tambou- A second take on “Isn’t It A
rines were recorded that day, Pity,” which would appear as a
likely by Ringo as an overdub, “Version 2” on the fourth side
with two tambourines in each of the album, was recorded the
hand, or else live, perhaps by next day, this time with Clapton’s
Mike Gibbins. John Barham guitar put through a Leslie 122
found himself dra ed to play speaker, a now-common effect
the harmonium part, live in at Abbey Road.
Room 43, also adding autoharp
accents as an overdub. Billy Preston was on piano
and, as was the case with
George added the song’s Whitlock’s Hammond, given
signature slide guitar parts a special “wobble” effect by
months later at Trident Studios, tape operator Leckie using a
a talent he had learned the second, 1/4-inch tape machine.
previous year from Delaney A Varispeed control was used
Bramle on tour. “He was very to vary the speed of the tape
methodical about his solos,” machine’s capstan like a pitch
Voormann reveals. “George control knob. This was originally
was very, very slow, and he’d do invented by studio engineer Ken
a pass, over and over, saying, Townsend during the Beatles
‘No, no, now do it again,” until he period to allow “automatic
worked out a solo.” double-tracking” (or “ADT”)
of lead vocals, by creating a
The song took many hours slight delay in the signal during
to complete, finishing at about mixing.
3 or 4 a.m.—at which time,
Leckie recalls, “they said, ‘Hey, June 4 saw the first pass at a
let’s do another song,’” and new Bob Dylan composition, “If
went straight into what would
eventually become the album’s [ 29
opening track, ‘I’d Have You
Anytime,” co-wri en by George
and Bob Dylan some months
earlier. The song would be
completed the following day.

With that song completed,
the group moved on to nine
takes of “Art Of Dying,” but the
song would be returned to twice
more, with the true master finally
generated a month later, on
July 1. “Run of the Mill” was also
recorded for real on that day
a er two simple takes with just


A day-by-day account of the recording of George Harrison’s epic first solo LP

Not For You.” The song would begun the previous day, “Ballad become the album’s title track, Far left: A poster for the very
be a empted the next day with of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)” “All Things Must Pass,” a song first Derek & The Dominoes
the addition of two new players. (just called “Let It Roll,” at this George had first introduced to concert, which occurred during
point). The basic track, Take his former bandmates during a week’s break from the ATMP
Pete Drake was the most 8, features both Ringo and Jim the “Get Back” sessions. sessions. Note the inclusion
respected pedal steel guitar Gordon playing with brushes, George plays an acoustic of Jim Keltner as the band’s
player in Nashville. Drake was with Drake adding pedal steel. 12-string, with Ringo, Klaus, and drummer, the ad having been
happy to accept the invitation Mal Evans can be heard, deliv- Billy joining Drake (playing live
to play and arrived at Abbey ering a heavy “Oh, Sir Frankie for this song), whose accents placed before it was known
Road with his pedal steel in tow Crisp” quietly, in several spots are simply perfect. Keys and that Jim Gordon would
on June 5. “They were in awe of in the song, recorded later as an Price played live horns, Price
him,” Leckie recalls. “As far as overdub. playing a trombone this time, become the other session
George was concerned, he was and Whitlock played the harmo- drummer on the album.
the god of pedal steel guitar.” The following week, on June nium. Background vocals were
9, a new song, “I Live For You,” added as overdubs. Left: Original picture sleeve for
A second player was also was given a basic track pass, the U.S. “What Is Life” single,
added: Peter Frampton. The with Frampton playing along- There was a break the the second single from the
guitarist had played on the side Drake. It was finished—to following week, during which album, released Feb. 8, 1971.
Doris Troy album George was a point—the following day, with Eric and his friends decided to
producing for Apple Records Take 32, and even placed onto form as a band. They performed Showing George standing in an
just a month prior, and Harrison a reel of master takes, but it their debut show at The Lyceum upper window at Friar Park, it
later invited him to play acoustic remained uncompleted. It was on June 14 as Derek & The was designed by Tom Wilkes
on his own record. “I got a issued as a bonus track on a Dominoes, and were joined with photo by Barry Feinstein.
call from George,” Frampton 2001 reissue of the album. that night by another legendary
remembers, “and he said, ‘I’m guitarist, Dave Mason. Below: Tape box showing a
doing me own album now, my The next day saw the third try at the Dominoes’
first solo record. Will you come recording of what would The lot came back to Studio 3 recording, “Tell the Truth,” on
and play? I need some more July 6, 1970, during a day off
acoustic.’” He brought his 1964 from ATMP work. While
Epiphone Texan guitar, and, George played on the previous
he remembers, he and George versions, he was visiting his
added additional acoustics mother that day, who, sadly,
to a number of tracks Spector passed away the following day.
wished to fill out.
on the 18th, with George offering
Leckie remembered working up the room to allow them to do
with Drake in the studio for 3 some recording of their own,
or 4 days that week. On June 5, beginning a new song, “Tell The
he joined George, Ringo, Billy Truth,” with both Mason and
Preston, Klaus, and Frampton Harrison playing.
on the final takes of “If Not
For You” (Take 18 being the Late nights would o en
master), with Preston turning find the band jamming away,
in a wonderful country piano offering the engineering team
part. George added two time to take a break and head
acoustic slide parts, and played over to the Heroes of Alma Pub
harmonica live during takes. for a pint and a sandwich. But
not wanting to miss any of the
“Behind That Locked Door” jamming, says Leckie, “Phil had
was also recorded this day, with me set up a ¼-inch tape on a
Drake playing both a rhythm 2-track machine, and he’d send
and a true country pedal steel over the stereo monitor mix, turn
solo part. As a rule, Leckie the monitors down and record
notes, “He would prefer to do the jams,” Leckie explains. “I’d
his parts as overdubs. He didn’t set it at 7 ½ ips, and the tape
want to do 20 takes of some- would run for 1:04,” returning
thing, and they didn’t want to just in time to find the tape
upset him. These were all crazy running out. The jams, being
hippies! And they worshipped recorded to stereo, can never
him.” Preston turned in, again, a be remixed.
nice country piano part, as well
as a wonderful Hammond organ Two of the jams recorded
overdub. this night were kept, edits of
them eventually issued on what
One more acoustic song was George decided to include as
tracked that Friday, which had a third bonus LP, Apple Jam,

[ [30 August September 2021

included in the set. The two Keys played a live horn part, June 25 saw a return to The Left: Sleeve designer
from this night were cut apart which they then double-tracked Dominoes’ “Tell The Truth” with Tom Wilkes’s hand-painted
into two titles, “Plug Me In” and a er the master was selected. both George and Dave Mason jam jar, used as the backdrop
“Thanks for the Pepperoni.” once again in a endance in for the “Apple Jam” LP labels
The fantastic “Beware of Studio 3 and also playing on (photo courtesy Jeff Levy).
An additional title was Darkness” was recorded this two takes of a second song,
recorded on another night, July day in 6 takes, featuring the “Roll It Over,” whose Take 2 was weekend and continued the
1, during the session for “Art of Dominoes and, once again, considered “best.” following day for another pass at
Dying.” Eventually titled “Out Badfinger. “I remember vividly “Run Of The Mill” and a different
Of The Blue,” it featured all four him showing us this song,” Joey The next day for some version of “Art Of Dying,” the
Dominoes, George, Gary Wright Molland recalls. reason the group recorded in master being Take 26, with
on piano, and both Jim Price Studio 2, famous for being the Clapton delivering a blistering
and Bobby Keys playing live George’s guitar can be heard home of the majority of The wah-wah opening lead and Jim
horns, in a 20-minute jam with playing through a Leslie 122 Beatles’ recordings. The room, Gordon and Carl Radle driving
Voormann turning in a guitar speaker, courtesy of a special being much larger, was set up the powerful rhythm, accompa-
part George mistakenly identi- interface device that was made differently than Studio 3. Jim nied by Whitlock’s Hammond.
fied as being played by Clapton. by the studio. Gordon’s drums were in the far- “Run Of The Mill” finally found
“I’m actually playing the guitar le corner, with the guitar amps its master, complete with live
on that one,” he says. “Eric The week remained busy, and keyboards in a circular brass, a er 61 takes, but not
wasn’t even there.” with the band recording “Let It arrangement, much as one before ge ing the full electric
Down” in No. 3 on June 24. “Let might see in a typical Beatles treatment, as can be heard on
One other jam is featured on It Down” is ostensibly a love studio setup. Take 36 (bonus track/ou ake).
the disc, but was not recorded song—a ballad—but, recalls
during the All Things Must Pass Whitlock, “I suggested to Only a single song was The rest of the week was
sessions, but rather at one for George, for the big ‘Let It down’ recorded, the enormous spent doing overdubs in Studio
Billy Preston’s first Apple LP, choruses, that we should just “Awaiting On You All.” The 3 and, finally, the final take of
That’s The Way God Planned It. really rock it,” something they song features George and the “What Is Life” on July 3— take
Recorded on March 29, 1969, indeed do. Dominoes, with some great 42, onto which Jim Price and
at Olympic Studios, it features Eric Clapton slide receiving a Bobby Keys double-tracked
George, Eric, Klaus, Billy—and “Run Of The Mill” was also boatload of reverb. Badfinger their live horns. The lads also
Ginger Baker drumming. given a pass that day but once again provides acoustics, tracked several jams, a few even
would be returned to on June the entire song tracked live with on 8-track this time, including
The jams, notes engineer 30 and July 1. It again features Whitlock and Clapton adding one of “Get Back” on July 1, of
Ken Sco , were intended by Badfinger, along with George, background vocals as over- all things.
George to simply be a bonus Radle, Gordon, and Whitlock dubs. Take 25 was the master,
disc, but “the tax authorities (on harmoniuim), Leckie giving onto which brass was added, By the weekend, George
wouldn’t allow that, so the label George’s acoustic a distinct and George overdubbed his realized that his mother, Louise,
had to price it as a 3-record set.” wobble by once again playing slide guitar. was dying, and let his Domino
with the tape machine. Clapton friends use the studio for one
Ringo le the sessions on does not appear to play on the Work resumed a er a 3-day last pass at “Tell The Truth,” its
June 22 to fly to Nashville to track, Leckie notes. master finally captured, sans
record his Beaucoups of Blues George, on July 6. The following
album—produced by Drake— day, George’s mother passed.
leaving Jim Gordon to handle
all remaining drumming for the Overdubs and Mixing
following tracks. It would not be until later in the
month that George would return
But two new songs were to the studio for additional over-
started that day in Studio 3, dubs in Studios 2 and 3. But just
“What Is Life” and “Awaiting On before, on July 25, a er being
You All” (Take 1 of “Life” appears greeted once again by the
as a bonus track). Recording cheerful “Apple Scruffs” outside
continued the following day on the studio, he decided to record
“What Is Life,” which became a song in tribute to the fans, one
the album’s second hit single by that very name.
in the States. It features George
playing the main riff, while Recorded without Spector
Eric can be heard playing the in a endance, and with John
cool, rapid rhythm guitar on Barre operating tape, he did a
his Strat. Radle, Gordon, and simple acoustic song, accom-
Whitlock play bass, drums, panied by Mal Evans tapping
and Hammond, respectively, something to keep time (with
and Badfinger returned to add no drums). George also played
acoustic guitars. Whitlock
recalls Gary Brooker playing
piano on the track. Price and

[ 31


A day-by-day account of the recording of George Harrison’s epic first solo LP

harmonica live, something he high and flying. The strings enter background vocals, as well through October 17, with
had rarely ever done. in their high register, which is as miscellaneous guitar parts George and Spector present
unusual, when compared to the on 12 of the 19 songs. Besides at both sessions. McDonald
On July 27, Phil McDonald did other songs.” adding his pair of slide guitar mixed the 8-track recordings
8-track to 8-track bounces— parts to “My Sweet Lord,” Sco that hadn’t required additional
submixes from one 8-track A er a empting to add notes, regarding the back- overdubs at Trident, and Sco
tape machine containing the overdubbed parts onto the ground vocals, “George did mixed the songs that had been
original masters, to another 8-track tape at Abbey Road and them all.” transferred to 16-track.
8-track machine—onto which finding it cumbersome, George
he combined some tracks to decided to bring his record- “What Is Life” received a At Abbey Road, McDonald
make room for overdubs he and ings to another Abbey Road curious overdub. Besides the and Leckie worked in a dedi-
George would pursue in the alumnus, Ken Sco , who was strings, some guitar fills, and cated mix room, Room 4, as well
following days. then working at Trident Studios. George’s lead and backing as in the control room in Studio
Trident by that time had 16-track vocals, “We a empted to 3 where they could take advan-
John Barham’s string arrange- tape machines, allowing Sco record more brass. There was tage of the Varispeed setups,
ments began their recording to simply copy the 8 tracks a line that George wanted,” for tape wobble, phasing, and
at this time, starting with “Let It from the Abbey Road reels Sco recalls. One was first other tape effects.
Down” at Abbey Road, and, the onto tracks 1 through 8 on his tried with Keys and Price, but
following month, several other 2-inch tapes (which he did on then Harrison wanted classical Leckie recalls John and Yoko
tracks at Trident Studios, where September 2), with another 8 musicians, so that was tried. A popping up for a visit to Room
more overdubbing would take available for additional work. mix including the Keys/Price 4 a er finishing his work with
place. These included arrange- He was assisted by Dave addition, and without vocals, engineers Richard Lush and
ments for “Isn’t It A Pity,” “What Corle , who served in the same was issued in 2001 for the 30th Andy Stevens in Studio 3, on
Is Life,” “Beware Of Darkness,” role Leckie did for McDonald, anniversary reissue. his own album, John Lennon/
and “All Things Must Pass,” working from September 2 Plastic Ono Band. “John said to
which, Barham notes, “is one through September 12. Mixing took place at both Phil McDonald and to me, ‘I’m
of my favorite songs. There is Abbey Road in early October working on my new album, and
a spiritual quality to it. When A majority of the overdubs with McDonald, and at Trident I want you two to do it, as soon
George begins to sing, he is involved both lead vocals and with Sco from October 10 you’re done with this one.’ That

[ [32 August September 2021

was a big moment.” Below left: George Harrison
John had been working in with Ken Scott.

No. 3 from about 2:30pm until Below right: Photo of
10pm, just recording some George taken by sleeve
jams and an acoustic guitar photographer Barry Feinstein,
take on his song, “God.” With from outside a window at
John gone for the night, George Friar Park. A variation of
could now tackle one last piece this pose was used on the
of recording in the studio,
one which Yoko had secretly picture sleeve for the
asked him to do. Two days later “My Sweet Lord” single.
was John’s 30th birthday, so
she asked George to record a every song has a stereo guitar “IT’S A REALLY, autoharp for songs such as “My
special song to celebrate, which track,” he notes. Due to the REALLY IMMERSIVE Sweet Lord,” “Let It Down,” and
became “It’s Johnny’s Birthday.” limited space of 8-track tape, MIX. PROBABLY THE others.
McDonald had combined both MOST IMMERSIVE
“George and Phil McDonald George’s and Eric’s electric For the ou akes disc, he
went upstairs to the tape library guitars with the acoustics onto MIX I’VE DONE.” notes, “Some songs, like ‘Wah-
and went through the card files,” two tracks, o en with reverb, Wah,’ there were only a few
Leckie recalls, “and they found making it impossible to create takes. And then, others, they
tapes of fairground organs a new mix with those items tried a few different versions,”
playing tunes,” eventually separated. noting a favorite version of “Isn’t
se ling on a version of Cliff It A Pity” as well as one of “I’d
Richards’s “Congratulations.” Hicks started his remixing Have You Anytime.” “It’s really
“I remember ge ing the tape work in Los Angeles, but interesting—a brilliant ou ake.
from the tape library and we then also used Abbey Road’s It’s got this ‘verby piano, and it’s
put that on a piece of 8-track. resources to accurately repli- higher tempo.”
“I then wobbled it, phased cate ADT and other effects, as
it, using the Varispeed.” And well as working at FPSHOT, “I think fans are going to be
then, in a session which ran George’s original studio at Friar pleased. The album is one of
from midnight to 4:30 a.m., Park. Some effects, though, the great treasures of George’s
George added some “mad such as the wobbly piano on catalog. And now it sounds
slide guitar, and then we all got “Isn’t It A Pity (Version 2),” had simply amazing.”
out and sung on it. There’s me the effect tracked to tape origi-
singing, everyone. Anyone that nally, so they were le as is. ence. And the Trident overdubs, A much-expanded
was around would go out and with additional tracks of mate- version of the making
do, ‘It’s Johnny’s birthday, it’s For the Dolby Atmos mix, rial, gave him yet more layers to of All Things Must Pass
Johnny’s birthday. . .,’” double- something at which Hicks play with items like the multiple story can be found on
tracking their chant. McDonald excels, he says, “It’s a really, background vocals, strings, and
promptly mixed it, that mix was really immersive mix. Probably
given to Mal Evans to pass the most immersive mix I’ve
along to Yoko, and it was indeed done.” For the stereo guitar
given to John on his birthday. It tracks, mentioned above,
was also added to Apple Jam. he placed those to the sides
and the back. “They’re nicely
Remixing – 50th Anniversary balanced to begin with, so you
When it came time to create a constantly feel ‘in it.’” He took
new mix for the new 50th anni- advantage of the Atmos height
versary release, George’s son, dimension to place Harrison’s
Dhani, and engineer Paul Hicks, vocal more within the space,
who also has been remixing the giving a more intimate experi-
John Lennon catalog, briefly
considered a “de-Spectorized”
mix, eliminating all the strong
reverb and effects. But
ultimately, says Hicks, “it just
didn’t sound right,” so a mix
more faithful to the original was

The original recordings, to
some degree, limited how much
remixing could be done. “Nearly

[ 33

1 the screen will occupy in your
frontal range of vision. If you
A GUIDE TO prefer a seat ranging from the
PROJECTION middle of the theater to further
SCREENS back, you’ll want a narrower
viewing angle.
Screens can be a near-equal partner with your projector in achieving
theater-quality (or better!) images. Here are the key things you need to Numerous web sites can
consider when shopping for a projection screen. BY THOMAS J. NORTON help you calculate viewing
angle based on screen size and
TODAY’S PROJECTION SCREEN SCENE is far more complex and that should provide greater throw distance (the physical
competitive than it was even a short 10 years ago, with numerous satisfaction over time. In fact, distance from the projection
companies now offering a wide range of screen types at various se ling on a screen size before lens to the screen). One that I’ve
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do today’s high dynamic range (HDR) requirements—unknown a movie theater (if you still do!), 1080p, lets you plug in screen
decade ago—figure into the choice? how close to the screen do I size and viewing distance to
usually sit? If you prefer to sit up calculate the viewing angle.
Four key screen characteristics should be at the top of your close, you’ll want a wide viewing It also offers viewing angle
shopping list: size, shape (aspect ratio), material, and gain. A quali- angle: the number of degrees recommendations from both
fied custom installation professional can easily select the right THX and SMPTE (the Society of
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But even if you do seek out the assistance of a pro, gaining some Engineers). If you’re looking
knowledge on your own will help accelerate the process. for a screen calculator for 4K
sources, Screen Innovations
offers a basic version on its
website that calculates a recom-
mended screen size based on
aspect ratio (16:9, 2.35:1, etc.)
and seating distance.

Relatively small changes in
seating distance can produce
big viewing angle changes. For
instance, with a 9-foot-wide
16:9 screen, a 12-foot distance
results in a viewing angle of
36.9 degrees (close to THX’s
recommended 36 degrees). At
a 10-foot distance, the viewing
angle is 43.6 degrees, which is
roughly equivalent to si ing in
the front third of a movie theater.

Since no site can make a final
decision for you, I’ll also suggest
a less technical approach. If you
already own a projector, set it up
where it will be installed in the

Finding the Right Size 2
Deciding on size might be the most difficult aspect of selecting
a screen, and that choice will ultimately come down to viewing
distance and projector resolution (4K/Ultra HD vs. regular 1080p
HD), along with personal viewing preferences. The light output,
or brightness, capability of the projector also figures in here since
the bigger the screen, the dimmer the image. Instead of squeezing
in the largest screen the space can accommodate, going with a
smaller size will yield a brighter and punchier-looking image, one

[ [34 August September 2021

room and aim it at the wall where 1) Stewart Visionary 3 feature, and without it the sides of
the screen will be located. Sit at the above-ceiling screen the screen may curl over time. And if
distance you normally would and system. 2) Stewart option, the screen will always be you opt for a motorized retractable
experiment with image size within 2.35:1 aspect ratio visible whether in use or not, so it’s screen, it will usually require access
the projector’s zoom limits. Take fixed frame screen. best for a dedicated theater room. to power, though a few models
your time—a size that initially seems 3) An example of a But if the space will also be used for also feature a rechargeable lithium
impressive might be overwhelming motorized retractable other activities, a retractable screen ba ery option.
a er a half-hour or so. You’ll want floor-mounted screen. that either pulls down manually from
to be comfortable with it for a full 4) Stewart WallMask a ceiling or floor-mounted case or If you plan to mount a retractable
movie, not a 10-minute demo. If the fixed-frame masking rolls out automatically via a built-in screen on or near to the ceiling, be
color of the wall where the screen screen system. motor, will be a be er (though sure to check the full vertical dimen-
will be mounted is too dark for a usually pricier) option. Why? Aside sion of the extended screen area.
reasonable evaluation, paint it from the visual impact of having a That will include any gap between
white temporarily—a lot cheaper large, blank (when not in use) rect- the case and the ceiling, the case
than buying the wrong screen—or angular surface in the room, projec- itself, the “drop” (the black area
use the proverbial bedsheet! You’ll tion screens are relatively delicate between the case and the active
learn soon enough what screen size and easily damaged. Even minor screen area), and the active screen
works best for you. But apart from markups (from kids with crayons?) image height. This will tell you if the
relative brightness, don’t use this can’t be cleaned off without doing extended screen area will be at a
technique to critically judge bright- damage to the surface. comfortable eye-level depending
ness vs. screen size. The brightness on the height of your ceiling. You
will likely be significantly different Any good retractable screen can order a different-sized black
with a good screen. is designed to remain flat when area “drop” from some manufac-
extended. This is usually done with turers (though not all) to compen-
Screen size is also an important tension cords positioned along the sate for this, but that option typically
consideration for viewing HDR sides of the screen and a ached to requires an even pricier, custom-
sources, since HDR will always be it by tabs. Less expensive retract- ordered screen. If you mount the
noticeably less impressive with a able screens don’t always offer this screen case to the wall instead of
projector than on even an average the ceiling, that will usually present
OLED or LCD TV. That’s because less of an issue—as long as you’ve
HDR standards were developed chosen the right height for the case.
with flat-panel TVs in mind, not
projectors, so the la er need all You might have gleaned by
the brightness help they can get this point that mounting a screen,
to deliver even a taste of the full particularly a retractable one, isn’t
HDR experience. So, if you plan on a project for the average weekend
viewing a heavy helping of HDR, a warrior. Custom installation here
screen size perhaps 10-20 percent can be a lifesaver, especially when
smaller than the one you decided ceiling-mounting a large, heavy,
on with the help of a screen calcu- retractable screen that needs to
lator, or the exercise suggested be secured to the studs behind the
above, might be worth considering. ceiling’ drywall. (Someday soon,
perhaps, I’ll blog about my own
screen-installation adventures!).

Fixed Frame or 4

Many installations use a fixed-frame
screen a ached to a wall. With this

[ 35

Aspect Ratio Issues 5 distance from screen to seating for its
The history of motion pictures is inter- Microperf products.) Woven or perforated
leaved with various aspect ratios, or the 5) Stewart Gemini retractable above-ceiling screen material is roughly equivalent to
width of an image relative to its height. The dual-screen system. 6) Stewart VistaScope EVO mediocre speaker grille cloth and can’t
most popular home theater screen aspect continuously variable vertical masking system be totally transparent to sound. But the
ratio is 1.78:1. And since that shape is an with acoustically transparent screen material. losses are generally small—li le more than
exact match for the 16x9 HDTV standard, 1dB in most cases, and mostly at the high
shows produced in that format will fill the using either a width or diagonal measure- frequency range.
screen completely. Non-Scope American ment. Unlike with flat-panel TVs (where
films (“Scope” is film industry tech- the diagonal measurement is always used Although both perforated and woven
nobabble for ultra-wide aspect ratio films because it’s a bigger number!), the projec- screens are pricier than solid-surface
such as 2.35:1) are generally 1.85:1, while tion world tends to use screen width, and designs, their advantages include the
some other countries use 1.66:1, making a wrong assumption here could result in ability to conceal, movie theater-style,
1.78:1 a reasonable compromise. an unpleasant and costly surprise. If you’re the system’s front speakers and to have
planning on a 1.78:1 screen, the diagonal sound—voices, in particular—emanate
However, sources with aspect ratios measurement times 0.87 equals the screen directly from the picture rather than above
other than 1.78:1 will be presented with width. For a 2.35:1 screen, the width is 0.92 or below it. With either type you’ll need to
black bars at the top and bo om or the times the diagonal. keep the wall behind the screen as dark as
le /right sides of the image. And since possible (preferably by painting it black)
no projector can deliver the same near- Sound Idea: Acoustically to prevent light reflections from bouncing
perfect black that OLED and (some) LCD Transparent Screens back through the screen. And since a small
TVs are capable of, those black bars will Commercial movie theaters use acous- amount of sound from the speakers is
appear dark gray at best. To minimize tically transparent screens that are reflected off the screen instead of passing
this, some screens offer either automated perforated so speakers can be placed through, it’s also a good practice to posi-
masking bars or manually removeable behind them. Similar screens are also tion them at least a foot behind the screen
black panels to hide the black bars. available in both woven and perforated rather than hard up against it.
form for home theater use, though the
Screens with automated masking are perforations are generally much smaller to Another consideration with acousti-
expensive, however, especially if they ensure they aren’t visible given the shorter cally transparent screens is that they can
provide both horizontal and vertical viewing distance in a home setup. (Stewart produce moiré (interference pa erns)
masking options, so many projector users Filmscreen, a leading maker of such in the image as the projected pixels (the
simply tolerate the o en-unavoidable screens, recommends a minimum 11-foot size of which will vary with projector-to-
“black” bars. Another option is to use two screen distance) interact with the screen’s
screens, though this can be expensive physical perforations or weave (less likely
as well, and at least one screen must be with the la er). This effect can be avoided
retractable. In my system, for example, through careful setup but presents another
I use both a 96-inch-wide 2.35:1 screen good reason to hire a custom installation
from Stewart Filmscreen and an 87-inch- pro to get things right.
wide 1.78:1 model from Elite Screens. Both
are ceiling-mounted and retractable. By Gain Explained
selecting one or the other depending on Gain is a specification used to quantify the
the source being viewed, most black bars amount of projected light a given screen
can be moved off-screen. This approach material can reflect off its surface. A screen
provides a significant boost in perceived
(but not actual) contrast when viewing a 6
2.35:1 aspect ratio image. It also yields a
larger 16:9 image than I would otherwise
get by simply centering that image on my
2.35:1 screen. (If you do opt to use a pair
of motorized retractable screens from the
same company, however, be sure they
offer different remote control frequencies!)

When you order a projection screen, it’s
important to confirm if the size is specified

[ [36 August September 2021

is said to have a gain of 1.0 (o en called 7) EPV Screens DarkStar UST 2 Efinity ambient 7
“ma e white”) if it reflects light evenly in light rejecting screen with Edge Free frame.
all directions over the area in front of it. 8) Screen Innovations Solo Pro 2 motorized screen and just a few inches in front of it
This is measured in the design stage by retractable projection screen. and are promoted as a solution for rooms
comparing the screen material against a with at least some degree of ambient
laboratory-grade surface (a standard white in various shades of gray and o en with lighting. Designed for use with screens
magnesium oxide board). gain lower than 1.0. But these “angular up to 120 inches diagonal, UST projectors
reflective” screens otherwise function the deliver a big screen experience at a far
Although a screen is a passive device same as conventional white screens in that lower cost than a jumbo-size flat-panel
that doesn’t amplify the light coming from the light hi ing them gets reflected in the LCD or OLED TV.
the projector, gain can be achieved by same direction.
focusing the total of its reflections over Many UST projectors are sold as a
a narrower range. Materials with a gain Their cousin, the retro-reflective screen, complete package with a compatible
factor between 1.1 and 1.5 are consid- embeds a microscopic structure that screen, but not all. While any old screen
ered relatively neutral, with a slight but reflects light coming directly from the will work with USTs, they require a special
useful increase in brightness over a ma e projector but minimizes light reflections category for best performance: a lenticular,
white screen, minimal hot-spo ing, and coming from elsewhere in the room. In this retro-reflective, ambient light rejecting
no significant image degradation when case, the projector and screen must be “black grid” model. Such screens are
viewed from a reasonable off-center seat. carefully positioned relative to each other designed to reflect light emanating from
Another benefit to using a screen with a due to the screen’s fixed microstructure. below (where the projector is positioned)
gain factor above 1.0 is that the slight refo- The Ultra Short Throw Story toward the viewer while rejecting light
cusing of light will reduce room reflections The information I’ve presented so far coming from above. A black grid screen
back onto the screen. applies mainly to conventional front isn’t as effective in rejecting light coming
projection setups with the screen located from the sides, so some ambient room light
High gain screens—ones that use a at one end of the room and the projector control will be needed for optimal results.
material with a gain greater than 1.5—can at the other. But the recent entry of ultra Alternately, a so-called Fresnel screen
have a mid-screen hot-spot, with the image short throw (UST) projectors alters that can reject light from both above and from
appearing brighter in the middle than at the script. UST projectors sit directly below the the sides. But it also produces a narrow
sides even if you’re seated dead-center. viewing angle, with the image dimming
The higher the gain, the more obvious the 8 significantly when viewed from off-center
hot-spot, and the more pronounced the seats. If you do opt for a UST projector that
brightness drop-off as you move away doesn’t include a screen, first check with
from a center seat. the projector manufacturer to see what
screen type they recommend—and how
Ambient Light Rejection much it will cost.
A projector will always deliver its best
performance in as dark a room as possible. End Credits
But in recent years new ambient light Selecting the right screen is critical for
rejecting screen designs have appeared ge ing the best performance from your
that can reduce (but not eliminate) the projector. And while there are myriad
negative effects of room lighting. They do options for framing, masking, and
this in two ways. The first category of such concealing—including screens that drop
screens offers special coatings, generally from a concealed compartment in the
ceiling or rise from a casse e discreetly
placed on the floor—some of those
sophisticated solutions may end up
costing as much or more than the projector
itself. Ultimately, your screen choice will
come down to your chosen projector’s
capabilities, viewing environment, and
budget. As with any project, the right mix of
tradeoffs will yield results more satisfying
than the sum of the parts.

[ 37


AFTER ALMOST a year-and-a-half in lockdown, it was meant to be heard would extend to
movie soundtracks.
The speaker maker’s I was honored to be the first member of the press
appointment-only New to experience the KEF Music Lounge Theater. In I met Kroll and Scola in the KEF Music
Jersey demonstration late May, I visited the company’s U.S. headquarters Lounge, a homey space with a bar and
theater combines in Marlboro, NJ and received a warm—and long living room setup just outside the theater
comfort with state-of- overdue—Jersey welcome from KEF VP David Kroll and adjacent to a spacious warehouse.
and marketing director Stephanie Scola. Work on I sat at the bar and jokingly ordered a
Manha an and my gracious hosts were
the-art gear and the theater was largely finished in February 2020 just ready to oblige. If it was 5 o’clock instead
of 10 in the morning, I would have hung
acoustic treatments weeks before the country went into lockdown so out and let the spirits flow. Instead, I was
the magnificent space with its 9.10.6 Dolby Atmos treated to a powerful demo of “We Will
BY BOB ANKOSKO speaker layout and 160-inch screen sat largely Rock You” from the 2018 tribute to Queen,
Bohemian Rhapsody, displayed on a TV
dormant for more than a year. As restrictions eased behind the bar and supported by an incon-
spicuous 5.2.2 system comprising seven
in the spring of this year, KEF was finally able to put in-wall speakers and a pair of subwoofers
concealed in either end of the bar. If only
the last piece of the puzzle in place when the theater received official THX Certification. the local sports bar had sound like this…

The christening, as it turns out, couldn’t be more fi ing as it aligns with the 60th anniver- Kroll and Scola were quick to point out
that the lounge is not a showroom. “It’s a
sary of KEF’s founding. Raymond Cooke, an electrical engineer with a deep passion for space for music and movie lovers to enjoy
audio as it was meant to be heard,” Kroll
music and an unwavering desire to design the perfect speaker, started the company near said. “This is the way we want people to
experience our brand and our products,
the country town of Maidstone, 32 miles southeast of London. Sixty years later, Cooke’s

legacy lives on and is echoed in words he u ered decades ago:

“Of all art, music is the most indefinable and the most expressive, the most insubstantial

and the most immediate, the most transitory and the most imperishable. Transformed to

a dance of electrons along a wire, its ghost lives on. When KEF returns music to its rightful

habituation, your ears and mind, they aim to do so in the most natural way they can ...

without drama, without exaggeration, without artifice.”

If Cooke was here today, there’s li le doubt that his dedication to reproducing music as

[ [38 August September 2021

Scola added. “We want them to walk away one wanted to leave. That is exactly the are capable of. What’s impressively
feeling like they could live here.” feel I wanted to offer our dealers and their apparent is that even at THX Reference
customers. The space had to be a comfort- level, the system is smooth and balanced
Cavernous Yet Cozy able, relaxing environment with KEF flair.” so you can watch movie a er movie in
As we walked into the theater I was imme- complete awe and comfort.”
diately struck by how cozy the space felt, KEF found the perfect design partner
despite its 11-foot ceiling and 18-person in Kingsley Knauss, owner of Westfield, He’s not kidding. I was treated to a series
seating capacity, and how warm and NJ-based KBK Interior Design. “We of extended clips starting with the delicate
natural the room sounded while we were created a warm and comfortable environ- opera performance of “Never Enough”
cha ing. “Too many theaters dampen ment with oversized sectionals instead from The Greatest Showman (2017)
only the highest frequencies, which alters of theater chairs for a more informal and in which Rebecca Ferguson portrays
the tone of voices, making them sound ‘curl-up and get comfortable’ feel,” she “Swedish Nightingale” Jenny Lind (the
nasally,” Kroll observed. Definitely not the explained. “We specifically used loose song is sung by Loren Allred) and ending
case here. Seating is spread over three seat and back cushions so that the guests with the terrifying depth charge scene
tiered rows: a back row with bar-height could adjust the cushions as needed for from the 2000 World War II submarine
seating and two rows of comfy chaise comfort. A low-tech seating solution for film, U571. In-between, I buckled up for the
lounge style seating. such a high-tech space.” exhilarating track scene from Ford v Ferrari,
where Carroll Shelby (Ma Damon) takes a
“In 2018 I happened to visit Lagasse’s And having a high ceiling just adds to skeptical Henry Ford II (Tracy Le s) on the
Stadium Sportsbook at The Palazzo hotel the comfort, Kroll noted. “You walk into the ride of his life, and flinched my way through
in Las Vegas,” Scola recalled. “The vibe room and it feels airy and spacious—you the calamitous VR race scene from 2018’s
of that space was a big inspiration for don’t feel like you’re in a cave.” Ready Player One.
how I wanted the seating designed for
our theater. Couples were nestled next to Though the 9,500-cubic-foot space is “It’s easy to make the theater sound
each other, drinking and snacking while relatively unassuming, it’s brimming with impressive in a loud action scene but it’s
watching the game and you could tell no hidden technology chosen to deliver, as more difficult to have it sound impres-
Kroll put it, “a full sensory cinematic experi- sive with a single voice singing on stage,”
ence to showcase what KEF loudspeakers Kroll noted in explaining why The Greatest
Showman demo is a KEF favorite. “You
Photos: Top le : Peter Rymwid Photography. Top right and bo om le : Acoustic Innovations can sense the spaciousness of the opera
house and hear the instruments coming
up from the orchestra pit below her feet.
At one point there is a low timpani roll and
you can feel the rumble of the large drums
even though they’re playing so ly—just
like when you hear a symphony live. It really
does put you right into the scene.”

The Ultimate
Warehouse Conversion
The KEF Music Lounge Theater was
constructed in what had been a bustling
warehouse, two-and-a-half stories tall with
thick concrete floors. Why so tall? Turns
out the building was a ship manufacturing
facility before KEF took over the space
some years ago.

“The theater is a rectangular box, inside

[ 39


a rectangular box, inside a warehouse,” 1) e outer wall of 2
Kroll observed. “Because it’s located the theater as seen
inside an active warehouse, sound from the warehouse. 2) A 1-inch air gap between the exterior (left) and
transmission both inside and outside of interior walls along with the use of sound-
the space is of critical importance just as Absorptive surfaces were then absorbing insulation in the walls prevents the
it would be in a home.” With this in mind, balanced with hard, flat reflective surfaces transmission of sound into and out of the theater.
KEF tapped the acoustic design experts (like the ribbon mahogany paneling) to 3) Slot diffusers bracketed by absorptive diffusers
at Acoustic Innovations (AI) to design and prevent the room from sounding overly were installed in the walls and covered in fabric.
build the showcase theater. The family-run damped and ensure equally good results
company, which operates out of Boca with movies and music. Diffusion was used above to accommodate the acoustic treat-
Raton, Florida, was founded in 1992 by extensively on the rear and rear-side walls ments,” Kroll noted.
industry veteran Jay Miller whose credits to, as Kroll put it, “provide a sca ering
include the completion of more than 2,000 effect that breaks up excess energy to To complete the acoustics puzzle,
custom theaters over the past 39 years. create a spacious surround environment.” carpet with thick padding was installed
Diffusers concealed behind fabric panels and a combination of absorption and
The first step toward creating a sonically were also installed across the entire diffusion was used along the top and
isolated space was to build a double wall, ceiling. “We were lucky to have a visible
so the AI crew constructed outer and inner ceiling at 11 feet with an additional foot
stud walls with a 1-inch air gap in-between
and filled the walls with sound-absorbing 3
insulation to prevent sound from entering
or leaving the theater. The inner stud
frame forms the structure of the theater
and houses the acoustical treatments.
“We did one other important thing that
differs from what you see in many standard
theater installations: Rather than cover the
inner stud frame with drywall, we le the
stud bays open to give us added depth for
thicker absorption and diffusion materials.”

When it comes to the art and science
of room acoustics, the strategic selection
and placement of acoustical treatments
was a fundamental part of the theater’s
overall design and it goes a long way
toward making the space sound as good
as it does.

“Following THX guidelines, one of
the primary treatments was to absorb
the first reflection point,” Kroll observed.
“By moving beyond the surface and also
applying treatments within the full stud
depth, we absorb a wide range of frequen-
cies so that the room remains balanced
and natural sounding with the first reflec-
tion completely eliminated.”

[ [40 August September 2021

A/V Equipment List

Epson ProCinema 6050UB 4K video 4
4) Diffusers installed across the ceiling are flexibility in placing the speakers,” Kroll
Seymour Screen Excellence RF140HD- concealed behind fabric. At right: the room's noted. “We were able to put the side and
NEO 160-inch screen (with acoustically finished ceiling. rear speakers higher than normal, which
transparent Enlightor fabric) allows direct sound to reach each row
bo om of the rear walls and rear-side walls without being blocked. Every seat in the
Video sources: Kaleidescape Strato S to achieve “near perfect RT (reverberation house is in the sweet spot—there are no
movie player/server, Apple TV 4K, Sony time) decay.” Even the riser built to elevate ‘king seats.’” The ability of KEF’s THX-
UBP-X1000ES 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the middle row of seating was slo ed and certified in-wall speakers to play low and
Motorola cable box filled with insulation so it would function as loud also made it possible to use lower
a bass trap. Pre y clever. than usual crossover points: The side and
Audio sources: NAD CI 580 V2 BluOS rear channels cross over at 40Hz and the
network music player, Innuos ZENith mk3 As you can see from photos of the Atmos height channels at 60Hz, while the
music server finished space, all of the acoustical magic front channels run full range, allowing for
is done under the cover of linen-textured “pinpoint accuracy with precise theatrical
Acurus ACT 4 A/V preamp/processor fabrics chosen to create a “moody and steering and Atmos height positioning.”
timeless environment” that complements
Parasound Halo JC 5 2 x 400-watt power the room’s mahogany paneling and sculp- In case you lost count, the theater
amplifier tural wall sconces. houses 15 in-wall speakers, powered
by five Parasound Halo series ampli-
Parasound Halo A21+ 2 x 250-watt power Speakers Everywhere fiers chosen for their and configuration
amplifier (bridged) All of the system’s 25 (!) KEF speakers (10 flexibility and ability to deliver effortless
of which are subwoofers) are recessed in sound at high volumes. A 2 x 400-wa JC
Parasound Halo A51 5 x 250-watt power the walls for a super-clean look. The front 5 lights up the front le and right speakers,
amplifier (2) sound stage comprises three top-of-the while an A21+ operating in its 1,000-wa
line Reference series Ci5160REF-THX bridged mode brings the center speaker to
Parasound A52+ 5 x 180-watt power in-wall speakers in the le , center, and right life. From there, a pair of 5 x 250-wa A51
amplifier (2 of 5 channels used) positions. Each lists for a cool $10,000 amps power the six surround speakers
and sandwiches KEF’s signature Uni-Q and four of the six Atmos height speakers,
KEF KASA500 subwoofer power amplifier driver—in this case, a 5-inch midrange while a 5 x 180-wa A52+ drives the two
(3, for in-wall subs) driver with a 1-inch aluminum-dome remaining height speakers with three
tweeter in its “throat”—between two pairs channels to spare. Except for the JC 5, all
KEF Ci5160REF-THX in-wall speakers (3) of 6.5-inch woofers in a 42-inch-tall frame of the Parasound amps are THX Certified,
that’s only 4 inches deep and fits between meaning they have passed a ba ery of
KEF Ci3160REF-THX in-wall speakers (4) the studs. rigorous tests to ensure the highest quality
audio reproduction.
KEF Ci5160RL-THX in-wall speakers (2) Surround-sound duties are handled
by four Ci3160RL-THX in-wall speakers
KEF Ci200RR-THX in-ceiling speakers (6) (a shortened version of the Ci5160 with
two woofers)—one in the front and one
KEF KUBE 12b powered subwoofer (4) in the rear of each sidewall—and a pair
of CI5160RL-THX in-wall speakers in the
KEF Ci200QSb-THX in-wall subwoofer (4) back wall. The Ci3160s have the same
driver layout as the Ci1560s up front but
KEF Ci3160RLb-THX in-wall subwoofer with a 6.5-inch Uni-Q driver. An array of six
(2) Ci200RR-THX in-ceiling speakers firing
from above convey the Dolby Atmos height
Accessories & Additional Gear channels and (literally) take sonic immer-
sion to the next level.
Networking: Ubiquiti (audio) and Luxul
(video) “The wide off-axis response of our
Uni-Q technology gave us some unique
Just Add Power 518AVP 4K over IP

Just Add Power 717HIFI 4K over IP trans-
mitter (2)

Just Add Power 717WP2 4K over IP wall-
plate transmitter (2)

Zigen ZIG-PAX digital/analog audio
extender (2)

Middle Atlantic BGR-4527LRD equipment
rack (3)

Middle Atlantic UPS (uninterruptible
power supply) (2)

SurgeX PF-420 branch circuit surge
eliminator (3)

Pass and Seymour power outlets

Straight Wire speaker wire and XLR, RCA,
HDMI cables

All-in cost of KEF Music Lounge
Theater: $400,000-$500,000

[ 41

Classy room aesthetics aside, the most 5) e gleaming A/V racks are located in alcoves 5 Photos: Top le : Peter Rymwid Photography.
dramatic aspect of the KEF Music Lounge off the hallway between the music lounge and
Theater is its 10 subwoofers. You don’t see theater. 6) To access the business side of the A/V 6
them—all are concealed behind fabric racks you have to step into the bathroom.
grilles—but you most definitely feel them. custom-built oversized sliding wood door
(The bass was so powerful at times, that fi ed with the company’s most advanced system opens in full on the bathroom side
I thought a Bu Kicker was a ached to acoustically-transparent fabric to ensure to completely reveal the inner artistry of
the sectional.) The low-frequency assault sound from the center speaker, located the wiring. It’s amusing to get a cluster
begins with the 22Hz-capable KUBE 12b, a behind the screen, would not be compro- of people in the bathroom to hear their
16-inch cube housing a 12-inch woofer and mised. “We chose a woven screen so there reaction when we pull the doors back to
300-wa amplifier. Actually, there are four would be no shi in frequency response showcase this.”
of them: Two in each of the gently angled compared with the front le and right
walls that join the front and side walls speakers, which were placed just outside So, I wanted to know, as I’m sure you do,
on either side of the video screen. The of the screen to improve stereo separa- what it cost to design and build theater of
thunder continues with four 18Hz-capable tion,” Kroll explained, noting that perfo- this caliber? Upwards of a half-a-million
Ci200QSb-THX in-wall subwoofers, which rated vinyl screens require equalization to bucks when you factor in design, engi-
come packaged in pairs for a total of eight compensate for shi s in tonal balance. neering, installation, the cost of gear and,
8-inch woofers, and two KEF Ci3160RLb- of course, start-to-finish construction. Best
THX in-wall subs—boasting three 6.5-inch Epson’s flagship Pro Cinema 6050UB to start saving now.
drivers apiece—in the back wall. All of the projector illuminates the screen with stun-
in-wall subs are driven by three of KEF’s ning 4K images. Kroll would have preferred “We set out to achieve a theater experi-
KASA500 subwoofer amplifiers, each for it to be enclosed but the 2-foot-thick ence worthy of the THX Certified logo and
rated to deliver 2 x 250 wa s and bridge- structural concrete wall at the back of the what we ended up with exceeded even our
able to 500 wa s. theater made that impossible so it had to wildest expectations,” Kroll concluded.
be mounted on the ceiling. Fortunately, the Raymond Cooke would be proud.
When the AI design team decided to projector is dead quiet and located at the
go with six Atmos height channels, they last row of seating so it’s not visible when
knew they needed a serious A/V preamp/ you’re watching a movie.
processor—one that would let them
select individual crossover points while All of the A/V gear is showcased in three
managing bass in all channels. They chose Middle Atlantic racks located in an alcove
the Acurus ACT 4, one of only a few pre/ off the hallway between the music lounge
pros able to meet their demands for flex- and theater, which as it turns out, was not
ibility (it has 20 channels), sound quality, the ideal location. “We had an awkward
and operational simplicity. challenge in positioning the racks,” Kroll
explained. “We wanted them to be dead
As you might imagine, a variety of center between the theater and music
sources are available for your listening lounge but that exact point happened to
and viewing pleasure in the KEF theater, be in the restroom!” The solution: Run with
starting with a NAD CI 580 V2 BluOS it. The installation team ended up creating
network music player and an Innuos a space for the equipment between the
ZENith mk3 server on the music side. hallway and bathroom.
Movie thrills come courtesy of a Kaleid-
escape Strato S 4K movie player/server “From the hallway you can pop open
(Sound & Vision Top Pick in 2020), Sony’s the glass doors to access the front of the
UBP-X1000ES 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, equipment, which is tight to the wood
Apple TV 4K, and a Motorola cable box. framing so you can’t see through,” Kroll
said. “But for those of us who want to gawk
Movie viewing in the KEF Music Lounge lovingly at the gorgeous workmanship
Theater coalesces around a 13-foot behind the racks—or really, to have an
(diagonal) Seymour Screen Excellence easy time servicing units when needed—a
Reference Series RF140HD-NEO screen

[ [42 August September 2021


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Register today for the most anticipated
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expo: sept 1-3, 2021
conference: aug 31 - sept 2, 2021
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test report


See No Evil, RATING
Hear No Evil
By Michael P. Hamilton SETUP

A MYRIAD of boulevards as they say, were Hollywood sound-on-film process. To providing countless possibili- Theater: Keith Yates Design; Photo: Jeff Freeman Photography
dissects a tract of former citrus gold. No other screen company optimize dialogue localization ties for gain and ambient light
groves, referred to long ago has been similarly feted, and for the new “talkies,” theater rejection formulations. But even
as Hollywoodland. Of these to this day, Stewart can boast speaker systems migrated with the advancements offered
thoroughfares, singularly, there of providing a screen for your behind AT screens. by MicroPerf, suppression of
is Hollywood Boulevard, known home identical to one used audio detail remains a downside
the world over for a century to put the final touches on an The Stewart AT portfolio to perforated vinyl screens, with
of broken dreams. As lore Academy Award winner. has long included both vinyl early versions of such designs
recounts, and contemporary offerings and the company’s even requiring passive EQ to
tales of woe reveal, there is li le Which brings us to another Harmony woven fabric, a screen compensate for high-frequency
le to ponder beyond what Hollywood hopeful: Stewart material specifically developed roll-off.
should have been a er most Filmscreen’s new Harmony G2 to enhance audio fidelity. But
fame-bound aspirants leave. Acoustically Transparent (AT) with acoustic transparency That’s where the Harmony G2
projection screen. AT screens pushed as a primary a ribute, comes in. The enhanced video
But Tinseltown can also yield using a perforated surface AT screens like the Harmony resolution available with native
success stories, such as in 1947 to pass-through sound were have typically been plagued 4K projectors forced screen
when an unknown named Roy introduced during the develop- by light loss and both color makers to pursue tighter weave
C. Stewart answered a casting ment of sound enhancement accuracy and white field unifor- pa erns for AT materials. Also
call—of sorts—and quite to movies. At first, films were mity issues. Enter MicroPerf. recognizing a renewed interest
literally became a Hollywood synchronized to discs resem- This groundbreaking minia- in woven designs among audio-
screen legend. By 1956, Roy bling 78 RPM shellac press- ture hole pa ern that Stewart conscious videophiles, Stewart
had earned an Academy Award ings that contained musical designed for home theater set out to update its Harmony
for Technical Achievement, accompaniment, but sound- screens enabled concealed fabric into a long-awaited
garnering a second one in 1964. on-disc eventually yielded to speaker placement behind a second-generation product,
Roy and Stewart Filmscreen, Movietone’s superior optical wider range of vinyl surfaces, one with dramatically reduced
color shi and uncompromised
audio resolution. (The company
claims exemplary color
behavior on- and off-axis plus a
measured 1 to 2dB higher sound
output measured from 5kHz to
20kHz than its competition.)

Many companies simply
source screen materials from
third-party manufacturers.
Stewart’s goal with Harmony
G2 was to bring things as
in-house as possible, sending
engineers out to investigate
advancements in fabric milling
and materials composition and
acquiring suitable machinery
for the state-of-the-art weaving
process necessary to create a
class-leading screen material.
But such an effort represented
an outlay of Bitcoin-bleeding
proportions. The next best
option? Locate yarn capable of

[ [44 August September 2021

yielding fabric that could meet request, allowing for stand- viewing notes a few days later, I At a Glance
challenging optical demands alone use in my temporary had graphically circled a group
for neutrality and color repro- review setup. I placed the of sentences describing the Superb uniformity and
duction, and then collaborate screen directly in front of a stunning portrayal of carbon detail rendition
with a milling concern equipped cabinet supporting a Thiel SCS3 fiber layers within a labyrinth
with a specialized industrial LCR speaker located at the of unpainted, de ly stag- Precise color tracking
loom for weaving the complex, screen’s center. gered elements comprising an and accurate saturation
proprietary pa ern the project unpainted Mercedes front wing
necessitated. This daunting, The terrific folks at Epson assembly. The fiber pa ern Minimal reduction in
exhaustive process establishes graciously provided a Home looked like the outline of every audio fidelity
Harmony G2 as an exclusively Cinema 5050UB 3LCD tile in a completed 1,000-piece
Stewart-engineered, quality- projector, a highly effective puzzle. During these cursory Woven design involves
controlled product. screen evaluation tool, to use sessions, in no instance did I inherent light loss
for my test. I positioned the detect the underlying weave of
PACKAGING & SETUP 5050UB inside a shelving the Harmony G2 fabric. Beer budgeteers may
system, its lens height aligned find it champagne-priced
My 96-inch-wide by 54-inch- with the center of the Harmony Viewing from eight feet away,
high Harmony G2 screen arrived G2 for the best possible perfor- I scribbled “every intricate, Price: $3,242 (as tested)
damage-free in Stewart’s tradi- mance. The screen’s delivery subordinate part of the image
tional bullet-proof packaging. coincided with the start of the is finely chiseled, and retained (800) 762.4999
Each interlocking, beveled Stanley Cup playoffs, and for in motion.” While light output in
segment of the included the first few days I le the Epson the Epson’s Natural mode was
3.25-inch hewn-aluminum in Natural, a picture mode that only 11.6 footlamberts ( -L),
Deluxe frame was swathed tracks very close to the Rec.709 that proved to be plenty for my abruptly fired, and storms past
in Stewart’s light-deadening standard at factory default and viewing distance and environ- an inquisitive Mia as he exits.
VeLux, an industry icon by set the lamp mode to Eco since ment. Checking out test material While not a bona fide black-
any metric. (The Deluxe frame the image was plenty bright. a er calibrating the projector, I level torture test, I was satisfied
adds six-and-one-half inches felt nothing more was needed, that, when combined with
to the screen’s total horizontal PERFORMANCE but one task still remained. Harmony G2’s other impressive
and vertical dimensions.) The traits, dynamic range in this
Harmony G2 material affixes A er a bit of pre-game warm A er further calibrating the scene locked into place.
to receptor snaps lining the up, I se led in for some viewing. Epson’s Bright Cinema mode
inner perimeter of the frame’s Note-taking almost instantly to reach the SMPTE 16 -L/ QUIET ON THE SET
backside, while a second, ensued: “Fantastic detail, Rec.709 cinema target, I could
light-damping backing liner wonderful edge-to-edge not think of a more appropriate Along with watching sports
a aches directly to the mate- uniformity, no motion artifacts Ultra HD movie to watch than and movies on the Harmony
rial’s dual-sided snaps. Heavy- in any trajectory.” Hockey La La Land, an established G2 screen, I devoted time to
duty piping borders the screen match broadcasts can present reference quality disc. I turned listening for clarity, particularly
material to securely embed unique on-the-fly tests for any the HDR off on my Oppo in announcers’ voices. Out
the snaps and prevent duress video system. Does the ice look UDP-203 disc player, and also of the gate, I heard nothing
during assembly. The carefully white? Do artifacts arise when set it to downconvert to SDR. distracting: enunciation and
manicured sizing, meanwhile, players whir past advertising on Stewart’s website indicates that sibilants were clean and
ensures the material weave the “boards” tracked by rapid displaying HDR is not recom- distinct. A er five full hours of
pa ern does not distort from camera pans? In hundreds of mended for Harmony G2 due a Formula 1 Sunday listening to
over-stretching. Epson calibrations (profes- to the prodigious amount of the varied dialects of the inter-
sional video calibration is light required (see Test Bench). national crew (including Brits
Some screen makers utilize my day job), I’ve found the That doesn’t mean HDR isn’t with their nuanced “R’s”), plus
a compression system for on-board motion processing possible with Harmony G2—it drivers from multiple continents,
screen retention, with fabric of the company’s projectors to most certainly is. It’s just there was no discernable dimin-
positioned over the frame be very well-executed, leading that you will likely require an ishment of intelligibility.
and the overlap pressed me to conclude if nothing on a ultra-pricey projector like a
into a receiving channel and screen is visibly amiss when it’s Barco Loki or Njord capable While we all have inherent
pressure-retained by clips. paired with a top-range Epson, of 10,000-plus lumens output. familiarity with the sound of the
While effective, there is li le the screen is free of anomalies. In every respect this screen is human voice, some of us may
assurance the weave pa ern ideal, and perhaps destined for not be able to pick out Allen
is preserved (over-stretching I continued to scrutinize that class of machine. Collins’ 1964 Gibson Firebird
alters thread spacing) or the Harmony G2 for any sign during the guitar solo section
inadvertent skewing that could of visual weakness, discov- Early into La La Land, Sebas- of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird.”
introduce moiré (a visual artifact ering nothing the closer I tian is shown at the piano in a For a be er grasp with the
created by two overlapping peered. Streamed from Hulu supper club playing Christmas screen’s performance with
pa erns) is prevented. Stewart’s via Apple TV, 4K coverage of songs as festive lights sparkle music, I enlisted the aid of a
tidy approach eliminates both Formula 1 auto racing by Sky against the otherwise dimmed second Thiel SCS3 speaker and
these concerns. Stewart also Sports (downconverted and surroundings. Having been played the new remixed stereo
sent accessory “T” stands at my presented on ESPN) looked warned about sneaking his version of “LA Woman” by The
magnificent. Referencing my beloved jazz into the set Doors on Tidal. The cut opens
between holiday classics, he is on a dynamic note, with John

[ 45

test report


Densmore’s snare knifing through Test Bench White Point Luminance (ft-L)
the muted chords of session rhythm
guitarist Marc Benno, and keeping Screen Target Point 16.249
pace with session bassist Jerry 13.31
Scheff (who, with Benno, was part of Center (L&R, 2° Avg.) 0.312 / 0.329
Elvis’s band). Lead guitarist Robbie Center Left Side 0.313 / 0.313 13.355
Krieger smoothly shares the spot- Center Right Side 0.311 / 0.334 16.16
light here with Morrison’s vocals. If Center Top 0.313 / 0.333
any shortcoming was detectable on Left Top 0.313 / 0.334 13.226
this very familiar track, it might have Right Top 0.313 / 0.333 13.424
been the forfeiture of a bit of sheen Center Bottom 0.313 / 0.333 15.581
to Densmore’s cymbals. Left Bottom 0.315 / 0.335 12.925
Right Bottom 0.313 / 0.335
CONCLUSION Center Left (from 35° Left) 0.313 / 0.329 13.14
Center Right (from 35° Right) 0.312 / 0.330 15.997
Readers o en make a beeline to
a review’s summary, so it’s best to 16.113
get this one caveat out of the way: A
lot of light is required for displaying For measurements, I used a Labsphere USRT-99 Spectralon Reflectence Target
HDR, and that is true for all projector
and screen combinations. So, placed on a tripod directly in front of screen center. (Many screen manufacturers use
heed caution when examining gain
specifications for the Acoustically Labsphere targets as a baseline parameter for a color-neutral, Lambertian reference
Transparent screen category, since
an inordinate plus in one direction is with 99% reflectance at any measurable angle.)
o en countered by a demerit else-
where, with the common tradeoffs My luminance target for Rec.709 is 16 ft-L, so I began my calibration and, when
for woven AT screens including
color accuracy, screen uniformity, finished, the white point was 0.313/0.330, and light output 18.2 ft-L. My 2.4 gamma
and a enuation of audio signals.
target was a nearly flat 2.4. Setting the Labsphere aside, I refocused the projector
Screens, like tools, are designed
for specific applications, and to the screen and ran a pre-calibration pass that would highlight differences, if any,
Stewart has created a reference-
grade tool with the Harmony G2. between the reference reflectance target and the screen itself.
The G2’s unparalleled neutrality
makes it competitive with Stewart’s The white point clocked in at 0.311/0.330 as light output dipped to 11.935 ft-L—not
best screen materials. Its calibrated
color balance rivals really good flat unexpected for a woven screen, though the lamp remained in Eco. Gamma remained
panel TVs. A lifetime in this industry
has taught me how to carefully largely corrected, averaging 2.39, rising from 40 IRE and staying at near 2.0 through
listen, and I struggled to detect
any audible departure from direct 100 IRE. Calibration improved gamma tracking, dropping the average to 0.836 with the
sound to that passing through the
Harmony G2. This screen should be largest error coming at 90 IRE and measuring 1.53. Light output dropped a very slight
mandatory for any Zurich-based,
bank-draining system using a 0.269 ft-L.
projector possessing Starship
Enterprise photon laser power. But Color gamut pre-calibration averaged 1.309 with red the leading error at 1.159.
ANY system in need of the special-
ized benefits a woven AT screen After calibration, the average dropped to 0.678, cyan becoming the biggest offender
provides will reach reference-level
with the Harmony G2. It earns my at 0.958. Using the Color Checker feature in Calman software from Portrait Displays,
highest recommendation.
a measurement of 47 different hues, the averaged error was 1.1, with a maximum
The Verdict
3.2 on purplish blue. Blue flower and blue sky upped the average as both measured
Stewart’s remarkable new Harmony
G2 is a reference-level Acoustically at 2.8. A slight blue push isn’t unheard of with woven screens, but Stewart has
Transparent offering for systems with
speakers installed behind the screen. managed to deliver a nearly spectrally flat surface based on measurements made

with a very capable $2,999 Epson projector.

With the projector's Natural mode selected, the calibrated white point at center

screen was 16.249 ft-L and 0.312/0.329. Points measured at the perimeter varied

from 12.925 ft-L and 0.315/0.333 to 15.581 ft-L and 0.313/0.334. I don't attribute these

slightly lower light measurements and deviations from the white point to the screen,

but instead to fall off from the outer circumference of the projector lens and associated

chromatic aberrations.

This data indicates how neutral Stewart’s screen is. Spectralon is a “static”

reference surface material. The screen becomes reference caliber with a compatible

projector (and skilled calibrator). This affords another hat-tip to Epson, because if a

$3K projector plus this screen, in the standard

size of 96 by 54 inches for just above another DIMENSIONS:

$3K, can create an image only hundredths of a Customizable up
percent off from reference, that’s a challenge
Specs to 10 feet high and

unmet a decade ago in metrics approaching six 90 feet wide

figures left of decimal point.—MPH

[ [46 August September 2021

The New Shape Of Sound

Introducing The New KLH Model Five Acoustic Suspension Speaker System

Widely celebrated as the best-selling loudspeaker of its era, 'UHVVHG LQ JHQXLQH ZRRG YHQHHUV DQG FDVW DOXPLQXP VSHDNHU
WKH OHJHQGDU\ DXGLR FRPSDQ\ KRQRULQJ DFRXVWLF VXVSHQVLRQ listening space is too “live” or too “dead,” the Model Five lets you

test report RATING

The Big Short VALUE

By Al Griffin

WITH ULTRA short throw (UST) frequently discussed ambient Designed for use aligned to filter out light emanating
projectors available from a growing light rejecting (ALR) screens in with ultra short from above the screen while
list of companies including Epson, Sound & Vision and have reviewed throw projectors, reflecting light coming from below
LG, Hisense, Optoma, Vava, and a fair number of them. But a UST the DarkStar UST where the projector is positioned in
now Samsung, it’s clear that the projector requires a specialized 2 Efinity absorbs a UST setup. Screens such as the
category has become firmly estab- type of ALR screen—one like the up to 85 percent of DarkStar UST 2 Efinity also feature
lished. That’s no surprise given the DarkStar UST 2 Efinity from EPV overhead lighting. a black layer that helps to absorb
ergonomic and screen real estate- Screens. light and increase both contrast and
per-dollar benefits such models color saturation. The formulation
offer, but ge ing the best picture What makes a UST screen used for UST screens allows for
quality from a UST setup requires different from a typical ALR model is overhead room lights to be le on
a specific screen pairing. We’ve the structure of the optical coating but doesn’t fully reject light hi ing
on the screen’s surface, which is

[ [48 August September 2021

the screen from its le and right A er piecing the aluminum pairs, drilling the holes, and At a Glance
sides, so you’ll need to exert screen frame together using screwing in the brackets, the
some degree of control over the included hardware, the next last step is to hang the screen Highly immersive image
ambient room lighting condi- step was to insert a vertical (this is where any helping from 123-inch screen
tions for best performance. center support bar to stabilize hands you enlist will prove most
it. EPV Screens also supplies helpful) and push down at its Easy assembly
The DarkStar UST 2 Efinity an oversize sheet of foam, and center to lock the frame in. And
is sold exclusively by EPV this gets used to lay the screen that’s pre y much it—align your Five-year warranty
Screens’ dealer network and material on when a aching bo om-positioned projector
arrives in a 68 x 8 x 12-inch it—a step that requires using with the screen and focus it Very good value
(WxHxD) shipping carton. metal springs to latch perfora- using a setup test pa ern.
Given the compact size of the tions on the material’s outer Movie time! Requires high brightness
package that arrived at my door- edges to grooves on the frame’s projector for best
step, I was somewhat mystified back side. (The material’s PERFORMANCE performance
to learn that its contents would surface can be very easily
yield a 60.7-inch high by 107.3- damaged, so two sets of white A er calibrating an Epson (310) 873-8286
inch wide (123 inches diagonal) co on gloves are included LS500 projector with the Dark-
screen when fully assembled. I and should be used whenever Star UST 2, light output at the Price: $2,799
use a 100-inch diagonal Screen handling the screen.) Once center of the screen measured
innovations Short Throw as a that’s done, you affix the black approximately 15 footlamberts
reference, and consider that to edge trim frame pieces to the ( -L), or a nearly 50 percent
be “big.” But once the DarkStar screen’s top, bo om, and sides, luminance decrease from what of subjective impressions and
UST 2 was fully assembled, I and use angle covers to finish I was ge ing with my previous measured performance using
found myself surprised by how off the corners. Of the entire Epson/Screen Innovations white full-field test pa erns. EPV
dramatic a size boost step- kit, the angle covers were the Short Throw setup. The SI Screens’ 160 degrees viewing
ping up to 120-plus inches only components that used screen is a 100-inch model, angle spec proved to be solid
delivered—this was by far the adhesive tape instead of screws however, and a larger projection as well, with the DarkStar UST 2
most immersive image I’ve yet for fastening, and consequently screen size necessarily involves displaying uniform brightness,
experienced in my home. struck me as a bit flimsy. a brightness tradeoff, so I wasn’t contrast, and color balance
surprised by this result. when viewed from extreme off-
Adding to that sense of Wall-mounting hardware center positions.
visual immersion is the DarkStar consisting of brackets and Image uniformity of the Dark-
UST 2 Efinity’s fixed Edge Free screws is included, though Star UST 2 was also impressive, How did this all translate
frame, which, at just 0.4 inches you’ll need to supply your own with the screen showing only a 4 when I finally se led in to watch
wide, delivers the same floating hollow wall anchors to drill into some movies and TV? A er
“bezel-free” look you get with drywall surfaces. A er deter- -L maximum brightness differ- completely shu ing out my
certain large flat-panel TVs. mining the precise wall loca- ential between the center and windows using blackout blinds
EPV Screens’ specs list gain tions for the top/bo om bracket outer edges. Any shi s in color but leaving the room’s overhead
as 0.8 percent, overhead light were negligible both in terms lights on, the 4K-res Netflix
absorption at 85 percent, and documentary My Octopus
viewing angle as 160 degrees.
The DarkStar UST 2 Efinity is
also ISF Certified, 8K and HDR
ready, and comes with a five-
year limited warranty.


The unavoidable heavy li when
buying a projection screen is
assembling it yourself, some-
thing you’ll need to set aside
a few hours to do and ideally
with a second set of helping
hands on deck. Fortunately, the
DarkStar UST 2 Efinity comes
with a detailed, well-illustrated
instruction manual that I mostly
found easy to follow. An online
support video would have been
a welcome additional resource
here, but I couldn’t find one
dedicated to this particular
model when I checked out the
company’s website.

[ 49

test report


Test Bench

Screen Target Color Luminance
Point Temperature (K) (ft-L)

Teacher (a 2020 Best Doc visible in shadows and high- Center 6611 14.8
Oscar-winner) looked impres- lights. Image uniformity here Center Left Side 6667 12.4
sively detailed and rich. The red was also impressive, with the Center Right Side 6894 11.7
lines in the bodies of jellyfish screen showing no brightness Center Top 6638 14.5
swimming around the undersea shi s or color tinting anywhere Left Top 6637 11.0
narrator came across vividly, from its center to the outer le / Right Top 6848
and a wide range of fine green right edges. Center Bottom 6751 11.1
and brown hues were visible Left Bottom 6857 13.6
in floating strands of sea kelp. Most of the programs I had Right Bottom 6918 11.4
The dark ocean background watched with the DarkStar UST 10.8
displayed a good amount of 2 at this point were intended for
depth and this contrasted nicely viewing in a dim or blacked out Measurements DIMENSIONS:
with sunlight cu ing through the room and, admi edly, overall
ocean’s surface. image quality and impact did were made with a 60.7 in high by 107.3
improve when I shut off the 100 IRE white test
Switching gears to movies on overhead lights and watched in Specs in wide (overall), 60
Ultra HD Blu-ray, the IMAX-shot darkness. But a primary use for
scenes in Tenet were incred- UST setups is sports-viewing, pattern displayed in high by 106.6 in
ibly immersive as they filled an activity that usually happens
up the full 123-inch diagonal in rooms with a relatively high via an Epson LS500 wide (viewable)
16:9 aspect ratio screen. This is level of ambient light. Streaming
how you do IMAX at home! As I a reel of Manchester United projector calibrated
watched a sequence where The soccer replay highlight clips via
Protagonist fights travelers from the Peacock app, the rich colors using Calman measurement software from Portrait Displays
the future in the time-turnstile of the turf, player uniforms, and
(oh yeah, you’ll need to watch stadium signage popped out ( together with a Photo Research PR-
Tenet yourself—more than dynamically on the screen, and
once—to understand), details so did the bright white of the 650 color meter. A Minolta LS-100 luminance meter and a
like the pinstripes of his suit nets and onscreen graphics.
were clearly rendered amidst Watching with my overhead Murideo/AVPro (Fresco Six-G) test pattern generator were
all the motion and chaos, and lights on, I did crave more image
black levels were for the most brightness, but the expansive, also used during testing.—AG
part solid. you-are-there effect delivered
by the 123-inch screen helped videogames benefits greatly of ambient light in the viewing
Heading back to Netflix to to compensate for any short- from being displayed at such space. Given the brightness
check out some black-and- comings in that department. a large scale, and the sense of limitations of many consumer
white movies on the DarkStar visual immersion can at times ultra short throw projectors
UST 2, I watched the David CONCLUSION be breathtaking. At $2,799, (with its specified 4,000 lumens
Fincher-helmed Mank, a biopic the DarkStar UST 2 Efinity light output, the Epson LS500
about Citizen Kane screen- Having never used a 120-inch- from EPV Screens is very I used for my test is one of
writer Herman J. Mankiewicz. plus screen before for home competitively priced, making it the brightest models on the
I was struck by the Epson/ viewing, I have to say that it’s a solid ultra-big screen option market), a 123-inch diagonal
EPV Screens combo’s subtle quite an experience. Every- for pairing with an ultra short screen may be a bit large to
rendering of grays in the image, thing from movies to sports to throw projector. Best of all, achieve a satisfyingly bright
and by the wide tonal variations the DarkStar UST 2’s rollable image for watching football,
material allows for it to be baseball, or soccer in a well-lit
shipped in a compact box, and room, but if you put in careful
the detailed instructions the effort to control the lighting in
company provides will have you your viewing environment, the
up and running with the screen epic image delivered by the
mounted on your wall in just a DarkStar UST 2 can easily trans-
few hours. port you to other worlds.

In use, I found that the The Verdict
DarkStar UST 2 Efinity delivered
impressive color and bright- If you’re looking for an ultra-large
ness uniformity and was never screen to pair with your ultra
le wanting for detail even short throw projector, the Dark-
when viewing 4K-res images. Star UST 2 Efinity offers impres-
Contrast was also good, though sive performance and value.
the impact of that parameter
depended heavily on the level

[ [50 August September 2021

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