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Home theater setup with architectural speaker behind the screen

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Robert D

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Got a couple of questions. In the next few years I plan on putting up a dedicated room to home theater and am considering using one of the screens that allows sound to pass through it so that the center channel speaker can be behind it to project the sound right from the screen. Has anyone here done that? Wondering if there are any discernable downsides to doing so.

Thinking that the ML Tribute 5XW would make a good choice for that, in my price range. Has anyone heard that speaker before? I dont think the dealer where I shop has any architectural speakers up. Right now in my family room home theater I have up 4 ElectroMotion IC in the ceiling for Atmos sound and am real happy with them. It is the only in wall I have heard from them though and I bought it without hearing them. Atmos arent as important as the center channel, so scares me a bit to buy something I havent heard.
 

Robert D

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If I am still using the Prodigys for the mains, I wonder if the 5XW will be enough to balance things out, or would I need something a big bigger like the Monument 7XW .
 

Brad225

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If Jonfo doesn't respond reach out to him. He will be able to answer your questions on HT and Atmos.
 

JonFo

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... screens that allows sound to pass through it so that the center channel speaker can be behind it to project the sound right from the screen. Has anyone here done that?
Yep, been doing it for 20+ years, and it works fine. Especially with newer woven screens, which are near-perfectly transparent.

Even my old Stewart StudioTek 130 AT, which is micro-perforated vinyl, is easily corrected by the Room Corrector system (Audyssey Pro in my case). Performance is good enough I have not been tempted to replace it.

I will change it out when I have a PJ bright enough to light up a 13' wide woven screen, so I can place all three front speakers behind it.

If I am still using the Prodigys for the mains, I wonder if the 5XW will be enough to balance things out, or would I need something a big bigger like the Monument 7XW .
My advice: Bigger is always better when it comes to selecting a center speaker.
The main advantage the 7XW has over the 5XW is more output in the mid-bass, as the tweeters are the same. But on movies and surround music, that added SPL ability will be welcome, and a better match to the mains.
I'm always amazed at how much output my mid-bass line-array on my SL3XC is delivering.

The shame is that ML only offers one full-on line-array model, as that is going to be a better match to your Prodigies.
 

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More thoughts:

Integrating ELSs into an HT is a *LOT* of work, ready my posts from the last 15+ years to see how much work it can take to get it right. The results are wonderful, for sure, but if your HT is going to be >80% movies or TV content, then I'd go with all dynamic speakers.

Financially, even at the high-prices ML charges for their Masterpiece CI line, it might turn out cheaper to sell the Prodigys and deploy 3 7XWs across the front, and 4 5XWs as sides and rears, and 4 ElectroMotion IC for overheads.
The amount of floor-space recovered is huge, and the room treatments required more modest (but still necessary).

Also at these prices, do check out the Wisdom in-walls, they delivered two of the best sound in show at CES visits a decade ago, and they've only gotten better.
 

Robert D

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More thoughts:

Integrating ELSs into an HT is a *LOT* of work, ready my posts from the last 15+ years to see how much work it can take to get it right. The results are wonderful, for sure, but if your HT is going to be >80% movies or TV content, then I'd go with all dynamic speakers.

Financially, even at the high-prices ML charges for their Masterpiece CI line, it might turn out cheaper to sell the Prodigys and deploy 3 7XWs across the front, and 4 5XWs as sides and rears, and 4 ElectroMotion IC for overheads.
The amount of floor-space recovered is huge, and the room treatments required more modest (but still necessary).

Also at these prices, do check out the Wisdom in-walls, they delivered two of the best sound in show at CES visits a decade ago, and they've only gotten better.
There is something to be said for hearing but not seeing your speakers in a theater room. I do like to listen to stereo music too in the same room. Right now I have the prodigies, a theater i center, and the rest as in walls. Movies sound good to me. Maybe having an electrostat in the center as well helps?

Suppose I could make an alcove in the wall behind the screen and put a ML electrostat like the theater or a c18?
 

Robert D

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The wisdom sneakers seem like they could be amazing. Have you ever heard them? Site doesn't have prices.
 

JonFo

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The wisdom sneakers seem like they could be amazing. Have you ever heard them?
Yes, in the mid-2000's I went to a couple of CES shows, and at those shows, Wisdom had a huge conference room with a room-within-a-room HT featuring their Sage line, IIRC, the 150i ($13K/ea) were used for the L/C/R and a couple of the lesser models as sides/rear. They also had two of their in-wall subs. So nothing visible except walls and the speakers embedded therein.
It is driven by a fully active crossover and bi-amplified front end, and they use Audesey Pro to do room correction.
At the time, it was the absolute best HT sound I'd ever heard. The mid-bass was impressive and highs were as fast as ESLs, without the comb-filtering (Sage line is monopole).
Today, my own HT takes those honors ;)


Site doesn't have prices
Heh, because they are very expensive, but in line with the Masterpiece CI pricing.

See this for a review and some pricing: Wisdom Audio L150i Sage Series System Reviewed
 

JonFo

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Maybe having an electrostat in the center as well helps?

Suppose I could make an alcove in the wall behind the screen and put a ML electrostat like the theater or a c18?
It would be more consistent for sure, and the new Focus C18 is a great design. Being a Monopole, it would be perfectly fine inset in an alcove behind the screen. Ideally, three stacked and parallel would be killer, but costly.

Too bad my Monoray design is just a figment of my imagination, as it would be ideal as a center in this application.
 

Robert D

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The Wisdom Audio speakers look incredible, but probably out of my price range. It looks like most of them need 2 or 3 channels of amplification for each single speaker. When i finally get down to building a dedicated home theater I will have to look closer at them.

Getting off topic a bit,, I plan on making the theater more or less a media room. Would also use it for pc gaming and VR. Setting one up for room scale VR, where you walk around the room, would really benefit from having all in walls so you don't have to worry about hitting them.

Right now i have a room I use for room scale VR with the HTC Vive. Lots of fun. Id like to combine it all into one room, and that would make it more affordable. Not sure how I can do seating, because I would need to be able to push it all back against a wall to open up the floor for obstacle free movement. Moving it would need to be hassle free.
 

gadgetguy11

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I just completely renovated my Home Theatre to a 30' L X 17' W & faced the same dilemma as you. Here is what I did:

I was able to see the difference at a local dealer showroom between the Screen Innovations Black Diamond Zero Edge Pro XL screen vs. a perforated screen that let the sound pass through. The visual difference was stunning. Had the difference been inconsequential, I planned to go wall-to-wall with the screen, with speakers behind it. Instead, I chose the maximum screen size that would allow speakers around it & installed speakers above, below & on both sides of the screen.

1- I chose the best visual quality screen for my Sony VPL-VW695ES 4K Projector: a Screen Innovations Black Diamond Zero Edge Pro XL 12' (144") Diagonal, 16X9, 0.8 Gain.

2- Placed ML Logos Center Channel above the screen, tilted down at a 30 degree angle - had a contractor frame up a 2" X 12" horizontal support to hold this beast.

3- Placed a second ML Logos Center Channel below the screen tilted up at a 30 degree angle. The 2) center channels appear to emanate sound from the center of the screen. Having 2) separately powered center channel speakers also doubles the power handling capability for the center channel.

4- Right channel Front consists of 2) ML Request side-by side, each separately powered. Just missed touching the outer edge of the screen frame by 1/2". Benefit: Double power handling capability & increased impact.

5- Left channel Front consists of 2) ML Request side-by side, each separately powered. Just missed touching the outer edge of the screen frame by 1/2". Benefit: Double power handling capability & increased impact.

6- A pair of ML CL3 speakers in the rear.

7- 2) ML Stylos Electrostatic Panels semi-flush mounted in the drywall as Right Side Channels.

8- 2) ML Stylos Electrostatic Panels semi-flush mounted in the drywall as Left Side Channels.

9- 4) Paradigm CI Elite E65-R Speakers for Atmos; each pair set to Mid & Rear.

10- Anthem AVM 60 Processor.

11- 3) Velodyne ULD-18 THX Servo Subwoofers in front of the room, behind the screen.

12- 2) Carver Sunfire 1,000 Watt Subwoofers, one in each rear corner of the room.

13- 4) Krell FPB-600 Power Amps, externally fan cooled, on custom built rack for FR + FR + FL + FL + C Top + C Bottom + Rear RL.

14- 2) Krell Monoblock Power Amps, externally nan cooled, also on the rack for Side Channels.

15- 2) Threshold SA4E Power Amps for Atmos Speakers.

16- Acoustically engineered drop ceiling for home theaters and recording studios. Double thickness. 2' x 2' tiles. Black.

17- Philips HUE Screen strip lights + extensions for screen edge illumination.

18- 6) 24" x 48" Acoustic Paneling by Epsiode.

19- 6) Grade 4 Material (recording studio). Options of Cabernet, Oat, Black, and Charcoal finishes.

20- 9" High platform built to support 4) electric curved theatre seats on back row.
 

Robert D

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I just completely renovated my Home Theatre to a 30' L X 17' W & faced the same dilemma as you. Here is what I did:

I was able to see the difference at a local dealer showroom between the Screen Innovations Black Diamond Zero Edge Pro XL screen vs. a perforated screen that let the sound pass through. The visual difference was stunning. Had the difference been inconsequential, I planned to go wall-to-wall with the screen, with speakers behind it. Instead, I chose the maximum screen size that would allow speakers around it & installed speakers above, below & on both sides of the screen.

1- I chose the best visual quality screen for my Sony VPL-VW695ES 4K Projector: a Screen Innovations Black Diamond Zero Edge Pro XL 12' (144") Diagonal, 16X9, 0.8 Gain.

2- Placed ML Logos Center Channel above the screen, tilted down at a 30 degree angle - had a contractor frame up a 2" X 12" horizontal support to hold this beast.

3- Placed a second ML Logos Center Channel below the screen tilted up at a 30 degree angle. The 2) center channels appear to emanate sound from the center of the screen. Having 2) separately powered center channel speakers also doubles the power handling capability for the center channel.

4- Right channel Front consists of 2) ML Request side-by side, each separately powered. Just missed touching the outer edge of the screen frame by 1/2". Benefit: Double power handling capability & increased impact.

5- Left channel Front consists of 2) ML Request side-by side, each separately powered. Just missed touching the outer edge of the screen frame by 1/2". Benefit: Double power handling capability & increased impact.

6- A pair of ML CL3 speakers in the rear.

7- 2) ML Stylos Electrostatic Panels semi-flush mounted in the drywall as Right Side Channels.

8- 2) ML Stylos Electrostatic Panels semi-flush mounted in the drywall as Left Side Channels.

9- 4) Paradigm CI Elite E65-R Speakers for Atmos; each pair set to Mid & Rear.

10- Anthem AVM 60 Processor.

11- 3) Velodyne ULD-18 THX Servo Subwoofers in front of the room, behind the screen.

12- 2) Carver Sunfire 1,000 Watt Subwoofers, one in each rear corner of the room.

13- 4) Krell FPB-600 Power Amps, externally fan cooled, on custom built rack for FR + FR + FL + FL + C Top + C Bottom + Rear RL.

14- 2) Krell Monoblock Power Amps, externally nan cooled, also on the rack for Side Channels.

15- 2) Threshold SA4E Power Amps for Atmos Speakers.

16- Acoustically engineered drop ceiling for home theaters and recording studios. Double thickness. 2' x 2' tiles. Black.

17- Philips HUE Screen strip lights + extensions for screen edge illumination.

18- 6) 24" x 48" Acoustic Paneling by Epsiode.

19- 6) Grade 4 Material (recording studio). Options of Cabernet, Oat, Black, and Charcoal finishes.

20- 9" High platform built to support 4) electric curved theatre seats on back row.
Nice setup! Glad you provided all of the info.

That is disappointing to know that the picture quality is impacted that much by the perforated screens. I think it would be really nice to have the center channel concealed behind and have the sound coming right out. Guess thats something Id have to see for myself as well.

Ive never done it before, how do you run two speakers off of one channel from the receiver/preamp? If using a receiver could you just run one speaker with the receiver and then the other one with the preout? Like right now im using a Marantz receiver for all speakers but my front mains, and those speaker terminals and amp channels arent being used. Im using an Aaragon 2 channel from the preouts of the receiver for my prodigy speakers. Guess I could run two more off of those at the same time? What if you are using a preamp. There are only outs for two speakers for each channel, do you somehow split that into 4?
 
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Robert D

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Oh, and if you were to have a really huge screen that covers the entire wall, wouldnt the resolution not look so great even if it is 4k? Wondering if you would see pixels at that size.
 

JonFo

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That is disappointing to know that the picture quality is impacted that much by the perforated screens.
I think that GadgetGuy was blown away more by the difference between a less than-unity gain (0.8) vs a unity or more (most ATs are >1 to compensate for slight light loss). I think if you compare a unity white screen to a 1.2 AT woven screen, the diff is not that significant.
Having the speakers, especially the center, behind the screen is a big win and something to be carefully considered if you have the option.
Over on AVSForum.com most of the reference-grade theaters run AT screens.

For sure go see a demo, but make sure that all other elements are identical.
 

Robert D

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So how are two pairs of speakers run off of one channel? It would require 2 different amps. I dont have any experience with doing that. Are you able to somehow connect two amps in a series?
 

gadgetguy11

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So how are two pairs of speakers run off of one channel? It would require 2 different amps. I dont have any experience with doing that. Are you able to somehow connect two amps in a series?
Robert, I had 2) 1-foot long balanced (1 into 2) “Y” adaptor cables made, one “Y” connected to Anthem R & the other “Y” connected to Anthem L. One R & L pair connect to a Krell FPB600 “Inner Front” Amplifier & the other connect to a separate Krell FPB600 “Outer Front” Amplifier.

I applied the same technique for dual Center channels, one above and one below the 12’ 16X 9 screen. Except a third Krell FPB600 handles “Upper Center” and “Lower Center”, since the Krell is a 2-channel amplifier and each center channel is obviously only a single channel.
 

gadgetguy11

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Oh, and if you were to have a really huge screen that covers the entire wall, wouldnt the resolution not look so great even if it is 4k? Wondering if you would see pixels at that size.
 

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Robert D

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Robert, I had 2) 1-foot long balanced (1 into 2) “Y” adaptor cables made, one “Y” connected to Anthem R & the other “Y” connected to Anthem L. One R & L pair connect to a Krell FPB600 “Inner Front” Amplifier & the other connect to a separate Krell FPB600 “Outer Front” Amplifier.

I applied the same technique for dual Center channels, one above and one below the 12’ 16X 9 screen. Except a third Krell FPB600 handles “Upper Center” and “Lower Center”, since the Krell is a 2-channel amplifier and each center channel is obviously only a single channel.
Ok, didnt even know balanced cables came in a Y configuration. They must make RCAs like that too i bet. Thanks for the info.
 

Robert D

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Your's is 12 foot too, and doesn't have the screen door effect. So pixel size is small enough that it's not an issue. Regular HD at 1920×1080 might be, although movie theaters had HD in the past and I never noticed any. Being back far enough from the screen is important.

On VR you get the screen door effect at regular HD resolution, but getting up near 4k that begins to go away. In the case of VR your eyes are right up against the screen.
 
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