Saturday, December 15, 2007

Quick Mancave Update

I'm going to be on the road for the next 2 weeks so I wanted to post a quick update on my progress. I just got in the Onkyo TX-SR805 receiver. I did a test this morning with all speakers connected and audio over coax from my Denon 2930CI player. The test was a resounding success! I didn't do any setting of delays or levels. I spun a few CDs and tried both 2-channel and 5-channel listening modes. The DTS:Neo6 Music sounded pretty good. I may experiment more with the different DSP surround modes once everything is in place in the new room. Onkyo's menu and setup routine is much easier than Denon's. The manual is also better by a large factor. It only took me a few minutes to setup bi-amping and assign the digital input. Onkyo's remote is also far better than the weird unit that comes with the Denon 3806. Eventually though, I'll be running everything in the mancave with a Harmony 890.

I also pre-ordered the Samsung BD-UP5000 from Crutchfield. I heard just last night that one person received a ship notice from Crutchfield on this player so I expect mine soon. All information I have so far confirms that it will output 1080p/24 on both HDDVD and BluRay. It also bitstreams all the new lossless audio codecs for decoding by an appropriate receiver. In my case, the Onkyo fills that task. If you want, it will decode all lossless formats and output them over HDMI or analog if you have an older receiver or processor.

I've been following a thread on AVS about the new Panasonic commercial plasma, the 50" PF10UK. This set will accept 1080p/24 and display it at a 48hz refresh rate. What this means is judder-free images from HD and BluRay discs encoded at 1080p/24. When I add the Lumagen video processor, I'll be able to do this with standard DVDs as well. I'll input 1080i/60 and have the Lumagen do inverse-telecine deinterlacing for 1080p/24 output.

Things are coming along quite nicely and I expect to have some more pictures to post soon. Thanks for reading and enjoy the view!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Mancave Progress Report

I have reached my goal of completing the basics of the room by Thanksgiving. I had already finished the painting before my last post. The next step was to install the flooring. My plan is twofold: reduce bass resonance from the floor which is completely unsupported and keep sound out of the living room below. I accomplished this with 3 different material layers. First, a heavy plastic layer to create an air barrier and protect the nice hardwood floor from the next layer, rock board. I had originally thought I'd use sheetrock but when I saw the rockboard, I went for that. It's far heavier and denser than sheetrock. It's designed to be used as the walls in a bathroom. It comes in 3 x 5 sheets. You'll want a friend to help you get it home, each sheet weighs about 40 pounds! It's easily scored and broken to be fit into place. For the cuts around the radiator feet, I used a masonry wheel on my circular saw. On top of the rock board went a layer of OSB plywood. This is to keep furniture feet from crumbling the rockboard through the carpet. I finished off with carpet and pad. Below, you can see the layers. This edge is by the door into the room. I'll be trimming it with wood before the room's done.

My next task was the accoustical treatments. I did a fair amount of research on this subject. There are many companies that sell panels in every shape and size but they aren't cheap. I decided to build my own. I bought my material from ATS Accoustics. They sell all the raw materials you'll need. I got 2 cases of Roxul Rockboard 60 (6, 2 x 4 foot sheets per case). This material is rigid and reasonably lightweight yet very dense. It has a density of 6 pounds per cubic foot. It's comparable to Owens-Corning 705 but about half the cost. I also got 15 yards of burlap and some 3M spray adhesive. The panels were pretty easy to make. I cut 8, 2 x 2 foot pieces for the walls. The material cuts very easily with a sharp kitchen knife. The burlap just glues on and wraps around the back. I didn't use any frames. I hung them on the wall with a few screws to cradle them. You can't attach anything to the Roxul itself, it's too fragile. The screws are under the corners of each diamond shape.

As you can see in the photos, I also covered the windows. The panels fit in via friction. No hardware was required. I put a large enough panel on the bottom of each window that if I wish to install a window AC unit, I can just remove the panel. Once I had the window panels in place, the room really sounded great. It's quite something to just stand in the room and talk. I feel like I have a new piece of gear. I can't wait to have electronics in there!

My recliners are on the way from the Theater Seat Store. I went for the Charlize model. There will be 2 chairs with a common center armrest, black leather of course. I've also got the hardware I need to build a 36-inch flexi-rack. You can see a great article about that here. Thanks to Jeremy Brown for his great article, pics and most importantly, McMaster-Carr part numbers! I will have pics and articles about all the upcoming builds; the flexi-rack, plasma stand and surround speaker stands. Also, stay tuned for gear and lighting updates. Panasonic has just come out with a new commercial plasma that I have my eye on. I'm also still waiting for that Samsung Duo player. The latest rumors have shipping January 15th. My lighting will consist of some floor standing fixtures and an Ideal-Lume bias light behind the TV from Cinema Quest.
Lastly, I am now a Lumagen dealer so one of their fine products will be going in this room. A complete review will be coming soon. Please stay tuned for all updates. Thanks for reading and enjoy the view!