The Pink House, Media Room with the Ultimate Streaming Set Up in Fashionable Lokhandwala Apartment
Pre-Installation and Setup
During our first visit to this apartment we knew speaker placement would be challenging. The client wanted to combine their living room and create a media space with a 5.1 surround sound system and projector with motorized projection screen. The long length of the space dedicated for our setup combined with the narrow width made achieving the ideal listening angle for the front LCR speakers from our seating position less than ideal. The surround speakers would also need to be placed on the back wall facing towards the front speakers instead of the traditional side wall placement facing towards the listeners sitting position.
To achieve a good sound stage we would need to place our front speakers at a 45 to 60 degree listening angle from our main listening position. In this room this would definitely not be possible as the room was quite long and did not have the same extension in width. We would have to compromise by placing our surround speakers at the rear of the room and keeping our listening area a bit further back then what would have been optimal. With the Projection Screen commanding most of the room on the front wall and no framing for in-wall speaker placement, our best option to create the best sound stage with this space was to use on-wall speakers placed at the ideal height so that unwanted reflections and acoustic miscues which could affect the ideal surround sound delivery from the setup. After extensive research and sharing options with our client, we finalized the KEF E305 5.1 Satellite Speaker Package. These egg shaped speakers have a unique q-array driver technology which delivers supremely accurate sound from their easy to mount satellites and a very well defined low frequency response from their matching 8 inch subwoofer. These speakers were an ideal fit for our sound stage because of the layout of the room and acoustical challenges we faced with a living room space. The accuracy of their speakers ensured less reflection and more direct sound to the listening position while low frequency response did not provide excessive reverberations after using thick curtains to cover the windows and moving the listening position slight more forward then the conventional location.
The Front Left and right speakers were mounted at 60 inches height and angled down using their flexible mounts to directly aim towards the listening position. We made use of the entire front wall space placing the Front Left and Right speakers as far apart as possible to try and give us the ideal listening angle considering the length of the room and how far back the seating is placed. The center speaker was mounted just above the AV unit at a 30 inch height to aim directly at the listeners seated ear level. Rear speakers were placed on the back wall slightly further apart then than the front speakers and angled down and inwards towards the listening position. Our goal was to ensure as much direct sound reached our client at their listening position to ensure an optimal surround sound experience.
When choosing the A/V receiver for this project we wanted to ensure our speakers received the power they required and a clarity and focus were not compromised in the sound stage. In working with KEF speakers in previous projects we have paired them with Marantz and had great success. Unfortunately the Marantz was going beyond the overall budget assigned for this project and we decided to try a very well reputed Yamaha RX-V667 receiver with the KEF 5.1 Speaker setup. Given the size of the room we knew powering the speakers would not be a challenge for this receiver, but ensuring a neutral sound when paired with the KEF setup would be crucial. The RX-V667 was feature packed with the latest surround sound decoding technologies and six hdmi inputs and one usb input. All of which would be more than sufficient for the number of sources the client would use in this setup.
The client was very particular about getting the best full HD 1080P image from her projector their budget. 3D was not required considering all the sources would not be 3D ready and only full HD. We knew the Panasonic PT-AR100U is one of the strongest ”value for money” Full HD Projectors on the market which did not support 3D. Paired with a Crystal Screens 110” Diagonal 16:9 HD Projection Screen we were able to deliver superior image quality and high resolution impressive visuals for the customer no matter what the source.
For the Blu-Ray Player and CD Player we installed the Sony Playstation 3. The PS3 gave the client a versatile player which he could use to stream movies or music, play games, connect digital media through the usb or watch blu ray discs or dvd’s directly on his Cinema Projection Setup. We used the Tributaries UHD-010B to connect the PS3 via HDMI to the Yamaha RX- V667. The client had also amassed a large record collection and wanted a quality turntable to be able to play her records. We chose the Pro-Ject Essential II model and connected via Tributaries 2A-015B analog audio cables to the Yamaha RX-V667 AV Receiver. An Apple TV 3 rd generation is also connected to the RX-V667 with aTributaries UHD-010B HDMI Cable so that the client could watch content from apps such as Netflix, HBO and Plex. This also allowed the client to be able to airplay music wirelessly if they wanted to host guests or casually listen to music in the living room and also stream media from internet subscription services such as Apple Movies, Netflix, Hulu, and HBO to name a few.
Network and Media Streaming
Media streaming needed to be flawless with the high res music collection the client wanted to be able to stream. We stuck with one of the most reliable brands we know for solid network throughput, Engenius. The Engenius ECB350 was set up to serve as an Access Points so that a fast and efficient WiFi Network which can be easily roamed from any location was at the client’s disposal. For LAN distribution we installed the Netgear GS108PE 8-Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch with 4 Port POE. We also set up the ability to stream the latest movies and tv shows from internet streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and HBO. The client traveled a lot for work and one of their major requirements was having their favorite TV shows and Movies on demand to watch when they return. The combination of Netflix, Hulu and HBO gave them the latest content and using our unblocker service we were able to easily stream their US based subscription channels here in India.
Components and Cables
Projector: Panasonic PT-AR100U
Projection Screen: Crystal Screens 110’’ Motorized Projection Screen
Projector Mount: Peerless PRG-UNV Universal Projector Mount
AV Receiver: Yamaha RX-V667
Media Room Front Speakers: KEF E301 On-Wall Satellite Speakers
Media Room Center Speaker: KEF E301 On-Wall Satellite Speaker
Surround Speakers: KEF E301 On-Wall Satellite Speakers
Subwoofer: KEF E-2 Closed Box Powered Subwoofer
Network Switch: Netgear GS108PE 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet Switch
WiFi Access Point: Engenius EC350 Wireless N Access Point
Media Player: Apple TV 3 rd Generation
Speaker Cable: Monoprice 16 AWG Speaker Wire
HDMI Cables: Tributaries UHDP-010B
Stereo Analog Cables: Tributaries 2A-015B
Turntable: Pro-Ject Essential II Turntable
The 5.1 experience of this setup was excellent! The clarity and focus of the system was really evident and the KEF speakers were solid and did not distort during in the slightest in scenes which really tested them. The envelopment was not as accurate as we would have liked and as a result we did not find ourselves totally immersed in the movie watching scenes. This was due how far our front speakers were placed from our main listening position and the smaller listening angle from the front speakers.
In two channel stereo the system speakers did not perform as well as we would have preferred. The bass was loose and the stereo imaging was not as defined as we would have liked from the thin on-wall speakers. The room had its fair share of reverberation as well with the extensive marble flooring and long layout which caused a lot of reflections in the lower frequencies. When listening to music in full surround sound in Dolby Pro Logic formats the speakers did provide good clarity and filling sound throughout the room. The reflections were not as noticeable when listening in a multi channel format as opposed to two channel.
When listening to the Pro-Ject turntable though in two-channel and multi-channel we were quite impressed. The record discs provided much more accuracy and clarity when compared to cd’s played through the PS3 and truly shined when listened to in 2 channel stereo. This could possibly attribute to the Digital to Analog conversion taking place when the PS3 is connected as the source to the Yamaha RX-V667. Since the PS3 was connected via HDMI the Yamaha receiver’s internal DAC did a poor quality job of converting the signal to analog. The turntable was connected via analog cable and the speakers provided great stereo imaging when heard through the receiver.
The Yamaha RX-V667 is a powerhouse and does not leave the speakers under powered for even a second. It provides clean and rich, distortion free power and truly shines when watching movie scenes. The surround experience is vivid and the scenes come to life in Dolby TrueHD or DTS- HD Master Audio formats. The network connectivity with the amp is also very simple and controlling it through the Control4 system is very easy and reliable. Any zone can be chosen and music can be sent via airplay directly to the amp for that zone. The airplay quality is impeccable and with the amp wired to the network you do not have any buffering or signal loss.
The Media Streaming was flawless as well and a big bonus for our client. They really enjoyed the huge database of content they could now directly stream through their Apple TV and how user friendly it all was to navigate. The client often tells us they are considering canceling their cable subscription because they watch content from their media subscriptions almost 90% of the time they are watching television. With almost all the channels supporting Dolby Digital the client gets an amazing surround sound experience when watching their favorite TV shows or movies.
The Final Verdict
The KEF speakers definitely impressed with the Yamaha Amplifier when listening to them in multi channel, but felt a bit under powered when compared to previous set ups where we have paired them with Marantz. The detailing and dialogue clarity was noticeably lacking. Although the surround sound experience was immersive and defined, the finer details which we experience when watching our favorite demo scenes for surround sound was missing. A second subwoofer would have also helped in this setup as the bass was not accurate across all seating positions. The sweet spot was able to feel the low frequencies well, when shifting to other seats the bass was not as defined.
In stereo the turn table was exceptional and listening to their large collection of record discs with a glass of wine is a favorite pass time of this clients. But CD’s played through the PS3 were muddy and lacked the stereo imaging we hoped to achieve with this setup. The Yamaha RX- V667 is an amazing receiver for the price and certainly delivers an exceptional surround sound experience. Perhaps their digital to analog conversion needs some improvement if someone is looking to use this receiver to listen in stereo as well.
The Panasonic PT-AR100U was exceptional as always and provided extremely detailed imaging when paired with the Crystal Screens Projection Screen. With the combination of the Apple TV as a media player for media streaming and the Pro-Ject Turn Table for music listening the client was really satisfied with the experience and thoroughly making use of their living room media experience.