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    The Immersive Audiophile Update 4

     

     

    Most days I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not in a wonderful audiophile dream. Even when I'm "wasting" my own time figuring things out, so members of this community don't have to waste theirs, it's seriously enjoyable. For example, lately I've been comparing different formats (DSD, PCM), mixes (Atmos, binaural, 5.1, 7.1), and masters (MoFi, original Redbook, nth anniversary) of my favorite albums. This helps inform me, so I can inform and educate everyone who has a real job. I mean everyone who doesn't have the time or motivation to eat, sleep, and breathe this stuff. 

     

    When I began researching Atmos, starting with the musical content, to make sure it was actually a real thing, then moving to speaker configurations, placement, and product selection, I had a dream system in mind. We all should start with a dream / goal right? Before I acted on this dream, I needed to make sure it was based in reality. I needed to match my ideas with the technology and recommendations from experts.

     

    7.1.4Meaning.jpgI reached out to some industry friends who put me in contact with the right people. A music industry professional who previously worked for Dolby said a 7.1.4 speaker configuration was the minimum if I wanted to do this seriously. He also passed along documentation that helped solidify my decision to select a 7.1.4 system. I talked to the team at Trinnov early in my research, and I continue working with them today. These guys are first class when it comes to professionalism, knowledge, willingness to educate others, and they have one of the best immersive audio processors on the market today. 

     

    Jon Herron from Trinnov sent me documentation about speaker placement that is worth its weight in gold. Anyone who has researched immersive audio knows there are methods to the speaker placement madness. Guidelines stating front left and right channels at 22º, rear channels at 150º, and front height channels at 35º are only the beginning. In addition to the documents he sent, Jon put my mind at ease by saying, "Don't get overly hung up on the specific angles that are recommended by Auro, Dolby, and DTS. They do not even use the same coordinate system, so the numbers are not readily comparable. (Auro and DTS use polar coordinates; Dolby uses XYZ coordinates that need to be scaled for the room's proportions.) We find it more useful to understand why these speakers are placed where they are and to respect the reasoning behind the decisions the three companies made."

     

    atmos angle 04.pngatmos angle 05.png

    atmos angle 02.pngatmos angle 03.png

     

     

     

    atmos angle 01.pngThis was extremely helpful because I was absolutely hung up on the angles. What if my front speakers are at the best angle for two channel audio, but this angle doesn't match the Dolby guidelines perfectly? What if the angle for my height channels means these speakers need to be placed awkwardly due to my sloped ceiling? What if this, what if that? I was going crazy until Jon told me to think about the reasons behind the decisions. Yes, the angles are important and the speakers need to be placed within a specific range, but perfection isn't a requirement. 

     

    Armed with enough knowledge to be dangerous, it was time to make my dream system a reality. Or, at least attempt to make it a reality. I was fully prepared to be told I was crazy, but I also had a hunch that others would be as excited as I was about high end immersive audio. To this end, I did what any card-carrying audiophile would do, I ordered an Atmos soundbar on eBay. Only joking. I called up the team at Wilson Audio to talk about the current state of immersive audio, my enthusiasm for the possibilities provided by Atmos music, and of course, augmenting my Wilson Alexia speakers with a Wilson Lōkē powered subwoofer, Wilson WATCH Convergent Synergy center channel, and eight Wilson Alida loudspeakers (four on wall, four on ceiling). 

     

    alida-EXPORT.jpgThe conversation couldn't have gone better. Wilson understands immersive audio for home theater extremely well, and also sees the potential in immersive audio for music. Some on the Wilson team have been doing multichannel music for many years. Immersive audio is a natural extension. 

     

    Selecting Wilson speakers for my immersive audio system was really a no-brainer. Just like the members of this community, I also value company reputation, high levels of support, build quality, aesthetics, product longevity, health of the company, people at the company, in addition to product performance. Wilson Audio has delivered on every one of these items over the years. I know from first hand experience and I've done my homework by talking to everyone who's opinion I respect. 

     

    My two Wilson Alexia speakers will remain the heart of the system. These will be used for both the two channel configuration and the immersive audio configuration as the front right and left speakers. A toggle switch on the back of my Constellation mono amplifiers enables me to switch between two sources of audio. When set to the direct mode, the front left and right amps will receive audio from a Constellation Audio preamplifier. When set to balanced XLR, the front left and right amps will receive audio from an Atmos source. The only thing better would be remote control of this toggle switch, but the exercise won't kill me. 


    The new Lōkē powered subwoofer will receive the LFE channel information for the immersive audio. The fact that Wilson introduced this powered subwoofer was absolutely perfect me. The other Wilson subwoofers are passive models that require external amplifiers and are designed to perform their best with the Wilson Controller active crossover. I've heard these passive subs and they are fantastic. However, the commitment for this level of performance is substantially greater than that required for the powered Lōkē. The Lōkē is the perfect product for my system.

     

    The Wilson WATCH Convergent Synergy center channel also seems perfect for my system. The speaker is Wilson Audio through and through. The newest version has a silk soft-dome tweeter to more closely match the other Wilson speakers. The WATCH is also a nice size for my modest listening room. It's substantially smaller than the flagship Wilson Mezzo Convergent Synergy center channel. This will be nice given the close proximity of the center channel to two doors that swing inward toward the speaker. Of course I'd love to put the Mezzo, with its two woofers, single midrange, and single tweeter into this system, but I have to start somewhere. The WATCH will fit my system nicely. 

     

     

    watch-center-channel-xl.jpg

     

     

    I'm very excited about the wall and ceiling mounted Alida loudspeakers. I've heard so many good things about them over the years and yet it's a speaker that seems to get overshadowed by its more glamorous siblings. Just like music listeners tend to favor the louder of two songs, many of us pay more attention to the larger loudspeakers. The Alida is a compact powerhouse with a 5 3/4 inch woofer, 1 inch tweeter, and a room average response of 32 Hz — 27 kHz (+/- 3dB). The Alida's mounting system enables each speaker to be angled toward the listening position. This is very important for me because I have a single chair sweet spot, rather than a row or two of theater seats. Given that musicians tend to place audio in the Atmos surround speakers much more than the motion picture engineers, I'm thrilled to put such capable speakers in my system.  

     

    A full Wilson Audio 7.1.4 immersive Atmos system is in production right now. This is the stuff of which audiophile dreams are made. 

     

    That's a wrap for Update 4 of my immersive audio journey. As fun as it has been thus far, it's hard to believe the best is yet to come. I enjoy the research and figuring things out, such as decoding and playing lossless TrueHD Atmos on a computer, but nothing will compare to sitting down and listening. I have quite a bit of work to do before that day, and will enjoy bringing the Audiophile Style community along on this journey. Updates detailing my Atmos processor selection and even the installation and pre-installation work are yet to come. I can't wait :~)
     

     

     

     




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    Your set up will be interesting.  I am glad to see that you are incorporating both multichannel and stereo into a single system.  I have been doing multichannel since the great DVD-Audio/SACD wars and have gone through multiple iterations.  I currently have the following paths:

     

    Movies and music that I want room corrected except for DSD audio

    NAS/Disc/Internet ->Home Theater Computer -> HDMI -> Pre/Pro -> Amps -> Speakers

     

    Music that I do not want room corrected and DSD audio

    NAS/Disc/Internet -> Home Theater Computer -> USB -> External 8 Channel DAC -> Pre/Pro (with digital bypass on) -> Amps -> Speakers

     

    Analog

    Source -> Pre/Pro -> Amps -> Speakers

     

    I have found this set up to be the best for my situation.  I can do everything (audio/video) from my phone or a tablet.

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    Wow Chris, this is mouth-watering stuff! Can't wait to see how this comes together. Very jealous!

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    is the $13K for the Wilson surrounds a set of 4 or each ?

     

     

     

     

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    Great series of articles on ATMOS music.  I am looking forward to your processor selection.  The dealer that supplied most of my 9.1.6 system (used primarily right now as a home theater, and I have a separate 2 channel system in another room) recommended Lyngdorf MP60 2.1 over a Trinnov due to the differences in room correction.  He felt that Lyngdorf's Room Perfect worked without changing the basic sound of the speakers, while Trinnov's Optimizer did change the basic sound of the speakers.  As the Trinnovs were out of my budget (the Lyngdorf was as well, but not so much) I was happy to go with the Lyngdorf.  I like my Lyngdorf and am interested in your evaluation.

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    19 minutes ago, JHG said:

    Great series of articles on ATMOS music.  I am looking forward to your processor selection.  The dealer that supplied most of my 9.1.6 system (used primarily right now as a home theater, and I have a separate 2 channel system in another room) recommended Lyngdorf MP60 2.1 over a Trinnov due to the differences in room correction.  He felt that Lyngdorf's Room Perfect worked without changing the basic sound of the speakers, while Trinnov's Optimizer did change the basic sound of the speakers.  As the Trinnovs were out of my budget (the Lyngdorf was as well, but not so much) I was happy to go with the Lyngdorf.  I like my Lyngdorf and am interested in your evaluation.

    Great to hear @JHG I love hearing what everyone is using and their experience. I know @ted_b also has a Lyngdorf. Word on the street is that the McIntosh processor is a Lyngdorf under the covers :~)

     

    I talked to a rep from Lyngdorf and like what they products offer for the money. 

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    10 minutes ago, bobflood said:

    If I had this system and being a former pilot, I would want to put a huge screen in front and hook-up a monster computer to run MS Flight Simulator. That way I could re-live the thrill of flying through a thunderstorm and hear the torrents of rain beat the hell out of the windscreen. Add in loud turbine engine noise and I would feel right at home. Then I would add a shaker seat so I could again get that visceral feeling of terror from the turbulence trying to tear the airframe apart. But, how beautiful it is when you emerge on the other side.

    I love that!

     

    It’s theater of the mind, audio only for me, but I love hearing what others enjoy. 

     

    @AudioDoctor may want the sim as well. I believe he’s in the air today. 

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    12 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    I love that!

     

    It’s theater of the mind, audio only for me, but I love hearing what others enjoy. 

     

    @AudioDoctor may want the sim as well. I believe he’s in the air today. 

    I posted this especially for him. I am sure he has been there. If you fly long enough there is no escape.

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    32 minutes ago, bobflood said:

    If I had this system and being a former pilot, I would want to put a huge screen in front and hook-up a monster computer to run MS Flight Simulator. That way I could re-live the thrill of flying through a thunderstorm and hear the torrents of rain beat the hell out of the windscreen. Add in loud turbine engine noise and I would feel right at home. Then I would add a shaker seat so I could again get that visceral feeling of terror from the turbulence trying to tear the airframe apart. But, how beautiful it is when you emerge on the other side.

     

    It's all fun and games till you're at 43,000 feel trying to figure out why your fuel burn is completely out of whack so you start looking for divert options and there is no reset button.

     

    19 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    I love that!

     

    It’s theater of the mind, audio only for me, but I love hearing what others enjoy. 

     

    @AudioDoctor may want the sim as well. I believe he’s in the air today. 

     

    I prefer my emergencies to only happen in the sim.  

     



     

    44842654_10161121017635720_6079505084838838272_o.jpg

     

    I wasn't planning on being in Denver today, but her I am anyway. No emergency, just weirdness I'd rather figure out on the ground than in the air.

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    1 minute ago, AudioDoctor said:

     

    It's all fun and games till you're at 43,000 feel trying to figure out why your fuel burn is completely out of whack so you start looking for divert options and there is no reset button.

     

     

    I prefer my emergencies to only happen in the sim.  

     



     

    44842654_10161121017635720_6079505084838838272_o.jpg

    Takes me back a long while. The Sabre 60 sim was night only and glass cockpits were a dream. Thanks, Doc

     

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    3 minutes ago, bobflood said:

    Takes me back a long while. The Sabre 60 sim was night only and glass cockpits were a dream. Thanks, Doc

     

     

    It's highly automated and thus easy to fly... until something goes wrong.

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    6 hours ago, JHG said:

    He felt that Lyngdorf's Room Perfect worked without changing the basic sound of the speakers, while Trinnov's Optimizer did change the basic sound of the speakers.  A

     

    I'm using a Trinnov and it does change how my speakers sound, but I'm not sure I get what he means by "basic sound."

     

    If I walked out of the room and came back in, I would have to listen for a while before I told you if the processor (what they call Optimizer) was on or off, so in that sense I would say the basic sound is the same. However, switching it on and off while seated, it is very obvious which is which. With it on, and I'm talking 2 channel here, things open up, soundstage increases and deepens, it gets smoother like butter in a good way, not a glossed over way, and it just sounds better. I attribute that more to phase correction than frequency as my speakers are plus/minus 5 dB in my room uncorrected. They are flatter corrected but not dramatically  (the slight rise below 100 and roll off above 2K is programmed into my target curve) so that can't explain what is happening. 

    Capture.JPG

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    14 hours ago, bobflood said:

    If I had this system and being a former pilot, I would want to put a huge screen in front and hook-up a monster computer to run MS Flight Simulator. That way I could re-live the thrill of flying through a thunderstorm and hear the torrents of rain beat the hell out of the windscreen. Add in loud turbine engine noise and I would feel right at home. Then I would add a shaker seat so I could again get that visceral feeling of terror from the turbulence trying to tear the airframe apart. But, how beautiful it is when you emerge on the other side.

    My game was EF2000 for DOS and later Windows.  Actually had 4-5 hour missions...thank heavens there was a fast forward button.  IL-2 would be awesome in an Atmos setup!

     

    I have to stop thinking like that...

     

     

    PS - Sorry but my Dad was a B-52 Navigator (among other planes) and I think in the military spectrum...I tried MSFS but grow bored after a few minutes if no Migs are about.

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    2 hours ago, bbosler said:

    IMG_3692.jpg

    Love it!

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    You've definitely answered my question of a few weeks ago--how does 7.1.4 reconcile quality with budget when so many more speakers and other hardware are necessary?  Answer: stop worrying about trivial things like money when music is involved. 

     

    OK--I'm in!  Very excited to hear how it sounds...

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    36 minutes ago, PeterG said:

    You've definitely answered my question of a few weeks ago--how does 7.1.4 reconcile quality with budget when so many more speakers and other hardware are necessary?  Answer: stop worrying about trivial things like money when music is involved. 

     

    OK--I'm in!  Very excited to hear how it sounds...

    Many roads lead to Rome. This is the road I selected :~)

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    On 4/26/2022 at 12:51 PM, jcbenten said:

    Let me know when DSTOM and Apocalypse Now are playing...I might have to cruise up I-35 from Austin...maybe @austinpop will carpool.

     

    I'll bring the popcorn!

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    so now we are curious... how do you intend to wire all of this up?

    It is going to take quite a bit of speaker cable and interconnects. Can't imagine using zip cord with speakers like that 😄 That's a LOT of Transparent cables

     

    are you going to do a permanent install, run the wires inside the walls?

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    8 minutes ago, bbosler said:

    so now we are curious... how do you intend to wire all of this up?

    It is going to take quite a bit of speaker cable and interconnects. Can't imagine using zip cord with speakers like that 😄 That's a LOT of Transparent cables

     

    are you going to do a permanent install, run the wires inside the walls?

     

    Wire..? That's old-school..surely they should be wireless, right..😇

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    46 minutes ago, bbosler said:

    so now we are curious... how do you intend to wire all of this up?

    It is going to take quite a bit of speaker cable and interconnects. Can't imagine using zip cord with speakers like that 😄 That's a LOT of Transparent cables

     

    are you going to do a permanent install, run the wires inside the walls?

     

    You sound like you've done this before :~)

     

    Wires will be going behind walls and under the floor. I'm trying to determine the exact speaker wire I'll use in the next couple days. 

     

    I have interconnects. more on that later as well. 

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