Looking for screen recommendation(s) for family room HT - long post - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 3 Old 04-26-09, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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Question Looking for screen recommendation(s) for family room HT - long post

First, I’ve concluded you guys do great work from the several months of off and on reading I’ve done here. Thank you for all of your efforts and sharing them. As a self proclaimed geek, and one who relies on quantitative measures in my career, I like the quantitative approach! This forum has the highest signal to noise ratio I’ve seen in many years visiting tech forums.

I’m doing research in the hopes the economy will allow me to spend what I’ve been saving for a HT on a HT (as opposed to unemployment). I’m looking for confirmation and/or advice on an appropriate screen for my situation. I have tried to make a comprehensive first post ; my apologies for the length for those that do not like long posts.

This is for a HT in a basement family room. It is a “multi use space” and thus has some typical family room compromises. Seating is two couches forming an ~80 degree angle, facing the screen wall (the couches like legs of a triangle). Screen sizes referenced below are diagonal unless stated otherwise.


1) Room dimensions:
a. 18’10” North-South, 15’10” East-West, 8’ ceilings. The “screen wall” is the south wall. The screen wall is bare at this point, with 12’ centered width having no interruptions (i.e. light switch). East wall has 9’ of glass – patio door and windows. No other windows. Lined curtains cover the glass, they are 90% black out.

b. Wall color is a medium/light gray. Ceiling is white. Curtains are a dark red/burgundy (and cover ~50% of the east wall square footage). Carpeting is a medium/light darkness cream color.

c. Projector will be ceiling mounted. Distance from lens to screen is 12-13’, centered in the 12’ of available screen width.

2) Seating Distance:
a. First “row” is 12’ from the screen wall, 9’ wide (41 degree viewing cone from screen center). Second “row” is 15’ from the screen and centered. This is the prime seat.

3) Lighting Conditions
a. Ambient: see note about curtains in #1 above. Lighting is 12 ceiling cans, in 2 separate circuits, each with dimmers. The “front” circuit is on the screen end of the room, call this circuit #2. Circuit #1 is over the two “rows” of seating on the opposite end.

b. I took some light readings from a moderately directional light meter I borrowed for the weekend from work. Readings in Foot Candles. CC=curtains closed, LOFF=all lights off, CO=curtains open, etc.; “viewers eyes” means the meter facing the screen, amb=meter on viewers seat facing up (toward can lights). Windows face east, so morning = direct sun. Readings taken in January (snow on ground), cold, clear skies.
i. 4PM, CC, LOFF: 0.1 on screen, 0.2 viewers eyes, 0.2 amb
ii. 4PM, CC, LON (all): 8.5 on screen, 8 viewers eyes, 37 amb
iii. 4PM, CC, LON (C1 full on): 1.3 on screen, 5 viewers eyes, 33 amb
iv. 4PM, CC, LON (C1 on dim): 0.1 on screen, 0.2 viewers eyes, 0.2 amb
v. 4PM, CO, LOFF: 4 on screen, 8 viewers eyes, 2 amb (in shadow)
vi. 4PM, CO, LON (all full): 12 on screen, 11.5 viewers eyes, 40 amb
vii. 9AM, CC, LOFF: 1 on wall, 1.25 viewers eyes, 1.25 amb
viii. 9AM, CO, LOFF: 47 on wall, >2k viewers eyes (direct sun).
So, in fully “light controlled” conditions not in the morning, I’m at 0.2fc ambient, with 0.1 on the actual screen wall. Some rear lights on dim do not measurably increase the light on the screen or hitting the viewer’s eyes when looking at the screen. No I do not remember the calibration accuracy of the meter .

4) Viewing Habits:
a. It will be a mix of TV, gaming and movies. Some solo (lights off), some with family/friends (lights on in background, likely dimmed, eating, etc.). Call it 70% some lights on gaming/TV, 30% lights off movies.

5) Projector: I have not decided or purchased. 1080p. 2-3k USD price range. If screen/room were not a consideration I would go Panny AE3000 as first choice, 2.35:1 screen CIH using the zoom/memory. I’m open to no (moveable) masking or a manual masking system. Screen may be painted or mounted on the wall. Epson 6500 is the second choice, though that means 16:9 for me (I’m not bucking up for an anamorphic lens at this point).

6) Skills: moderately handy at wood/metal working and electronics. Finished my own basement (dong most of the work), including low voltage conduit (hence the specified projector distance). I have an Eye One Display LT I used with Color HCFR to calibrate my plasma and CRT. I intend to use it on this front projector too.

7) Screen size/gain/color thoughts:
a. Given that it will be used in some ambient light likely > half the time, and it’s not a bat cave with respect to room colors, I’m thinking a gray would be more appropriate than a white. Not sure the best N value.

b. Screen size: SMPTE specs 30 degree min field of view; THX says >=36 degrees in the back row is preferable. At 15’ viewing distance a 110” 16:9 yields 30 degrees. 115” 2.35:1 gives 33 degrees; 125” gives 35 degrees at 2.35 and the same screen yields a 100” 16:9 image with no change in masking.
i. So, with adequate lumens and geometry, a 125” 2.35:1 screen seems ideal for the room and seating.
ii. From 12’ the AE3000 can project a 115” at 2.35 or a 133” at 16:9. It’ll do 125” 2.35 at 13’ throw.
iii. At gain 1.0, a 125” screen yields 18 fL in normal mode which reportedly calibrates very well; 20fL on a 100” 16:9 that fits in the 125” 2.35.
iv. At a gain of 0.88 (black widow) this translates to 16/18 fL. Good enough!
v. This would allow me to shrink the projected image size and/or use Dynamic mode to dial up the fL too (e.g. for gaming, lights on viewing, etc.).

So, why am I posting again? Shoot holes in my logic and offer suggestions for improvements and screen recommendations (or any other constructive comments). I’m comfortable with DIY paint (preferably roll on) or laminate on frame, or commercial at ~$500 or less.

Thanks in advance. I should be able to check this thread each evening to post any responses.
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post #2 of 3 Old 04-27-09, 12:41 AM
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Re: Looking for screen recommendation(s) for family room HT - long post

First... A hearty welcome to The Shack!

You mentioned gaming... Both projectors you mentioned are excellent choices for movie playback, but the Panny excels at gaming as well as having excellent video playback.

In addition to the zoom memory (which is a major benefit for 2.35:1 and 16:9 content) the Panny AE3000 doesn't have a 'gaming mode' persay like the AX200U does, but...

Projector Central wrote:
Gaming Mode. As far as gaming is concerned, video delay is not a good thing, and audio delay does not fix the problem. So the AE3000 has a feature which is not called Gaming Mode, but should be. It is called Frame Response, and it lets you adjust the speed of frame delivery from the buffer. Your options are "Normal" and "Fast." "Normal" will provide normal video processing and results in a frame delay of about 3 frames (assuming Frame Creation is off). "Fast" will eliminate some of the standard video processing overhead and cuts frame delay to about 1.5 frames. You can see the effect on lip synch when switching between Normal and Fast, as lip synch problems pretty much disappear in Fast mode.
Projector Central wrote:
Last year we mentioned the lower lumen output in Cinema modes as being somewhat of a limitation, but that has been fixed in the AE3000.
Panasonic projectors are also some of the brightest ones on the consumer market. Dynamic mode has 1273 Lumens blasting away, but has a slight greenish cast to it. So ask what the color balance and temp is of any DIY(or commercial) screen's you are considering. As always I recommend a D65 neutral screen. That is the easiest to compensate for. I hate to throw in what may sound like a shameless plug, but I have been pushing and advocating a D65 neutral screen long before the concept became popular in the commercial screen industry, namely the new Da-Lite JKP screen, which isn't as neutral as our screen, but it is still on target and very respectable- but at 10 times the price... just something to think about. If the screen already pushes green, or even blue (like a commercial/DIY company that I know) then you will have some pretty big issues to deal with if you decide on the Panny AE3000 and use it in Brilliant mode.

This is really an important mode when you have some lights on. If the image doesn't look right though, then it's not worth it. Get a projector and screen that work well together. Again, the best overall bet is a D65 neutral screen. You can rest assured it will work with whatever projector you get.

I also like Epson projectors, but I really do feel the Panasonic AE3000 trumps it, and with spades. It will do 2.35:1 with Lens memory, It has a 'gaming option', and tons of inputs (three HDMI!) and more adjustments than you can shake a stick at!

At a 12' throw, you'll have 19fL of brightness, which is enormous for 1080p! The fact you can do a 2.35:1 screen and then with memory zoom go to a 16:9 image... the 'gaming' option... I'd have to highly recommend the AE3000 for you.

Screen... An N8 to N8.5 will perform the best for you and the setting you have described. Or a screen that may be darker but performs within those parameters. Check options that match those specs.

Viewing... based on the seated layout you described- You definitely want a unity gain screen, or as close to that as possible. Any gain is going to reduce your viewing cone, and again, with either projector you mentioned you really don't need a high gain screen. Others push gain as if it is the ultimate screen spec, yet they really don't have any official data other than holding up a screen sample and guestimating by eye. When in doubt, ask for the actual readings and data. If they can't produce that, then be very skeptical of any claims.

Based on that, I hope you are now armed with some good information to make some decisions from.

You mentioned BW... 16fL is more than enough for an enormous amount of ambient light, and I can attest from personal experience that even with the lights out it still performs exceptionally well... just as long as you take the time to calibrate your setup.

I still would like to see you take the time to look at all the N8-N8.5 options out there, but if you were to ask me outright, or say I was doing your installation, I'd go with the Panny AE3000, Black Widow, and make sure with the money you saved to get both a Pronto 7500 universal remote as well as a high def DVD player if you don't already have one. If you do already have the Pronto, or an HD DVD player, then spend your savings on either HD movies, or speakers, or anything you don't already have! And without question make sure you get a spare bulb right off the bat.

If you want a commercial screen option, we can also give you a few to consider.

"Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Albert Einstein

"If all else fails, spin the cat."- Grzboken
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post #3 of 3 Old 04-27-09, 09:51 PM Thread Starter
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Posts: 102
Re: Looking for screen recommendation(s) for family room HT - long post

Thanks for the thorough reply! Indeed, a Blue Ray player and new 5.1 setup will be part of the package -- I'm starting from scratch other than a HTPC I already cap TV/cable with and watch DVDs from (Sage backend on the file server with their set top box for viewing).

I think I'll go BW after a white baseline (to get a first hand idea of how that reacts to the ambient, show the wife how bright it is but the ambient trade-off, etc.). If I find it too dark (not likely based on the math), I can always try something in between.

It'll be months before I can pull the trigger (at the earliest), but I'll be watching the forum and I'll post when it's all done.

Thanks again and of course I'm open to further suggestions.
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