Room prep counts! - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 4 Old 06-27-12, 01:18 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Hillsboro, Oregon
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Room prep counts!

Well, I was hoping for an Epson 5010 or Panasonic AE7000U but was derailed by one of a sale on Epson 3010s at Frys.

So I have the 3010 sitting in my theater room.

Well, it was a little disappointing. Then I started thinking about the amount of light coming off the screen (actually a wall in the original color -- medium greenish gray) and then back onto the screen.

A trip to a home theater installer where I saw a 6010 with nearly absolute black blacks helped send me on a quest for blacker blacks. Rather than take the projector back to BestBuy (they price matched Fry's and have a 30 day no restocking fee return policy) and then mail order a 5010 (my budget doesn't like the idea of the $900 premium for the 6010 even with the mount, extra lamp, 2 sets of glasses, and extra year of guarantee), I started wondering how much of the 6010's black level performance was due to the dark surfaces in the dealer's demo room?

Much to my surprise my lovely wife (and chief financial officer) thought that repainting the video room sounded like a good idea (especially if it kept me from buying another, more expensive projector).

A couple of trips to Home Depot and some paint color sample bingo netted me 4 cans of paint.

The ceiling got a matte black.
The rear wall got a similar black but a little shinier (egg shell).
The side walls got a dark warmish brown.
The screen got some king of silver color from (of all things) a cement paint color book! I chose flat for the screen color (I hadn't yet read the DIY screen project log at Projector Central).

Well, the walls are painted and the equipment is hooked up again and the clutter cleared away.

The verdict? The 3010 looks like an entirely different projector in this environment. The room is MUCH darker during a movie/video than it was before and the on-the-screen contrast seems a lot better also.

The silver color on the screen wall (yup, still no real screen) looks like a medium gray in the room lights. But the 3010 is such a light canon (even in ECO/cinema) that it has no trouble lighting it up and blacks seem quite a bit darker. Also, while there still seems to be a little color shift, it's not as pronounced as the old greenish gray wall paint.

Oh yeah, the wall texture was clearly visible before. I spackled the entire screen wall and used a small sanding block to smooth out the lumps. Once painted I could see that I hadn't removed all the texture, but it was greatly reduced and the wall-texture-image noise is now much harder to see than it was before (it's still visible in scenes with wide expanses of the same, light color -- but it's much harder to see).

My conclusion? Having a room without windows isn't enough. Painting the ceiling black and the walls either black or a dark color added immensely to the contrast and apparent quality of the image. For About $110 of paint (yikes paint has gotten spendy since the last time I bought any -- buying top quality paint can save $$ by not needing multiple coats) the 3010 now is looking good enough that my lust for a step up has been well abated. The only draw back was the hassle of repainting a room with multiple colors. We didn't replace the carpet with a darker shade. That might have helped even more since it is now the major light-bouncing-off-the-screen culprint in the room. Even my non-videophile wife thought the room looked cool and that the projected picture was much improved. Avatar looked terrific.

btw. I found a good video for testing black levels in a home theater. It's a blue ray of the movie "Meek's Cutoff" -- the story of some pioneers on the Oregon Trail who had the misfortune to hire a guide who promptly got them lost in the Utah deserts. Ooops. I thought the movie itself was pretty boring. Yawn. But there are several scenes at night with realistic lighting. That is, only a camp file and some candles are providing light. We're talking DARK except for points of light and some dimly lit faces. Even in my new, dark colored room, the 3010 struggles with this.

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post #2 of 4 Old 06-27-12, 01:56 AM
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Re: Room prep counts!

Congratulations on your renovation. It's always a bonus when small(ish) changes yield great improvements.

Silence is golden but duct tape is silver.

DIY completed:
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post #3 of 4 Old 06-27-12, 04:43 AM
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Location: Central AL
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Re: Room prep counts!

I agree on the black-out treatment. I blacked out my HT several years ago and it did make a huge difference in perceived contrast by eliminating reflected light on the screen. A couple months ago I replaced the carpet in the whole house and went with a darker gray in the HT - even that made a little difference.

By the way, these black out curtains are amazing. Hard to believe how effective they are. I went with black, of course

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post #4 of 4 Old 06-27-12, 09:06 AM
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Re: Room prep counts!

Good to hear everything is working out Charlie - we would love to see some pics if you have a chance!
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