My start in Home Audio and Home Theater Story

I became interested in home theater in 1995 when a friend of mine bought a new home theater system. We were both in our early twenties.

 

His system sounded great; But being a newlywed I could not afford the quality of components that he had chosen for his home.

Within a year I had bought my own audio/video theater system of significantly lower quality -that initially I was quite proud of. But after owning it for a while I noticed that it really didn’t satisfy me the way it did at first.

And each time I heard my buddies system I came away impressed; it just had an ease to the music and movies that my system did not have.

And so began my early obsession with audio and video equipment that would continue over the next 15+ years.

Getting Started in Home Audio and Home Theateralt text

Late in the year 2000 I invested in a high end stereo system that I enjoyed very much.

This system was arguably of higher quality than my friend’s and I continued to make improvements to the sound with different components, CD players, preamplifier, amps and even the speakers.

During the time between 2000 and 2old home theater005 I visited many high end theater equipment and stereo equipment shops all over the east coast.

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I spent a lot of time upgrading components buying and selling gear and the usual equipment swapping done by most audiophiles in search of the ‘holy grail component’.

I tried all different tweaks including very expensive cables, equipment racks, and anything I could think of to wring the last bit of performance out of my music system.

I had two different audio systems; I had a music only system consisting of just stereo speakers. And, I had a five channel home theater system in the basement for movies and entertainment (the old home theater system).

In the end I came to realize that I preferred the sound of my higher quality stereo system and desired to have the same quality for movies and home theater. So once again, I upgraded the home theater to the same caliber of equipment in the stereo room and just combined the two systems. Now I was enjoying the best of both worlds; as far as I was concerned.

Getting into Pro Audio, Recording, and Speaker System Building:

In 2001 I took over the responsibilities at my local church running their sound system. I totally rebuilt the audio and video system twice over the course of the following three years.

In 2004 I began engineering some speaker designs and speaker cables.

In 2005 I was awarded my first patent for a cable design intended for use in high end audio systems.

Between 2005 and 2009 I continued to document speaker design, cabinet design, and crossover ideas into CAD and other computer aided design programs, as well as testing and building different ideas that I had based on analysis and theory.

Challenges

Because of financial difficulties I was forced to sell all my audio equipment between 2005 and 2006.

I sold one component at a time slowly and painfully as my financial needs dictated. It was nearly a year after selling my last piece before I was financially able to begin working on my new audio and home theater system.

In the middle of 2007 I began building my first all active speaker system using completely digital software type speaker crossovers.

The design was a huge success; the very first project exceeded my expectations for all listenable and measurable areas of speaker design. Since then, I have designed and built many other speaker systems some of which are listed on this site through the ‘Gallery’ tab in the left NavBar.

I believed, and everyone that has heard those first speakers has said that they were better than the mega buck system that I had put together with retail components between 2000 and 2003.

This system did this at about 1/10th the cost of the retail home audio system I had previously owned.

As a result of these studies and experiments I have come to realize some things about the audio field;

First; this is a pretty good business to be in.

The profits are actually decent from a company perspective.

Meaning that; it is worthwhile to be in and stay in business.

Argue as some might; if you take away a company’s ability to survive and pay the bills, there isn’t much point in being in business at all.

In contrast to some industries where you have to practically work for free. -The audio/ video industry is not run by a bunch of guys determined to run each other out of business.

Most of us can see the value in another company’s products, even if they don’t necessarily align with our business model or agree with our expertise and/or technology.

So (we) do a good job of making room for other ideas that are new and fresh. Industries that operate on very small profits inevitably will stifle progress because the operating budgets, and research and development budgets will also be small.

Second; the current business model has locked us into a ‘technology prison’ in terms of what can actually be accomplished in home audio video system.

Let me explain – Nelson Pass or Pass Labs;

Nelson Pass from Pass Labs has said that the active speaker systems offer far greater acoustic capabilities than a passive speaker counterpart.

He even sold some active speaker models a few years ago that were incredible to say the least. His flagship design was called “Rushmore” if memory serves.

But, the marketability of ‘active’ speakers is not economically feasible from a retail market standpoint (yet), at least not to the mass public.

Why? Consumers by and large have passive speaker systems; they have passive speakers driven by 2 channel amps and two channel preamps.

sually, when a person considers upgrading their speakers they don’t want to change the whole shebang, amps, preamps and the whole bit.

In home theater it’s the same way. The industry is just not set up to take advantage of the sonic dividends that going active allows. So in large part, getting the absolute highest performance and highest technology speaker and home theater systems is left up to the consumers to do themselves.

And honestly, I don’t see any end in sight. Until, folks wake up to the benefits of going active they’ll never know what they have been missing. My hope is that some of you will take the time to find an active speaker system to either listen to or build yourself so you can witness it first-hand.

From an engineering perspective active speakers absolutely embarrass the old passive technology that is our current audio market ‘norm’. This is not opinion; ask any scientist whom has studied speaker crossovers and see what they think about the active versus passive debate. It’s a no contest ‘win’ on behalf of active speakers.

I also see some problems with some Speaker company’s adverting campaigns. Some of the advertising claims by speaker companies (specifically) are just false.

1. Any claim that a speaker company has some –hidden-and-secret-technology that makes their products superior to everyone else’ products.

a. All speaker systems that I know of use very basic, well known science and engineering to design and construct their speakers. (some try harder than others) Yes, there are some small differences between designs and there are even designs that I admit are unconventional (like MBL for example).

But they all basically do one thing; Move some type of diaphragm using some form of electricity (AC or DC) which excites the surrounding air, which is interpreted by your ear as sound. Basically, they move air.

b. There are many ways to implement any given design. And some work better than others to be sure. But this is where I have a problem; with the idea that you can’t do better for a fraction of the cost or build it yourself. You can build better products yourself –more about that later.

2. Using marketing propaganda to lie to the public;

a. Just because a speaker system is known by the general public for being the ‘best in the world’ does not make it “the best in the world”. The Best according to whom? The marketing campaign and the millions who have taken the bait?

3. Speaker design is all about science. It really drives me nuts when a manufacturer all but claims they use voodoo rituals and snake oil to arrive at their speaker designs.

Really excellent speakers have to take every conceivable design element to the extreme. They have to do this because in order to achieve excellence, the details must be kept in check. Otherwise, gross distortions are inevitable because they will ‘pile up’ so to speak.

Some may make the argument that one design element is more important than another. Any distortion is still a false witness, and the less of these problems the speaker may have the better it will be at communicating its message, and the more accurate that message will be.

Take a public speaker for example. If he/she speaks another language then you understanding a single word is unlikely. If the speaker has a slurred speech it may be difficult to understand as well. If the public speaker is placed in an echoing room that is large with nary a single person occupying it, you still may not be able to understand what is being said.Each shift away from accuracy will cause these small distortions away from the truth.

Obviously, some offenses are greater than others. But nothing would compare to the public speaker sitting right next to you in a quiet room with no other distractions. Hearing their real voice and their expressions being seen would be the best form of communication one could hope for.

Good music is like this in many ways. If you have a highly musical and resolving system you can get an up close and personal visit by the musician or the film director and get to see exactly what they had in mind when the film or album was created.

You will get it…

… the heart and soul of what the event was about.

Seeing it recreated perfectly, just as it was intended by the musician and/or producer.

All Designs have their own merits, Their Own Strengths and Weaknesses;

Think of home theater and speaker design NOT as one being better than another.

What I mean is this…

There are benefits to a line source, benefits to a monopole, a dipole, sealed box construction, ported box, transmission line, horn compression drivers or whatever.

Each of them has their own strengths and areas where they are better than all other designs. Some of them are more of a balance of all of the designs but may not excel in one area. In some rooms a line source will be the best option.

In other rooms only a monopole will be able to sound the best. But this is more a factor of tastes and the environment that the speaker system is played in -than It is a better than this or that argument.

The whole point is to find out what YOU like and know what works best for you and your situation. My argument is that you can build whatever you want. You can build the room, the speakers, the whole system even, and if you do your homework you will get higher performance and for far less money.

You can do this because you can maximize and optimize what is important to you, what is necessary for your room and your needs.My thought is that manufacturers probably cannot make the best home theater system or stereo speaker system for you.

They cannot do it because they are operating under the business model of selling to a maximum number of customers at the best profits they can manage. Your choices are limited by what ‘they’ are willing or able to offer to the public.

They are also limited by many other things such as how much a manufacturer is willing to allow a product to weigh or pay for the high cost of certain materials and labor. Not to mention the extremely high costs of running a business with overhead, a building, advertisements etc.

You however are only limited by your ability to develop a plan and to complete that plan. Home theater, music systems, and speaker designs are not rocket science.

You can learn everything you need to know just by searching online and studying yourself. This site is just here to help you do it faster.

This site was developed to help you with your music system and home theater plan!