The Bass Guru's Den: visiting the home of the best setup in town

With the permission of one of the top bass guru's in the country, I describe the incredible experience I had in his newly minted Atmos/Auro ready home theatre system.

First the system:

It's an all Martin Logan speaker system (Martin Logan Ethos +Motif X center and Motion 4s), with the same surrounds for side and rear surrounds, plus a smaller version of the same bookshelf speaker for the ceiling mounted Auro / Atmos installations.

The two subwoofers are Rythymik FV15HPs, located in the rear left, and the other right in front and the centre speaker is actually placed on top with some sorbothane footers. The EQ was aided by the DSPeaker-Anti-Mode 2.0 Dual Core

The Denon AVR X7200W is the brain, and the internal amps drive the surrounds and ceiling speakers, whilst an Emotiva XPA-5 drives the front three and rears.

Cabling is a mix of Belden and Monoprice.

The room itself a an enlarged one derived from knocking down the walls of two adjoining smaller rooms, giving it a roomier feel.

The owner also has a very sophisticated automation system that controls the lights, curtains, and has sensors for the temperature, luminosity, and other factors. Very cool.

 The ceiling speakers are mounted directly onto bare concrete ceiling with some special heavy duty screws.

The door leading into the room is heavy duty and treated, but the room itself isn't overly treated and resembles a more wife friendly setting, with some nice female touches.

So let's get down to the meat and potatoes.

We deliberately used quite a few non-Atmos discs, as the current crop of Atmos coded dsics aren't really that great.

Of the non-Atmos material, we used a disc compiled with the help of my buddy Ken:

- War Horse (outrageous bass from the cannons)
- Arriety (fabulous surrounds effects with depth, width and realism)
- Jack Reacher (gunshots in the quarry)
- Book of Eli (the two gunfight scenes give plenty of surround workout)
- Band of Brothers (the second chapter - assault on the 108mm guns)

We also used some Atmos material:

The usual demo suspects - Atmos trailers that you can download off the net.
Plus the Japanese version of the BBC Nature show (equipped with Atmos) - think of it as an extended "Leaf" Atmos trailer

So how does it all hang together?

In one simple sentence:

It was the best surround and bass experience I have ever had the pleasure of listening to.

Sure, I have had better bass at another bass guru's home (Jason), that was a tidal wave of sound and tactile sensation, and I have also been to another person's home (a basement setup with a floor area bigger than my entire home), in which the surround experience with 'basic' 7.1 was very impressive, but as a whole, the integration of bass, and surround soundscape was awesome.

What he had achieved was a sonic integration, which was seamless, between the eletrostatic front floorstanders, the ribbon equipped surround speakers  and the two subwoofers.

Now it's not hard to get ridiculous output from those FV15HP subs, which are one of the most value for money, SPL per dollar subs around. With the aid of the DSP, and the Servo function, you could almost believe there were two agile 12" sealed subs instead of two 15" ported subs, and yet the bass hit you in the face, made your hair move, and shook his sofa to no end. Wow.

But it blended in with his other speakers, so that firstly you won't be able to isolate his subs when the lights go out, and secondly, the sound floats out of the speakers, and isn't confined to the boxes.

One of the best surround demos came from the clip from "The Secret of Arriety", where the sound goes wider and taller in a ellipsoidal fashion, and you can follow the sound of pots and pans, clinking of glasses outward and into space.

When we played those war movies, the bullets would whizz pass and in the Atmos demos, the leaves fall around from above, and you can't tell where the speakers are.

Only in the BBC documentary, did one feel that the Top Rears were a little close to the sofa, and when we moved the sofa forward, the effect was once again sublime.

Even though the Martin Logan ribbon surround speakers aren't coaxial, the sound dispersion was highly impressive. Using the same surround speakers all round ensured that the spread of sound was uniform and the tone was equal.

 His sofa was also a part of the bass experience, and I feel that a large sofa with plenty of floor contact helps to transmit the bass to the listener. Who needs bass-shakers when you have such a finely tuned setup.

Another point of observation was that the guru turned up his Atmos surrounds by 4db, so you hear the effects more clearly. I think this is a logical step as the Audyssey mike is a conical / vertical one, and collects sound from the ceiling mounted speakers more, and then lowers their output db level as a result.

The bass guru is not done, he intends to add another FV15HP and more tweaks are on the way...

To infinity and beyond... :)

 I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

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