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Acoustic Transparent Screens

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Elite Screens' Blog Team
2017/02/17,

Elite Screens' Blog Team

 Elite Home2 Series AcousticPro Projector Screen Review

Projector Reviews.com by Art Feierman 1-25-08

Overview 

Projector Screen Highlights:

  • Acoustic screen material allows speakers to be placed behind the screen 
  • Relatively low cost for a motorized acoustic screen 
  • Require wall behind the screen is black or very dark and non-reflective 
  • Screen surface is reasonably color neutral 
  • Effective 12 volt trigger system, for having the screen drop at projector power up, and close on projector shutdown 
  • Comes with both infra-red, and RF remotes 
  • 100", 16:9 version retails for $1609 before discounts, which can be significant on Elite screens

 

Elite Home2 Motorized AcousticPro Screen, 100": Basic Specs

MSRP: $1609
Material: Weaved "acoustic" fabric
Gain: 0.9
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Remote Control: Yes, 2: 1 RF (radio frequency), 1 IR (infra-red)
12 volt screen trigger: Yes, a modified RF remote provided that plugs into projector's 12 volt screen trigger jack
Power: Plug and Play with power cord for standard wall socket
Warranty: 2 Years Parts and Labor standard

 

As our regular visitors are aware, we do very few screen reviews, typically only two or four a year. We are much better set up, for reviewing projectors, than we are, for projector screens. In that, I mean, we have no accurate way of measuring screen gain, and even less ability, in this case, to determine how good an acoustic screen material is at passing low, medium, and high frequencies, from speakers place behind the screen, through the screen to the viewers.

Because of all of the above, our screen reviews tend to be more subjective, than objective.

The review of this new Elite Screens acoustic surface motorized screen was doubly challenging for the reasons above.

That said, let's get started.

The screen itself, is a motorized screen, housed in a white case, with black end caps. A power cord attaches to the screen housing and can be plugged directly into a wall electrical outlet, or, if you prefer, your favorite installer, can run the power inside the wall, to a source (all the usual electrical codes apply).

To control this screen, it actually comes with three remote controls. One is the Infra-red remote control, the second remote control is an RF remote control (so you don't need line of site), and the third one, is Elite's novel, and quick way of allowing the screen to be controlled (up/down), by projectors with 12 volt triggers. Elite provides remote holders (so, for example you could mount a holder on your wall, or near your equipment), which you can see on two of the remotes below. The remote controls each have UP, DOWN, and STOP buttons.

What Elite Screens has done to accomplish the 12 volt trigger compatibility, is provide a second RF remote (seen on the left of the image above), but this one has two wires coming out of it (and Elite advises that the wires will shortly come with the traditional jack that 12 volt outputs on projectors expect). The idea here, is to simply plug the jack/wire into the 12 volt trigger on your projector, and leave the remote right there by the projector. The remote is small enough to easily hide on the shelf (if shelf mounting) or on the "top" of the projector (actually the bottom) when ceiling mounting.

When the projector sends out its 12 volt trigger "switch" it causes the remote to put out the RF command which the screen then receives. The bottom line, is that it works. Funky, but it works. I should note, that the 12 volt trigger remote still has the usual up/down/stop manual buttons found on the regular remotes.

This Elite screen comes with wall mounting brackets, or it can be ceiling mounted.

In operation, the screen is moderately quiet, but hardly silent. The speed going up and down isn't particularly impressive, but who really cares if one screen takes two or three more seconds than another?

More important, however, are the questions of, how good is it acoustically, and how good is it from an image standpoint.

Elite Home2 Acoustic Projection Screen: Image quality

I was actually impressed with the color accuracy of this Elite screen. As you may know, I use a 106 inch Carada screen, with the Brilliant White surface (which Carada rates at 1.4 gain), as my standard screen, in my testing room. The Carada is noted for having an excellent, color neutral surface, which in general performance is considered similar to Stewarts Studiotek 130, considered by many, to be the reference standard.

To compare the abilities of the Elite screen's surface, to the Carada's, one thing I did was to partially lower the Elite screen so that images would end up half, on the Elite screen, and half on the Carada.

The image immediately below is a test pattern of primary and secondary colors - and white, from one of my test discs.

The black line you see running between the upper colors and the lower ones, is actually the bottom structure of the Elite screen. Therefore, the colors above the black bar, are those shining off the Elite, and the ones below the bar, are coming off of the Carada. As you can see from the image, each of the colors are almost identical. Using PhotoShop, I looked at the actual color composition (RGB) of each of the colors. I found overall, the Elite screen suffers a very, very slight shift to yellow/green in several of the colors, and overall. (although the white itself measures a touch blue). The assumption here, is that the Carada is excellent in terms of color accuracy, and the Elite not far from the Carada's performance.

The next image is another "split screen" with the Elite on top, and the Carada below. Since you are seeing different portions of the same image, it's a bit hard to truly ascertain how close to identical these two screens are. For that reason, the second image is the same frame, shown only on the Elite. You can now see the bottom of the face, and the tunic of our subject, on the Elite. Between the two photos, you cannot see the same lower portion of the image on each screen:

Unfortunately, there is a slight shift in the exposure between the two images, as well as different cropping.

Overall, the gain of the Elite is slightly lower than the Carada's and I estimate that to be a something more than 10 percent lower. That makes this Elite screen something close to the 0.9 gain spec Elite Screens provided. I reviewed the Carada, I estimated a true gain of about 1.1. (The operative term here is estimated.) In the images, the gain looks closer due to light passing through the Elite, bouncing off of the white surface behind, and coming back out of the screen, through the weaved material. This will be discussed further, below.

That means the Elite Home2 Acoustic Screen is still fairly bright. It definitely is much brighter than the typical High Contrast Gray (non-acoustic surface).

One last "split-screen" image, for our consideration (note - these images are from House of the Flying Daggers, on Blu-ray disc):

Again, it is very hard to detect any color shift between the two screen surfaces.

The Acoustic Surface

There are several issues to be considered with an acoustic surface:

1. Acoustic projector screen properties: Passing of high frequencies
2. Acoustic projector screen properties: Overall sound level
3. Visual projector screen properties: Light interference from reflections off of back wall
4. Visual projector screen properties: Screen texture relating to screen door effect, visible surface.

Elite Screen: Passing Audio High Frequencies

Although I do not have speakers mounted behind the screen, there was sufficient space behind the screen to put a small iPod speaker system with good high and mid-frequency sound. In listening to the speakers, first, behind the projector screen surface, and then in front of it, I was able to determine that there is a definite, but not great loss of high frequencies. Instruments like cymbals loose their crispness.

If you are big on music listening, in addition to movies, as I am (I spend a lot of time watching/listening to music DVD's), then understand that you are giving up something by going to this acoustic surface. Unfortunately I don't have a good reference as to whether this Elite Screens' surface is better or worse than most other acoustic surface, in terms of loss of frequency. If, on the other hand, you are into primarily video, and the movie effects types of sound (think action film), then you probably won't care about a slight loss in the highs.

Elite Screen: Overall Sound Levels

Sadly I don't own an SPL meter (sound pressure level), so I couldn't measure the volume difference between the sound system being behind, or in front of the screen. I spent many years in the high end audio business, though, so I can make an educated guess. Overall, I'd put the sound loss as very low, almost certainly less than 3db, and probably around 2db, or a small bit less.

Since, again, I don't possess a good pair of in walls speakers in the testing room, I also could not determine whether a speaker system with fairly large mid-range or woofer, will vibrate the surface of the screen enough to see it react, at high volume levels. (Think of the speaker cloth on your big old speakers moving/vibrating when loud passages with bass and lower mid-range content are played. The surface itself seems fairly rigid, compared to the typically thinner material used on non-acoustic projector screen surfaces.

Elite Screens: Light Interference and Reflections

Whoa! Remember, that when I am viewing this screen, it comes down directly in front of the Carada's surface.

And, boy, is that a problem. Light passes through the screen, bounces off the back screen, and passes back through the Elite screen. This makes for a major disaster. With a white surface behind this Elite screen, all kinds of terrible things happen. First, you get a sort of moire' pattern kind of effect from the slightest movement of your head. But even more important, you can see the edges reflected image all around the edge of the screen.

To some degree or another this is a reality with acoustic materials, though some companies no doubt do a better job than others.

The solution is simple. The wall behind the screen needs to be dark, very dark, ideally black, and assuming paint, flat paint - none reflective.

It is absolutely essential that whatever surface is behind your screen, is both dark and non-reflective.

If you just happen to have in-wall speakers with a white grill, get black grills. If the surface of the screen grill is a black finish, but highly effective, do something - repaint them with flat paint. You don't want anything reflecting back through the screen. Believe me!

I was able to place a large sheet of dull black surface behind the Elite screen, and the problems went away, nicely.

Elite Screens: Projector Screen Texture, Surface Visibility, Screen Door Effect

As you can see in the image below, there is a definite coarse texture to this screen material. The tip of the ball point pen gives you some scale.

Because of this texture I was concerned with whether it is visible at normal seating distances (no), and whether the texture would create a type of Screen Dorr Effect pattern, when matched with today's typical projectors.

I only tested the screen with a 1080p projector. Once the surface behind the screen was made dark to eliminate reflections, I noted no pattern effect such as screen door, at normal seating distances - in this case about 8 feet back when projecting about an 80" diagonal image. On the other hand, sometimes when looking for it, you can sort of see that the screen is not perfectly smooth, that there is a sort of texture. This is not to hard to spot in my testing room (at 9-10 feet - the very close side of normal viewing distance for a 100" screen), with no projected image, just overhead lighting (which essentially cast tiny shadows since the weave is not perfectly flat). While watching movies normally, I suspect that this is a non-issue for most, however some with a more perfectionist bent, will object.

That said, those with that "more perfectionist bent" are probably equally concerned about sound, and more reluctant to consider an acoustic screen if there is any audio quality loss.

I still have this screen hanging, so, if I get in a 720p resolution projector before Elite wants the screen back, I'll try that out, and update this review. (No promises.) Since the pixel structure is larger on a 720p projector, some of these issues may come into play that are not issues when using a 1080p projector.

Summary, Pros, Cons

 

The Elite Screens Home 2 Series Acoustic screen, looks like a great deal. I mentioned previously, that the Suggested List Price of the 100" 16:9 version is $1609. I looked around for competition, and found the Da-Lite Cosmopolitan motorized, with their Audio Vision surface (they also have a more expensive micro-perf surface). The less expensive of the two, is still about $750 more, and you'll pay extra for a 12 volt trigger or wireless RF system (a couple hundred dollars plus), bringing it close to $1000 more. I didn't bother to check Stewart Filmscreen prices. I'm confident that their 100" CinemaPerf would have a sticker price of at around $5000, probably more.

It becomes obvious, that Elite is a low cost solution. Even the best of the acoustic screens are going to cost you some loss of audio and video, but you can expect good results unless you really are audio focused. This makes for interesting trade-offs. If you decide on an acoustic surface, you can consider that the a better screen may cost you close to the difference in price between a good 720p resolution projector, and a better 1080p projector.

If, on the other hand, you have ample budget, and are buying a higher priced - $3000 to $8000 projector, I would think you more likely to consider some of the more expensive screens.

One thing I haven't mentioned about this Elite screen, is that it is not tensioned. Most acoustic screens, or for that matter most more expensive screens are tensioned to keep them flat after all that rolling up and down. The Elite surface itself, is a fairly heave one, so I expect it will hold up pretty well, but I'd like to see a tensioned version as well for a few hundred more.

For casual viewing I found little difference between the Elite, and the Carada with Brilliant White surface. The Carada was definitely a bit brighter, and by virtue of that, appeared a little more dynamic, but the color was near identical with just a slight shift on the Elite.

Bottom line: There are two scenarios I see, as common. The first one includes those people who want a minimally visible system when not in use, a major priority. No free standing speakers, no permanent fixed screen on the wall. Many of you who fit this category, are just looking for a good solution to that, and aren't hyper-critical. I'd say that for this group, this Elite Screen would likely make a good choice.


Sound&Vision AcousticPro1080 Review

Sound&Vision Private Screening: Do video projection screens really make a difference?

By Brent Butterworth, June 2009


Peregrine AcousticPro-4K Review by ERIK FARSTAD

REVIEW - Peregrine AcousticPro-4K Review by Erik Farstad

 

Introduction
When designing and building my new showroom theater over four years ago I knew I wanted to showcase an acoustically transparent screen to my clients. As a custom installer I have access to many brands, but I liked what I was hearing about Elite Screens so I decided to purchase a 120” ezFrame AcousticPro1080 screen. That screen hung proudly in my showroom and over the years led to numerous Elite Screens being installed for many satisfied clients. I had made the right decision.

 

The Moiré Effect

The day finally came for a new projector. I replaced my 1080p Sanyo for a newer 1080p Epson model but I now had the dreaded moiré effect. This happens when two grids are overlaid at an angle or when they have slightly different mesh sizes causing what most refer to and see as wavy lines. It does not always happen, but my new projector’s pixels and the screen mesh where not good partners. Figure 1 shows an example of what moiré can look like.

So I called up my wonderful sales representative Brenda Rocha and shared my dilemma; she promptly put me in touch with David Rodgers, Marketing Manager, who also kindly listened to my sad tale. They informed me that I had an early production run of the AcousticPro1080 material and that subsequent runs of the material were altered a few degrees to help eliminate this problem. During our conversation they shared that they had this new AcousticPro-4K material that would solve all of my problems and they were right.

Peregrine AcousticPro-4K

The Peregrine AcousticPro-4K series falls under Elite Screens customer installer line called Elite Prime Vision or simply EPV. I chose a 120” fixed frame screen to replace my existing ezFrame, but sizes range from 84-345” in the 16:9 HDTV format. The Peregrine features a 3.5” aluminum frame that is wrapped in black velvet.  The 4K in the name means that this screen can be used for high resolution (4096 x 2160) projectors and has a reported gain of 1.0 to 1.1 depending on your viewing angle. The material has a super fine (0.01mm) micro-perforated texture that allows the sound to breathe or be transmitted through the fabric with minimal attenuation, but I’ll get into that later. Other screen material options include CineWhite, CineGrey, PowerGain, WraithVeil, and Elite’s other acoustically transparent screen material AcousticPro1080P2 (also great for 1080p resolution projectors).

Installation

Installation took less than an hour. I assembled the frame, stretched the material over the back, inserted the tension rods, placed the tension rods into the frame groove, and then inserted the small plastic tabs to hold the screen in place. Finally I placed the acoustically transparent black backing material onto the push tabs that are held in place due to their handy Velcro. The black backing helps eliminate any light loss when using acoustically transparent material. I then attached the center bar support to keep the screen taut. The great part is I ended up using my old (and still the same design) mounting brackets from my ezFrame screen to hang it on my theater’s entirely acoustically transparent proscenium wall (see Figure 2).

First Impressions

It’s transparent? Looking at the AcousticPro1080 and the AcousticPro-4K side by side was truly a night and day difference. I determined this was due to the difference in perforations sizes; 0.22mm for the AcousticPro1080 compared to 0.01mm for the AcousticPro-4K material.

Figure 3 shows a screen shot I took of the two screen materials from the same viewing distance.

To give you an indication of when the perforations can be seen with the visible eye; I could sit at 6-8 feet and see the perforations on the AcousticPro1080 but had to get within about 12 inches to even begin to make out any perforations on the AcousticPro-4K. The frame is more substantial on the Peregrine (3.5”) than the ezFrame (2.36”), which this reviewer believes gives it a slight edge in overall look and appeal. But what does it look like with an image thrown at it and how does it impact sound quality? Well let’s find out.

 
Theater and Review Equipment

My demo theater room is approximately 13 x 20; with three tiers of seating. The equipment used during the review were: Epson Home Cinema 8700-UBprojector, Panasonic DMP-755 Blu-ray player, DirecTV HD, Onkyo PR-SC5507 A/V Preamp, Emotiva XPA-2 and XPA-5 amplifiers, Onkyo M-282 amplifier, KEF Reference 201’s (left/right), KEF Reference 202 (center), KEF Ci-130DS (in-wall side surrounds), KEF Ci-200.3 QT (back in-ceiling surrounds), (2) SVS 25-31 Pci subwoofer’s, Panamax 5400-EX surge protector, QSC GX3 amplifier for two Clark Synthesis TST420 Platinum transducers in second riser, and a Universal Remote MX-3000. All HDMI and audio cabling are provided by Tributaries and Monoprice respectively.

The screen is up (figure4), the equipment turned on, let’s dim the lights…

Can you hear it?

Where are the speakers? That is what many clients ask when coming into the demo theater. Then the very astute will ask, does it sound any different with speakers behind the screen? I tell them that the very good screens do not alter the sound but may have an ever so slight effect on overall SPL or what most folks simply call volume. Let’s find out how the AcousticPro-4K screen did in that department.

My Onkyo processor has Audyssey MultEQ® XT (figure 5) for automatically calibrating speakers, so I decided to run that processing with the AcousticPro-4K screen both off and on my proscenium wall. The results in the speaker level settings showed that there was a slight boost in the front three speakers by 0.5 to 1.5 when the screen was installed. What this tells me is that the processor was adjusting the front three speakers to equalize them to the surrounds and subwoofers. But what did this equate to in dB loss, if any? My SPL meter may tell us.

I ran through the same tests as before, without and with the screen, but this time holding my analogue SPL meter in the primary listening position. I calibrated the front three speakers to 75 db without the screen. Then I put the screen up and fired everything back up again. Ensuring I was listening at the same level on the Onkyo, my SPL meter fluctuated between 73 and 75 db; the red bar dancing slightly back and forth (I really need to get a digital meter). This confirmed to me that the screen is impacting the front speaker array by 1, possible 2 db, and why the Audyssey calibration boosted the front speakers as well.  1-2 db is minimal loss at best and something I can live with by the use of simple gain control.

I also listened to some of my reference audio tracks from Nora Jones, Diana Krall, and Nickel Creek (figure 6) to see if the actual musical presentation was impacted. I heard no coloration of the sound on any of these albums and I know their tracks very well. In short, with and without the screen, sound quality did not change.

 

Picture Time

With the AcousticPro1080 screen I could see the moiré effect on the warm-up logo screen after turning the projector on, but the first thing I noticed with the new AcousticPro-4K was, well, nothing! With that annoyance fixed, thank you Elite Screens, I calibrated the projector again and ran the screen through my favorite Blu-ray demo and a few DirecTV HD shows to test color accuracy, contrast, and brightness; as well as overall picture quality.

I started with Avatar Extended Collector’s Edition; I’ll be honest it’s my default demo due to its fine detail and crisp and vivid color palate (figure 7). I immediately noticed an increase in the films fine detail going from the AcousticPro1080 to the AcousticPro-4K screen. Whether it was the feathers or beads the Na’vi’s wore, the AcousticPro-4K screen rendered them with more “pop.” The notes I took during the movie read; eye-popping detail, depth (but it’s not 3D), lush and accurate green leaves and bright yet precise orange-red bursts of fire. Live action scenes had a “smoother” appearance to them, again I believe due to the smaller perforations in the screen as well as the removal of the aforementioned moiré. I was just as impressed with the deep black levels and contrast, which the AcousticPro-4K screen rendered with slightly more depth than the AcousticPro1080.

As with my experience watching Avatar, watching a variety of shows on ESPN HD or HDNET the picture was detailed, vibrant, and crisp. If you throw a great or amazing HD quality picture onto the AcousticPro-4K screen, it will throw right back at you a great or amazing picture.

My theater has three rows of seating; the first about 8’ from the screen, second at 12’, and the third about 16’, but no matter what row I sat in for this review the picture was stunning. I will admit that I stayed away from the first row because I could begin to see the screen perforations on the AcousticPro1080, but with the AcousticPro-4K I can now visit the front row and not be bothered (though I still prefer my sweet spot in the middle of row two).  Color was uniform from left to right, top to bottom, with no hot spotting; which showed me the screen material was manufactured with quality and performance in mind.

Any acoustically transparent screen will allow some light to pass through due to the perforations in the screen; so next I compared the AcousticPro1080 and the AcousticPro-4K for light loss. I took several measurements and consistently found between a 2.5 and 3 lambert difference between the two. When you couple the AcousticPro-4K’s higher gain (1.1 vs. 1.0) with the reduction in light loss, the AcousticPro1080 could not match its newer counterpart in the brightness category.

Enjoy the Show

The only thing left to do now is sit down, fire up your favorite movie, and enjoy the show. With the Peregrine AcousticPro-4K’s high resolution (4096 x 2160) capability I’m set for my next projector upgrade and I won’t have to worry about moiré or really anything else for that matter! The AcousticPro1080 served me well for many years and no doubt continues to be a great budget option for many folks wanting to wonder into the acoustic transparent screen game. But for those who want the ultimate in acoustic transparent screen performance the Peregrine AcousticPro-4K is your answer. I’m also pretty confident that this new screen will continue the tradition of helping to encourage Elite Screens to be installed in the homes of many satisfied clients in the very near future.

By Erik Farstad
Owner, Custom Home Theater Design
www.customhtdesign.com
info@customhtdesign.com